20 September 2007

BIOFUEL -- the answer to the energy crisis?

I've seen quite a number of bloggers promoting the idea of biofuels to solve the energy crisis, without the bloggers apparently being aware of the problems, which are well summarised here: Journey Home: BIOFUEL Realities - Not so fast big guys!

One of the biofuels that has been around longest is snake oil, and we ought to know by now that that is not the answer.

South Africans are no strangers to biofuels. In my youth one could buy "Union Spirit" at just about every garage in Durban. It was a by-product of sugar refining, made from sugar cane. It wasn't sold outside the Natal coastal belt though, with one exception. There one one garage in Jeppe, Johannesburg, which sold it in the 1960s. That was before petrol was sold with two octane ratings, premium and regular. Union was 100 octane, and was therefore prized by car enthusiasts who souped up their cars by increasing the compression ratio so that they could no longer run on regular petrol.

But even in the days of sanctions, in the late 1980s, when South Africa's oil supply was erratic and precarious, and the government stockpiled oil in secret locations around the country, Union was not plugged as the answer, and in fact that is when it declined and disappeared from the market.

1 comment:

Yvonne said...

Yes, the trouble with biofuels is that you still have to grow the crops to make them, thus reducing the area devoted to growing food (or living space, or wilderness).

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