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Agriculture gas prices

Published on August 8th, 2008 | by Sarah Lozanova

73

Drink it or Drive it: The Promise of Agave for Ethanol

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August 8th, 2008 by  


gas pricesCorn has given ethanol a bad name and scientists are searching far and wide for alternative feedstock. Agave has been getting attention lately and looks very promising, although tequila connoisseurs may not be cheering. Here’s why agave is so much appealing:

High Yield Per Acre

Soybeans generate a measly 60 gallons of biodiesel annually from an acre of land and has an energy balance of 2.5. Corn generates about 300-400 gallons of ethanol per acre and has an energy balance of 1.3. Sugar cane can generate 600-800 gallons of ethanol per acre annually and has an energy balance of 8. Sugar cane unfortunately is very labor intensive to cultivate and could contribute to deforestation.

Agave however can yield an impressive 2,000 gallons of distilled ethanol per acre each year annually. Cellulosic ethanol from agave has 6 to 9 times the yield per acre. This would significantly reduce the quantity of land needed to produce the same quantity of transportations fuels.

Thrives in Wastelands

Agave fixes nitrogen in the soil and actually improves the soil quality where it is grown. 95% of the Agavacea family calls Mexico home and 50% of the country is ideally suited for agave cultivation. Dry, arid, and steep terrain typically have fewer economic opportunities and greater poverty. Ethanol from agave would open up new markets in marginalized lands.

Few other ethanol feedstocks grow well on marginalized lands. Sugar cane, which is used widely in Brazil for ethanol production, is grown in tropical regions and can drive deforestation.

Low Water Requirements

Agave does not require much water for cultivation, making it favorable over many of the alternatives because it does not need to be irrigated. Dependence on irrigation brings a myriad of problems. Water scarcity can cause competition between irrigation and drinking water. Farmers with crops reliant on water are more vulnerable to droughts. Increasing water costs can create more volatile crop prices. Because agave doesn’t need agrochemicals, it also helps protect water quality.

ethanol cornDoesn’t Require Cellulosic Technology

Although the ethanol yield from agave increases dramatically when the cellulose is used, this evolving technology is not essential. This should help shorten the time needed for ethanol from agave to hit the market in large quantities.

Opportunity for Farmers

Agave production was estimated to have decreased by 25%-35% in 2007. High global tequila demand had previously caused agave prices to increase. As a result, production increased and prices fell. As a result, many Mexican farmers began cultivating corn to satisfy the U.S. demand for corn-based ethanol. Unfortunately corn is considered a “prima donna” crop and requires considerably more fertilizer and water than agave.

Ethanol from agave will open a new market for the agave plant and increase economic opportunities. It doesn’t need agrochemicals or irrigation and is not labor intensive, lowering the overhead costs to growers.

On the downside, what effect will this development have on the price of tequila? Hopefully tequila riots will not ensue.

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About the Author

is passionate about the new green economy and renewable energy. Sarah's experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and is a co-founder of Trees Across the Miles, an urban reforestation initiative. When she can escape the internet vortex, she enjoys playing in the forest, paddling down rivers, or twisting into yoga poses.



  • Elmo Vittorio

    Domanda: quanti ettari di agave dovrei piantare per avere un raccolto pari all’olio di palma? Elmo Vittorio

  • Elmo Vittorio

    Domanda: quanti ettari di agave dovrei piantare per avere un raccolto pari all’olio di palma? Elmo Vittorio

  • nica

    KinOfCain is right agave takes 8-10 years to produce

  • nica

    KinOfCain is right agave takes 8-10 years to produce

  • nica

    KinOfCain is right agave takes 8-10 years to produce

  • http://www.nola.com/forums/profile.ssf?nickname=rapevideo DofeAllovilia

    omg.. good work, guy

  • http://www.nola.com/forums/profile.ssf?nickname=rapevideo DofeAllovilia

    omg.. good work, guy

  • stiltd

    Actually Josh you do get more power out of an ethanol engine than you do gasoline. If you doubt it, drop me a line, I know a fleet of e85 and blended hot rods that will blow the doors off their gasoline counterparts. Also, e20-e30 blends have shown about 10% greater mileage than gasoline or ethanol by itself. (in cars already on the road, now, not in the future) see http://www.ethanol.org/pdf/contentmgmt/ACE_Optimal_Ethanol_Blend_Level_Study_final_12507.pdf

    So if we could replace 20% of the gas used by using ethanol, we’d pick up 10% increase in mileage, further reducing the gasoline being use. This is a perfect situation because it allows a somewhat gradule change over.

