Lots of tax dollars and nervous energy are being expended on the latest glitzy ideas for creating alternate fuels to put in your car’s gas tank. Ethanol is the darling of the renewable energy club.
But have you taken a close look at the amount of energy it takes to produce a gallon of ethanol? We don’t need to look at statistics, just consider the simple facts about corn, which is used to make ethanol.
To produce ethanol from corn you must: till the soil, plant the seed in neat rows, fertilize, irrigate, harvest the corn kernels, transport them, process the kernels into ethanol, and transport the ethanol to the final user. Then you must drive your vehicle to the nearest station and pump it into your ethanol tank. At best, it amounts to a 2:1 ratio, energy out to energy in.
In all the frenzy to replace gasoline with ethanol we are forgetting an ideal energy alternative. Except in the desert, it grows practically everywhere: grass. And right now, there are farmers in this country that are waking up to the grass revolution. They have discovered a simple, low energy input, alternative energy source right under their nose.
Grass is made into small pellets – or densified – so it can be burned in a stove, furnace or boiler in any home. The same pellets can be used as fuel to generate electricity as well as for space heating, and the good news is that it takes very little energy to produce compared with ethanol. In fact, once the grass is planted you don’t need to till the soil again, just cut the grass and it grows again. At best, it amounts to a 14:1 ratio, energy out to energy in. That’s good, for you non-ratio people.
And you don’t need to transport the grass fuel far either. It could be consumed right in the neighborhoods where it is produced.
The amazing thing is that grass can be burned, using the right equipment, with far less carbon dioxide emission than practically any other form of heating fuel, especially ethanol.
So why isn’t the grass pellet industry taking off like wildfire? Because it doesn’t show up on your congress person’s radar screen. They are too focused on the corn market that is heavily subsidized by, guess who? Therefore, grass does not get the attention, research money, and tax credits that would help pull a grass pellet industry from idea to smoke.
I say phooey and shame on people that grovel at the governments “feed trough” anyway. We don’t need their money. A grass roots industry, no pun intended, is starting to take hold.
All you hayseeds across the country, listen up: I am behind you 100%. If the farmers in my area don’t do something soon, I will. In fact, I am looking for a pellet boiler for my new house.
Hmmm, I wonder if the elk on my fifteen acres would mind sharing some grass?