Thursday, January 25, 2007

Which Kind of Ethanol?

President Bush was rightly taken to task for pushing fiber-based ethanol in his State of the Union speech -- not because it isn't the preferred brand, but because it's years away. But at least Bush was smart enough not to run around insisting corn-based ethanol was in any way green. This point of view is being touted in both parties within Congress, led by Iowa caucus power lobbyists, and Archer Daniels Midland.
Kudos, then, to IEEE Spectrum magazine for listing corn-based ethanol among the loser ideas in its January 2007 "winners and losers" issue. Not only does ethanol production from corn take more energy input than the fuel it creates, but many projects are based on coal for fuel production. And the consequences of corn shortages could be profound. Already, Mexican consumers and farmers are protesting about the rise in corn commodity pricing combined with NAFTA dumping, and the days of "8 ears for a buck" corn may be gone. Before you slap that "ethanol is green" button on your shirt, think about the type of ethanol you're promoting.
Postscript: Thanks to the Lansing State Journal in Michigan for a Jan. 29 article that debunks corn-based ethanol. Can someone please throttle Corn Cob Bob?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Loring, it's been a while since we've been in touch! I'm not convinced that the Spectrum team always knows what they're talking about. They might as far as ethanol is concerned (although it still seems to me like it could be useful as a battery/storage device), but in the case of the Wicab tongue display I think they've just done some hack journalism... if you're interested, check out my blog on the subject.