The Miracle Fuel

Ford Planned To Use Ethanol

Where did Henry Ford go wrong? When he first designed the Model T, he wanted it to run on an agriculture-based fuel — ethanol. But it wasn’t long before those plans were switched to use a petroleum-based fuel — gasoline.


As anyone who drives a gasoline-powered vehicle knows, the rest is history. Americans have since accepted the economic and environmental consequences.

Earth News

Had Ford’s plan to use ethanol been realized, America might have looked very different today. However, ethanol still has many benefits and its not to late for America to take advantage of them, said Mark Dunn, director of the Northwest Ethanol Fuel Association.

“Ethanol is fermented and distilled from agricultural products like corn, wheat, barley and potatoes,” he said. “This makes it a renewable resource — unlike fossil fuels.”

By combining gasoline with 10 percent ethanol, the new mix will actually gain a higher octane rating and burn more efficiently, Dunn said. Equally important, however, vehicles burning this fuel called “gasahol” will emit about 25 percent less carbon monoxide.

Since roughly 60 percent of all carbon monoxide pollution is created by vehicles, these reductions can be significant. Several U.S. cities already have started “gasahol” programs and have noticed the benefits of ethanol in dealing with air pollution problems.

Ethanol has other environmental advantages, as well. Some production methods can use agricultural waste like potato skins. Sending these wastes to an ethanol manufacturer can keep them from contributing to America’s solid waste problem.

Ethanol also has some impressive economic advantages. In Bend, Ore., the Oregon Ethanol Co. is building a small refinery that will employ more than 40 people.

“From our workforce, even more jobs will be created,” said Terry Lynch, president of the company. “For every job we create, another seven will be created indirectly.”

A study by the Illinois Corn Growers Association revealed that for every 100 million bushels of corn used for the production of ethanol, 2,250 new rural jobs would be created. Additionally, the ethanol industry could put 50 million idle farming acres back into production.

Last year alone, 34 states sold more than eight billion gallons of ethanol, which was blended into only eight percent of the gasoline burned in the United States.

Perhaps it’s time to put Henry Ford’s original plans back on track.

For more information on ethanol or other alternative fuels, call the Renewable Fuels Association at 1 (800) 543-3802.

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