Sweet potatoes can give us gas!
I'm talking about Ethanol, a bio-based fuel made from sweet potatoes.
A lot of terms are being bandied about these days. Ethanol, cellulosic feedstocks, biomass, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), flexible fuel vehicles (FFV), E10, E85, switchgrass, bio-based fuels, sustainable renewable fuels, green energy, net energy balance, inedible sweet potatoes, "25 by 25" plan, and the list goes on and on.
With a growing fuel crisis in the USA and other countries, both developed and developing, the race is on to produce fuels substitutes for petroleum. Sweet potatoes are one of the major crops being studied, harvested and tested for Ethanol, an additive and gasoline fuel-replacement. Ethanol production is experiencing tremendous growth in the USA and around the world. There are huge world-wide opportunities for producing this bio-based fuel from crops, like inedible sweet potatoes, that do not compete with crop resources needed to feed people.
Currently, corn is the major crop being used in the USA to make Ethanol (Brazil, the world's largest producer of Ethanol, uses sugarcane). However, sweet potato can be the major crop for southeastern states that produce the most of this vegetable. And, sweet potatoes can and will play a major role in biofuel production for other countries, like China, that have large crop production. See Global Impact.
Why Ethanol? This biofuel has many benefits including: it makes the air cleaner by reducing the levels of carbon monoxide spewing from car tailpipes, it can displace petroleum on a 1:1 ratio, and it is renewable and sustainable, has a positive net energy balance,blends easily with gasoline, is nontoxic, is biodegradable, and it helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Think about it. We can get all these wonderful improved-quality-of-life benefits from Ethanol because of crops like sweet potatoes!
As a lover and promoter of sweet potatoes, I am excited about the new possibilities and global impact this vegetable will have on our world at-large over the next 5-10 years, and for generations to come. Farmers will be incented to grow more, many new jobs will be created and our environment should be cleaner and healthier.
Below is a quick survey about using sweet potatoes to produce a bio-based fuel. I would like to know what you think. In addition, sign up for the SPUDS News to keep up on all the news and stay informed about Ethanol produced from sweet potatoes.
I hope you find these definitions to be helpful for understanding why Ethanol bio-based fuel made from sweet potatoes is resourceful and desirable.
Biomass - sustainable biological sources with renewable cycles, and the sun as their energy source.
Bio-based Fuels - liquid fuel made from biomass energy through a conversion process
Renewable - replacement cycles measured in months or a few years
Sustainable - infinite to a degree
"25 by 25" Plan - agricultural community plan for 25% of the USA's energy to be obtained from agricultural sources by the year 2025.
"75 by 25" Plan - President-proposed plan for the USA to be 75% energy independent by the year 2025.
Switchgrass - a fast-growing, sturdy, pest-resistant, perennial grass native to North America; can yield high levels of biomass annually.
Anaerobic Digestion - the production of methane and carbon dioxide for conversion to biomethanol which is used to produce biodiesel fuel.
Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) - an octane-enhancing chemical-additive that is being phased out because of its groundwater and soil contamination. Ethanol is its perfect replacement.
Cellulosic Feedstock - examples include corn stalks and husks, grain straw, rice bagasse, paper pulp, switchgrass.
Ethanol - Ethyl Alcohol, 200-proof grain alcohol
E10 - a blend of 10% Ethanol and 90% gasoline
E85 - a blend of 85% Ethanol and 15% gasoline; an alternative fuel
Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) - vehicles built to use E85, or any blend up to 85% Ethanol, or 100% unleaded gasoline. All vehicles, including FFVs, can use E10; however, only FFVs can use any blend higher than E10.
Net Energy Balance - compares how much energy is used to produce a product with how much energy it will provide.