Thursday, June 29, 2006

Big 3 Continue to Push Flex Fuel Vehicles

However, the biggest hurdle is the fact that most stations do not offer E85. According to the article there are only 700 stations that do offer the fuel and most of those are in the Midwest. The automakers state that if E85 was available everywhere, up to 3.5 billion gallons of gasoline would be displaced each year. The National Petrochemical and Refiners Association states that E85 blends are not energy dense enough and too expensive in most parts of the country.

Big Three promise more flex-fuel cars
The Big Three automakers have produced 5 million flexible-fuel vehicles, which can run on gasoline and fuel blends of up to 85 percent ethanol, known as E85. They are expected to produce an additional 1 million of the vehicles this year. Their commitment would lead to 2 million annually by 2010.

Initial place that I ran across the article:
Motor Co. Triumvirate to Boost Flexible Fuel Vehicle Production

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Politics and Alternative Energy

Anyone who is surprised by how much the political ring is involved with in alternative energy in the US has not been paying attention. Here are a few articles highlighting this.

US asks India to join research on alternative energy sources
As part of cooperation under the India-US Agreement on Science and Technology 2005, Washington hopes to encourage India's decision to join the FutureGen international partnership to create a zero emissions coal-fired power plant that will produce hydrogen and sequester carbon dioxide below ground.

"We especially appreciate India's agreement to participate in the FutureGen steering committee, its commitment to participate in the FutureGen Industry Alliance and its pledge of 10 million dollars to the project, 2.2 million of which has already been donated," Bodman said.

The US is also working together to bring India into the Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme and to cooperate on efforts to study methane hydrates. India's effort in this regard will make use of Department of Energy-owned technology and will include many US researchers, allowing it to accelerate commercial utilization of hydrates in the United States and around the world.

Alternative energy called key to area's economic growth
The centerpiece was a panel discussion moderated by U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York.

Clinton and U.S. Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-Clarence, Erie County, spoke at a news conference in support of the vision and said they would do what they could to get federal support.

With the right organization and focus, "we think we can create thousands of jobs," Clinton said.

The key, public and private officials said, will be for the region to work together.

HARRISON TOWNSHIP: Selfridge could land alternative energy project
Selfridge Air National Guard Base will be the home of an alternative energy project if a Department of Defense appropriations bill approved by the House of Representatives becomes law.

NextEnergy, a Detroit-based nonprofit alternative fuel cooperative, would continue research and development of a waste-to-energy project intended to make troops less reliant on conventional fuels, said Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Twp. The appropriations bill targets $2 million for the project, which would turn mess hall and other wastes into liquid fuel to run generators to provide electricity.

Kleeb pleased with developments in Monday rally
More than 60 supporters came out to hear Democrat Scott Kleeb. Kleeb's focus Monday was "Energy Independence".

He is calling for steps to break our nation's dependence on foreign oil.

He would like to see a transition to American made fuels like ethanol.

Siemens Receives Pennsylvania Grant for Clean Energy Project
Kevin Matthews, P.E., the senior facilities manager at Siemens who led the company-wide initiative to obtain the grant, explains that the system will utilize solar panels installed at a 25 degree tilt, which generates 15 percent more electricity annually than flat solar panels.

"Over the system's 30-year lifespan, we expect it to provide the equivalent environmental benefit of planting 5,057 trees or reducing the total number of vehicle miles driven by 7,586,250," said Matthews. "The energy savings for Siemens is estimated to average $14,000 to $16,000 per year for the next 25 to 30 years."

According to the Energy Information Administration and based on average U.S. household consumption, the system being installed by Siemens generates enough electricity to power all appliances, electronics, lighting and related household needs for 30 homes. While renewable energy only makes up about 7 percent of the energy used in the U.S., Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell has put in place an aggressive portfolio standard that mandates some 700 megawatts of electricity from solar photovoltaics in 15 years, attracting investments in solar technologies that will create jobs and ensure reliable, affordable electricity supplies.