  • stiltd

    Actually Josh you do get more power out of an ethanol engine than you do gasoline. If you doubt it, drop me a line, I know a fleet of e85 and blended hot rods that will blow the doors off their gasoline counterparts. Also, e20-e30 blends have shown about 10% greater mileage than gasoline or ethanol by itself. (in cars already on the road, now, not in the future) see http://www.ethanol.org/pdf/contentmgmt/ACE_Optimal_Ethanol_Blend_Level_Study_final_12507.pdf

    So if we could replace 20% of the gas used by using ethanol, we’d pick up 10% increase in mileage, further reducing the gasoline being use. This is a perfect situation because it allows a somewhat gradule change over.

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  • Balthzar

    Exactly Colin: “Our current high corn prices are being driven not by ethanol production but by wall street speculators (just as our current price of oil should be closer to $65 barrel instead of $120+).”

    It’s absurd to point the finger at ethanol when speculation and the cost of a barrel of crude are the real culprits behind the difficulties facing our food supplies and economy. What really has more of an impact on the price of corn: the small percentage of crop that is set aside for ethanol production or the stratospheric prices of the oil necessary to grow, harvest, and transport it?

  • Balthzar

    Exactly Colin: “Our current high corn prices are being driven not by ethanol production but by wall street speculators (just as our current price of oil should be closer to $65 barrel instead of $120+).”

    It’s absurd to point the finger at ethanol when speculation and the cost of a barrel of crude are the real culprits behind the difficulties facing our food supplies and economy. What really has more of an impact on the price of corn: the small percentage of crop that is set aside for ethanol production or the stratospheric prices of the oil necessary to grow, harvest, and transport it?

  • http://www.brightfuture.us Tim

    I think Agave may in fact be one of the few plant sources of fuel that could safely play a part in a new diversified energy infrastructure. It somewhat circumvents the corn/soybean/sugarcane problems of deforestation, soil depletion and agricultural chemical pollution.

    However, it still does not seem like a terribly wise choice of fuel. It seems like most of the agave crop would have to be imported, adding transportation fuel costs to the equation. New research on algae makes it the more promising biomass in my mind. Algae is even more efficient than agave, producing up to 10,000 gallons per acre each year, and it can be cultivated virtually anywhere in the US in artificial ponds (See Algae Biofuel – Fuel of the Future).

  • http://www.brightfuture.us Tim

    I think Agave may in fact be one of the few plant sources of fuel that could safely play a part in a new diversified energy infrastructure. It somewhat circumvents the corn/soybean/sugarcane problems of deforestation, soil depletion and agricultural chemical pollution.

    However, it still does not seem like a terribly wise choice of fuel. It seems like most of the agave crop would have to be imported, adding transportation fuel costs to the equation. New research on algae makes it the more promising biomass in my mind. Algae is even more efficient than agave, producing up to 10,000 gallons per acre each year, and it can be cultivated virtually anywhere in the US in artificial ponds (See Algae Biofuel – Fuel of the Future).

  • http://www.brightfuture.us Tim

    I think Agave may in fact be one of the few plant sources of fuel that could safely play a part in a new diversified energy infrastructure. It somewhat circumvents the corn/soybean/sugarcane problems of deforestation, soil depletion and agricultural chemical pollution.

    However, it still does not seem like a terribly wise choice of fuel. It seems like most of the agave crop would have to be imported, adding transportation fuel costs to the equation. New research on algae makes it the more promising biomass in my mind. Algae is even more efficient than agave, producing up to 10,000 gallons per acre each year, and it can be cultivated virtually anywhere in the US in artificial ponds (See Algae Biofuel – Fuel of the Future).

  • Just Watching

    It still takes water to make ethanol even if none is required for irrigation. Let’s do it but think about all that needs to be done to make it work. One gallon of ethanol will need more than one gallon of water to produce.

