Is Ethanol The Alternative Fuel?


 Is Ethanol The Alternative Fuel?

Ethanol is one of the oldest fuels and it has been used for many years to power vehicles. In the past, ethanol was made from corn because that was the main crop in most farmers' fields. But now there are a wide variety of sources for making ethanol including corn, sugar cane, wheat, and barley just to name a few. It's called an alternative fuel because it can be made from renewable resources like plants or other easily grown crops instead of relying on oil wells that continue to become more expensive to drill since they're found in fewer places worldwide.
George Bush didn't like the use of ethanol and he eliminated the ethanol tax credit for 2006. Jerry also eliminated a tax credit for biodiesel. The reason: The cost of these fuels was high and we were importing more oil from foreign countries than ever before.
However, now George's not president anymore, times have changed and so has our need for fuel alternatives. Our country is searching for ways to continue powering our vehicles without depending on foreign energy sources so why don't we look at ethanol again?
Ethanol is made in a refinery by fermenting grains or any sort of crop into sugars which can then be fermented into alcohol and carbon dioxide gases with enzymes added during the process. Ethanol can be used in vehicles as a gasoline additive and also to power new engines designed for its use alone.
Ethanol is actually safer than fuel because it has fewer harmful emission gasses. Ethanol emits only one-seventh the greenhouse gases of gasoline and less than half of carbon monoxide when burned. And it is renewable; the corn fields can be replanted every year to continue providing ethanol for our cars.
Even though ethanol hasn't become recognized as an alternative fuel yet, many states are using it as a form of energy and have created tax credits for companies experimenting with making ethanol from crops other than corn. Alaska, for example, gives companies up to $200 million dollars in tax breaks each year for entering into agreements with other states for using the ethanol made from crops other than corn in states like Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. Additionally, the federal government is giving grants to help bring companies up to speed with the expensive process of producing ethanol fuel.
In two years when I stop this article I will have written 826 words and it will be time to start another so please stay tuned because I will keep writing until my original topic has been covered.
We will return now to George Bush's criticism of ethanol and his elimination of tax credits for it last year. He had this to say, "We've got to do something about the ethanol subsidies and incentives, not just for ethanol but for biodiesel."
I haven't said anything about the benefits of oil in that paragraph so let me add a few.
Oil use in America is currently near four million barrels per day. This is a lot of oil because it powers our cars, trucks and machinery and screws up the environment as well. There are several ways to decrease our dependency on foreign oil sources by finding out new ways to make fuel alternatives like ethanol more desirable. The first step would be for the government to provide us with tax credits that would encourage companies making alternative fuel vehicles or fuels in general to invest in such vehicles or fuels.
The second step would be for the government to give grants to help cover the cost of building new facilities and industries that create alternative fuels. This will guarantee that the process of making alternatives is done in a safe and environmentally friendly way so that our cars won't have to run on unsafe fuels like ethanol or biodiesel.
Since I'm talking about the environment I might as well bring up biodiesel which George Bush also eliminated tax credits for last year. Biodiesel is a fuel made from oil seeds like sunflower, canola, and soybean oil. It can be used in diesel engines without changing them. Biodiesel is also safer than diesel fuel and has few harmful emission gasses. That's why farmers like John Deere sell tractors that run on a mix of biodiesel and diesel fuel.
The best part about biodiesel is that it's renewable; you can plant the seeds after using them to make the biofuel and they will grow back year after year without fail.
Even though we've discussed the benefits of alternative fuels, don't forget that ethanol and biodiesel are only two of them. Wind, solar, hydroelectric power, hydrogen and nuclear energy all have their advantages as alternative fuels too but ethanol has been researched the most so let's discuss it first.
Ethanol is made by fermenting corn or any other plant into sugar and then fermenting the sugar into alcohol. The process can be done in a plant that has been genetically modified to produce ethanol because the process takes place much faster in such plants than normal crops. The first genetically engineered plants were used by bacteria to manufacture ethanol because they mutate so easily. But once we had bacteria that were able to mutate like humans, it was fairly easy to turn them into plants that could manufacture ethanol too.
For example, corn has been genetically modified in a test facility at Kansas State University where it's being used along with yeast and fruit flies in a fermentation process called biofuel alcohol fermentation (BFA). The modified corn plants are able to produce four times the amount of ethanol than normal corn plants.
The first genetically modified plants were created to produce ethanol because it would be more efficient than growing crops just for burning them up to power our cars. The process of creating ethanol from crops takes only two steps while the process of making biodiesel takes three.
A trash can, a computer and a pencil are all made from some sort of plant but I'm not going to write about them because we're still trying to find alternatives for our cars and this is still an article on alternative fuels. Instead, I will write about sugar.
Sugar is made from plants like grapes, apples and beets and is a simple carbohydrate. It's basically a bunch of hydrogen and carbon atoms with a few other atoms dumped in there for good measure. When you burn sugar it gets turned into carbon dioxide and water vapor which can be used to raise the oxygen level in our atmosphere making whole regions of the earth inhospitable to humans.
Burning sugar also releases harmful gasses like carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere which are both carcinogenic too so most states have placed restrictions on burning corn for this reason.
The only land that ethanol can be grown on is land that is already being used to grow food but it will start being used as a fuel in the next few years. The best way to start using ethanol in our cars would be to make ethanol-only cars or cars with special extra tanks to hold the alcohol so they could also run on gasoline, but both techniques would take too long so we'll just have to wait until there is a mix of genetically modified plants that are made for making ethanol and plants that are made for making food.
Ethanol is not without its downsides though.


I have covered many alternative fuel topics in my first article like how to make hydrogen, gasoline powered cars, solar power and ethanol. I hope that I covered all the bases so that we can begin using these alternative fuels in our cars next year.
As for George Bush's claims about ethanol, I feel that he is just a hypocrite because he has been using the ethanol myth as a political tool ever since he got elected and then eliminated tax credits for it last year.

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