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Make Your Own Ethanol

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Company unveils home ethanol-brewing device.

&&&&&&Reuters (5/9, Gardner) reports that a new company, the E-Fuel Corp., "hopes drivers will kick the oil habit by brewing ethanol at home," a move "that won't spike food prices." On Thursday the company unveiled the device, called the EFuel 100 MicroFueler, and touted "it as the world's first machine that allows homeowners to make their own ethanol and pump the brew directly into their cars." According to Reuters, the unit "sells for $10,000" and "resembles a gasoline station pump and nozzle -- minus the slot for a credit card" or the digital readout numbers. E-Fuel explained that the device "ferments fuel from sugar, the price of which is historically cheap as global supplies are glutted."


E-Fuel founder and CEO Thomas Quinn said that by connecting the Microfueler to "a power source and a water source," and by adding yeast to the sugar, approximately "35 gallons of ethanol" can be produced in a week, explains &&&&&&CNet (5/9, McCarthy). E-Fuel's executives maintain that "its sugar-based ethanol won't hurt food prices because sugar is a surplus crop, and that sugar ethanol is inherently more efficient than corn. And it's safe to make at home, because no combustion is involved."


The &&&&&&Wired Blog Network (5/8, Squatriglia) noted that it is "an open question whether switching to home-brewed ethanol will save you much money." Federal tax credits can "cut the price to $6,998." And "[a]nother $16 buys you enough yeast to make about 560 gallons of ethanol," but "you'll have to pay for the sugar and water." It takes "as many as four gallons of water to make one gallon of ethanol," Wired pointed out. Factoring in water and electricity costs, "the sugar is where the math could break down." Currently, it "sells for about 20 cents a pound in the United States, and you need 10 to 14 pounds of it to make a gallon of ethanol." However, Quinn said that a change "in the North American Free Trade Agreement allows the importation of inedible or 'ethanol-grade' sugar from Mexico for as little as 2.5 cents a pound."

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