A new study from the University of Michigan adds (bio)fuel to the growing backlash against supposedly clean and green fossil fuel substitutes.
The study claims that the environmental benefits of ethanol and biodiesel — championed by both the federal government and the lucrative biofuel industry — are based on completely false assumptions, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Truck Mountain may still be held by the soon-to-be-lightened Ford F-150, but the fuel-efficiency battle in the valley below is already underway, thanks to Ram’s 1500 EcoDiesel pulling the highest mile-per-gallon highway rating of any light truck in the United States at 28 mpg.
Audi’s bio-fuel initiative is expanding into France through an investment by the automaker to Global Bioenergies, whose bio-isooctane could be the replacement for petroleum gasoline when the time comes to make the switch.
It’s not often publicly remarked upon, but the emphasis on biofuel capacity in the United States has a bit of an international political component to it. American farms exported well over 100,000 metric tons of corn and oilseed in 2010. Some major portion of that production was sent to oil-rich areas which are short on food. The E85 boondoggle can be viewed as a simple declaration to those nations: we can burn your food in our cars, but you can’t eat your oil.
America’s pretty good at producing another item besides food, however, and if early research is any indication, it could be used to run a significant portion of the nation’s car and truck fleet.
When I returned to my old DOTS stomping grounds to help defile a once-proud race track, I figured I might find an interesting street-parked car or two on the Island That Time Forgot. First there was this semi-custom ’62 Continental, but then I spotted the real prize.
Europe, and especially Germany, reports declining diesel dependency. From a nearly 50 percent share a few years ago, the share of diesel driven cars in Germany dropped to 31 percent in 2009. Two reasons: The favorable taxation of the oil had been scrapped. And speaking of scrapped, the “Abwrackprämie, or cash for clunkers, had favored a trend towards low displacement gasoline burners. (In January, the diesel share climbed back to 40 percent in Deutschland.) Badly mauled were the manufacturers of bio (a.k.a. “veggie”) diesel.