  • Just Watching

    It still takes water to make ethanol even if none is required for irrigation. Let’s do it but think about all that needs to be done to make it work. One gallon of ethanol will need more than one gallon of water to produce.

  • Sheefeni Hauwagna

    How much agave are we talking about here? I know one of the issues with corn is that farmers are giving space for other crops to grow it. Would they just start giving up planting other food (corn included) for agave? After all, they have to make a profit as well.

  • Sheefeni Hauwagna

    How much agave are we talking about here? I know one of the issues with corn is that farmers are giving space for other crops to grow it. Would they just start giving up planting other food (corn included) for agave? After all, they have to make a profit as well.

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  • http://www.krazd.com Krazd

    Never thought agave could be used for fuel. Our world needs more research in alternative fuels rather than solely relying on the manipulated commodity of oil

  • http://www.krazd.com Krazd

    Never thought agave could be used for fuel. Our world needs more research in alternative fuels rather than solely relying on the manipulated commodity of oil

  • http://www.krazd.com Krazd

    Never thought agave could be used for fuel. Our world needs more research in alternative fuels rather than solely relying on the manipulated commodity of oil

  • Justin

    The fact that agave fixes nitrogen may “improve” soil quality, but increasing the concentration of nitrogen in soil actually promotes the establishment of invasive species – the most common cause of plant and animal extinctions… after habitat destruction.

  • Justin

    The fact that agave fixes nitrogen may “improve” soil quality, but increasing the concentration of nitrogen in soil actually promotes the establishment of invasive species – the most common cause of plant and animal extinctions… after habitat destruction.

  • Justin

    The fact that agave fixes nitrogen may “improve” soil quality, but increasing the concentration of nitrogen in soil actually promotes the establishment of invasive species – the most common cause of plant and animal extinctions… after habitat destruction.

  • Empty Thoughts

    “If the U.S. had chosen to be a moral people, and leaving Iraqi oil alone, and following Al Gore, decided to develop the South Western deserts, with the technology of the times – solar/thermal-molten sodium – electricity installations, for the same amount of money as that war cost, ($650 Billion), today, we would be tapping into the largest, renewable, sustainable, energy source the world has ever known. It would have paid every energy bill in the U.S.A. for maintenance fees only – FOREVER! It would be equivalent to an oil field that can NEVER run dry! Low cost electric power, and storeable hydrogen gasoline replacement from the electricity, for all!

    After the millions of murders, and $650 billions of dollars, borrowed from our children’s futures and pissed away, with thousands of our own and others maimed and disfigured for life, millions of families utterly destroyed, ours and theirs, we are no closer to Iraqi oil production than the Iraqis are!

    The next time you hear a blithering idiot spoiled brat, drunken, drug addicted, sociopath, rich Arabic saber dancing daddie’s boy oilman, stand at a microphone and threaten YOUR safety with someone ELSE’S weapons, remember what you lost America, remember, and weep! (also see http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=a-solar-grand-plan)”

    A bunch of what ifs. Way to think for yourself. Now that you have made a time machine, go make the world perfect, start by telling your mom to swallow.

  • Empty Thoughts

    “If the U.S. had chosen to be a moral people, and leaving Iraqi oil alone, and following Al Gore, decided to develop the South Western deserts, with the technology of the times – solar/thermal-molten sodium – electricity installations, for the same amount of money as that war cost, ($650 Billion), today, we would be tapping into the largest, renewable, sustainable, energy source the world has ever known. It would have paid every energy bill in the U.S.A. for maintenance fees only – FOREVER! It would be equivalent to an oil field that can NEVER run dry! Low cost electric power, and storeable hydrogen gasoline replacement from the electricity, for all!

    After the millions of murders, and $650 billions of dollars, borrowed from our children’s futures and pissed away, with thousands of our own and others maimed and disfigured for life, millions of families utterly destroyed, ours and theirs, we are no closer to Iraqi oil production than the Iraqis are!

    The next time you hear a blithering idiot spoiled brat, drunken, drug addicted, sociopath, rich Arabic saber dancing daddie’s boy oilman, stand at a microphone and threaten YOUR safety with someone ELSE’S weapons, remember what you lost America, remember, and weep! (also see http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=a-solar-grand-plan)”

    A bunch of what ifs. Way to think for yourself. Now that you have made a time machine, go make the world perfect, start by telling your mom to swallow.

