Saturday, December 10, 2005

 

Corn as Fuel

Corn as fuel has got to be one of the biggest boondoggles ever. It makes no economic sense, and it’s clearly unsustainable.

Using corn to make ethanol has been an issue for some time. Despite the hoopla about how it’s helping the US achieve “energy independence” (is that a laugh, or what?), it is actually doing the opposite because the energy input is greater than what you get from the resulting ethanol. The whole thing is a scam to help corn farmers find markets for their overproduction.

Now there are corn-burning stoves, which some people are using to offset heating costs. But here too we have the same energy inefficiency, because all the fossil fuel energy put into producing the corn, removing the grain from the cobs, and distributing it to users comes to more than the energy obtained when burning the corn in stoves. Just like the ethanol scam, this is actually aggravating the problem. It would make far more sense to plant trees on those corn fields.

Obviously, using corn as fuel is unsustainable because of the huge fossil fuel inputs and the negative energy balance.



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