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....
PLAN BEAUTY #1
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?"
"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?"
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 ....
BEAUTY OF THE PLAN #2
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.