SuperWeed Key To Energy Independence?

Ethanol is a fuel derived from plants. In the United States, federal regulations require that each gallon of gasoline contain a minimum of 10% ethanol. The vast majority of that ethanol is derived from corn. Because of the federal mandate, the price of corn has risen significantly in the past several years to meet the demand. Increasing the cost of corn increases the cost of the food we eat, since corn is the principal ingredient in feedstocks for cattle, hogs and chickens.

Avundo donax

Avundo donax grows like a weed. Because it IS a weed!

In Brazil, 90% of cars and trucks run on ethanol, which the Brazilians produce from sugar cane, which is abundant in their country. If we had adequate supplies here in the US, we could operate our vehicles on ethanol as well, but sugar cane does not grow as prolifically here.

Now, some biologists claim that we could vastly increase our ethanol supply by using a woody trash plant called Arundo donax, which resembles bamboo in appearance. The plant grows anywhere with little to no cultivation or irrigation. And it produces more yield per acre than any other crop. For more about the plant, read this news story.

Critics of Arundo donax contend that is so aggressive at crowding other plants that it represents a danger to our agricultural system. In fact, three states have banned the plant as being a “noxious weed”.

What do you think? Is Arundo donax America’s answer to energy independence? Or a danger that should be banned? Tell us about it at The Hot Seat Forum in this thread.


About Steve Hanley

Totally enamored with my family, my grandkids, and seeing the world.
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9 Responses to SuperWeed Key To Energy Independence?

  1. Jason Carpp says:

    Interesting. Anything would be better than having to depend on oil from other countries, the Middle East, for example.

    • Steve Hanley says:

      I appreciate that you stopped by to read that post, Jason. Thanks. I often blog about cars of the future and alternative energy solutions. Why not become a follower and get those posts delivered directly to your e-mail inbox?

      • Jason Carpp says:

        Awesome! I’d like that. I look forward to following future posts. As a car enthusiast, I like anything that has to do with cars.

      • Steve Hanley says:

        Hey, I’m delighted to have another follower for my blog. Thanks!

      • Jason Carpp says:

        That doesn’t necessarily mean that all alternative energy sources would be good for our cars to run on. I can’t imagine that most car manufacturers built their engines and mechanical components to run on ethenol.

      • Steve Hanley says:

        90% of vehicles in Brazil run on ethanol, Jason. So the ability to adapt the machinery to the fuel exists. But ethanol has its own set of issues that require careful planning. The foremost of these is that it is hygroscopic, which means it willingly absorbs water. So steps have to be taken in the transportation process and in the fuel systems of vehicles to limit the water absorption problem.

        There is no free lunch, in other words. But one has to always be mindful of the significant geo-political and ecological impacts of using petroleum. Not everyone believes that our adventurism in Iraq over the past 20+ years has been mostly about oil, but a lot of us do. Your mileage may vary!

      • Jason Carpp says:

        I agree. I believe that being in Iraq and the Middle East, although it makes the big oil companies wealthy, it’s also draining the precious resources that can be used for other things. We have plenty of crude underneath us, why are we in Iraq fighting for their oil? What do you think?

      • Steve Hanley says:

        From what I have read, Jason, our concern with Iraqi oil is less to do with our own domestic petroleum needs than it is about controlling the access by the rest of the world’s countries to Middle East oil reserves. In other words, we want OUR petroleum companies to benefit from producing and distributing that oil, rather than the Russians or, more especially, the Chinese. The next battleground for petroleum will be in the Arctic Ocean as the ice cap continues to melt. If there are future wars over oil, the Arctic is where they will likely happen.

        And getting at the oil remaining within our continental borders carries some major environmental risks, as the BP deep water drilling rig disaster makes clear. We would be a lot better off coming up with alternatives to petroleum. If you visit the link to my “All Biofuels Are Nonsense” post, you will get an interesting opinion from someone who has plenty of credentials suggesting that our present fascination with bio-diesel and other plant based fuels may be counterproductive in the long run. Not sure I agree with that assessment entirely, but it is thought provoking.

      • Jason Carpp says:

        That is so wrong! If I had a diesel powered car or a truck, I’d have it converted to run on vegetable oil. Either that, or I’d have it run part of the time on veggie oil and part of the time on petrol diesel.

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