I commented several times on the stupidity of corn-based ethanol as a substitute for gasoline. It’s a very inefficient process and provides fuel at the expense of food. Already ethanol is raising the cost of growing livestock.

However, cellulosic ethanol (alcohol made from the other parts of plants, not from the edible portion) has great promise.

With Cellulosic Ethanol, There Is No Food Vs. Fuel Debate. Science Daily.

About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

5 Responses to With Cellulosic Ethanol, There Is No Food Vs. Fuel Debate

  1. russ says:


    There is “great promise” only if you accept the thin claims and speculations of the cellulosic ethanol enthusiasts. The logistics of collection and transportation will be complicated, and the energy balance of the more complex processes (assuming that they can work) is unknown. The other major consideration is the long-term productivity of lands from which gigatons of biomass are removed. Other environmental considerations could also be significant.

  2. russ says:

    See today’s :


    for additional information and a related URL.


  3. Well, my tentative conclusion would have to be that there is no possibility that corn ethanol will make a net beneficial contribution to energy supply, taking into a account all costs.

    There is a chance that use of waste plant material will despite great obstacles at present.

  4. Steve says:

    If all of the money “invested” in Iraq was devoted to hydrogen research we would probably already be very close to switching over…

  5. The biggest hurdle the cellulosic ethanol producers face at the moment is the cost of the enzyme needed to breakdown the cellulose into a sugar. While everyone from private industry to the US govt is throwing money at these research projects, we have yet to hear how they are going. I posted last week on this topic specifically in the article, “Cellulosic Enzyme Cost Reduction is still a WIP”.

    Taking away our dependence from corn requires a different ethanol strategy. One way to go about this is to empower local communities to produce ethanol from the best available feedstock. I wrote a long article yesterday on the benefits of decentralizing, or “regionalizing” alternative energy as it relates to ethanol production.

    Not only does this support the local economy, but it reduces the strain on major ethanol crops like corn.

    I frequently write about the business side of alternative energy on: Energy Spin: Alternative Energy Blog for Investors-Served Daily

    Francesco DeParis


March 2007


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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