  • http://cofibeans.blogspot.com/2008/08/anne-curtis-is-hot-in-dyosa.html Anne Curtis Dyosa

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  • http://cofibeans.blogspot.com/2008/08/anne-curtis-is-hot-in-dyosa.html Anne Curtis Dyosa

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  • http://cofibeans.blogspot.com/2008/08/anne-curtis-is-hot-in-dyosa.html Anne Curtis Dyosa

    wow thank you so much for this wonderfull post

  • Farmland

    “The USA had 2,263,960 acres of farmland in 2002.”

    This you are missing like 3 zeros its more like 2,263,960,000 acres of US farmland.

  • Farmland

    “The USA had 2,263,960 acres of farmland in 2002.”

    This you are missing like 3 zeros its more like 2,263,960,000 acres of US farmland.

  • Farmland

    “The USA had 2,263,960 acres of farmland in 2002.”

    This you are missing like 3 zeros its more like 2,263,960,000 acres of US farmland.

  • Rafa

    Did you considered how long it takes to grow agave? it takes about 6-8 years before harvesting, and you need to cook and crush the hearts of agave before fermenting them. Agave alcohol it’s usually more expensive than grain based alcohols, at least for human consumption.

  • Rafa

    Did you considered how long it takes to grow agave? it takes about 6-8 years before harvesting, and you need to cook and crush the hearts of agave before fermenting them. Agave alcohol it’s usually more expensive than grain based alcohols, at least for human consumption.

  • Rafa

    Did you considered how long it takes to grow agave? it takes about 6-8 years before harvesting, and you need to cook and crush the hearts of agave before fermenting them. Agave alcohol it’s usually more expensive than grain based alcohols, at least for human consumption.

  • Henry

    Of course if they start growing millions of acres of agave in Mexico or any other country, imported ethanol will be taxed so heavily that it wouldn’t make an economically viable fuel source. Why do you think everything in this country is made with corn syrup instead of sugar cane juice? The US corn farmers will pull the same stunt that US sugar cane growers did to prevent foreign competition.

    Someone needs to pull their head out of the dark smelly place and realize that the best renewable source for energy is right above our heads. The sun will continue to provide power until the day the Earth turns into a cinder or freezes into a giant ice cube, which for all human intents and purposes is *forever*. Take that ludicrous profit from oil companies and force it to be invested in solar energy collection and storage before it’s too late.

  • Henry

    Of course if they start growing millions of acres of agave in Mexico or any other country, imported ethanol will be taxed so heavily that it wouldn’t make an economically viable fuel source. Why do you think everything in this country is made with corn syrup instead of sugar cane juice? The US corn farmers will pull the same stunt that US sugar cane growers did to prevent foreign competition.

    Someone needs to pull their head out of the dark smelly place and realize that the best renewable source for energy is right above our heads. The sun will continue to provide power until the day the Earth turns into a cinder or freezes into a giant ice cube, which for all human intents and purposes is *forever*. Take that ludicrous profit from oil companies and force it to be invested in solar energy collection and storage before it’s too late.

  • Henry

    Of course if they start growing millions of acres of agave in Mexico or any other country, imported ethanol will be taxed so heavily that it wouldn’t make an economically viable fuel source. Why do you think everything in this country is made with corn syrup instead of sugar cane juice? The US corn farmers will pull the same stunt that US sugar cane growers did to prevent foreign competition.

    Someone needs to pull their head out of the dark smelly place and realize that the best renewable source for energy is right above our heads. The sun will continue to provide power until the day the Earth turns into a cinder or freezes into a giant ice cube, which for all human intents and purposes is *forever*. Take that ludicrous profit from oil companies and force it to be invested in solar energy collection and storage before it’s too late.

  • Niko

    I don’t believe it. Agave does not require much water, but it grows much slower than corn and sugar cane. For example, the variety of agave used for tequila takes about 6 years to grow and become useful.

  • Niko

    I don’t believe it. Agave does not require much water, but it grows much slower than corn and sugar cane. For example, the variety of agave used for tequila takes about 6 years to grow and become useful.

