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A Look at Ethanol and Biodiesel for Use of Alternative Fuels

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Speech to Inform

To inform the audience of the use of ethanol and biodiesel as alternative fuels.

Alternative fuels for cars are necessary to reduce foreign dependency on petroleum, gain more economic security, and ultimately reduce the effect of the greenhouse gases on the planet.


In 1973 OPEC held parts of the world hostage. They willfully put the world in a gasoline crisis causing many countries in the world to come to a complete standstill. Thirty-five years later, we are back in the same oil crisis situation, but now it is even more dangerous since the inevitability of running out of oil is approaching fast.

A. Petroleum also has negative effects on the environment.

B. Dependence on foreign oil is very high.

II. Many solutions to our oil predicament have been proposed over the years.

A. One of the most talked about solutions is to start using alternative fuel sources.

By the end of my speech you will be more knowledgeable about two types of alternative fuel sources being developed and marketed right now, ethanol and biodiesel.


I. Let’s start with ethanol.

A. Ethanol is a colorless, alcohol based fuel.

1. Produced domestically from starch crops.

2. Corn, potatoes, wheat, sugar cane, and even old newspapers!

B. Ethanol is made by

1. Fermenting and distilling crops that have been broken down to their simplest sugars.

II. According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy nearly 1/3 of the United States gasoline already contains ethanol in a low level blend to reduce air pollution.

A. When ethanol is blended with gasoline it produces a fuel which has environmental advantages compared with gasoline.

1. It oxygenates fuel so it burns more completely

2. reduces polluting emissions such as carbon monoxide.

B. Ethanol blends can be used in gasoline powered vehicles.

1. Most vehicles run on E-10, gas and 10% ethanol.

2. Other vehicles specially manufactured to run on E-85, 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline.

C. The Model T ran on ethanol alcohol, Henry Ford thought it would be the fuel of the future.

III. There are lots of benefits for ethanol use.

A. The carbon dioxide released when burned is balanced by the carbon dioxide captured when the crops are grown to make ethanol.

1. It is biodegradable and renewable fuel source.

2. Ethanol blends reduce emissions of hydrocarbons, contribute ozone depletion

B. Ethanol production and use reduces greenhouse gas emissions up to 25% compared to gasoline, according to Argonne National Laboratory.

1. Significantly reduces harmful exhaust emissions such as carbon monoxide, soot, nitrous oxides, and other ozone pollutants.

IV. The Dept. of Energy says that 60% of United States petroleum is imported.

A. Depending on foreign oil supplies puts the United States at risk for trade deficits, supply disruption, and price increases.

1. Ethanol, on the other hand, is produced from domestic crops.

2. It is renewable fuel; we just keep growing the crops that are needed!

B. Ethanol production is creating many new jobs in rural areas where employment is needed.

1. Not only does it help reduce dependence on imported oil but it also promotes growth of the U.S. agricultural industry.

V. There are a few drawbacks with ethanol.

A. There are not many fueling stations for ethanol.

1. The bulk of them are in the Midwest.

2. This causes price differences.

B. The Dept. of Energy reports ethanol sells for 30 cents less per gallon than gasoline.

1. West coast, 35 cents more per gallon

2. and in Mid-Atlantic states even higher premium, 44 cents more per gallon.

C. Ethanol is harder to ignite in colder weather because it has fewer vapors than gasoline.

1. Since it is a more corrosive solvent we would need special tanks, trucks, and pipes for storing and distributing it.

2. With ethanol you get fewer miles out of a gallon than compared to gasoline.

VI. Next we will talk about biodiesel.

A. Biodiesel is made from a wide variety of new and used vegetable oils or animal fats, non-toxic, biodegradable, and renewable.

1. It is a clean burning alternative fuel produced from domestic and renewable resources.

2. Can be used in conventional diesel engines by itself or in any blended level.

3. The engine does not need any special modifications in order to run biodiesel.

B. Contrary to what some may believe, biodiesel is not just raw vegetable oil, you do have to separate the glycerin.

1. If biodiesel is made



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