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Some people aren’t so sure using more ethanol fuel is a good idea. We’ll see what engineers think. Today, on Engineering Works!
If you’ve been paying attention at all, you know that not everybody thinks producing more ethanol fuel is a good idea. It’s not that most of them have anything against alcohol. They’re worried that since ethanol comes from corn, more ethanol means less corn for food. Especially for poor people around the world.
Engineers say people questioning the wisdom of using corn for fuel instead of food are asking the wrong question. Instead of choosing between fuel and food, they say, we need to be deciding what’s the best material to make alcohol fuel from. Guess what? It isn’t corn.
Chemical engineers are hard at work on processes that produce fuel-grade alcohol without a cornfield in sight. They’re using everything from sorghum and sugar cane to municipal solid waste and something called – water hyacinth – to produce alcohol. Sometimes more than from the same amount of corn.
In fact, one Texas A&M University chemical engineer is working out the details of an agreement to help the city of Laredo, Texas, produce alcohol fuel for its city vehicles – from sewage sludge.
Most of these non-corn alcohol production methods are still not ready for prime time. But they’re getting closer all the time.
We don’t know if we’re powered by corn or sewage sludge, but we’re done for now. See you next time.
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