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The mamona or castor bean plant can be used to create ethanol fuel.

One Alternative Fuel: Ethanol

In 1908 Henry Ford invented the Model-T car. Many people don’t know this but it was designed to run on ethanol. Henry was quoted as saying, “Ethanol is the fuel of the future.”

Sadly, we didn’t listen to him over a hundred years ago and now we’re paying the price at the pumps and we’ve frittered away our children’s hopes for the future safety of our planet for generations to come. In the name of…what? What did we sell out for? Progress? Government taxation? Fatter cats in the oil companies and moguls amassing wealth for themselves and their families at our families expense. We blindly followed, never asking questions, just lazily saying “Oh well, that’s just the way the world works.”

The mamona or castor bean plant can be used to create ethanol fuel.Don’t worry, I’m not judging anyone here. I’ve been just as apathetic at it all as the next guy. But when my daughter hit 16 and I wondered if she’d one day marry and raise her own family, I started getting nervous. We’ve sold out and we haven’t left much on the table for our children to work with as a result.

Back to Henry and Ethanol…

Ethanol is the same type of alcohol fuel as that in alcohol we drink. When ethanol is used to operate motor vehicles it is mixed with gasoline, usually at a 10/90 mix (10% being the ethanol). Ethanol contains a high concentration of octane which means that using it will not slow down the speed or engine performance of your vehicle. However, recent studies prove that the effects of ethanol reduces a vehicle’s mileage by 1-2%. Not the miracle fuel we’d hoped for but that small decrease in mileage is counteracted by the fact that the use of ethanol is better for the future of our planet.

The effects of ethanol do not increase the greenhouse effect, but actually help reduce nitrogen oxide levels by up to 20%. Also proven, ethanol reduces CO2 emissions of up to 100% on the life of your vehicle. That means that the exhaust pouring out of the tailpipe will be a lot cleaner – reducing the smog problems in our cities.

Ethanol is also biodegradable and it helps reduce the effects of global warming by burning cleaner and more efficiently. It is a proven fact that we have put our planet in great jeopardy and ethanol’s use helps heal that damage as well as reducing our pollution count. Although this is not the only solution it is one that may be the safest available fuel today.

About Laura Childs

Country Living enthusiast Laura Childs was a downtown city girl for many years before heading to the hills to live a sustainable lifestyle, raise her daughter, get back to the land, and learn the time tested traditions of a simpler era. Throughout her farm life adventures of raising animals, working from home, home schooling her daughter, and being more green, Laura Childs has been sharing on the GoodByeCityLife website through articles and personal musings since 1998.


    A few years ago Popular Science had a story on Ethanol. They showed that Ethanol will cost more, give less miles per gallon AND it will take
    1.2 gallons of fuel to ready the land, plant, tend the crop, harvest, transport the crop and refine it into ONLY 1 gallon of Ethanol. A net loss of 2 tenths of a gallon for each gallon produced.

  2. Again, it is so sad that we didn’t pay attention or listen ‘back then’ to Henry Ford… :(