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If Brazil Can do it We can Do It!

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I’m just a dumb hick who likes to watch television. In fact most nights you can find me dozing off in front of the TV. I admit it and I will also admit that I enjoy it.

Well last week I was in my usual position in my easy chair watching the TV when somehow I clicked on a channel that had a show on about Brazil and how after the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74 they stood up and said “Were Mad as Hell and We Are Not Going To Take it Anymore”.

So, the Country of Brazil, which now has (according to the CIA Factbook) 186 Million People, told the Arabs to take their oil and SHOVE IT! They started refining Ethanol from Sugar Cane and today 85% of all the cars and trucks in Brazil run on this cheaper than oil Ethanol. I think the show I was watching was on the National Geographic Channel or A & E or Discovery or whatever. But the point is I found out that the Country of Brazil had enough foresight and just plain determination to make sure they were never again held hostage by Arab Oil. Furthermore, when the supply of oil finally does run out, which it will do, the Brazilian Economy will not grind to a halt like ours will. They will just keep on rolling along!

Now one of the most interesting things I learned from watching this show was that General Motors and a few other American car manufacturers, are down there in Brazil manufacturing the cars that use this Ethanol. They call them Flex Fuel Cars and they can run entirely on Ethanol, entirely on Gasoline or on any combination of the two. The only physical difference between these cars and the gas guzzlers produced in the U.S. is a Flex Fuel Gas Tank and a small computer that tells the engine which fuel or combination of fuels is in the tank!

Now some of you are thinking that we already have some Flex Fuel Cars in the United States that will run on Ethanol. True, but there are two big differences. Here the only vehicles running on this stuff are usually fleet vehicles belonging to the gas company or the electric company or the phone company etc. as experiments. The other major difference is that Ethanol is basically UNAVAILABLE to the General Public. As of this writing there are only 4 places to get Ethanol in the entire State of California. The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, The Lawrence Livermore Lab, Vandenberg Air Force Base and the San Diego Regional Transportation Center!

In BRAZIL it is available at every gas station in the Country! Why? Because the Brazilian Government passed a law mandating that every gasoline station in Brazil must sell Ethanol. Not just some stations or a few stations but EVERY Station. They can also sell gasoline if they want to but they are not required by law to do so. What is the price difference? Ethanol is about 1/2 the price of a litre of gasoline in Brazil.

To learn more about Ethanol check out these two web sites:
http://www.e85fuel.com/index.php and http://www.ethanol.org/

Why can’t we do the same thing as Brazil? Why can’t we become Oil Independent instead of Oil Dependant? You tell me? I posted this article in Culture and Politics. What controls our dependence on Oil. Is it our Culture or our Politicians. Again I say, You tell me!

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About A Decent Person

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com Eric Berlin

    Interesting piece, Bob. I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that the U.S. has the ability to wean itself off of foreign oil, but the big questions lie in whether or not we’re willing to invest enough and sacrifice enough in order to make the tough transition.

    What do we need? Strong ass leadership, right about pronto.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    >>Now one of the most interesting things I learned from watching this show was that General Motors and a few other American car manufacturers, are down there in Brazil manufacturing the cars that use this Ethanol. They call them Flex Fuel Cars and they can run entirely on Ethanol, entirely on Gasoline or on any combination of the two. <<

    Actually, we secretly have them here too and not just for fleet sales as you suggest. Most vehicles designed to run on diesel available in America today can be run on almost any fuel with no or very little modification. Economy of scale dictates that they put the same features into these engines that let the ‘flex fuel’ vehicles run on Ethanol and other stuff. In fact, Dodge diesel trucks will not only run on diesel, ethanol, biodiesel and kerosene, but they’re ‘unofficially’ already equipped with the hookups to feed CNG and Propane into the engine. I think you need an additional piece of hardware for LPNG. Starting with the new model they also offer a multiphase engine with much improved gas mileage, and there’s already a hybrid electric version of that engine which ought to be generally available pretty soon. The question is whether they’ll be smart enough to make these available in sufficient volume to meet demand.

    Dave

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com Eric Berlin

    It seems as though most automobiles have no trouble running on vegetable oil, though there may be some modest modification needed.

  • http://blogcritics.org/author.php?author=Cerulean Cerulean

    Good article, Bob. I agree, Eric. It’s pretty bad when Brazil is outdoing us.

  • http://jmaximus.blogspot.com John Bil

    Great post buddy, I wonder the same thing too. Besides ethanol there are other things we can do. We can turn coal into oil. At 30/barrel this is too expensive; at 60/barrel or 70/barrel it is profitable. Much of our oil actually comes from Canada now and their vast oil sands deposits. They use a method similar to what we could do with coal.

  • Nancy

    The original question posed was, why aren’t we making/using/selling ethanol here? I’ll tell you why: George W. Bush. He’s an oil man. His buddies are all oil men. His family has been in bed with the Saudis screwing the US for generations; their holdings are in oil. His major political contributors are mostly oil & oil-derivative industries men. And he & his buds have a stranglehold on the US fuel supply. Every quarter, the oil & refining industries report ever-increasing, ever-record-breaking profits. That’s why US citizens aren’t even given the choice. Any more questions?

