Well this is discour…
Well this is discouraging.

Ethanol, touted as an alternative fuel of the future, may eat up far more energy during its creation than it winds up giving back, according to research by a UC Berkeley scientist that raises questions about the nation’s move toward its widespread use.

A clean-burning fuel produced from renewable crops like corn and sugarcane, ethanol has long been a cornerstone of some national lawmakers’ efforts to clear the air and curb dependence on foreign oil. California residents use close to a billion gallons of the alcohol-based fuel per year.

But in a recent issue of the journal Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, UC Berkeley geoengineering professor Tad Patzek argued that up to six times more energy is used to make ethanol than the finished fuel actually contains.

The fossil energy expended during production alone, he concluded, easily outweighs the consumable energy in the end product. As a result, Patzek believes that those who think using the “green” fuel will reduce fossil fuel consumption are deluding themselves — and the federal government’s practice of subsidizing ethanol by offering tax exemptions to oil refiners who buy it is a waste of money.

What started out as puzzling results from a school assignment turned into a full research project with these surprising results. If you read the full article, there are those who have legitimate disputes with his numbers and his data. And it may simply be an issue of this being a relatively new technology, with efficiencies to come. Still, a bit discouraging.

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