Killing ethanol

By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  June 17, 2011

According to a 2010 New York Times article, some larger companies are interested in retrofitting ethanol-production facilities to make way for butanol — a testament to some of its perceived advantages. And those benefits just keep racking up. While it used to be significantly less economically viable to produce butanol (compared to ethanol), that's changing thanks to developing technologies, such as better fermentation techniques.

"I think you'll be seeing a lot of butanol over the next 10 years," Harris says. "There's no reason to keep producing ethanol — it's not good for the environment, it's not good for food prices, it's not good for your engine. We need to switch over to other renewable fuels that can plug into existing infrastructure."

Deirdre Fulton can be reached at

The original version of this article mistakenly stated that the College of the Atlantic’s food waste is shipped off Mount Desert Island to be incinerated. In fact, the college composts all its food waste on-site — it’s the town of Bar Harbor that trucks its waste off the island.

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