Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shaq Vs. The Environment

Nobody likes skunked beer but we all have a couple of bottles in the back of the refrigerator. You know, the ones from last summer's 4th of July blowout where you bet the neighbor that fireworks couldn't possibly take off a finger. Well stumpy, now we have a use for that old beer.

The folks at E-Fuel Micro Fueler (wonder if they make fuel?) claim that "fuel from old beer, leftover wine and other waste products and use it to run their vehicles." It can also be used to run generator systems taking your house off the electric grid. According to the Los Angeles Times article, the system includes a 250 gallon tank that converts waste to pure ethanol. The still itself also serves as a fuel pump. The only waste is distilled water.

GreenHouse International, the company distributing the fuel systems, has a contract with Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Gordon Biersch, and Sierra Nevada. The plan is for GHI to pick up wasted beer from the breweries and deliver it to home-based mircofuelers.

Sure, saving the environment is fun but this is America so let's talk about the bottom line. The E-Fuel system runs around $10,000. "Factoring in the $5,000 federal tax credit, an annual household fuel consumption of 2,080 gallons and a $2 charge a gallon, GreenHouse estimates the average consumer payback time is about two years." If you use it for your car you'll get a lower gas mileage (according to the E-Fuel Web site the long-term goal is to have your ethanol cost only $1 per gallon) but your ride will contribute 38 percent less CO2 on the road.

We give it the Dumbarton stamp of approval. Within a couple of years you break even, you're helping the environment, and you're weening yourself off the addiction to oil. It doesn't hurt that Shaquille O'Neal is one of the E-Fuel investors.

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