Ethanol Alternative In Oklahoma

Thursday, June 1st 2006, 10:19 am
By: News On 6

Could ethanol be coming to a gas station near you? The Wall Street Journal says Wal-Mart is giving serious thought to offering ethanol at its gas stations nationwide.

As News on 6 reporter Steve Berg explains, that would make the alternative fuel a much "better" alternative.

Count Wagoner County corn farmer Robert Self among the fans of ethanol. “I’d like to see it get to going." Self grows the corn.

Processing plants across the Midwest can process it into ethanol and automakers can make vehicles that run on ethanol. But without some place to fill up the car, things come to a screeching halt.

There are only 600 gas stations in the entire country, only 5 in Oklahoma that have ethanol or E-85, a blend of 85-percent ethanol and 15-percent gasoline. But just this week, Wal-Mart said they might start selling E-85 at nearly 400 Sam's Club locations nationwide.

It's just a drop in the bucket compared the 170,000 gas stations, but it could be an important start.

“Maybe, maybe if Wal-Mart gets their deal going, others will." Slowly but surely, they are, says Brian Pasbrig, manager of an ethanol production plant in Kansas. "We're expecting the ethanol industry to double in capacity again in the next three years or so."

Right now ethanol costs about the same as gasoline, but as production goes up, price will come down and that's important, because ethanol doesn't get as much mileage as gasoline. More ethanol production would be good for farmers like Self too. "Whatever they can do to use our crops would help us."

There are plans to build an ethanol-production plant near Enid.

We should point out that ethanol doesn't have to come from corn. There's been a lot of talk of using sorghum that can easily be grown in Oklahoma. The "most" efficient source of ethanol though, is sugar.