  • Josh

    Show me Ethanol with the same or greater fuel power as Gasoline, and I’ll buy it. Ultra forced induction, high compression fossil fueled engines would benefit us more than research into what is essentially (imo) a way to increase food prices further. And don’t forget about Electric. Tesla has shown recently that you don’t have to sacrifice power or drivability to be eco-friendly.

  • Josh

    Show me Ethanol with the same or greater fuel power as Gasoline, and I’ll buy it. Ultra forced induction, high compression fossil fueled engines would benefit us more than research into what is essentially (imo) a way to increase food prices further. And don’t forget about Electric. Tesla has shown recently that you don’t have to sacrifice power or drivability to be eco-friendly.

    • el chupacabra

      kia biult a car for brazil thar gives superior gas mileage and hp. than gasoline.

  • Josh

    Show me Ethanol with the same or greater fuel power as Gasoline, and I’ll buy it. Ultra forced induction, high compression fossil fueled engines would benefit us more than research into what is essentially (imo) a way to increase food prices further. And don’t forget about Electric. Tesla has shown recently that you don’t have to sacrifice power or drivability to be eco-friendly.

  • Jim McDosh

    Dude ethenol is good all the year around isnt it! I love it.

    Jt

    http://www.Ultimate-Anonymity.com

  • Jim McDosh

    Dude ethenol is good all the year around isnt it! I love it.

    Jt

    http://www.Ultimate-Anonymity.com

  • Jim McDosh

    Dude ethenol is good all the year around isnt it! I love it.

    Jt

    http://www.Ultimate-Anonymity.com

  • Jackbot

    > Agave gives 2,000 gallons of ethanol per year.

    > The US used 130 billion gallons of gas in 2006.

    > This means you need 65 million acres of Agave to replace gasoline.

    >The USA had 2,263,960 acres of farmland in 2002.

    Not that I think ethanol is the best way to go, but lets at least get the facts straight here:

    In 2002, the USA had 938 Million acres of farmland of which 302 Million acres were used for harvested crops.

    reference: http://www.ers.usda.gov/StateFacts/US.htm

    There is plenty of farmland to grow our way out of this oil problem. We just need something more efficient than corn.

  • Jackbot

    > Agave gives 2,000 gallons of ethanol per year.

    > The US used 130 billion gallons of gas in 2006.

    > This means you need 65 million acres of Agave to replace gasoline.

    >The USA had 2,263,960 acres of farmland in 2002.

    Not that I think ethanol is the best way to go, but lets at least get the facts straight here:

    In 2002, the USA had 938 Million acres of farmland of which 302 Million acres were used for harvested crops.

    reference: http://www.ers.usda.gov/StateFacts/US.htm

    There is plenty of farmland to grow our way out of this oil problem. We just need something more efficient than corn.

  • Jackbot

    > Agave gives 2,000 gallons of ethanol per year.

    > The US used 130 billion gallons of gas in 2006.

    > This means you need 65 million acres of Agave to replace gasoline.

    >The USA had 2,263,960 acres of farmland in 2002.

    Not that I think ethanol is the best way to go, but lets at least get the facts straight here:

    In 2002, the USA had 938 Million acres of farmland of which 302 Million acres were used for harvested crops.

    reference: http://www.ers.usda.gov/StateFacts/US.htm

    There is plenty of farmland to grow our way out of this oil problem. We just need something more efficient than corn.

  • Pingback: Drink it or Drive it: The Promise of Agave for Ethanol | Bodezy

  • Alfredo

    First there is a wide variety of agave plants and ONLY ONE used for producing tequila – Blue Weber Tequilana Agave.

    Secondly, stop thinking the US is going to be 100% energy independent, you guys have to eat something. Having 2/3 of the mexican territory as a semideserted climate and, what 1/2? of African soil the same, would it be nice to:

    1) invest in Mexico’s agriculture (thus stopping a great deal of illegal aliens towards the US for they are needed to harvest the agave and , maybe, producing ethanol in their country) and

    2) Maybe giving Africa the opportunity to really start developing, feed their people (if agave improves the soil, then maybe we could, after some years, start producing food again there).

