How to Save the World!!!


Introduction: How to Save the World!!!

Well, the time has come. I have been holding on to this plan for a while hoping to make some serious dough, but alas, I must let it go in hopes that it gets done. The world is more important that paying off my student loans.

ps If anyone want to make this happen, throw me a bone, or at least give me credit.

Step 1: Fuel of the Future Now

Well, so I might not be able to solve every problem all at once, so I'll get specific. I'm and talking about energy and transportation.

If you want the real energy/transportation solution it would require everyone living a life style that they don't like, so we'll have to do the next best thing.

I'm not talking about electric, hydrogen, hybrids, veggie oil, or biodiesel. I don't expect everyone to walk to work either. I am talking about ethanol. Oooooh, I know its a bad things, but hear me out. And I am going to call it Fuel Alcohol from this point on.

The fuel of the future is domestically produced fuel alcohol(AKA ethanol)

Step 2: Chicken or Egg?

We have to start somewhere. We need cars that run on alcohol before we can have everyone running on it....

Everyone car on the road that uses gasoline can run on up to 10% an not void warranty. Every car on the road that uses gas can run on 20% with no modifications. Many cars can run on 40% with no mods, quite a few can run on 50% with no mods and some cars can run on 100% with no modifications.

However, if you don't have one of these, most 4 cylinder engines can be converted for less than $400, if you save $1 per gallon, you make your money back in less than a year.

Step 3: Where Do We Get This Alcohol

So I am going to have take some flack for this next step, but please read everything before you comment.

How are we going to make all of this alcohol?

Short answer is corn.

"But then the price of food goes up and the farmers get beat up my oil companies, right?"

Not exactly...

"And I "read" it takes more energy to make alcohol from corn than you get out of it."


"And the ...."

Hey who's Instructable is this anyway.

Yes the price of food is going up and yes we are making more alcohol for fuel, but that is a correlation, not a relationship. I'll elaborate, months that have high ice cream sales also have high rates of drowning deaths, so to save lives, don't buy ice cream....right? No, in the summer people buy more ice cream and people swim more, so people drown more. A correlation.

Food prices are going up because fuel prices are going up. Someone has to pay for your corn get shipped from Iowa to the chip factory in Mexico and then from the chip factory to grocery store, guess who that someone is....

Making alcohol for fuel makes food prices go down... let me 'splain.

In the US we make fuel alcohol from corn, why? 'Cause we grown a whole lot of corn. What do we do with that corn? We feed it to cows. My suggestion is to make fuel from the corn for the cows.

"But what will the cows eat?"

Stop interrupting

The cows will eat the corn that we use to make the alcohol.
I know, doesn't make sense. You need to know a little about rumenants and a little about yeast. Cows(rumenants) need to eat cellulose, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals etc. Notice I said nothing about carbohydrates, more specifically starch. Cows can't digest starch, it actually turns to methane (a green house gas) in their stomaches. This is where the yeast comes into play. We uses some enzymes and yeast to turn the starch in corn into alcohol...only the starch, the cellulose, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals are all left over. This is called Dried Distillers Grains (DDGs) its really good animal feed. So with the same crop we can make fuel and food, we get to use it twice, feeding animals corn without making fuel first is like throwing the fuel away. Plus farmers get to sell it twice so it is cheaper.

Step 4: Do We Have Enough Land?

"Yeah, but we can't really grow that much corn, it would be our whole country."

Will some call security?

Anyway, last year (2007) according to the UDSA we grew enough corn and fed it to cow that if we made alcohol out of it first, we could make approx. 10 billion gallons of alcohol. We also, last year, made 6 billion gallons of alcohol already. That was the potential to make 16 billion gallons of fuel.

We have to compare that...

"But we use 160 billion gallons of gasoline in a year. Thats not e..."
"Come with me, sir."
"Take your hands off me"
"You've been warned, please come with me"
"I'm staying right here.....ugh"
"Move a long, nothing to see here."

Well, now that that is taken care of, in the US we use 160 billion gallons of fuel each year, 16 doesn't seem to be a big deal. But its 16 billion....BILLION!!!!! gallons of fuel that we already have to potential to make.

This is stage one. In a nutshell, it is making all of our animal feed crop into fuel before we feed them to animals first.

Step 5: What About the Rest??

Well I said that corn was the short answer. Here is the long..

After we have the whole country on 10% fuel alcohol without planting any extra acreage or using any more water or spraying any more chemicals or burning fuel in any more tractors we change the crop. There are crops out there that make the same amount of animal feed but 6-8 times the alcohol per acre as compared to corn.

