carbohydrates hydrocarbons: ethanol, diesel economics

Excellent article on chemical economics, long for a blog. I don’t know how much is correct but worth reading

Less than 200 years ago, industrializing societies were carbohydrate economies. In 1820, Americans used two tons of vegetables for every one ton of minerals. Plants were the primary raw material in the production of dyes, chemicals, paints, inks, solvents, construction materials, even energy. For the next 125 years, hydrocarbon and carbohydrate battled for industrial supremacy.Consider Minnesota. For every dollar spent on ethanol in the state — assuming the ethanol is produced in-state in a farmer-owned biorefinery — some 75 percent stays in the state economy. For every dollar spent on gasoline, some 75 percent leaves the state economy. This equation makes biorefineries a powerful economic development vehicle. How can we encourage farmer- and local-owned biorefineries? Here again, Minnesota’s record is instructive. In the early 1980s, Minnesota’s ethanol incentive mirrored that of the federal government by exempting ethanol sold in the state from a portion of the state gas tax. In the future, producers of carbohydrates can cooperate to capture another huge, untapped market: hydrocarbons. Bertrand Russell’s distinction between change and progress. Change, he argued, is inevitable. Progress is controversial. Change is scientific. Progress is ethical. We will have change, whether we want it or not. But progress comes only when we design rules that channel human ingenuity and entrepreneurial energy and investment capital toward constructing a society and an economy compatible with the values we hold most dear. The carbohydrate economy beckons.


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