"Advanced energy technology is about achieving both environmental protection and economic development - at the same time," Governor Rendell said. "In Pennsylvania, we are changing the way America produces fuel and thinks about energy - attracting investments that stimulate the economy and create jobs, putting indigenous resources to work to enhance security at home and realizing significant improvements in environmental protection."

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Nuclear Waste Issue

Utah tribe divided over nuclear waste

Bear says it is the way to riches that will mean new homes, new jobs and better health care for the 118 members of his tribe. Only about two dozen _ including children _ still live on the 18,000-acre reservation, but this project will bring many of the others back, he predicts.

The Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the lease in 1997. The deal is yet to be consummated amid lawsuits, regulatory hurdles and bitter opposition. It's close, though.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a license for the dump in February. The agency rejected arguments that the dump's location is unsafe because hundreds of F-16 jet fighters fly over the reservation on the way to bombing runs over nearby government land. The chance of a crash that could result in the release of radiation is one in a million, an adequate risk, the NRC said.

Private Fuel Storage LLC of Wisconsin, the consortium that would build and run the dump, has begun looking for nuclear power plant owners to sign up for waste shipments.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Geothermal Section on House

No, not the doctor show starring the guy that used to be in Black Adder. :rolleyes

Earth as Heat Source and Sink

Geothermal systems use ground-source heat pumps to heat and cool your home or building, and to provide hot water. These systems are energy efficient because they use as a source the earth's constant temperature (about 52 degrees F). In winter, the earth's natural warmth is brought into your home, and in summer the system works in reverse to bring in natural cool.
The article mentions that a forced air system will run about $40-45K USD. With an average energy savings of 25 to 40 percent it would take me YEARs and YEARS to actually save money.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Legislating A Change

How much can you force a population to move towards an alternative form of energy? How much of a push is right and just?

California sets "clean energy" oil tax on ballot

Californians will vote in November on a ballot measure proposing a constitutional amendment that would tax oil production to fund a range of alternative energy efforts, Secretary of State Bruce McPherson said on Wednesday.
Supporters are painting the vote over the ballot measure as between friendly environmentalists who want to cut energy prices versus polluting Big Oil and corporations seeking to drain consumers' wallets.

Opponents say the initiative is a sheep in wolves' clothing that if passed will create an unchecked bureaucracy and not only higher taxes but also higher fuel prices in the end.
Joint Israel-US alternative energy development bill goes to Congress

American legislation focusing on joint solutions for energy security between the United States and Israel is being discussed this week in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. HR 2730 - the United States-Israel Energy Cooperation Act - is designed to "establish a grant program to fund eligible joint ventures between United States and Israeli businesses and academic persons, to establish the International Energy Advisory Board, and for other purposes." The bill calls for the creation of a $20 million annual grant program administered by the Department of Energy. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif. introduced the legislation as the sole sponsor in the last Congress and reintroduced it May 26, 2005 with Rep. John B. Shadegg, R-Ariz. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hailed the Shadegg-Sherman Bill during his address to a joint session of Congress May 24.

Energy Incentives
The "Enhanced Energy Security Act of 2006," S. 2747, is sponsored by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), the ranking member of the Energy Committee. He has drawn bipartisan support for the bill in the Energy Committee and is committed to ensuring that the necessary tax incentives are supported by the Senate Finance Committee, on which he's also a member. The chances of passage should be good. The reason: This is legislation America needs.

Bingaman's bill would encourage the swift introduction of alternative energy automotive technologies by helping U.S. automakers revamp their manufacturing plants for the production of new hybrid and highly energy efficient cars and by ensuring that alternative fuels are readily available to consumers across the country. The bill would encourage the use of cellulosic ethanol and keep in place tax incentives to encourage automakers and consumers to embrace alternative energy vehicles.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Balance to the Force, the Other Side

To keep things a bit balanced on the climate change debate here is an excerpt from an article that appears on the website. Basically it attempts to attack Al Gore for the film that he was involved with and has been stomping for recently.

