The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

6 October 2006

It's not like we're eating it

A letter in this morning's Oklahoman:

Kudzu is a vine prevalent in southern states. It's considered a pest. Why isn't more research being done to use kudzu for making ethanol? It would be a source of alternative fuel as well as help rid the woods and fields of this pest.

It's been thirty-six years since I last set foot in a chemistry lab, but it seems to me that there's no particular reason why you couldn't.

Posted at 6:23 PM to Family Joules

I think you COULD do it but it wouldn't be economically viable. It's not a question of mulching a bunch of plants you don't like, it's a question of plants that grow quickly (in one harvestable spot) AND deliver a good, uh, bang for the buck. I would guess the latter is the drawback here. Then again, ethanol in general has problems. It's corrosive, it doesn't have the wallop of gasoline, it lacks the delivery infrastructure, and some say it takes more energy to make the stuff than it delivers.

We need hydrogen produced by nuclear power, but the political will for that won't happen until oil prices go up and stay there for a few years. Cheap hydrogen that runs your always-on cel phone for a month or two on a charge. That's what I'm talkin' about.

Posted by: Mister Snitch! at 6:48 PM on 6 October 2006

I don't see ethanol as anything other than Gasoline Helper — with the exception, of course, of the drinkable varieties. My own experience with the stuff, tankwise anyway, has been limited (the ten-percent mix) but fairly positive; I am confident, however, that my car can't be retrofitted for E85 without major expense or a substantial performance hit.

Posted by: CGHill at 7:06 PM on 6 October 2006

Darling Boy,
Isn't just like you to figure into the quest for energy efficiency.

You go, boy.

Dr. Jan

Posted by: Dr_Jan at 9:46 PM on 6 October 2006

Well, actually, it isn't, though I have been installing compact fluorescents (up to five now) to replace old-style bulbs, and I do buy some of OG&E's wind watts.

Hmmmm. Maybe that's why I didn't get a check from Darth Rove this month.

Posted by: CGHill at 10:25 PM on 6 October 2006

You can get that check again if commit to burn a few science books every month or oppress a protected class at least once a year.

And kudzu is edible, according to Alton Brown. And if anyone would know, it would be he.

Posted by: Dan at 10:39 PM on 6 October 2006

Kudzu is indeed edible. It's said to be a delicacy in the Far East, which is said to be how it ended up being imported to the States.

In Peachtree City, goats love it.

Posted by: McGehee at 8:32 AM on 7 October 2006

Might work ... it's all hydocarbons. I agree with you about ethanol being only a Hamburger Helper for gasoline, not a substitute. Don't know the economics, but there is some price point at which it becomes viable.

Whoever decides to tackle the kudzanol process, there's plenty to start with here in Tennessee. Come and get it...

But kudzuburgers - I don't think so... Perhaps sauteed kudzu and garlic - e.coli on the side, please...

Posted by: Winston at 8:36 AM on 7 October 2006