Você está na página 1de 53

HenryFord,CharlesKetteringandthe

"FueloftheFuture"

Thisphoto,takeninApril1933,showsaLincolnNebraskagasstationoftheEarlCoryellCo.selling"CornAlcoholGasoline."
ThetestmarketingofethanolblendswascomonintheMidwestatthistime,butitdidnotsucceedduetothemarketdominanceof
themajoroilcompanies.CoryellwassubsequentlyamongcomplainantstotheJusticeDept.intheUSv.Ethylantitrustlawsuitof
1936,whichEthyllostinaSupremeCourtdecisionin1940.(NebraskaHistoricalSociety)

CopyrightBillKovarik,Ph.D.,1998

Tableofcontent
Introduction
Background
EarlyUsesofAlcoholFuel1820s1900s
FodderfortheHorselessCarriage
AlcoholFuelinEurope
USCongressLiftsAlcoholTax,1906
ScienceandAlcoholFuel1890s1920s
Automakers,EthylAlcoholandTetraEthylLead
InternationalUseAlcoholFuels1920s1940s
USAlcoholProjects1930s
OilIndustryOppositiontoAlcoholFuel1930s
EconomicPerspectivesonAlcoholFuel1930s
Conclusion
Footnotesatendofdocument
Floatingfootnotebox

Citationforthispaper:BillKovarik,"HenryFord,CharlesF.KetteringandtheFueloftheFuture,"AutomotiveHistoryReview,
Spring1998,No.32,p.727.ReproducedontheWebathttp://www.radford.edu/~wkovarik/papers/fuel.html.Originallyfroma
paperofthesamenameattheProceedingsofthe1996AutomotiveHistoryConference,HenryFordMuseum,Dearborn,Mich.
Sept.1996.

Abstract
Thefuelofthefuture,accordingtobothHenryFordand
CharlesF.Kettering,wasethylalcoholmadefromfarm
productsandcellulosicmaterials.Ford,ofcourse,iswellknown
asanautomotiveinventor;Ketteringwastheheadofresearch
atGeneralMotorsandahighlyrespectedinventorinhisown
right.
HenryFord'soutspokensupportforalcoholfuelculminatedwiththethe
Dearborn,Mich."Chemurgy"conferencesinthe1930s.Littleisknownabout
Kettering'sinterestinethylalcoholfuelandhowitfitintoG.M.'slongterm
strategy.Moreover,asidefromtheChemurgyconferencesandabriefperiodof
commercialalcoholgasolinesalesintheMidwestduringthe1930s,verylittleis
knownaboutthetechnological,economicandpoliticalcontextofalcoholfuels
use.Thispaperexaminesthatcontext,includingthecompetitionbetweenlamp
fuelsinthe19thcentury;thescientificstudiesaboutalcoholasafuelintheearly
20thcentury;thedevelopmentof"ethyl"leadedgasolineasabridgetothe"fuel
ofthefuture"inthe1920s;theworldwideuseofalcoholgasolineblendsinthe
1920sand30s;andtheeventualemergenceofthefarm"Chemurgy"movement
anditssupportforalcoholfuelinthe1930s.

Introduction
WhenHenryFordtoldaNewYorkTimesreporterthatethylalcoholwas"the
fuelofthefuture"in1925,hewasexpressinganopinionthatwaswidelyshared
intheautomotiveindustry."Thefuelofthefutureisgoingtocomefromfruitlike
thatsumachoutbytheroad,orfromapples,weeds,awdustalmostanything,"
hesaid."Thereisfuelineverybitofvegetablematterthatcanbefermented.
There'senoughalcoholinoneyear'syieldofanacreofpotatoestodrivethe
machinerynecessarytocultivatethefieldsforahundredyears."1
Ford'soptimisticappraisalofcelluloseandcropbasedethylalcoholfuelcanbe
readinseveralways.First,itcanbeseenasanobliquejabatacompetitor.
GeneralMotors(andCharlesKettering)hadcometoconsiderablegriefthat
summerof1925overanotheroctaneboostingfuelcalledtetraethyllead,and
governmentofficialshadbeenquietlyintouchwithFordengineersabout
alternativestoleadedgasolineadditives.
MoreimportantlytoFord,in1925theAmericanfarmsthatFordlovedwere
facinganeconomiccrisisthatwouldlaterintensifywiththedepression.2
Althoughthecausesofthecrisiswerecomplex,onepossiblesolutionwasseenin
creatingnewmarketsforfarmproducts.WithFord'sfinancialandpolitical
backing,theideaofopeningupindustrialmarketsforfarmerswouldbetranslated
intoabroadmovementforscientificresearchinagriculturethatwouldbelabelled
"FarmChemurgy."
Historiographicnotes
ThehistoryofethylalcoholfuelhasbeenpartiallyexploredbyGiebelhaus,3
Bernton4andthisauthor,5butthehistoricalfocusofallthreeworkstendedtobe
ontheU.S.FarmChemurgyMovementinthe1930s.ThecontextofFord's
supporthasnotbeenwellunderstood.AndtheideasofCharlesF.Kettering,in
particular,havebeengrosslymisrepresented.
Americanfarmersembracedthevisionofnewmarketsforfarmproducts,
especiallyalcoholfuel,threetimesinthe20thcentury:around1906,againinthe