    I really think this is, if managed ethically, a win-win sit for everyone (in it’s most ample significance)

  • Alfredo

    First there is a wide variety of agave plants and ONLY ONE used for producing tequila – Blue Weber Tequilana Agave.

    Secondly, stop thinking the US is going to be 100% energy independent, you guys have to eat something. Having 2/3 of the mexican territory as a semideserted climate and, what 1/2? of African soil the same, would it be nice to:

    1) invest in Mexico’s agriculture (thus stopping a great deal of illegal aliens towards the US for they are needed to harvest the agave and , maybe, producing ethanol in their country) and

    2) Maybe giving Africa the opportunity to really start developing, feed their people (if agave improves the soil, then maybe we could, after some years, start producing food again there).

    I really think this is, if managed ethically, a win-win sit for everyone (in it’s most ample significance)

  • norm

    Dumb idea.

    Here’s a better one, a “non-sustainable” one, but one that will last for at least the next 2 centuries.

    Big oil only wants gasoline replaced by “sustainable” energy.

    Methanol made from Natural Gas ($1.70 a gallon) would carry us until Methane Hydrate pumping from the vast deposits on the Continental shelf around the US and all other countries can take over.

    The Oil companies and oil producing countries can go drownd themselves in a barrel of crude.

    We need only make the existing cars gas lines resistant to methanol.

  • norm

    Dumb idea.

    Here’s a better one, a “non-sustainable” one, but one that will last for at least the next 2 centuries.

    Big oil only wants gasoline replaced by “sustainable” energy.

    Methanol made from Natural Gas ($1.70 a gallon) would carry us until Methane Hydrate pumping from the vast deposits on the Continental shelf around the US and all other countries can take over.

    The Oil companies and oil producing countries can go drownd themselves in a barrel of crude.

    We need only make the existing cars gas lines resistant to methanol.

  • norm

    Dumb idea.

    Here’s a better one, a “non-sustainable” one, but one that will last for at least the next 2 centuries.

    Big oil only wants gasoline replaced by “sustainable” energy.

    Methanol made from Natural Gas ($1.70 a gallon) would carry us until Methane Hydrate pumping from the vast deposits on the Continental shelf around the US and all other countries can take over.

    The Oil companies and oil producing countries can go drownd themselves in a barrel of crude.

    We need only make the existing cars gas lines resistant to methanol.

  • http://stupidneighbour.blogspot.com Colin

    Lets not forget Switchgrass.

    I think we need to keep Agave for tequila.

    Switchgrass is a native plant that grows anywhere including drought areas and in substandard soil. Test plots already in production at multiple universities and agricultural colleges are producing just over 1100 gallons of ethanol per acre per year.

    Now lets talk about scam artists for a second… we have been getting scammed since they drilled the first well in Texas and the scam continues.

    And the US had a HELL of a lot more then 2 million acres of farmland. The USDA factsheet located at http://www.ers.usda.gov/StateFacts/US.htm lists over 900 million acres of farmland, including 400 million acres of pasture that is NOT being used for food production (harvested cropland is 295 million acres btw).

    If we grow switchgrass on 10% of the pasture… that is 40 million acres x 1100 gallons of ethanol per year = 44,000,000,000 44 BILLION GALLONS of Ethanol

    US gasoline use is roughly 400 million gallons per day x 365 = 146,000,000,000 = One Hundred and Fourty Six Billion Gallons per year. http://auto.howstuffworks.com/question417.htm

    Cellulose ethanol has the possibility of being able to provide for close to 30% of our total gasoline consumption WITHOUT impacting food production.

    Our current high corn prices are being driven not by ethanol production but by wall street speculators (just as our current price of oil should be closer to $65 barrel instead of $120+)

  • http://stupidneighbour.blogspot.com Colin

    Lets not forget Switchgrass.

    I think we need to keep Agave for tequila.

    Switchgrass is a native plant that grows anywhere including drought areas and in substandard soil. Test plots already in production at multiple universities and agricultural colleges are producing just over 1100 gallons of ethanol per acre per year.

    Now lets talk about scam artists for a second… we have been getting scammed since they drilled the first well in Texas and the scam continues.