An Inconvenient Paranoia

After all, if the science is as conclusive as Al Gore, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times and virtually every other spokesman of the Left says it is, conservatives are just as likely to be scorched and drowned and otherwise done in by global warming as liberals will. So why aren't non-leftists nearly as exercised as leftists are?Do conservatives handle heat better? Are libertarians better swimmers? Do religious people love their children less?
And it actually goes downhill from there. Why take the time to launch such an attack? Is it not better to fight fire with fire? That is to use actual science and hard data to argue one side or the other.

I put this here to highlight the problem with the issue of global warming and with the alternative fuels debate. There's a lot of heated discussion going on but very little being said. To those out there: take your time, research, and give the public the facts. Leave the name calling and the like for the school yard, where it belongs.

((And yes, I realise both sides are guilty of this. So both of you hug and make up or you will be sent to your rooms.))

BTW, Germany won today! :)

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Goodbye to the Alternator?

An Alternative to your Alternator
New thermophotovoltaic materials could replace alternators in cars and save fuel.

Appears that nanotech has made an old idea new again. This is very exciting and, if it works well and can be inexpensively built, will help us conserve even more fuel.
The technology, called thermophotovoltaics, uses gasoline to heat a light-emitting material, in this case tungsten. A photovoltaic cell then converts the light into electricity. The idea has been around since the 1960s, says John Kassakian, MIT electrical engineering and computer science professor. But until now, the light emitters for the photovoltaics produced inefficient and very costly systems. Improvements in the materials used in these latest devices -- possible in part because researchers can modify the material structure at the nanoscale -- are now making much more efficient systems, Kassakian says.

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Fuel Cells Soon To Get A Boost

More Powerful Fuel Cells Get Closer To Market
The Tufts group has designed the first sorbent system for high-temperature fuel cells. First, they use new materials: rare earth oxides, known to be stable and able to absorb hydrogen sulfide at high temperatures. And, instead of filtering gas through a thick sorbent bed, they pass it over the surface of a thin sorbent layer. Flytzani-Stephanopoulos calls the new design a "simple" solution to the sulfur problem.

Rare earth oxides are inexpensive and easy to obtain. The system could be added to a SOFC using two small boxes -- one for fresh sorbents, the other for spent ones. Sulfur-free gases generated by the fuel cell would sweep the spent sorbents clean, allowing the same sorbents to be used over and over.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Clean Energy News in the AM

Power vets want to start incubator for clean energy
Two power industry veterans, including a co-founder of Sacramento energy software firm Henwood Energy Services Inc., want to launch a local incubator for clean-energy ventures.

Gary Simon and Mark Henwood hope to bring together 15 to 20 companies with new ideas for fuel cells, hydrogen storage systems, solar power and other renewable- energy technologies. The nonprofit incubator would help the companies find funding, develop business plans and research potential markets.

Device could power the future of energy
Dolan has built a machine that creates and stores hydrogen. The device, powered by sunlight, sends electricity through water to separate hydrogen from oxygen and then pumps the hydrogen as a gas into a container, where it is stored as a renewable energy source.

"Once you have this stored hydrogen, you can take it out of here and run it into any device that uses fossil fuels," said, a 46-year-old Trumbull resident. "The only thing hydrogen won't do is it won't make plastics. That's what we need fossil fuels for."
But a problem with Dolan's prototype, from a practical standpoint, is the space needed to store hydrogen.

A pound of hydrogen may have three times the energy content of fossil fuels, but it takes 400 cubic feet to store the hydrogen equivalent of a gallon of gasoline, Dolan said.

But Dolan said his machine's storage container, 4 feet by 8 feet and capable of storing 1,000 cubic feet of hydrogen, could be larger.

Martin Ferguson and the nuclear debate
Ferguson claims that the existing policy discriminates in favour of existing uranium mining companies and against other potential uranium miners. He ignores the option of levelling the playing field by putting an end to uranium mining altogether.

In a March 20 briefing paper, which Ferguson is circulating within the ALP and to trade unions, he states: “State and Territory Labor governments which have knowingly allowed uranium exploration, will come under pressure to allow the development of discoveries within the next few years: if they reject mining applications, it will raise questions about sovereign risk for mining investors in Australia.”

