Ethanol: The Forever Fuel

Ethanol is the answer to the energy dilemma. It's clean and green and runs in today's cars.

Published: 24-Jan-2006

SAN FRANCISCO - General Motors will take the occasion of the Winter Olympics in Italy to begin telling Americans about a topic that has nothing to do with skiing or bobsledding. Believe it or not, the once-great automaker will stake its position as a friend of the environment and as a promoter of ethanol, specifically a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline called E85.

One could question GM's timing on a lot of things. Pay attention to the message though. GM is onto something really big, namely how we as a country can finally begin weaning ourselves off gasoline.

Sure, ethanol calls to mind images of Jimmy Carter in a cardigan. But things have changed since the 1970s, when an oil-shocked president turned to agribusiness to create a homegrown alternative to gasoline. Instead of coming exclusively from corn or sugar cane as it has up to now, thanks to biotech breakthroughs, the fuel can be made out of everything from prairie switchgrass and wood chips to corn husks and other agricultural waste.

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