1930swithFord'sblesssing,andmostrecently,duringtheoilcrisisofthe1970s.
Bythemid1980soveronehundredcornalcoholproductionplantshadbeenbuilt
andoverabilliongallonsofethylalcoholweresoldperyearinthefuelmarket.In
thelate1980sand1990s,withanapparentlypermanentworldoilglutandrock
bottomfuelprices,mostofthealcoholplantsshutdown.Someobserversjoked
thatethylalcoholwasthefuelofthefutureandalwayswouldbe."Gasohol"
hadbecomepasse.
Why,then,delvesodeeplyintothishistory?
Evenifinfiniteamountsofpetroleumwereavailable,thehistoryofalternative
energysourcesisworthyofstudyfrommanypointsofview,nottheleastof
whichisthepragmaticneedtounderstandalternativestooilsupplyfrom
politicallyunstableregionsoftheworld.FrancisGarvannotedtheproblemina
speechpromotingalcoholfuelattheDearborn,Mich."Chemurgy"Conferenceon
Agriculture,IndustryandSciencein1936.
"Theysaywehaveforeignoil,"hesaid."Itis...inPersia,anditisinRussia.Do
youthinkthatismuchdefenseforyourchildren?"6
Anotherpragmaticreasontoconsiderthehistoryofalternativefuelsinvolvesthe
riskofcontinuedrelianceonoilrelativetoglobalclimatechangeaproblem
morerecentlyappreciated.
Asidefrompragmaticjustifications,historiansoftechnologyhavelongnoteda
generalpreoccupationwith"successstories"toanextentthatmightbecalled
"whiggish."Researchintosomeofthe"roadsnottaken"wouldprovidehistory
withbetterfocusandbroaderperspective,accordingtohistorianJohn
Staudenmier.7Thedirectionatechnologytakesistoooftenseenasaresultof
predeterminedorinevitableconditionsthatarisefrominstrinsicpropertiesofa
technology,ratherthanfromindustrypreferenceorpolicychoice.

Background
Ethylalcoholhaslongbeenusedasanautomotivefuelintwoways:First,it
replacesgasolineoutrightinasomewhatmodifiedinternalcombustionengine;
andsecondly,itisaneffective"octanebooster"whenmixedwithgasolinein
blendsof10to30percentandrequiresnoenginemodification.Theseblends
achievethesameoctaneboosting(orantiknock)effectsaspetroleumderived
aromaticslikebenzineormetallicadditivesliketetraethyllead.
Manypeoplearefamiliarwith"Gasohol,"apopularfuelblendintheAmerican
Midwestinthelate1970s,whichwasablendoftenpercentethylalcoholand
gasoline.(Fuelpumpsarenowsimplylabelled"with10percentethanol.").Most
peoplearenotfamiliarwiththeotherfuelblendsusingalcohol."Gasonol"(with
an"n")wasablendof20percentsugarcanealcoholwithgasolineandkerosene
usedinthePhilippeansinthe1930s.Koolmotor,Benzalcool,Moltaco,
Lattybentyl,Natelite,AlcoolandAgrolaresomeoftheotherobscurebut
interestingblendsoffuelsoncefoundinBritain,Italy,Hungary,Sweden,South
Africa,BrazilandtheU.S.(respectively)inthe1920sand1930s.
Economicissueshavegenerallyworkedagainsttheuseofalcoholinfavorof
petroleum,butitissimplistictoviewtheproblemsimplyintermsofrelative
consumerexpense.Pricesforethylalcoholblends
andhighoctanegasolineareinthesamerelative
range,andalcoholhasbeencheaperattimesin
variouscountries,dependingoninternational
politicsandnationaltariffandincentiveprogram
Intheculturalandpoliticalcontext,alternative
fuelsespeciallyethylalcoholhavehelda
symbolicandpoliticallystrategicsignificance
amongadvocatesandopponentsalikethatgoes
farbeyondthesimplesubstitutionofoneproduct