But uranium exploration companies are well aware of Labor’s policy of opposition to new uranium mines. Labor state governments or a future Labor federal government face no legal risk. Further, state Labor governments could put an end to the current situation whereby they allow, and sometimes subsidise, uranium exploration.

UK and France to work more closely on N-power
France and Britain announced yesterday that they will work more closely in the civil nuclear field at a time when London is widely expected to restart the country's atomic energy programme.
"We have agreed to explore in the short term and further develop the opportunities of working together in the civil nuclear field," the two countries said in a joint statement after a summit in Paris.
"To that end we have agreed to establish a regular Franco-British Nuclear Forum, involving representatives from government, industry and technical experts."

The big question that I still ask is will this push for clean energy keep going after the price on oil crashes? Yes, I am now saying crash since the futures market has refused the let the prices come down gradually. I am not the only one thinking that although I do think it will take a bit before it happens.

BP's CEO, Lord Browne, disagrees with me though. He is saying that the price for oil will crash to $40 in the very near future.

BP CEO Lord Browne says oil price will fall to 40 usd per barrel mid-term
BP PLC chief executive Lord Browne told Der Spiegel he expects world oil prices will fall to 40 usd per barrel in the mid-term and that in the long term they could drop to 25-30 usd per barrel.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Energy Impact of the World Cup

England expects one heck of a power spike come tomorrow when England faces off against Paraguay. This article states that the spike could be as high as 1,500 megawatts. Apparently it has something to do with that country's fascination with drinking tea.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Quick Solar Power Trivia

The World Cup Soccer (Football to the rest of the world) games start soon and Germany is doing what they can to keep it green such as offering free mass transit trips and using rain water recovery systems for use with the sanitation systems.

Plus, 2,500 kilowatts will be generated by solar power during peak hours.

Green Goals for World Cup Nets
World Cup city sets green goals
Germany's 'green swathe' cup goal

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Quick Solar Power Trivia

The World Cup Soccer (Football to the rest of the world) games start soon and Germany is doing what they can to keep it green such as offering free mass transit trips and using rain water recovery systems for use with the sanitation systems.

Plus, 2,500 kilowatts will be generated by solar power during peak hours.

Green Goals for World Cup Nets
World Cup city sets green goals
Germany's 'green swathe' cup goal

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Biofuels Branch Out: News

A bunch of news postings to keep everyone up to date on what is happening around the world at the moment. Of course I cannot place everything here but here is a good grouping.

Fight over ethanol bill centers on Governor
"I certainly hope it does not increase the cost of gasoline as some have claimed," Blanco said, adding she wanted to support Louisiana's development of the alternative fuel industry. She has asked for further details on pricing of ethanol and biodiesel around the country.

Under the bill, the sale of the plant-based fuels would be required once production of the products in Louisiana meets certain benchmarks, and then a percentage of the gasoline sold would have to include the biodiesel or ethanol. The Legislature gave final approval to the measure last week, though the margin of victory was narrow in the House.

Green light for biofuel car
Two Norfolk companies are helping the environment with cars that run on biofuels.

Norwich Union, the city's biggest employer, hopes to bring green cars into its company fleet, while the chief executive of the company's insurance arm is testing out a biofuel model himself.

The company is working with carbon reduction campaigners at CRed, based at the University of East Anglia.

Meanwhile, Renewables East, the Norwich-based green energy agency for the East of England, has bought a Ford Focus that can run on either biofuel or conventional petrol.

Ethanol plants to open new market to growers
In-state facilities, like one recently announced here in far western New York, represent “another significant step in our goal of developing a strong biofuel industry in the state,” said Gov. George Pataki, “which will not only provide an economic boost to our farming community, but keep our energy dollars here in New York.”

Pataki, the first Northeast governor to join the Governors' Ethanol Coalition, promised $6 million and other incentives for the $87 million Shelby facility to be built on an old cabbage farm. It may be the first plant to get up and running, with groundbreaking expected in June and production in January 2008.

