A company called E-Fuel Corp. has developed a device to allow consumers to distill
their own ethanol at home, and claims that the device will let its customers fuel their
automobiles for only $1 per gallon.
The EFuel100 MicroFueler, which is about six feet high, six feet deep and 3.5 feet wide, is shaped similar to a standard gasoline pump. Once it is full of finished product that is exactly how it operates: the extendable hose and nozzle are plugged into the fuel tank, and the device dispenses up to 35 gallons of 100 percent ethanol.
The difference between the device and a conventional gas pump, other than the fuel being dispensed, is that the MicroFueler actually makes its own ethanol out of a sugar-yeast feedstock provided by the owner, plus water. The device does not use any internal combustion, relying instead on the electricity from a standard 120-volt outlet.
Owners of the MicroFueler can either purchase the sugar-yeast feedstock directly from E-Fuel, or secure their own sugar and purchase only the yeast. The user simply feeds the sugar-yeast combination into the back of the machine, then presses start.
"Set it and forget it," company literature reads.
It takes five to seven days to produce 35 gallons of 100 percent ethanol.
The key to the machine's cheap production costs - an estimated $1 per gallon - is its use of sugar as a feedstock, according to E-Fuel.
"Sugar is the most widely available feedstock in the world," the company says. "There are 126 countries that produce and sell sugar, thus making it widely available from a multitude of suppliers."
E-Fuel Chief Executive Officer Tom Quinn says that world markets are so glutted with sugar that it should remain cheap. The special feedstock that it sells to customers will be partially sourced from inedible surplus supplies from places like Mexico.
More importantly, the transformation of sugar into fuel should not affect food prices the way ethanol's more traditional feedstock - corn - has been accused of.
Ethanol and other "biofuels" have been criticized for diverting arable land from food cultivation to fuel production.
"There's no mother in America crying that their kids aren't getting enough sugar," Quinn said.
David Pimental, a Cornell University researcher who has studied ethanol economics extensively, expressed skepticism that the MicroFueler could really produce ethanol so cheaply. The history of ethanol has tended toward decreasing costs by increasing the scale of production, he said, not decreasing it.
"I doubt it will work," he said.
But E-Fuel counters that its method of production is more efficient than a large factory, because the ability for small-scale filtration reduces the costs needed to purify the final product.
"We will break the traditional ethanol system," Quinn said.
Quinn, an inventor of computers and computer games, and has invested millions in E-Fuel.
The device has also drawn criticism from Stanford University's Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. Jacobson points out that while ethanol may produce less in the way of greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline, it is still a highly toxic and polluting substance.
"[Ethanol] kills people," he said. "Just like cigarette smoke, you're breathing in particles that are harmful."
Jacobson's research has shown that when ethanol breaks down in the atmosphere, it produces toxic chemicals including formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and the corrosive acetic acid.
The MicroFueler is already available on pre-order for a down payment of $3,000 toward the total cost of $10,000. According to Quinn, the device can pay for itself very quickly. Assuming that gas prices remain at $3.60 per gallon, he said, it would take less than two years for a typical two-car family driving 34,500 miles per year to make up the initial cost in lower fuel bills. (naturalnews, by David Gutierrez) http://www.naturalnews.com/z024561.html
Sources for this story include: www.reuters.com,