foranother.Opponentshaveseenethylalcoholfuelasaschemeforrobbing
taxpayerstoenrichfarmers,asturningfoodforthepoorintofuelfortherich,as
compoundingsoilerosionproblems,andasamarginallyusefulenhancementor
replacementfuelforatransportationsystemthatispoorlydesignedinthefirst
place.
Advocateshaveseeninalcoholfuelsthepotentialforrevolutionizingagricultural
economics,fordispellingcitysmog,andforcurbingthepowerofthepetroleum
industryovertheeconomy.Inaddition,theideathatagricultureandbiological
resourcescouldbeprimarysourcesofenergy,theideathathumankindcouldlive
onsolar"income"ratherthanfossilfuel"capital,"hasheldafascinationfor
severalgenerationsofautomotiveandagriculturalengineers.Proponentscould
seeinethylalcoholthepotentialtohelpstrikebalancebetweencityandfarmand
theprospectofcivilizingandhumanizingindustrialmachinery.
Forexample,thishopeisgraphicallydepictedinthesymbolismusedatthe1902
Parisalcoholfuelexposition.Onthecoveroftheexposition'sproceedings,a
musewithanoverflowingbouquetofroseslooksdownoverthesteeringwheel
withaconfidentsmile.Sheisaportraitofwisdomandbeauty,firmlyincontrol
ofagentlemachinewhichseemsappropriatelylocatedinsomelushflower
garden.8
Rhetoricofthetechnologicalsublime,asithasbeencalled,frequentlyattendsthe
birthofanynewtechnology,andofcoursethereisnothingsurprisingaboutthe
highhopesofFrenchautomobileenthusiastsforalcoholfuelin1902.Whilethe
spiritofthemarriagewasnotalwaysasartfullydepicted,manyofthegreat
scientificmindsofthe20thcenturyexpressedtheirsupportandinterest
specificallyinalcoholasahighqualityfuelandthegeneralideaofopeningvast
newindustrialmarketsforfarmproducts.TheseincludedHenryFord,Alexander
GrahamBell,ThomasEdisonandCharlesF.Kettering.
Bellcalledalcohol"awonderfullycleanburningfuel...thatcanbeproduced
fromfarmcrops,agriculturalwastes,andevengarbage."9HenryFord,who
idealizedcountrylifedespitehiscontributiontotheurbanizationofAmerica,
hopedthatalcoholcouldhelppoweraruralrenaissance.ThomasEdisonbacked
theideaofindustrialusesforfarmproducts,andrespectedFord'svisionofthe
fuelofthefuture.10CharlesKetteringandprotegesThomasMidgelyandT.A.
Boydnotedthatthe"mostdirectroutewhichwenowknowforconvertingenergy
fromitssource,thesun,intoamaterialsuitableforuseasafuelisthrough
vegetationtoalcohol..."11Kettering'sinterestisparticularlyimportantbecause,as
wewillsee,hewasenthusiasticaboutalcoholfuelevenafterthediscoveryof
tetraethyllead.Infact,Ketteringoriginallyplannedthattheoctaneboosting
powerofleadedgasolinewouldpavethewayforthefuelofthefutureethyl
alcoholfromcellulosicbiomass.