For local farmers, having a new market in their own backyard promises to pay off.

Government looks to biofuel to stave of oil crisis
Under the target the government has set for itself, it is planned that Indonesia will cut the contribution of oil to total energy consumption from the current 55 percent to only 15 percent in 2025 by developing other energy sources, such as hydropower, coal, gas and biofuels.

Will the country succeed in achieving the target? Many are optimistic that it can.

Such optimism is reflected by ministers and government officials across the archipelago.

Biofuel developed in Cuba
Rocketing oil prices have made Cuba search for less polluting energy sources as biofuels.

It has become ever more urgent the need to stop irrational hydrocarbon consumption, led by the United States, the greatest polluter worldwide. This situation and the diminishing oil reserves, will have a negative impact in national economies, above all in developing countries.

Angara bats for energy independence through utilization of biodiesel, ethanol
He noted that the Philippines imports 94 percent of its annual oil requirements, making the country vulnerable to constant world price increases.

He said that an increase of $1 in world oil prices translates into about $1.26 million in added foreign exchange requirements for the Philippines.

Bio-fuels are crop based transport fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol, Angara said, and in the Philippines, the same can be produced from coconuts and Jatropha while ethanol, from sugarcane, corn and cassava.

He pointed out that unlike petroleum-based fuels, ethanol is cleaner and emits less carbon dioxide.

Pischetsrieder's VW To Produce Flex-Fuel Models In Brazil
Now the Brazilian unit of Bernd Pischetsrieder's Volkswagen has said it will only produce vehicles that run on a mixture of traditional fuels and ethanol from this month, ending production of gasoline-only models. Other car makers also produce a large proportion of flex-fuel vehicles--that can run on ethanol, gasoline, or a blend of the two--in Brazil but none so far has switched entirely to this technology, reports AFX News.

Branching out for fuel
Kenneth Stewart, director of the Georgia Forestry Commission, says 30 companies have expressed an interest in opening biofuel plants in Georgia that use pine wood to make biofuel, a cleaner-burning fuel made from plant matter or animal fat, such as ethanol.

Ethanol is a type of alcohol, made from converting plant crops into sugars, that can be refined into fuel that burns cleaner than gasoline.

Middle and south Georgia are likely to see the benefits of such refineries, because transportation costs for logs are too high for the plants to be located far from timber supplies.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Links of the Moment: National Energy Policy

U.S. National Energy Policy

Canada's Energy Policy

Mexico's Secretariat of Energy

Smart Cars Headed to the US?

I have my doubts, to be completely honest. Sure, it is a solid vehicle that will get people around and save you a ton of money on gas. However, they will need a very low price point to get them on the road. This is going to be a second or third car for families and a possible first car or trade up for city singles. With the price of oil and gas driving everything up in price, savings on the initial purchase and promises of savings in the future will be needed to drive the initial sales.

Another doubt is because back in 2003 it was announced that the Smart Cars would be here in 06. Now they are saying they will decide later this month whether to bring them over for next year. It is a shame they did not roll them out for this year because next year they will probably have some serious competition. Toyota's new Yaris, Honda's Fit, and a possible two door Aveo boasting or impressive mileage. Not to mention over a million hybrid vehicles.

Then again I was actually behind a Smart Car two weeks ago in Raleigh. So yes, they can be imported, if you want to spend over $30K.

Now to combine the latest hybrid tech with a Smart Car. Just throw a 6 gallon gas tank on it and travel up and down the coast on one tank of fuel.

Will the US get Smart? --anyone else humming the theme song to `Get Smart' right now or is it just me?

Smart Gains Ground in Canada, Loses Everywhere Else

DaimlerChrysler's Zetsche Upbeat On Smart Car For U.S.

Smart Car Website - Note that the US specific has no information on it

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Why Are We Still Playing At This?

OK, one of Iran's head idiots in charge just announced they will mess with the oil flow should everyone not bow down to them and their un-needed nuclear program. The same oil that finances just about everything they do. Their own life supply. I know kind of whacky but that area of the world really enjoys their homicide bombers.

