David Blume's "Alcohol Can Be a Gas! - Fueling an Ethanol Revolution 
for the 21st Century", Foreword by R. Buckminster Fuller, 
International Institute for Ecological Agriculture, California, 2007

When David Blume emailed me about reviewing his new book he said: 
"It's destined to be considered the bible of small to medium scale 
alcohol production", and I thought uh-huh, heard that a few times 

But he could afford to boast: it IS the bible of small to medium 
scale alcohol production.

Not only that, Blume's managed to give it such sheer sweep that it's 
become a little difficult to discuss just about any biofuels 
production in depth, alcohol or other, without taking some account of 
his book. You might not agree with everything he says, about Peak Oil 
perhaps, or maybe about subsidies and tax incentives, or the evil 
antics of "MegaOilron" (Big Oil et al), or maybe vegetarianism. But 
it's all pertinent - Blume isn't short on opinion, but he isn't short 
on straight facts either, nor on context and background. He's pushed 
the whole issue a few steps forward.

Alcohol fuel (ethanol) is supposedly for gasoline engines, not 
diesels, but if you have a diesel you'll find the book very 
informative. Informative too if you're a biodieseler, or if you use 
SVO, or if your interest is biogas, or microturbine cogeneration.

But the main focus is on fuel ethanol as an alternative to gasoline, 
and with ethanol and other biofuels right in the thick of the raging 
worldwide row over soaring food prices (and oil prices), largely in 
the role of scapegoat, Blume's contribution is substantial and 
timely. Chapter 2 is titled "Busting the myths", and Blume does a 
good job of it, including the "Food vs fuel" myth, and he gets it 

The myth-busting doesn't stop there though, the book is peppered with 
it. For instance, everyone knows you can't run an ordinary car on 
E-85 fuel (85% ethanol 15% gasoline) without converting the engine 
first unless it's a special "flexible-fuel vehicle", right? Blume 
might change your mind about that, in a thorough and detailed 
treatment of the real options of using alcohol as fuel.

Blume has been working with alcohol fuel for 30 years and he brings a 
wealth of in-depth information and direct experience to the subject. 
He wrote the first version of this book in 1983. His account of why 
it wasn't published then (in spite of a contract) makes a good read, 
and helps explain his very obvious lack of affection for 
"MegaOilron", apart from all the usual good reasons (he has those 
too, it's not just spleen).

This new version of the book is a complete rework and a major 
expansion of the original. Blume raised $250,000 to finance the 
project (no corporate funding) and spent four years researching it 
full-time, working with many other people on the project and 
travelling extensively for on-the-ground investigations, not only in 
the US but also in Brazil and India.

The result is a big book, 594 big pages, with loads of photographs, 
illustrations, diagrams, charts and tables, and packed with 

Actually it's six books in one. Book 1, "Understanding Alcohol: 
Visions and Solutions", covers the history and busts the major myths, 
along with a chapter on the permaculture approach (Blume's an organic 
farmer, which helps a lot, he makes essential connections that many 
others fail to see), another chapter on nasties like tarsands, oil 
shale, nukes and so on, and a whole chapter on developments in Brazil.

Books 2, 3 and 4 cover the nuts and bolts of making alcohol, handling 
the co-products, and using the fuel - detailed coverage, good 
information on all aspects of distillation, thorough treatment of 
feedstocks, good on integrated systems for co-products use, detailed 
information on engine conversion, including two case-study 

Book 5 is "The Business of Alcohol: Hands-On Advice", Book 6 is "A 
Vision for the Nation". Plus appendices, a useful 22-page glossary, 
and, mercifully, a good index (21 pages).

The main focus of the book is on the US but it's not just for 
Americans, it's for anyone really. There's a lot of it, but it isn't 
a difficult read, Blume's a clear writer with a breezy style and the 
advantage of someone who really knows his subject.

Blume describes the book at the beginning as "a complete tool kit to 
revolutionize our transportation energy system, combining a broad, 
sweeping vision with intricate detail", and indeed it does that.

He says: "This book is not about providing unlimited clean fuels for 
SUVs. It's about shaping energy policy now with our own individual 
and group actions, to make sure the energy future we get is the one 
we want and not the one the Oilygarchy is planning for us. This book 
... puts both the power and the responsibility for implementing the 
solution in the hands of ordinary people, working together at the 
local level."

We've been saying things like that here for a long time, haven't we? 
And at Journey to Forever.

You'll like David Blume, he's downright good value, IMHO.

More here, at Blume's website:

Keith Addison

Journey to Forever
KYOTO Pref., Japan

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