Is Ethanol fuel really a viable energy path?

– I’ve written three previous posts on this subject. Two unfavorable and one favorable (, & ).

– Here, I’ll refer you to yet another article I’ve read; this one in the January 2007 Scientific American, which has an unfavorable take on the subject. If you follow the link to the on-line article, you will find it is abbreviated and I regret that. But SciAm wants to sell you a subscription rather than give their stuff away for free.

– If you can find a copy of their 2007 January magazine, I encourage you to read the full article – if you are one of those who think that Ethanol fuels are going to save us from ourselves.

– Here’s the bottom line (last paragraph of the article from the magazine):


In the meantime, relying on ethanol from corn is an unsustainable strategy: argriculture will never be able to supply nearly enough crop, converting it does not combat global warming, and socially, it can be seen as taking food off people’s plates. Backers defend corn ethanol as a bridge technology to cellulose ethanol, but for the moment it is a bridge to nowhere.


And four references provided by the article’s author:

Ethanol Fuels: Energy Balance, Economic, and Environmental Impacts are Negative. David Pimentel in Natural Resources Research, Vol. 12, No. 2, pages 127-134; June 2003.

Updated Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emmissions: Results of Fuel Ethanol, Michael Wang in the 15th International Symposium on Alcohol Fuels, September 26-28, 2005.

Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble. Expanded and updated edition. Lester R. Brown. W. W. Norton, 2006.

25 X ’25 Vision on renewable energy: www.25×


To the SciAm article:

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