Thebroadrangingcompetitionbetweengasolineandalcoholfuelsaroundthe
turnofthecenturyisnottodayaswellknowntodayasasimilarcompetition
betweensteamandelectricautomobileswithgasolinepoweredautomobiles.12
Nevertheless,thecompetitionfromalcoholfuelwasawellrecognizedfactatthe
time.Hundredsofmagazinearticles,reports,booksandtechnicalpaperswere
writtenaboutalcoholfuelfromthe19001926periodbeforeandduringthe
"Ethyl"leadedgasolinecontroversy,andhundredsmorewerepublishedinthe
19261960period.13

EthylAlcoholFuelbeforetheDiscoveryofPetroleum
Thehistoryofenergyisloadedwith
inaccuraciesandmyths.Onemythis
thatEdwinDrake'sfirstoilwell,
drilledinPennsylvaniain1859,
arrivedinthenickoftimetoreplace
arapidlydwindlingsupplyofwhale
oil.Actually,aswewillsee,a
varietyoflampfuelswerecommon
intheU.S.andEuropethroughthe
19thandearly20thcenturies.These
fuelsofferedthemostlogicalstarting
pointinthesearchforportableliquid
fuelswhichinventorswoulduseintheinternalcombustionengine.
Lampfuelsincludedallkindsofvegetableoils(castor,rapeseed,peanut);animal
oils(especiallywhaleoilandtallowfrombeeforpork,);refinedturpentinefrom
pinetrees;andalcohols,especiallywoodalcohol(methanolormethylalcohol)
andgrainalcohol(ethanolorethylalcohol).ThemostpopularfuelintheU.S.
beforepetroleumwasablendofalcoholandturpentinecalled"camphene"or
simply"burningfluid."
The"whaleoilmyth,"appearsinmanyplaces,mostrecentlyinthehistoryofthe
oilindustry,ThePrize,whichhailedkeroseneas"thenewlightwhichpushed
backthenightandextendedtheworkingday."Itwasa"marveltoeyesthathad
strainedtoseebymeansofalightedrag,"14ArecentSmithsonianexhibit
providedasimilarperspective:"Itwasthediscoveryofpetroleumin1859that
kindledtherevolutioninartificiallighting,"theexhibitsaid."Kerosene...was
cheapandrelativelyclean.Lampcompanieshadsprungupimmediatelyandby
the1870svirtuallyeveryonecouldenjoyindoorlighting."15Thistraditional

errorisfoundinmanyotheraccountsofthehistoryofenergy.Accordingtoa
1960history,"petroleumarrivedonthesceneinanswertoaworldwidequestfor
anewsourceofartificiallight."16InanEthylCorp.magazineof1943,for
example,wefindthefollowing:
"Duringthefirsthalfofthe19thcentury,scientistseagerlysoughttodevelop
betterlightingfuels...Atthattime,ruralAmericaforthemostpartdependedon
whaleoilandspermoillampstolightitshomes,anduponbeeswaxandtallow
candles.Supplies,however,werelimitedandwerebecominginsufficienttomeet
aconstantlygrowingdemand."17
Theseaccountsseemtobeinspiredexamplesofrhetoricofthetechnological
sublime.Theyarealsofiction.Infact,kerosenecameintoanalreadywell
establishedliquidfuelsystemwithfullscaleproduction,distributionandenduse
technologywellinplace.Inotherwords,kerosenereplacedotherfuels;itdidnot
emergetolightupapreviouslydarkworld.
Inthe30or40yearsbeforepetroleumwasdiscoveredinPennsylvania,the
leadingfuelwas"camphene"(sometimessimplycalled"burningfluid").Itwasa
blendofhighproofethylalcoholwith20to50percentturpentinetocolorthe
flameandafewdropsofcamphoroiltomasktheturpentinesmell.Alcoholfor
camphenewasanimportantmainstayfordistilleries,andmanysoldbetweenone
thirdand80percentoftheirproductonthefuelmarket.18ThefirstU.S.patent
foralcoholasalampfuelwasawardedin1834toS.Casey,ofLebanon,Maine
butitisclearthatalcoholwasroutinelyusedafuelbeforehand.19SamuelMorey
usedthereadilyavailablealcoholinthefirstAmericanprototypeinternal
combustionengineatthesurprisinglyearlydateof1826.20Weshouldnotethat
Morey'sworkwaslostintheenthusaismforthesteamengineandalackof
funding.NootherinternalcombustionenginewouldbedevelopeduntilNicholas
Ottobeganhisexperiments35yearslater.
Bythelate1830s,alcoholblendshadreplacedincreasinglyexpensivewhaleoilin
mostpartsofthecountry.It"easilytooktheleadastheilluminant"becauseitwas
"adecidedimprovementonotheroilstheninuse,"(especiallylardoils)according
toalampmanufacturer's"HistoryofLight."21By1860,thousandsofdistilleries
churnedoutatleast90milliongallonsofalcoholperyearforlighting.22Inthe
1850s,camphene(at$.50pergallon)wascheaperthanwhaleoil($1.30to$2.50
pergallon)andlardoil(90centspergallon).Itwasaboutthesamepriceascoal
oil,whichwastheproductfirstmarketedas"kerosene"23(literally"sunfuel").
Kerosenefrompetroleumwasagoodfuelwhenitarrivedinthe1860s:itwas
usuallynottoovolatile,itburnedbrightlyanditwasfairlycheap.Agradualshift
fromcamphenetokerosenemighthaveoccurred,butinstead,a$2.08pergallon
taxonalcoholwasimposedinstagesbetween1862and1864aspartofthe
InternalRevenueActtopayfortheCivilWar.Thetaxwasmeanttoapplyto

