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Alcohol Can Be a Gas!: Fueling an Ethanol Revolution for the 21st Century Paperback – November 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: International Institute for Ecological Agriculture; 1 edition (November 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979043778
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979043772
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

David Blume's Alcohol Can Be a Gas1 is the most comprehensive and understandable book on renewable fuels ever compiled. Over a quarter century in the making, the book explains the history, technology, and even the sociology of renewable fuels in a fashion that can be appreciated by the most accomplished in the ethanol and biodiesel fields, as well as the novice and young students of the issues.

Blume summarizes the history of ethanol from the Whiskey Rebellion to the 2007 Energy Bill now pending before the U.S. Congress. His history also includes the century-old struggle between ethanol advocates, such as Henry Ford (who preferred ethanol to petroleum and produced the first Flex-Fuel Vehicle) and his arch nemesis, John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil (who actually funded the temperance movement to enact Prohibition in order to eliminate his competition for motor fuel). He also exposes the great myths about ethanol, telling who conceived them and why they did.

Blume's step-by-step instructions can help anyone build an ethanol plant (from a few hundred gallons to a hundred million gallons per year) or convert your car into an alternative fuel vehicle. Blume explains that ethanol does not need to be a corn-only, Midwestern industry and that there are hundreds of crops in every state of the Union from which we can make renewable fuels.

The book has hundreds of illustrations, charts, and diagrams to make his points, including some of the most humorous, entertaining and provocative cartoons likely to be found anywhere. The extensive two-dozen page glossary provides an excellent reference on all energy-related subjects.

I have personally worked in the renewable energy sector in one form or another for close to four decades, and I can recommend Alcohol Can Be a Gas! as the best book I have ever read on the subject. You will laugh out loud at his sharp wit and the dozens of cartoons. But when you finish reading Dave's book, you will have a much better understanding of how our nation's energy policy evolved, why it is what it is today, and what needs to be done for the future.

The petroleum age is only about one hundred years old, a tiny blip on the history of mankind, and, according to many experts, it is over half over. It is time to review the [alternative] energy systems of the past, biomass, ethanol, wind, solar, if we are to understand our future energy independence. David Blume's Alcohol Can Be a Gas is a must-read to prepare anyone for this critical endeavor. --Larry Mitchell, CEO, American Corn Growers Association<br /><br />Everything you wanted to know about alcohol-fuel production but were afraid to ask. More than 20 years ago, veteran biofuel guru Blume (Alcohol Can Be a Gas!, 1983) beat the drum for alcohol-based alternative fuels. Blume's latest book is a well researched and expanded update to his original work, incorporating 21st-century concerns over global warming, domestic-energy policy, grassroots biofuel solutions, and the challenges of going green in a world dominated by the fossil fuel "oiligarchy."

Blume systematically and entertainingly builds his case for individual responsibility and activism in dealing with the nation's domestic-energy challenges, and he excludes no one in preaching his gospel of alcohol-fuel independence. For the novice, Blume tells the story of alcohol production's rich history in America, from the Civil War to today, and effectively demystifies the thorny pros and cons of the current national energy-policy debate regarding ethanol. This education alone is worth the cover price.

Make no mistake, the book is more than a bully pulpit for championing sociopolitical opinions on global-energy woes; it is a technical how-to book. Written with enterprising do-it-yourselfers in mind, Blume offers countless hands-on technical soluti --Ernest Callenbach, Author of Ecotopia

David Blume's Alcohol Can Be a Gas1 is the most comprehensive and understandable book on renewable fuels ever compiled. Over a quarter century in the making, the book explains the history, technology, and even the sociology of renewable fuels in a fashion that can be appreciated by the most accomplished in the ethanol and biodiesel fields, as well as the novice and young students of the issues.

Blume summarizes the history of ethanol from the Whiskey Rebellion to the 2007 Energy Bill now pending before the U.S. Congress. His history also includes the century-old struggle between ethanol advocates, such as Henry Ford (who preferred ethanol to petroleum and produced the first Flex-Fuel Vehicle) and his arch nemesis, John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil (who actually funded the temperance movement to enact Prohibition in order to eliminate his competition for motor fuel). He also exposes the great myths about ethanol, telling who conceived them and why they did.

Blume's step-by-step instructions can help anyone build an ethanol plant (from a few hundred gallons to a hundred million gallons per year) or convert your car into an alternative fuel vehicle. Blume explains that ethanol does not need to be a corn-only, Midwestern industry and that there are hundreds of crops in every state of the Union from which we can make renewable fuels.

The book has hundreds of illustrations, charts, and diagrams to make his points, including some of the most humorous, entertaining and provocative cartoons likely to be found anywhere. The extensive two-dozen page glossary provides an excellent reference on all energy-related subjects.

