Sunday, June 1, 2008


I used to think that Ethanol made no sense. Ethanol makes sense to me now.

Ethanol is solar power, inefficiently converted into liquid fuel. Oil is also solar power, that was converted to liquid fuel over millions of years. Ethanol cannot support the lifestyle that we have become accustomed to, but it is a way to convert solar power into liquid fuel using nuclear power in the fermenting and distilling process.

The United States exports 180,000,000 tons of food each year. Assume a Nationalistic government to come to power in the years to come that will ban agricultural exports. Assume a 50% reduction in agricultural efficiency, so ninety million surplus tons.

My eight pound spaghetti pack contains 13,500 calories, an extrapolation is conservative because oils are more energy intense than grains. So our exports exceed 300 trillion calories. One gallon of vegetable oil contains 30,000 calories, probably a similar number to regular oil.

Yielding ten billion gallons of oil per year. At 42 gallons per barrel, that yields 240 million barrels. Which is 5% of our current refining number. Figure 8% with the addition of our oilseed output.

Not enough. If I were Warren Buffett, I’d be investing in a company that pioneered modern steam-powered locomotives, not insuring municipal bonds.

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