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ccatron's avatar

Kudzu ethanol...would you buy into it?

Asked by ccatron (2071points) June 11th, 2008

I know there have been discussions about ethanol on here before, I did use the search feature. Apparently, with Ethanol, your gas mileage goes down, and there’s not enough of it and it depletes the corn resources.

What if there was another way to make where we couldn’t run out of it? Ethanol can be made from other plants besides Soy beans and corn. Kudzu is a weed brought over by the Japanese which cannot be controlled. It grows 1 foot a day and as much as 60 feet per season and can be harvested twice a year. There are 7.2 millions acres of this stuff in the South according to an article i read this morning…

http://www.koaa.com/aaaaaa_down_to_earth/x471791254/Fuel-made-from-kudzu-plants

and here’s another one…

http://www.clevelandbanner.com/index.cfm?event=news.view&id=1D3C2DC1–19B9-E2E2–6780BC830230EB8E

My question is, if it were to bring the price down far enough, would you buy into it? Sure you might lose MPG, but if prices are right, it might be worth giving another thought. They plan to start production in 2009, so I guess we’ll soon find out if it is going to work. Corn and soy beans can go back to the grocery store and maybe other prices can start going down. The next step would be to find a way to convert our current vehicles to use ethanol without forcing people to buy new ones.

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8 Answers

playthebanjo's avatar

Yay! Something good to do with kudzu! (When I was little and on a road trip I used to imagine that the things underneath all the kudzu were monsters). (telephone poles, houses, cars, trees)

MisterBlueSky85's avatar

I read about this too, and I think it’s a great idea. I’d buy Kudzu gas for sure, even if it costs about the same as normal gasoline. Solving one problem (gas shortage) by creating another (corn shortage) isn’t smart. Kudzu shows promise.

soundedfury's avatar

The problem with ethanol isn’t that it’s causing a corn shortage (it’s not), it’s that it takes substantially more energy to create ethanol than we can recover from using it. So it’s a net loss of energy and not sustainable. Let’s not forget that fossil fuels are used in nearly every step of the process, from growing and harvesting to distilling.

I don’t really agree with the argument that ethanol is creating a corn shortage, since there is neither a corn shortage nor does ethanol production, to my limited understanding, typically use varieties of corn that we consume.

Using kudzu doesn’t really address these problems. It also adds additional problems, as it’s an incredibly invasive species and would be a disaster if introduced into new regions of the U.S. The millions of acres of kudzu in the South are mostly unable to be harvested. There is kudzu all over my hometown in Virginia, but it grows on buildings, trees and hillsides – not particularly easy places to harvest and reuse for mass production. It’s also a kind of resource intensive plant to grow, which is why it’s such a pest.

marinelife's avatar

You can eat kudzu.

ccatron's avatar

@soundedfury – i guess we’ll find out sometime next year when they start producing the stuff. it sounds like they have figured out a way to harvest it and produce it efficiently.

I did find some companies that sell E85 converter kits. they run anywhere from $400 to $700. i would be hesitant to install one in my car without testing it on someone else’s car. you can also buy your own microfueler to make ethanol for about $1.00 a gallon.

http://www.change2e85.com/servlet/Page?template=Store

playthebanjo's avatar

YOU can eat kudzu. I have tried it. Bleah.

soundedfury's avatar

Even if they can harvest it efficiently (which I am skeptical of, having lived surrounded by it for most of my life), there is no way the technology is efficient enough to make a net energy gain. The technology to create ethanol substantially vary based on source.

I guess we’ll see. I hope I’m wrong.

marinelife's avatar

@playthebanjo Did you make sure to get only the tender new shoots?

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