Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ethanol may be back in the running as an alternative energy source

I'll quote some highlights from the article, then the link if you're interested in learning a bit more. But first, some background.

Ethanol (or E85 which is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline) was once looked upon as a possible replacement for oil - we can make it here in the U.S. reducing our dependence on foreign oil, it's renewable (most likely from corn) and it's burns cleaner than gasoline. Sounds swell.

However, it has a couple of negatives as well. It's been driving up the price of corn (which makes other things more expensive as well), it takes just about as much energy to make ethanol as using gasoline in a car so there aren't any real environmental benefits after all and there's the whole ethical thing of using corn to drive our cars while people in our country and around the world are starving.

Fortunately, a company called Coskata has come up with a way to create ethanol that's seven times more efficient than gasoline, only costs $1 gallon to make and you can use any kind of biomass material - a lot of the stuff you put down the garbage disposal or throw away in the trash. Remember Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future II? Kinda like that. But non-nuclear.

OK. Now on to the quotes:

• It's not five years away, it's not 10 years away. It's affordable, and it's now.

• Coskata's ethanol produces 84 percent less greenhouse gas than fossil fuel even after accounting for the energy needed to produce and transport the feedstock. It also generates 7.7 times more energy than is required to produce it. Corn ethanol typically generates 1.3 times more energy than is used producing it.

• If you're in Orange County, you can use municipal waste. If you're in the Pacific Northwest, you can use wood waste. Florida has sugar. The Midwest has corn. Each region has been blessed with the ability to grow its own biomass.

Sounds good, eh? Read the rest of the details here. Then buy some Coskata stock.

Corn image courtesy of here. Mr. Fusion image from here.