Ethanol Fuel Pros and Cons

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In the United States, transportation needs make up 70% of the oil use that occurs every day. Billions of barrels of oil are required every year to meet those needs. Ethanol fuel is one potential solution that can help to reduce the need for a fossil fuel. Although there are advantages to using this fuel, there are some disadvantages that must be considered as well.

What Are the Pros of Ethanol Fuel?

1. It is made from a renewable resource.
Conventional oil products are a fossil fuel that won’t last forever. There might be decades of oil reserves available at current consumption methods, but with a population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, those consumption levels will rise. Ethanol fuel is renewable because corn can be grown every year.

2. It can be blended with traditional fuels.
Although some vehicles are E85, which means they require an 85% ethanol mixture, most vehicles work better with a 10% ratio. Ethanol fuels can be blended with traditional fuels to improve current inventories.

3. It reduces greenhouse emissions.
Just a 90/10 ratio of ethanol fuel to traditional fuel can reduce greenhouse emission by up to 13%. Although fossil fuels are still required to harvest and create the fuel, any overall net savings is still better than nothing.

What Are the Cons of Ethanol Fuel?

1. It only saves about one gallon of oil in total.
For every 42 gallons of conventional oil that are used for conventional gasoline, 41 gallons of oil are used in total for ethanol fuel. This means we’re saving some, but we’re not saving a lot.

2. It diverts crop resources.
With 1 in 5 children in the United States missing at least one meal per week, there is a need for more food. With ethanol, corn fields that could be producing an edible crop are instead being diverted to producing a fuel crop.

3. It raises prices.
To fill just one SUV gas tank with ethanol fuel, it takes about 450 pounds of corn. If we were to convert to ethanol fuel alone, it would require 95% of the nation’s croplands to do it. Once this happens, where does the food grow?

Could we be more energy efficient? Ethanol fuel might not be the perfect answer for our transportation needs, but the pros and cons do show it is a positive first step.