Ethanol believed to be answer to high gas prices

By Staff
Melissa Cason, Franklin County Times
With the price of gasoline soaring above $3 per gallon, alternative fuel sources are quickly becoming the hot issue at local civic club meetings. An alternative fuel specialist from Auburn University visited the Russellville Civitan to discuss alternative fuel and their importance to our economy.
Regional Extension Agent Mark Hall firmly believes that ethanol is the fuel of the future, and he predicts that by 2015 ethanol will be the standard in the automotive fuel.
"We have got to change," Hall said. "There's no downside to ethanol as an alternative fuel."
Hall said that it cost automobile manufacturers the same amount to produce a vehicle that runs off of ethanol that it does to produce a gas vehicle.
"Most American-made automobiles take gas or ethanol," Hall said. "If your vehicle has a yellow cap, it's a flex fuel vehicle and will take either."
Ethanol is not readily available the way that gas is in our country, but Hall thinks that tide will soon turn because automakers are starting to produce more vehicles that take alternative fuels.
"It's kind of like the chicken and the egg, there has to be a demand for ethanol stations before fuel companies will invest their money into ethanol instead of gas," Hall said.
Ethanol, which is made from corn or soybean, will not only lower fuel prices, but it will help boost the economy, even in Franklin County. Northern Alabama would be a prime location to grow corn and soybean because of the Tennessee River, Hall said.
Bio-diesel is another fuel alternative not fully utilized in our country, according to Hall, but he feels that while bio-diesel is beneficial, his money is on ethanol being our alternative fuel of the future.
Hall said that alternative energy is all around us if we would decide to use it. Something as common as chicken litter can be produced into alternative fuel.
Regardless of where our alternative fuel resources come from, one thing is clear: The United States needs to produce the bulk of its own fuel.
"Ten percent of the world's oil comes from one place in Saudi Arabia," Hall said. "One major blow to that place, and there will be a major oil shortage, and that's what keeps me up at night."

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