My favorite is the Jerusalem Artichoke, which has nothing to do with Israel and is unrelated to the artichoke, it a sunflower. You can get 6 times the alcohol as you can from corn. So if we switch all of the corn to Jerusalem Artichokes, the 10% become 60%.......60% of our fuel usage from the land that is already planted.

Step 6: Finishing Up

Now, you might ask 60% that is still not all of our fuel. True, but here is the ....

Alcohol is a much better internal combustion engine fuel. It has to do with compression ratios. I have read of DOE alcohol specific cars that get 100-150mpg on alcohol, but thats crazy, we're Americans.
A European company has a prototype conversion kit for a diesel Saab that gets 47mph on alcohol, this is 200 horse power car, we are not talking about a Geo Metro here. A performance machine that gets double the US national average.
If we built alcohol specific vehicles, then we can greatly improve mileage. Doubling the national average is the same as cutting the consumption in half. So the 60% is not 120% of our yearly usage. 20% surplus with no extra acreage, no extra spraying, no cutting down rain forest, no expensive tortillas.
Its a simple plan.

Step 7: Filling in the Holes

How does this save the world? It sounds like it is just saving the US.

Well the US usages the lions share of fuel in the world and between the reduction of carbon dioxide from our cars, methane from our cows and people killed over oil, I think the world would be a better place.

Also it would serve as a great model for the rest of the world.

I don't get how it helps farmers.

If you have an acre of corn you can sell it to a dairy farmer for $200 or an alcohol producer for $200 or you can sell it the alcohol producer for $150 and then to the dairy for $150. You just made $300 and your customers saved $50 each.

Sorry for the hostility, but I talk in public about this on a regular basis, and the amount of mis-information on this topic is astounding, and annoying. I encourage questions and comments.



    • Clocks Contest

      Clocks Contest
    • Water Contest

      Water Contest
    • Creative Misuse Contest

      Creative Misuse Contest

    40 Discussions

    Well... this is a great idea, but I know people who are already developing HYDROGEN fuel from water. 100 percent safe, and the output... is water... completely reusable and you can use either salt water or freshwater. also, it also uses oxygen in the water. when the water is evaporated, the gases come back. much better miles per gallon too.

    I don't think ethanol is a good fuel, partially because it needs water, then we are depleting another resource, and we aren't even ready for desaltinzation, or whatever we do to turn ocean water into fresh water, plus I don't believe in hydrogen, which means two other alternatives, but biofuel also water so I'll go with electric (P.S. electric cars are maintenance free, while internal combustion engines are relativley expensive to maintain)

    1 reply

    Unfortunately, electric cars have their considerable downsides as well. First of all, the electricity required to charge them is created by power plants, and the power plants that pump out the most (and the most reliable) power are fueled by oil, coal, or natural gas. Renewable energy has yet to be developed widely enough to provide the amount of energy required to fuel an entire economy based on electric cars. The other nasty is about the batteries. Admittedly, internal combustion vehicles have batteries as well, but an electric car must choose between larger battery banks or decreased range. Those batteries are ecological disasters, often containing lead, always containing caustic acids, and (with the newer ones) housing highly reactive elements. The final problem is one I've already mentioned, and that's range. Most electric cars have a range of anywhere from sixty to a hundred miles--barely enough for a two-hour round trip. While that may be enough for some, it has serious limitations. So electric needs a lot of work, too.

    you can use a fuel magnet befre my dads car ran 21mpg now its 32mpg

    Ok economicly this is a great idea but ethanol is not really a clean burning fuel. For every molecule of ethanol that is produced by fermentation, two molecules of CO2 are produced...and we havent even burned it yet. We're still going to have a big problem with global warmng due to the greenhouse gases. Also, we will still produce some smog because of burned oil from the IC engines. I believe that we're all going to have to get all of our energy from the wind and sun. Every household will need to generate their own electricity to power either electric cars, or to make hydrogen for hydrogen cars.

    1 reply

    Have you considered the CO2 output from the production of batteries for an electric car? The CO2 produced by fermentation is canceled out by the CO2 stored by the growth of the plant in the first place. Next years crop will reabsorb the CO2 produced by this years fermentation. And I might add that the air coming out of an alcohol burning engine is much cleaner than the average air going it is actually cleaning the smog from the air. Hydrogen is good; but we're not there yet, there is still the electricity needed to break the HH-O bond. Nuclear would be the most "green." My question is how much energy are we using to produce the alcohol? It seems to defeat the CO2 emissions gain, but I would prefer to use a wood fueled "continuous still" because I'm not a global warming sycophant. Wood is easy to come by in Montana.

    Obviously.. ethanol fueled cars is NOT the future. A BIG NONO!

    Because combustion = carbon, and carbon = bad, thats not how you save the world.

    The future is Electric cars, fueled with electricity, that comes from the SUN! YES!
    (or wind, or any REAL renewable energy source!)

