Drinking and driving is never a wise idea, but the tequila plant may soon be used to fill up your fuel tank. Agave may cut transportation costs as well as cut down on the quantity of food crops used for ethanol and other biofuels, making it a smarter, safer alternative.
Agave can grow on either desert or marginal land, meaning it can be grown without displacing food crops that require more specific conditions to grow. Corn was one of the first popular biofuel sources, creating ethanol, but the demand caused crop prices to skyrocket, increasing the cost of food. In a bad economy, it’s the last scenario anyone wants to deal with, environmentally speaking or not.
Ethanol derived from the agave plant yields plentiful amounts when grown on hot, dry land, and the environmental impact is apparently relatively low. The plant produces large amounts of sugar, and scientists have researched and modeled the production of a facility in the Tequila state of Mexico, which would convert sugar into alcohol that can be used as a fuel.
While this will cut fuel emissions from vehicles and reduce our dependency on oil, much more needs to be done in order to actually tackle and combat climate change. According to Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment head Oliver Interwildi, “biofuels will not be enough without changes on the demand side too, as we don’t have enough land for both fuels and food. We are not going to fuel the entire US car fleet, for example, on biofuels.”
It may be a while before safer fuels can be efficiently produced without using land needed for food or polluting the air, but do you think using the agave plant a promising approach to cleaner energy in the meantime?