A Brief History of Biofuels
by RP Siegel (TriplePundit) …Back in 1917, Alexander Graham Bell made the following observation in National Geographic, “Alcohol makes a beautiful, clean and efficient fuel. Alcohol can be manufactured from corn stalks, and in fact from almost any vegetable matter capable of fermentation…We need never fear the exhaustion of our present fuel supplies so long as we can produce an annual cop of alcohol to any extent desired.”
But despite its promise, alcohol as a fuel has had its challenges. Throughout its history, biofuel producers have fought a mostly losing battle with petroleum-based fossil fuels, vying for subsidies and preferential tax treatment. Because of its larger political and economic clout, the fossil fuel industry has generally held the upper hand, though that could be starting to change.
…Many farmers had their own stills that they used to make lamp oil (and other things) from crop wastes. That all came to an abrupt end in 1862, when a $2 per gallon tax was assessed on alcohol to help finance the Civil War. But somehow, kerosene, or coal oil, as it was called then, was taxed at only ten cents a gallon. By 1870, kerosene was selling over 200 million gallons a year.
…German inventor Nicolaus August Otto is generally credited with inventing the first automobile engine. The four-stroke internal combustion engine he developed in 1876 used alcohol, which was plentiful and untaxed in Europe, as the fuel. Rudolph Diesel demonstrated his first engine in 1900 running on peanut oil. The Ford Model T, which first came out in 1908, was also designed to run on ethanol. READ MORE and MORE (Prof. Bill Kovarik) and MORE (Part 2)