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Entered By: Mark
Entry Date: 2008-05-08 22:27:56
Subject: Gas Rationing Part II

    Yesterday we took a chance and drove to town hoping that someone would have gasoline. The bet paid off. Texaco filled us up. The day before, Paula rode with a friend to the capital city of Tegucigalpa. They had much difficulty and long waits finding gasoline before getting to the capital; they were limited to $10 of gas. Once they got to Tegucigalpa, they filled the gas tank and asked if there was any rationing on gas or diesel. The attendant indicated that there was no rationing that he was aware of. So, it is possible that the rationing is only outside of the two big cities. Protests in those cities would hit too close to home for the politicians.     So here we live in rationburg :-).     Currently I am researching the production of ethanol. It does not appear to be too complicated as moonshine has been in production for quite some time, although I've not heard of it in Honduras. Seriously though, the production of ethanol from sugar cane seems to be a simple matter of fermenting the sugar juice, heating it to the point of evaporation and then condensing it (cooling the steam) back into to a liquid. The result is a solution of roughly 94% ethanol and 6% water. At that point you could use it or you could use some further processing methods to get to 99% ethanol. One good thing about sugar cane is that it is extremely more efficient to convert it to ethanol than it is to do the same with corn. As a matter of fact, the process of evaporating the cane juice uses the greatest amount of energy in the process, but the dried leaves and stalk of sugar can be burned to do this (there is actually a surplus amount of energy produced by burning the stalk, more than is needed for ethanol production).     Once the ethanol is produced, it could be used to supplement the gasoline in our tanks. It can completely replace gasoline only if the car motor is slightly modified to inject more air during the combustion process.     Converting sugar cane to ethanol is far more efficient than doing the same with corn. There is a political problem that keeps the USA from embracing production of ethanol from cane. Mainly, much of the heartland has a climate too cold to grow sugar cane. Therefore to allow importation of sugar cane (or ethanol) would undercut US farmers. Therefore many trade barriers and tariffs block sugar imports. Unfortunately, the world needs to buy and eat America's corn and wheat; so to convert it to ethanol is not only inefficient, it hurts the poor around the world.      Brazil has already replaced 40% of its petroleum use with ethanol via sugar cane. Honduras needs to get on this track as it has absolutely no oil under its soil. We believe the Lord wants to start something big here. Biodiesel is a whole different process, but probably even more effective than ethanol production. Think about using used cooking oil to run your diesel vehicle... It is already done in America but Honduras has an even higher percent of vehicles fueled by diesel.

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