wild ride at 175mph

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Media Credit: Andrea Caldwell
Chuck Gratzle with his alcohol powered motorcycle. Thursday in the Agri shop. He built the motorcylce himself. His bike currently runs on gas and alcohol, but hopes to run it completely on alchohol.With the price of gasoline going up for a multitude of reasons, what options do we have? We could use ethanol but who really wants make all that corn? According to Chuck Graztle an agriculture education major, there's a gas alternative that Americans can be using right now with all the garbage we create. Alcohol. Graztle used this idea and converted his motorcycle so that it could run off alcohol. "We're in trouble," said Graztle referring to America and its high independence of gasoline. He believes that if the technology is out there to use something else other than gasoline, we should. An ancient form of fuel energy, alcohol was once gasoline's biggest competitor. According to Graztle people used alcohol gas a lot during the depression because it was cheaper to make and anyone could make it. "They used alcohol to run the model T, stoves, even curly irons," said Graztle. "That was the early fuel, an ancient technology." Graztle started his project for an Agriculture class, and it took him three months to build an engine that would run off alcohol. Now Graztle uses both alcohol and gasoline to run his bike. "Hopefully soon I'll be able to make my own alcohol fuel," said Graztle "you can it out of any trash or wood, and it doesn't take that much to convert an engine so that it can run off alcohol. But with the way cars are being made with plastic materials, there's no way they could run off alcohol fuel, because it would burn right through it. It would take a mileage surplus motor to run on alcohol fuel and the fuel must be 160 proof alcohols. Graztle said that the process of making the alcohol isn't fast, but believes that if you're running the steel 24 hours a day, it doesn't matter, and it would still be cheaper than gasoline. Graztle believes that one day gasoline prices will go so high, it won't be affordable, "I can see some disaster, not just a war, but a natural disaster, that will make gas prices go sky high." Not only would gas prices for cars go up but also the price of farming, heating homes, and buying grocery would increase, because gasoline affects everything. But what else could cause gas to become unaffordable? Now that China is beginning to produce more cars and is using gasoline at a growing rate, could having them as a gasoline competitor hurt the gasoline market for America. Graztle believes yes. "There are people out there that don't like us," said Graztle, referring to Middle Eastern countries that produce most of the world's oil and who the U.S. gets most of its oil from. But not only alcohol a great alternative because of rising gas prices, but it's better for the environment, because it burns cleaner than gas does. Graztle believes the only reason why the government and car companies aren't pushing alcohol fuel, is because the fact that the government won't be able to charge people for making it themselves.Some countries have already caught on the benefits of alcohol fuel, such as Brazil who after having a 1970s oil crisis, disrupted the abundant supplies of sugar cane. What will it take for the U.S. government to see the benefits of alternative gas options? Graztle believes it will be more expensive for the government to convert if there is a disaster in the future and believes that many people will miss out because of that. "Let's start using this technology now before we're forced into it."

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