The following is a review of David Blume’s book Alcohol Can Be a Gas
; all figures and statistics come directly from Mr. Blume’s book.
David Blume, an organic farmer and leader of the alcohol revolution, provides evidence that ethanol alcohol is a viable and renewable fuel source that can help to remove dependence on foreign oil and bring jobs back to America.
Imagine the US as an independent self-sufficient nation with a production economy once again!
Many people have concerns about food shortages because crops are grown for fuel instead of food. One of the greatest misconceptions about alcohol is that it will use up land that could be used to grow food. This belief is based on the use of corn to produce ethanol, which is very inefficient. According to Blume, there are other crops that can produce 3 times as much ethanol and those crops need not be grown on prime cropland, but can be grown on farmland that is not as level and has more shallow soil. Most of this farmland is arid and mesquite trees could passively grow there. Blume says, “mesquite harvested seedpods would generate 33 billion gallons of alcohol, without irrigation, fertilization or annual planting. That is another 21% of our annual gasoline needs from only 7.45% of our farmland.”
Lowlands, swamps and wetlands can be used to cultivate high yielding plants like cattails, whicn are considered a weed. Blume says that cattails can be used inexpensively to treat sewage and that the “yields of starch and cellulose from cattails can easily top 10,000 gallons per acre. If all the sewage in the US were sent to constructed marshes, the 3141 counties would need only 6360 acres each to fulfill all of our foreseeable transportation fuel needs, both gasoline and diesel, at 200 billion gallons per year. This equals 1.4% of our agricultural land”. No irrigation or chemical fertilizers would be needed. Additionally, they provide a profitable way to clean up rivers, streams and oceans by detoxifying chemicals and removing heavy metals like mercury which is evaporated out through the leaves.
Blume says that cellulose can be used as a fuel source and that the US has 30 million acres of lawn (this is about 40% of the total acreage used for corn), and it isn’t counted as cropland or farmland. Grass clippings alone could generate over 11 billion gallons of fuel per year. This doesn’t even include green waste from landscaping that could be added to the cellulose totals in each county.
Ethanol can also be extracted from the ocean while cleaning it! Dead zones are areas near coastlines with decreased concentrations of sea life due to elevated levels of nitrogen, usually caused by chemical fertilizer and industrial waste. The nitrogen causes a population boom in microscopic algae and then it decomposes. During algae decomposition, the oxygen in the water is consumed and kills off the concentrated sea life. There is almost 8000 square miles of dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico and dead zones also exist along the Oregon, Washington, California and and Eastern Sea coasts. Kelp is made up of brown algae; in China and Norway this kelp is dried to produce fertilizer. Blume recommends that the US adopt this strategy to eliminate the need for polluting chemical and petroleum fertilizers. He further advocates fermenting the kelp first to make alcohol and then fermenting the leftover mash a second time for methane. The California coast alone could yield almost 90 billion gallons of fuel. The remaining 2/3 of the energy as methane would provide all the alcohol plant process energy plus a huge surplus of gas/electricity for business and residential use. Combined with the other dead zones, all transportation fuel as well as the majority of natural gas could be replaced without using a square foot of farmland.
Blume says that the top four US crops are rice, wheat, corn and potatoes which are 75% starch and he suggests that malnutrition is a protein deficiency as opposed to a caloric deficiency. He advocates increasing protein production by cultivating oyster mushrooms that can be grown using just 25% of the grain straw that is annually burned off of fields as the fungi can efficiently extract the protein from the straw. Blume writes, “So if we really wanted to feed everyone, even without using a single animal as a food source, it would not be difficult”.
The US uses 87% of its corn crop as animal feed; when alcohol is made from the corn, which removes the starch, the protein, fat, some of the cellulose, vitamins and minerals along with the yeast from fermentation remains. The remaining substance is called distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and is about one third of the volume of the original corn after the starch is removed. DDGS is a far superior animal feed that eliminates huge health problems in cattle because they cannot digest the starch in corn. Of course Blume, as an organic farmer, shuns GMO products.
Blume tells a fascinating story about his organic farm with less than 2 acres of uneven land in San Francisco that produced enough food to feed as many as 450 people. He converted the organic content of the soil from 2% to 22% and the adobe clay soil was transformed from 1 inch of topsoil to 16 inches of topsoil. His little patch of land produced over 100,000 pounds of food per acre.
Blume’s book covers how to convert your car to run on alcohol. If you have a flex fuel car, you’re good to go. You can also purchase a conversion kit from his website for $400 to $700 (depending on the size of your engine). The kits are made in the US and allow you to burn straight gasoline, E85 or 100% ethanol. Alcohol fuel conversion kits have been used successfully in Brazil on over 50,000 cars over the last 20 years with no reports of of engine damage resulting from the kits or running on ethanol. Small 2 stroke engine problems are preventable by using a lubricant and the proper grade of alcohol.
Rockefeller foisted ‘prohibition’ on the US in order to create a fuel monopoly with gasoline; Ford’s Model T originally ran on alcohol that people could grow and distill themselves.
America is abundant and is still full of opportunity! We must think for ourselves and stop allowing big corporations tell us that the only source of energy is from that which they derive a profit. If we work with nature, we could feed and fuel the world in addition to massively reducing pollution.