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Environmental Issues
Farm Crops

Is cane sugar a feasible alternative to corn for the production of ethanol?


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May 27, 2007 5:36PM

Problem with sugar cane- very, very narrow growth area in US. Yes, it would probably help, but not be the only solution. Anything with sugars/ carbohydrates can be converted to alcohols (ETOH, MTOH). Part of the problem is that not all cars will run on more than 10% ethanol and that is a big issue. US won't mandate flex fuel engines... which would automatically offer a greater market for alcohol blend fuels. Conversion kits or cheap conversions to flex fuel would be the best short term, existing "fleet" (existing car population in US) modification to offer. I don't know if you can just change oxygen sensors, maybe some fuel hoses, and switch to ETOH or not. So, problems are: 1. supply availability (sugar cane can't be grown on most farm ground in US) 2. pump availability for flex fuel 3. engine/ fuel system compatibility 4. price differential between gas and alcohol blends (flexes all of the time, so this may or may not be an issue at any time- very well might be less variation if domestic alcohol production is consistent and demands relatively steady, high corn use)