E85 Boondoggle of Day: 7th Grader Just Says No To Corn
Nearly all the ethanol brewed in the United States is from yellow feed corn; while development into green technology may be hailed by conservationists, it may produce little if any benefit to our lives, and may even trouble them.
Consider the points: If a gallon of gasoline had a price tag of $3.03 (ah, those better days), it would take $3.71 to extract the equivalent from corn for that gallon of gas (similar inefficiencies go for soybean-produced biodiesel as well). And if mass production is perfected, each E85 gallon would still pump 16 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere!
Even if Americans turned our entire corn and soybean arsenal into biofuel, they would replace just 12 percent of our gasoline usage and a paltry 6 percent of diesel, while squeezing supplies of corn- and soy-fattened pork, beef and poultry. Not to mention Corn Flakes.
However, there is a biofuel still in production that in my opinion would fare better than E85 – cellulosic ethanol. Sources for the fuel include agricultural and forestry waste, municipal solid waste, paper pulp, and fast-growing prairie weeds.
And the energy output from it would be two to 36 times that of the gasoline input! Along with that, it will produce 1.9 pounds of carbon dioxide, a 91-percent reduction of gasoline.
I certainly hope this cellulosic ethanol project works, for it obviously outperforms corn. Corn Flakes, anyone?
Seventh-grader, J. Douglas Adams Middle School
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