I have personally worked in the renewable energy sector in one form or another for close to four decades, and I can recommend Alcohol Can Be a Gas! as the best book I have ever read on the subject. You will laugh out loud at his sharp wit and the dozens of cartoons. But when you finish reading Dave's book, you will have a much better understanding of how our nation's energy policy evolved, why it is what it is today, and what needs to be done for the future.

The petroleum age is only about one hundred years old, a tiny blip on the history of mankind, and, according to many experts, it is over half over. It is time to review the [alternative] energy systems of the past, biomass, ethanol, wind, solar, if we are to understand our future energy independence. David Blume's Alcohol Can Be a Gas is a must-read to prepare anyone for this critical endeavor. --Larry Mitchell, CEO, American Corn Growers Association

The overarching importance of this delightful book is that it demonstrates how beside the point is the current pseudo-debate about the net energy from corn ethanol. As Blume demonstrates, fuel alcohol must be an important component of our solar-based future. It can be made from a huge variety of feedstocks, including sugar beets and cane, nuts, mesquite, Jerusalem artichokes, algae, even coffee-bean pulp; there is no real scarcity of land to grow fuel. There is a scarcity of independent, original thinking, and Blume's book provides plenty of it, along with ample doses of amazing, startling, and sometimes scary information, ecological, technological, and political-economic.

This is a vast, detailed compendium drawn from decades of experience by an alert, smart, and skeptical hands-on thinker. Blume has given us his biofuels bible, and we can learn from him and survive quite nicely, or follow what he calls MegaOilron into oblivion. --Ernest Callenbach, Author of Ecotopia

About the Author

David Blume started his ecological training young. He and his father Jerry grew almost all the food their family ate, organically on a city lot in San Francisco in the mid-'60s!

Dave taught his first ecology class in 1970. After majoring in Ecological Biology and Biosystematics at San Francisco State University, he worked on experimental projects, first for NASA, and then as a member of the Mother Earth News Eco Village alternative building and alternative energy teams.

When the energy crisis of 1978-79 struck, Dave started the American Homegrown Fuel Co., an educational organization that taught upwards of 7000 people how to produce and use low-cost alcohol fuel at home or on the farm.

KQED, San Francisco s Public Broadcasting System station, asked Dave to put his alcohol workshop on television, and together they spent two years making the ten-part series, Alcohol as Fuel. To accompany the series, Dave wrote the comprehensive manual on the subject, the original Alcohol Can Be A Gas! Shortly after the first show aired, in 1983, oil companies threatened to pull out their funding of KQED if the series was continued. KQED halted the distribution of the series and book (see this current book's Introduction for the whole story).

In 1984, Dave founded Planetary Movers, an award-winning social experiment and commercial venture, well known for productive activism (e.g., on behalf of Nicaragua's Sandinistas), as well as for pioneering practices of progressive employment, green marketing, and the sharing of a percentage of profits for peace and the environment.

In 1994, he started Our Farm. This community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm was also a teaching farm, based on sustainable practices, that hosted over 200 interns and apprentices from all over the world, and held regular tours for thousands of people. Our Farm grew as much as 100,000 pounds of food per acre, without a tractor, using only hand tools, on a terraced, 35-degree slope.

The International Institute for Ecological Agriculture (IIEA), founded by Dave in 1993, is dedicated to healing the planet while providing for the human community with research, education, and the implementation of socially just, ecologically sound, resource-conserving forms of agriculture the basis of all sustainable societies.

Dave has consulted for a wide array of clients, including governments, farmers, and companies interested in turning waste into valuable and profitable products. Recent work includes a feasibility study for a macadamia growers' cooperative in Mexico, and a water harvesting/reforestation project in Antigua, West Indies. He is working with a farming college connected to the government of Ghana to develop alternative fuels, to train agricultural extension agents in organic farming, and to design an ecological strategy to stop the Sahara Desert from advancing. He also recently inspired the city of Urbana, Illinois, to hold a conference between builders, lenders, developers, municipalities, building inspectors, architects, and engineers, to coordinate the mainstreaming of natural building technologies.

"Farmer Dave" is often called upon to testify before agencies on issues related to the land and democracy. He is a frequent speaker at ecological, sustainability, Peak Oil, and agricultural conferences in the Americas, and has appeared in interviews over 1000 times in print, radio, and television. Dave firmly believes in Emma Goldman's view of, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be in your revolution," and he can frequently be found on the dance floor when he isn't flagrantly inciting democracy.


