Ethanol, Media Darling
I’ve been baffled by the mounting interest in ethanol over the last couple of years. It seems like every time I turn around somebody else is hyping corn-fuel as a good way to wean the US from foreign oil needs. I don’t know who to blame the most, the US auto industry, corn lobbies, politicians, or the media. One need only look to Brazil to see the effect of the ethanol industry in full effect and realize that while feasible to some degree, ethanol is by no means the silver bullet to our energy debacle. And Brazil is able to use sugarcane, a plant much better suited to ethanol production than corn, the current US poster boy of ethanol.
I won’t go into the specific drawbacks of ethanol as an alternative fuel, as this article in the Economist has a nice summation at the beginning. Though ethanol is technically green from a CO2 emissions perspective, there are other distinct drawbacks. I like that the article also goes on to discuss work being done elsewhere to develop fuels in laboratories. I hadn’t really considered engineered fuel sources like this, but I see some good ideas.
Also there’s a bit of a dig at Intelligent Design, which made me smile.