Grain strain crops up for ethanol

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Carsguide -

AFUEL-OR-FOOD de­bate is rag­ing in the ethanol world in Aus­tralia. con­fer­ence was held in Syd­ney last week to dis­cuss ev­ery­thing ethanol and, de­spite the num­ber of peo­ple at the Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre in Dar­ling Har­bour and the num­ber of top­ics, there were still more ques­tions than an­swers.

Even car­mak­ers, led by ethanol-fo­cused Volvo and Saab, came away with­out an­swers for key ques­tions, say­ing they still do not know about dis­tri­bu­tion, qual- ity of the fuel, when it will be­come more wide­spread, and how Aus­tralian pro­duc­ers plan to run their in­dus­try.

It is clear ethanol can and will have a place dur­ing the tran­si­tion from an oil-based world to some­thing more sus­tain­able and ecofriendly. Even the V8 Su­per­car world plans to move to ethanol fuel.

But there are big prob­lems, from find­ing a pump to de­liver more than just a mi­nor blend of ethanol to over­com­ing the pub­lic’s fear of a fuel that was at­tacked less than two years ago be­cause it was a cut-price way to make money from un­leaded blends.

I am keen to see ethanol do well, but most of the Syd­ney talk seemed to be about whether the world should grow crops for food or fuel, be­cause if we use all the grain to make ethanol there is a good chance we will be­come thin, at the least.

Boost­ing ethanol is go­ing to take a con­certed push, with ev­ery­one on the same road. That is yet to hap­pen.

Ques­tions: Bio­fu­els As­so­ci­a­tion CEO Bruce Har­ri­son at the Ethanol 2008 con­fer­ence in Syd­ney.

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