The Moral Case for Internal Combustion Engines Powered By Ethanol +VIDEO
Efficiency, capability, accessibility, affordability, and clean mobility
- even cleaner than electric motors!
- even cleaner than electric motors!
By Marc J. Rauch - Author of The Ethanol Papers*
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher
THE AUTO CHANNEL
Their shared premise is that because of fossil fuels, humanity - indeed all life on Earth - owes a debt of gratitude to fossil fuels for taking us all out of the muck and mire and misery of an every day back-breaking life. Needless to say, fossil fuels (more accurately, abiotic fuels) themselves are inanimate, non-sentient substances. Therefore, the morality issue must relate to the conscious use by animate sentient animals (humans) to choose to use these abiotic fuels despite the fact that the fuels themselves are the cause of death and the permanent disabling of hundreds of millions of live sentient animals (representing all species). Alas, there is no morality here.
Interestingly, both Ms. Hartnett and Mr. Epstein draw insight from author Matt Ridley to help 'frame' their contention that there is a moral case to be made for the use of the abiotic fuels. One
particularly salient statement made by Matt Ridley can be found in his book "The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves" on page 158. Ridley writes:
"A modern combine harvester, driven by a single man, can reap enough wheat in a single day to make half a million loaves."
Epstein and Hartnett misuse Ridley's words to shower praise on petroleum oil fuels and coal. As I argued in my 2018 editorial "The Immorality of Arguing That There's a Moral Case for Fossil Fuels", the premise of both books was absurd because the so-called fossil fuels did no such thing. If there is a hero, I wrote, the hero are the inventions that made back-braking tasks easy, or at the least tolerable.
Ironically Ms. Hartnett seems to inadvertently arrive at the same conclusion when she writes:
- "When innovative minds developed a steam engine..."
But then she goes off-track and distorts the truth when she finishes the sentence with the words:
- "...which could convert the stored heat energy in coal into mechanical energy, the economic limits under which all human societies had formerly existed were blown apart."
Hartnett jumps to the presumption that the steam engine was developed because of coal, or that only coal could be used to power a steam engine, or that coal itself was responsible for "blowing apart the economic confines of human societies." In fact, a steam engine doesn't run on coal, it runs on steam created from water...plain water. The heating of the water doesn't require coal, it can use coal or wood or anything else that burns, including ethanol. Coal has existed on Earth longer than humans; coal didn't change anything - the invention of the steam engine changed societies. The same thing can then be said about the internal combustion engine, which wasn't invented by "innovative minds" because of the availability of petroleum oil and the production petroleum oil fuels - it was created to be powered by alcohol-based fuels (Samuel Morey, Nicholas Otto, and Henry Ford). And alcohol has been known to humans for probably as long as their knowledge of coal.
The tried and true engine of societal change is the internal combustion engine, not the fuel. The hero of the morality play is the invention of the engine, be it a steam engine or an internal combustion engine (ICE).
The internal combustion engine is an especially wonderful device, in the fullest sense of the word "wonder" - it can do it all, and it has.
Unfortunately, the internal combustion engine suffers from intense enmity and hostility because of the deadly emissions that can pour forth from the operation of an internal combustion engine. The deadly emissions are not the end-product of the engine, they are the end result of using a filthy fuel to run the engine. It is the fuel produced from petroleum oil that darkens our skies and our lungs, and is the causation of wars that has killed or disabled hundreds of millions of people (and many, many millions of other animals).
The internal combustion engine powered by a better fuel, a cleaner fuel, would change the entire paradigm.
One answer to the internal combustion engine powered by petroleum oil fuels (gasoline or diesel fuel) is the electric motor. It is considered the shiny knight standing atop a hill, almost close enough to touch. It's been standing there for more than a century, but just out of reach. The same inherent problems that kept the electric motor from displacing the internal combustion engine as the primary propulsion device of the masses 100 years ago are still obstructing its adoption today: Cost, reliable storage, mobility range, and quick recharge.
Some very learned people and studies argue that when everything is taken into account, electric vehicles are not cleaner than gasoline and diesel-powered internal combustion vehicles. For example, read: "Electric Cars Are Not Necessarily Clean". And watch this:
On the other hand, some very learned people and studies show that when everything is taken into account, electric vehicles are definitely cleaner than gasoline and diesel-powered ICE vehicles by a margin of around 30% - 40%. For example, read: Electric Cars Are Cleaner Even When Powered by Coal. And watch this:
Obviously, depending upon an individual's predisposition, enough reports can be found to confirm his or her initial predilection.
My business partner, Bob Gordon, and I take a different approach. We say that the comparison between electric vehicles and gasoline/diesel vehicles is immaterial. We say let's not throw the baby (the internal
combustion engine) out with the filthy, deadly bathwater (the petroleum oil fuel). We should be keeping the wonderful internal combustion engine and just use a better fuel, a cleaner fuel, a fuel such as ethanol.
Studies conducted for the past 150 years have always shown ethanol to be much cleaner than any petroleum oil fuel. Recent studies continue to cite improvements of ethanol over gasoline to range from about 40% to
about 80% cleaner. For example, see these studies:
- The Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Corn Ethanol – Assessing Recent Evidence
What this means is that regardless of the comparison between gasoline powered internal combustion engines and electric engines, internal combustion engines powered by ethanol are cleaner than either of them.
The story gets even better because new internal combustion engine technology and improvements have made internal combustion engines more efficient users of the better fuel (ethanol). For instance, a new internal combustion vehicle engine designed by MayMaan Research runs on 70% water and 30% ethanol (with no gasoline whatsoever). And E-FUEL Corporation's Personal Energy System (PES) home/business generator can run on E100. This translates to no GHG emissions.
The significance of all this is that internal combustion engines are here now, today, not in 5 years or 10 years or 25 years or 50 years. Internal combustion engines are WONDERFUL, they work, they are the tried and true engines of societal improvement. They don't require the involvement or dependence on China or the OPEC nations. They don't require the use of slave labor-style cobalt mining camps.
To achieve their full potential, internal combustion engines just need a better fuel, a cleaner fuel, a safer fuel, a fuel that is 100% domestically produced. THEY NEED ETHANOL. All internal combustion engines vehicles on the road right now can use much higher levels of ethanol than just E10 or E15. This is a proven fact. In the march towards an electric vehicle future, hundreds of millions of ICE vehicles and stationary engines will still be in operation, why not do everything possible to eliminate as much harmful emissions immediately?
Moreover, the continued and expanded use of ethanol fuel will save millions of jobs and untold numbers of businesses if and when electric vehicles become the dominant vehicles on the road. Gasoline stations, convenience stores, repair shops, and manufacturers of parts and components will all go out of business. The oil companies themselves will go bankrupt. Funnily enough, the oil industry should be the biggest supporters of ethanol because ethanol-gasoline blends will ensure the continued use of gasoline. They should be demanding that the government mandates E30, E40, E50, and even E85 because it is the one way to insure petroleum oil's stake in the vehicle fuel market. Electric cars will not need any petroleum oil fuels. If the people working at API or AFPM had any sense, they would understand this and champion ethanol.
Saving jobs is a worthwhile and moral undertaking; Averting wars and saving lives is a moral imperative; Protecting the health of our fellow citizens and wild life community is a moral obligation. All of this makes The Moral Case for Internal Combustion Engines Powered by Ethanol.