News source:
Oil surges on Iranian threats to disrupt global supplies
Yesterday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned the US that any 'mistake' in its dealings with the Islamic Republic would lead to consequences for global energy supplies.

Iran exports around 2.6 mln bpd of crude but has the potential to disrupt some 17 mln bpd through through the Straits of Hormuz. As global spare capacity currently stands at 1.5 mln bpd, such a move would be send prices spiralling.

Note that their plan may include disrupting other countries supplies. Foolish. My father always told me that you never mess around with another man's wallet.

Right now we cannot really do a whole lot about our demand for oil and the amount that we have to import. Whatever we build or explore today will take years before it is contributing substantially to our own energy independence. However, we can make moves today to try and stop this from happening again in another ten years.

I noticed yesterday that a tonne of neighbors were out mowing their grass. So was I and let me tell you, my mower guzzles the gasoline. Add to that the fact that I have a good deal of land and it can be rather expensive to maintain the lawn. Not to mention the emissions. How about the government mandates non-commercial lawn mowers should be hybrids? We are already heavily subsidizing the hybrid vehicles so why not the lawn mowers? The lawn mower subsidy can end three years after the vehicle subsidy. Current gas mowers to be turned in at recycling centers so that the oil can be reclaimed, gasoline deposits properly taken care of, and anything that can be melted down and used can have that done as well. My point is that we can start small and build up to the larger things in life.

Any replacement water heater will need to be a solar hot water heater. Mandatory for all new homes built from 2009 and on. Offer incentives on installation and purchase for current owners.

Incentives for gas station owners to add an E-85 pump and dish out E-10 on at least one Unleaded Regular pump. Also provide some form of incentive for anyone who owns and runs their vehicle on flex fuels (would be tough on this one, perhaps saved receipts to be included with tax returns?). Incentives to the distributors to expand flex fuels and bio-fuels.

Continue to improve technology for small footprint oil extraction, processing, and distribution.

All hybrids built after 2007 must be flex fuel-clean energy hybrids.

Education campaign, including mandatory classroom time for those in drivers ed, on the importance of maintaining one's vehicle and how it impacts fuel consumption.

Continue the incentives for those who add alternative energy to their homes such as a solar panel setup. Have all new homes built meet higher insulation standards.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Ethanol Process

Please remember to follow the rules and regulations in your area of residence. U.S. citizens be aware that making ethanol may require permits and will require that you pay a fuel tax to the feds. No surprise there since they tax everything but our ability to breathe but I have heard they are working on that too. Alcohol permit link.

I have mentioned ethanol a lot on this blog. It is a fuel source that was once very plentiful here but cheap oil prices drove it out. Now, with high oil prices, it is making a comeback and even the feds have mandated that it will replace MTBE (also was mandated and later found to cause cancer).

Basically you are making moonshine. 180 proof alcohol that your car may or may not love you for and the same goes for your wallet. Although large scale farming operations and processing may produce positive energy gains, it may not be so for a homegrown installation.

Resource Link: Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel: Chapter 3 (Alcohol Yield)

First you have to choose what you are going to distill. Check out the link above to get an idea of what may work for you.

Grind down product to expose the starches.

Add a bit of water and some enzymes to convert those starches to sugar.

Add yeast (sounds just like making your own beer ) to get those sugars to covert into ethanol.

The ethanol is then distilled so that it can be seperated out.

The resulting ethanol is then put through dehydration to remove any extra water.

Sealed up tight ethanol can last a long time, opened canisters will eventually dilute over a period of time.

Did you know?
That ethanol was almost driven out of existence in the U.S. because it was taxed to help fund the Civil War. The tax lasted until 1906.

That ethanol was banned during Prohibition because it was considered alcohol.

Basically you need to build a still and a good one. Plans will run from $20 on up and the actual costs of the materials can run hundreds of dollars. Plus this is not something you really want to do in your house and possibly not even the garage.

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