Ethanol has been used for centuries as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. Pure or denatured, ethanol can be used as a solvent or in medicines and colognes. It is a colorless liquid that has a strong odor and is explosive. It burns with a smokeless blue flame that isn’t always visible in normal light.
Lately, ethanol is being used as a fuel alternative to gasoline. It is widely used as an oxygenate in the gasoline here in the US.
There are a lot of advantages to producing Ethanol as a renewable energy source. Because ethanol is made from corn, sugar cane, and grains like wheat, it is renewable and it can be made here in the United States. On the face of it, ethanol looks like a very good way to decrease or even eliminate our dependence on foreign oil. Ethanol even produces fewer greenhouse gasses than petroleum does. But…
Should we be looking at ethanol as a solution?
Even with all of the advantages of ethanol should we really be using it as a solution to our fuel problem? Personally, I think the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages.
Disadvantages Of Ethanol
Ethanol contains less energy than gasoline and therefore delivers lower fuel economy.
In order to produce enough corn or grain to meet our fuel demands, crops will be limited for others uses. This means higher prices at the grocery store.
Even if every acre of farmland in the US were used to grow crops to make ethanol, it would only meet about 12% of our country’s fuel needs.
Is it just me or is having food more important than being able to drive a vehicle?
If we make the switch to ethanol, we will have less food, and sustainable arable land. If this is allowed to happen, farmers will want to switch their crops to produce corn for ethanol (because they will get paid more) and as a result, there will be less land available for other crops. The outcome will be rising food prices across the board. And if that isn’t reason enough, corn is also the most chemically intensive commercial grain crop we have. Pesticide runoff is causing dead zones in our oceans and also poisons our groundwater.
Please think twice before you decide that ethanol is the answer to our problems.