news on alternative fuels

13 05 2008

Earlier today I was reading the latest news headlines about ethanol and alternative fuels, and there’s some neat progress being made.  If you’re interested, here’s my summary, along with links for further reading.

There’s a startup company called E-Fuel Corp that just unveiled a new product called the “MicroFueler”, which plugs into your home power and water supplies to make ethanol from sugar.  Supposedly it can make ethanol for as low as $1 per gallon.  This is better than using corn, because sugar is cheaper and there’s more of it and converting it is better for the environment because it emits fewer greenhouse gases than converting corn.  You can also buy inedible sugar from Mexico to put in it, which sells at a fraction of the price of regular table sugar.

The product costs $10,000, but with gas prices so high, it could pay for itself within a couple of years.  You can also dilute the ethanol with water, because automobiles don’t require their fuel to be 100 percent ethanol.  You can read more on it here.

On the other hand, some critics of ethanol say its emissions are not any better for the environment and that they may actually be worse.  And some studies show that the clearing of forests to create more farmland is hurting the environment and contributing to global warming more than using fossil fuels.

There’s a company called BlueFire that hopes to open a plant at a landfill this year that will convert trash into ethanol, which appears to be a great solution to the fuel crisis.  Not only would this reduce the size of our landfills, but they could burn the methane that is produced while the trash is decomposing.

One of the best solutions is electrolysis, where the hydrogen is removed from water to power your car.  Fab wrote about this recently, and I hope it works out.  Combining this with the ethanol made from trash would be perhaps the best solution among the current options.

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