The first ethanol debate

The first ethanol debate

In the January 29, 1904, issue, editors were predicting a bright future for the horseless carriage — if automakers could find an alternative to gasoline. "The Standard Oil Company controls the supply of gasoline and under present conditions may do wh

In the January 29, 1904, issue, editors were predicting a bright future for the horseless carriage — if automakers could find an alternative to gasoline. "The Standard Oil Company controls the supply of gasoline and under present conditions may do what it likes in regard to price," commented the editors. "In Germany they are introducing alcohol in place of gasoline, and it is believed to be a better fuel for the purpose."

While editors seemed quite taken with the alternative fuel, they also believed government taxes on alcohol were preventing its widespread use. This was a mistake, they said, because "Very little modification of the present gasoline engine . . . will be required to adapt them to alcohol, and when this is done and the vehicles otherwise improved so that those who use them will not have to wear dustproof and oil-proof clothes, everybody who now uses horses will use automobiles."

The editors thought alcohol-driven engines would eventually become commonplace. "We believe they will be used for driving harvesting machines and doing a good deal of other farm work, as well as upon the highways. We think, too, that it is not unlikely that they will lead to the removal of street railway rails from city streets and that public vehicles will run upon the surface of the streets without rails, each vehicle with its own independent motive power."

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