Alternative Fuels

By: A.J. Hilton Email
By: A.J. Hilton Email

President Bush is looking for a solution. Two weeks ago, he turned to Michigan State University Chemical Engineering Professor Bruce Dale to discuss the country's dependence on foreign oil.
"Cellulose ehtanol plants... those are plants that will make ethanol from almost any plant material that you can put in. Different areas of the country-- different technologies," said Dale.
That may be a little advanced... But corn ethanol, which is being used in fuel flex vehicles is growing in Michigan. Four corn ethanol plants have opened within the last five years... Dale believes it may not be enough.
"We have enough for the short term, but as the number of those vehicles grows and people want to use ethanol, pretty soon we're going to run out of ethanol from corn."
Others in the corn industry don't see it that way.
Jody Pollok from the Michigan Corn Growers Association said, "A year and a half ago we only had two E-85 pumps in the state. If you look at Michigan today, we're up to 40 and the plan is to be at 50 by spring."
While the number of E-85 pumps continue to grow, so do the number of solutions, meaning it may not just be corn you pump into your car. Dale believes it may be among other things, prairie gases converted into ethanol.
"Trees, woody materials, crop warts...will all be candidates for making ethanol."
Those trees and switch grasses could mean dependence on foreign oil could end sooner than later. Dale went on to add, "I think in five years we'll have our first billion gallons a year of caacity in this industry."


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