    And the US had a HELL of a lot more then 2 million acres of farmland. The USDA factsheet located at http://www.ers.usda.gov/StateFacts/US.htm lists over 900 million acres of farmland, including 400 million acres of pasture that is NOT being used for food production (harvested cropland is 295 million acres btw).

    If we grow switchgrass on 10% of the pasture… that is 40 million acres x 1100 gallons of ethanol per year = 44,000,000,000 44 BILLION GALLONS of Ethanol

    US gasoline use is roughly 400 million gallons per day x 365 = 146,000,000,000 = One Hundred and Fourty Six Billion Gallons per year. http://auto.howstuffworks.com/question417.htm

    Cellulose ethanol has the possibility of being able to provide for close to 30% of our total gasoline consumption WITHOUT impacting food production.

    Our current high corn prices are being driven not by ethanol production but by wall street speculators (just as our current price of oil should be closer to $65 barrel instead of $120+)

  • http://stupidneighbour.blogspot.com Colin

    Lets not forget Switchgrass.

    I think we need to keep Agave for tequila.

    Switchgrass is a native plant that grows anywhere including drought areas and in substandard soil. Test plots already in production at multiple universities and agricultural colleges are producing just over 1100 gallons of ethanol per acre per year.

    Now lets talk about scam artists for a second… we have been getting scammed since they drilled the first well in Texas and the scam continues.

    And the US had a HELL of a lot more then 2 million acres of farmland. The USDA factsheet located at http://www.ers.usda.gov/StateFacts/US.htm lists over 900 million acres of farmland, including 400 million acres of pasture that is NOT being used for food production (harvested cropland is 295 million acres btw).

    If we grow switchgrass on 10% of the pasture… that is 40 million acres x 1100 gallons of ethanol per year = 44,000,000,000 44 BILLION GALLONS of Ethanol

    US gasoline use is roughly 400 million gallons per day x 365 = 146,000,000,000 = One Hundred and Fourty Six Billion Gallons per year. http://auto.howstuffworks.com/question417.htm

    Cellulose ethanol has the possibility of being able to provide for close to 30% of our total gasoline consumption WITHOUT impacting food production.

    Our current high corn prices are being driven not by ethanol production but by wall street speculators (just as our current price of oil should be closer to $65 barrel instead of $120+)

  • Sarah Lozanova

    The article isn’t suggesting that the U.S. should not decrease the amount of gasoline being used or that 100% of our gasoline should be produced from agave. It can be used as a bridge until more sustainable technologies and lifestyles are adapted.

    1/5 to 1/8 of the land is needed when comparing agave to corn, so this a huge improvement over how things are now. It can also be grown on marginal lands, many of which are not fit for food cultivation. I don’t think ethanol is a long-term solution, but it is an improvement over our current situation if the certain feedstock are used. U.S. foreign policy in Iraq and current carbon emissions are unacceptable.

  • Billy

    The ethanol scam artists just won’t quit. Agave gives 2,000 gallons of ethanol per year.

    The US used 130 billion gallons of gas in 2006.

    This means you need 65 million acres of Agave to replace gasoline.

    The USA had 2,263,960 acres of farmland in 2002.

    How many people are going to starve to death before everyone realizes that ethanol is one of the absolute worst solutions that exists today?

    There have already been riots in other nations because people cannot afford corn flour. Pilgrims Pride, the largest chicken producer in the USA, is closing plants because of the cost of feed. WAKE UP AMERICA! These scam artists are doing a million times more harm than this supposed global warming is.

  • Billy

    The ethanol scam artists just won’t quit. Agave gives 2,000 gallons of ethanol per year.

    The US used 130 billion gallons of gas in 2006.

    This means you need 65 million acres of Agave to replace gasoline.

    The USA had 2,263,960 acres of farmland in 2002.

    How many people are going to starve to death before everyone realizes that ethanol is one of the absolute worst solutions that exists today?

    There have already been riots in other nations because people cannot afford corn flour. Pilgrims Pride, the largest chicken producer in the USA, is closing plants because of the cost of feed. WAKE UP AMERICA! These scam artists are doing a million times more harm than this supposed global warming is.