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Customer Reviews

Excellent information, very well written, easy to read and interesting.
larry lunz
If you want to convert your car or make your own fuel you need this book.
Gary
Blume shows us the pathway to personal and national energy independence!
Matthew I. Stein

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 108 people found the following review helpful By Matthew I. Stein on November 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
I am an MIT engineer (BSME MIT, 1978) and Author of When Technology Fails, and I highly recommend this book. David Blume's opus, Alcohol Can Be a Gas, is the definitive guide to weaning America from the oil habit via biofuels. In great detail, it thoroughly debunks the myth that ethanol production takes nearly as much energy to run the process as it produces (corn does, but there are other alternatives to corn based ethanol), and shows how America can thrive by sustainably growing both an abundant food supply and biofuels at the same time (they can actually feed each other synergistically!). Blume shows us the pathway to personal and national energy independence!

David Blume has been an alcohol pioneer since Buckminster Fuller, one of America's foremost visionary geniuses, coached and coaxed Blume in the 70's to continue to pursue their united dream of energy independence through biofuels. Blume is a hands-on kind of guy, having been an organic farmer, inventor, permaculture teacher and alcohol pioneer over the past thirty years. This book is encyclopedic in scope, and is for everyone from policy makers to consumers to the back yard tinker who wishes to make his own ethanol and convert his existing gasoline powered car to run on ethanol fuel Highly recommended!
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68 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Albert Bates on July 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am an environmental educator at the Ecovillage Training Center at The Farm community in Summertown,Tennessee and author of Shutdown: Nuclear Power on Trial (1979); Climate in Crisis: The Greenhouse Effect and What We Can Do (1990), and most recently, The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook: Recipes for Changing Times, from New Society Publishers and Amazon.

Arriving in Sao Paulo, Brazil for the International Permaculture Conference in 2007, I checked the online schedule and saw that the organizers had set me down for a morning session on "making money from tree planting." Caught by surprise, I had to scramble to prepare a powerpoint and one of the ideas I thought to explore was biofuels. Conventional wisdom has it that "agrifuels" are in competition with food production and climate remediation. I dashed off an email to David Blume asking for an example of "permaculture fuels."

He replied, "Well to take a page from the book. In semiarid areas where the temperature goes no lower than 0 degrees F you can plant an overstory of mesquite to provide both 340 gallons of alcohol per acre from the pods and fuel the plant with coppiced branches from the tree. In the understory you plant perennial Opuntia (nopales) thornless cactus, and between there and the dripline and beyond you plant the starchy root crop, Buffalo Gourd, for a total yield of far over 1000 gallons per acre without irrigation."

There you have it, a polyculture for food and fuel. But what about climate change? I wrote him back, "Would you say the guild above is a net carbon sink?"

He responded, "It is absolutely a massive carbon sink. Pretty much all arid country crops put the majority of their growth underground and have a robust mycorhyzzal feeding regime.
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57 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Amazon User on November 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
NOTE: I wrote this review in 2007, just after getting the book. I said I didn't work for the author, etc., and that was quite true...until recently. Now, in 2009, I've recently gotten a job with the author's company, helping people put ethanol conversion kits in their vehicles.
It would not be honest to fail to note that fact, so there's your update. Here is the original review. I have not edited anything from its original wording.

This book showed me EXACTLY WHAT TO DO.
Let me start by saying that I don't work for the author, he doesn't work for me, he doesn't owe me any money, and I haven't invested in any of his companies.
Onward: this book shows you exactly how to produce your own ethanol or buy it at the pump and switch your vehicles from OIL..also known as gasoline.
After reading the book, I know how to make ethanol on a farm...and NOT FROM CORN... but I learned how to make ethanol right in the city.
I found that the book shows you how ethanol can make you money in a business or save you money when you just put it in your tank.
I guess if you just want to read about the topic, this is the definitive reference book on the subject. The book has, uh, let's see: history, politics, business models, business strategies, agricultural analysis, agricultural advice and techniques, engineering, design, strategies for succeeding with zoning and permits, environmental analyses galore, and everything you could possibly want to know on the topic.
I mainly stuck to the D.I.Y. stuff, but his documentation is superb and overwhelming on all those other topics.
As to the vehicle conversions, I speak as an ASE-Certified mechanic and one who has a college education IN Auto Repair, and I can say that the instruction in this book is superb.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By wakeup on November 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book gives me hope that not only can we survive the coming troubles (Peak Oil, climate change, pollution, corporate globalism), we can actually make the Earth into a really nice place to live. There is so much good plain common sense in this book, mixed with visionary genius, plus very detailed instructions, for breaking free of the need for gasoline. It is a blueprint for taking control of our energy future. It describes how combining sustainable agriculture and alcohol fuel production can solve most of the Earth's most pressing problems in elegant, simple ways, starting with you and me and our family and neighbors. And the author is no Pollyanna - he looks all the problems square in the face and shows what we can do. He answers all the myths about ethanol (which are fueled by oil companies), and, as far as I'm concerned, exposes and explodes them. The book has over 400 footnotes and is the most credible thing I've seen in ages.
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