  • http://www.ambienteacreano.blogspot.com Evandro

    Hello Bob, greetings from Brazil.
    I am amazed you know so much about ethanol (alchool) in Brazil. Thanks to the ethanol program we have, during the present oil crisis gasoline price has not gone so high as usually would do in the 80’s.
    There is more: all gasoline sold in Brazil have 26% of ethanol (is mandatory). This mean that even if oil go up 10%, it does not mean we will have the same % hike in the price since ethanol price depends on the sugar cane production. Today, about 50% of brazil sugar cane production is made into ethanol. This mean we still have some ground to hike ethanol production.
    There are some concerns however: if sugar price goes up, as it has being the case in the past few months (due to Brazil increasing usage of sugar cane for ethanol), we could face a “temptation” by the industry to produce more sugar instead of ethanol. Less ethanol in the market would mean higher prices.
    But here is a catch: because flex fuel cars can run on any combination of ethanol or gas, the consumers would stop buying ehtanol in the same rate they do today – less demand=price goes down.
    This is a “great” advantage of having a flexfuel car. You get to the gas station and decide, based on the price, what will be the “mix of the day”.
    I drive a flex fuel FORD FIESTA!
    Regards from Brazil.

    Evandro

  • Edison

    Bob

    Just one more thing in concern about flex fuel in Brazil.

    If your are not enough happy with flex fuel car, in the same car you can make it running with GAS !

    Yes… gas, the almost same one to inflate ballons

    So you could have a car running with gasoline, ethanol and gas.

    Regards

  • http:sitenl.com Samory Santos

    Lots of lies or misinfo here…

    “They started refining Ethanol from Sugar Cane and today 85% of all the cars and trucks in Brazil run on this cheaper than oil Ethanol.”
    Trucks run on diesel or a mix with bio-diesel, and only less than 40% of the cars run on ethanol… it rusts the engine

    “But the point is I found out that the Country of Brazil had enough foresight and just plain determination to make sure they were never again held hostage by Arab Oil. Furthermore, when the supply of oil finally does run out, which it will do, the Brazilian Economy will not grind to a halt like ours will.”
    It will… it will believe me… we are hostaged by the international oil prices… when Katrina striked the Mexican Gulf the gasoline had a increase of 5 cents!

    “They call them Flex Fuel Cars and they can run entirely on Ethanol, entirely on Gasoline or on any combination of the two.”
    You can mix… but it will malfuction!

    “In BRAZIL it is available at every gas station in the Country!” No there isn’t… only at the main cities… this is why less than 40% of the cars run with ethanol! No one can go from a state to another with ethanol… you will run out of it!

    OBS: I’m native to the Federal Republic of Brazil! So my native language is the Brazilian Portuguêse.

  • Carl

    We have options. We have to raise our voices to our leaders that we want change or we vote them out. I found this guy running his Passat on used soy oil in Los Angeles. getoffoil.blogspot.com

  • Gabriel Nicolau

    “It rusts the engine” – What are you talking about? I didn’t hear about this for the last 20 years…
    “You can mix… but it will malfuction!” – Sorry, but that’s not what I’ve been hearing about neither.
    “only at the main cities… ” – I travel a lot, my car runs with diesel but I don’t remember seeing a single station, at any tiny town in the middle of nowhere, that didnt’t have alcohol pumps.

    Portuguese, english, doesn’t matter. Please, just stick to the true.
    The true is alcohol is worthy only when its price is less than 70% of gas’. That’s not always the case because sugar cane, as any crop, has a cycle and alcohol competes with sugar.
    There are more than 40 new projects going on and Brazil will triple its production in the next 8 years. If the brazilian government acted instead of advertised, we would have a proper stocking structure by now.
    Brazil doesn’t need any enemy, we sabotage ourselves very well…

  • Lonny

    I have four letters for you…..O P E C. As long as OPEC has the US Government in its back pocket, and the people running our government are profitting from big oil, this will be the status quo. After all, what are we going to do vote in a new administration? Oh ya, the electoral college does that for us. In this country we are merely allowed to voice our opinion, but the heirarchy is calling all of the shots. What are “We the People” to do to make the changes this country desperately needs?

  • http://www.grilllovers.com Lynn Wright

    It’s quitting time so I don’t have time to read this article. Do you know if Brazilians use ethanol in place of liquid propane for their gas-powered cooking grills?

  • http://blogcritics.org/archives/2005/08/26/153054.php Bob Greenspan

    I doubt it. Ethanol is a substitute for Gasoline. Both are Volatile Liquids. You don’t cook with volatile liquids. Natural Gas & Propane are used as cooking gasses. Remember they are a gas not a liquid.

  • http://blogcritics.org/archives/2005/08/26/153054.php Bob Greenspan

    Since I wrote this article President Bush has been endorsing Ethanol and there are now probably a hundred or more producing ethanol plants or ethanol plants under construction in various parts of the United States.

  • JoeL

    This is amazing. Brazil has very low car ownership and large cheap farmlands in very favorable weather for sugar canes. US is the polar opposite. Good luck with your sugar canse ehtanol solution. We’ll just get our corn, wheat, meat, vegis, fruits, and other food from elsewhere. Or perhaps we can just eat sugar cane!