Now, with sufficient supplies of motor fuels, and prices remaining steady or even dropping, the development of gasoline and diesel fuel substitutes has been relegated to a lower priority. However, disregard for our past experience and not preparing for future oil crises would be shortsighted.
Fossil fuel supplies are finite and exhaustible. Oil supplies in the United States are being depleted faster than new reserves are discovered, so there are upward pressures on prices.
Perhaps of greater significance, increased oil imports and dependence on foreign oil supplies could create problems when supplying military and civilian needs during national emergencies,
despite the rapid buildup of our strategic oil reserve!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1985!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Alcohol from wood might relieve some of the stress brought about by dwindling petroleum supplies.
Availability of Biomass for Fuel in the Midwest
In the Midwest, alcohol from biomass is already a substantial contributor to our motor fuel supply.
This is in the form of ethanol from corn, for blend ing with gasoline. There is also some fuel ethanol being made from cheese
whey at a plant in Wisconsin.
There are opportunities for making additional supplies of alcohol from lower cost feedstocks. These include corn stover,
corncobs, other agricultural wastes, and wood residues.
Residue wood is abundant in the Midwestern States. According to the Wisconsin Energy News for December 1984, about half of the state of Wisconsin is covered by forests. These forests grow 7 million cords of commercial quality wood each year, but an even greater amount--mostly cull wood and waste wood that is unsuitable for commercial uses--remains unused.
The figures suggest that more wood could be used for less demanding purposes, such as feedstock for alcohol, without depleting the resource or reducing the amount or quality of the wood needed for the forest products industry.
In fact, forest quality could be improved through relief of crowding and competition for soil nutrients and sunlight by removal of noncommercial or low quality growth. Currently, however, full utilization is unlikely because:
(1) a portion of the stock is unavailable or in stands where it cannot be recovered economically; and
(2) 60 percent of the resource is privately owned and many owners may not wish to have trees cut.
Even so, ample resources exist to support several large residue-using plants throughout the state