We are looking for an across-the-board solution for our present exorbitant consumption of gasoline and it seems as though there is none, at least for the present. We are looking at Ethanol additive to our present gasoline formulas, but this will only give us better miles per gallon and of course, much cleaner bi-products with its use. Ethanol becomes a temporary
fix… at best. The reason, of course, is the need for the corn base sugars (and other similar sugar and starch crops) to produce it. It is a simple deduction that it will eventually begin to deplete the food stock of our nation and also hurt our exports of these grains. We could, with the anticipated increase in need of our corn crop, grow the extra acreage that would be needed to meet any anticipated needs. We must keep in mind the amount of labor that would be required to accomplish this task. The question remains… Will the Ethanol approach keep the price below our present gasoline prices?
All in all, we must accept the fact that we will not be able to have our gas and eat our corn muffins too. There are also other crops which can be used to derive the Ethanol fuel, such as soybeans, sugar beet, raw sugarcane, etc.. The fact still remains… the choice will be gas for our automobiles and this will eventually come to a vast depletion of one or more of our key domestic and export crops. It does not mean that this scenario will eventually come to be, but without other renewable energy fuels developed in tandem, such as the Hydrogen based fuel cell to assist the Ethanol fuel approach, this could lend itself to some key food staple shortages. The final question may be…”Do we prefer wheels beneath our feet or food in our stomachs.” Common sense tells us that at this point in time, we must proceed with great caution. Granted, the very large South American country of Brazil has embarked on their Ethanol program for approximately a decade now, with fairly good results and have enjoyed the weaning from foreign oil. Will it ever be 100% remains to be seen.
Solar energy is one possible approach being tinkered with to produce Hydrogen in order to power our future power plants and it is hoped that electricity, which now helps to deplete our fossil fuels will help us to deliver the fuel needed to produce power for advanced “Fuel Cells” being developed to power the automobiles and trucks, etc. of the future.
Unfortunately, producing Hydrogen by using solar energy electricity is very inefficient. This being said, solar energy is fully renewable and therefore must be considered. Along with the Hydrogen fuel from Solar approach comes recent announcements of some breakthroughs holding great promise using Solar to economically produce the hydrogen needed for fuel cells for both the automobile and our industrial needs and not using up all of our food resources in the process.