  • Uncle B

    If the U.S. had chosen to be a moral people, and leaving Iraqi oil alone, and following Al Gore, decided to develop the South Western deserts, with the technology of the times – solar/thermal-molten sodium – electricity installations, for the same amount of money as that war cost, ($650 Billion), today, we would be tapping into the largest, renewable, sustainable, energy source the world has ever known. It would have paid every energy bill in the U.S.A. for maintenance fees only – FOREVER! It would be equivalent to an oil field that can NEVER run dry! Low cost electric power, and storeable hydrogen gasoline replacement from the electricity, for all!

    After the millions of murders, and $650 billions of dollars, borrowed from our children’s futures and pissed away, with thousands of our own and others maimed and disfigured for life, millions of families utterly destroyed, ours and theirs, we are no closer to Iraqi oil production than the Iraqis are!

    The next time you hear a blithering idiot spoiled brat, drunken, drug addicted, sociopath, rich Arabic saber dancing daddie’s boy oilman, stand at a microphone and threaten YOUR safety with someone ELSE’S weapons, remember what you lost America, remember, and weep! (also see http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=a-solar-grand-plan)

  • Uncle B

    If the U.S. had chosen to be a moral people, and leaving Iraqi oil alone, and following Al Gore, decided to develop the South Western deserts, with the technology of the times – solar/thermal-molten sodium – electricity installations, for the same amount of money as that war cost, ($650 Billion), today, we would be tapping into the largest, renewable, sustainable, energy source the world has ever known. It would have paid every energy bill in the U.S.A. for maintenance fees only – FOREVER! It would be equivalent to an oil field that can NEVER run dry! Low cost electric power, and storeable hydrogen gasoline replacement from the electricity, for all!

    After the millions of murders, and $650 billions of dollars, borrowed from our children’s futures and pissed away, with thousands of our own and others maimed and disfigured for life, millions of families utterly destroyed, ours and theirs, we are no closer to Iraqi oil production than the Iraqis are!

    The next time you hear a blithering idiot spoiled brat, drunken, drug addicted, sociopath, rich Arabic saber dancing daddie’s boy oilman, stand at a microphone and threaten YOUR safety with someone ELSE’S weapons, remember what you lost America, remember, and weep! (also see http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=a-solar-grand-plan)

  • Uncle B

    If the U.S. had chosen to be a moral people, and leaving Iraqi oil alone, and following Al Gore, decided to develop the South Western deserts, with the technology of the times – solar/thermal-molten sodium – electricity installations, for the same amount of money as that war cost, ($650 Billion), today, we would be tapping into the largest, renewable, sustainable, energy source the world has ever known. It would have paid every energy bill in the U.S.A. for maintenance fees only – FOREVER! It would be equivalent to an oil field that can NEVER run dry! Low cost electric power, and storeable hydrogen gasoline replacement from the electricity, for all!

    After the millions of murders, and $650 billions of dollars, borrowed from our children’s futures and pissed away, with thousands of our own and others maimed and disfigured for life, millions of families utterly destroyed, ours and theirs, we are no closer to Iraqi oil production than the Iraqis are!

    The next time you hear a blithering idiot spoiled brat, drunken, drug addicted, sociopath, rich Arabic saber dancing daddie’s boy oilman, stand at a microphone and threaten YOUR safety with someone ELSE’S weapons, remember what you lost America, remember, and weep! (also see http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=a-solar-grand-plan)

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  • Sarah Lozanova

    There is so much potential to use leftover plant scraps for ethanol and is such a win-win situation. It would require networks to be established. For example, an ethanol plant would want a continuous supply without seasonal dips if possible. This post addresses some of those issues: http://cleantechnica.com/2008/02/07/economic-conditions-shifting-in-favor-of-ethanol/

    The productions numbers according to the source are annual, although agave has a 6 year harvest cycle.

  • KinOfCain

    A large portion of the Agave plant goes unused in Tequila. It’s possible that they could make tequila with the good bits, and cellulosic ethanol with the other bits.

    One question: Are you sure these production numbers are for each year? Or are they for each harvest? Agave plants take several years to mature.

  • KinOfCain

    A large portion of the Agave plant goes unused in Tequila. It’s possible that they could make tequila with the good bits, and cellulosic ethanol with the other bits.

    One question: Are you sure these production numbers are for each year? Or are they for each harvest? Agave plants take several years to mature.

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