As ethanol continues to grow in popularity as a renewable resource, its effects are becoming more pronounced. While perhaps the most significant of these lie in the realm of environmentalism and preservation, the creation and use of ethanol remains a vital concern. Crude oil remains an enormous part of many countries’ exports or imports, with the United States alone importing billions of barrels a year while simultaneously being a net exporter of gasoline, with the imports only comprising about 42% of use.
The fuel business is an enormous part of the world’s economy and anything, including ethanol, that begins to damage oil’s dominance stands to have enormous economic side effects in both short and long term situations. A number of the more concerning issues, including food prices, production of ethanol, and integration, appear to be the most severe.
Ethanol has a number of hurdles to conquer before it is prepared to begin phasing into its place as a replacement for gasoline. Primary among these issues is the current reliance on corn- and soybean-based ethanol, a lack of production capacity and problems arising from integration of the new fuel into our already developed engines. Until more advanced cellulosic- or algae-related production sources begin to augment the world’s ethanol capacity, it will only continue to supplement the fuel supply of the US and other nations.