    4 replies

    If you think that all CO2 is bad, then you better stop are exhaling a greenhouse gas.

    The difference between your breath and the CO2 from burning gas/oil/other fossil fuel is that your CO2 came from your food. Which came from its food. which, depending on you diet, at some point came from the CO2 in the atmosphere. How you say?...plants breath in CO2. They turn it into O2 and hydro-carbons, like starch, sugar and cellulose. You eat it and turn it back to CO2, they breath and make HC's, you eat..CO2, HC;s......get the picture. Its a closed cycle. The same amount of CO2 is always there.

    However oil, which once was plants and animals millions of years ago when there was more CO2 in the atmosphere and there were no polar ice caps and the earth was much hotter, has been stored...prevented from returning to the air, hence a cooler planet, polar ice caps and the current amount of CO2. Burning this puts "new" CO2 in the air. CO2 that is not part of our cycle. Thus increasing the amount in the atmosphere.

    I do like the idea of electric cars. There are some problems...
    1) most of the electricity in the US comes from burning coal
    2) if all of cars were electric, we would more than likely quadruple the amount of electricity that we use
    3) batteries are a dirty business, very polluting to make/dispose of
    4) 240,000,000 cars on the road in the us(depending on which google search you believe). None of them can be easily or cheaply made to be electric. Thats a lot of cars to throw away and replace. Every car on the road can be quickly/cheaply/reliably made to run on ethanol or biodiesel
    5) $$$ some big business man has proposed making all of our electricty from wind. at the ticket of 1trillion or so. Making ethanol plants will cost $60billion. Thats a big difference.
    Thanks for the comment.

    And don't forget that you also have to breath in a certain amount of CO2, since breathing too much pure oxygen would give you constant headaches, and just wouldn't be good for you.

    Well, for now, the ethanol powered cars are a better solution because it works better than solar powered cars (at least now, since they only work in full sunlight). Maybe later in the future, when solar cells/panels are much more effective, maybe then we could use Solar cars more often. But as of now, this method with ethanol is ALOT better.

    the carbon in the air is drawn into the plants when they grow and burning them would produce no more carbon hen taken away from the atmosphere.

    let me put it this way is this extra carbon going to come from?

    @cjpmann: killerjackalope explains that alcohol is made from food crops, and that's why (he thinks) it's not the solution. Instead of backing up your opinion, you provide a link to a commercial Web site that makes money from promoting alcohol as a fuel. Do you have any actual facts to support your position, and can you refute the obvious fact that using food crops to produce fuel will reduce the amount of available food?

    1 reply

    According to the USDA and the US grain council websites, a large majority of the corn grown in the US in not food. Repeat... NOT FOOD. Corn is animal feed. You can make alcohol from corn or many other and better crops and the waste product is animal food, so making alcohol does not displace food. Alcohol might increase the price of corn, but it will decrease the price of Dried Distillers Grains which is better animal feed. Cheaper DDG's off sets the more expensive Field Corn, which is a different crop and a different market for sweet corn which is the food that people eat. As far as the alcohol can be a gas site, I know David Blume personally and while we do not see eye to eye on many things, I do know that he does not make money promoting alcohol. He has been an advocate since the 80's and is a professional Permaculturalist and permaculture teacher. The major idea......CORN IS NOT FOOD.

    I don't know if your numbers add up either, but generally speaking, in makes sense. You can tell some people that commented didn't actually read it, and some people read the opposite somewhere, and that'must be the gospel truth. Open mind people. Check facts, not news stories. Then check the facts again.

    Wonderful! Now all we need to do is get governmental people to read this, and we can get started!

    Many kinds of hydrogen production release carbondioxide as well though. There are worse greenhouse gases then CO2 though, I think methane is one of them. Of course we need some greenhouse gases to keep our planet from freezing, just finding the balance is what is our problem. It seems that using wind, solar & hydro power in order to generate other sources of higher energy fuels may be the best bet, and I gotta say that is very impressive to remove the starch from corn before feeding the animals (and reduce the methane), and is the right road to start on for our oil addicted society.

    The other thing that drives up the price of the food is speculators - "corn will be used for fuel so let's charge more!" is the line of thought...

    Very interesting information. I live in the corn belt. I also live in an area with several ethanol plants. Anyone who still claims we are trading "food for fuel" in this process has never talked to a corn producer or a cattle producer. They have also never walked through a cow pasture. I have done all three. Often whole corn passes through a cow just like it passes through a human, virtually untouched. Farmers for the first time in decades are making a profit from corn rather than from government handouts and cattle operations are thrilled to feed DDGs to the cows. As rimar2000 said "I don't know if your numbers are correct, but I think the general idea is correct."