beveragealcohol,butwithoutanyspecificexemption,itwasalsoappliedtofuel
andindustrialusesforalcohol."Theimpositionoftheinternalrevenuetaxon
distilledspirits...increasedthecostofthis'burningfluid'beyondthepossibility
ofusingitincompetitionwithkerosene..,"saidRufusF.Herrick,anengineer
withtheEdisonElectricTestingLaboratorywhowroteoneofthefirstbookson
theuseofalcoholfuel.24
Whileagradualshiftfromburningfluid(orspiritlamps)tokerosinedidoccurin
Europeduringthelasthalfofthe19thcentury,theAmericanalcoholtaxmeant
thatkerosenebecametheprimaryfuelvirtuallyovernight,andthedistilleries
makinglampfuellosttheirmarkets.Thetax"hadtheeffectofupsetting[the
distilleries]andinsomecasesdestroyingthem,"saidIRScommissionerDavidA.
Wellsin1872."Themanufactureofburningfluidforlightingsuddenlyceased;
happily,itwasreplacedbypetroleum,whichwasabouttobediscovered."25
Similarly,C.J.Zintheo,oftheUSDepartmentofAgriculture,saidthat90million
gallonsofalcoholperyearwereusedforlighting,cooking,andindustrybefore
thetaxwasimposed.26Meanwhile,useofoilshotupfromalmostnothingin
1860toover200milliongallonsin1870.27"Theeffectwasdisastroustogreat
industries,which,if[theyweretobe]savedfromruin,hadtoberapidly
revolutionized,"accordingtoIrishengineerRobertN.Tweedy.28
Thedistressinthealcoholindustrymaybereflectedinthenumberofpatentsfor
variouscombinationsofburningfluids.Between1861and1867,thepatentoffice
issued32differentpatentsforburningfluids,alcoholorcampheneblends;only
fivehadbeenawardedintheprevious33years.After1867,nopatentsfor
"burningfluids"arelisted.29Thedramaticincreaseinnumbersofpatents,as
alcoholbecameprohibitivelyexpensive,mayreflectdesperateattemptstofind
newcombinationsofinflammableliquidstoreplacetheproductoftherapidly
dyingalcoholfuelindustry.
Thus,thegrowthofthepetroleumindustryinthe1860swasgreatlyaidedbythe
heavyfederaltaxonitsprimarycompetitor.Themyththatpetroleumwasatfirst
adramaticdeliverancefromthedarkness,andthentheonlyimportantfuelforthe
horselesscarriage,indicatestheextenttowhichoilindustryhistorianshavebeen
influencedbytherhetoricofthetechnologicalsublime.Infact,earlyautomotive
inventorsresortedtobothpetroleumandalcoholspiritlampfuelsasreadily
availableenergysources.

FodderfortheHorselessCarriage
Theideaofreplacingtheexternalcombustionsteamenginewithaninternal
combustionliquidfuelengineseizedtheworld'simaginationinthelate19th
century,buttheoriginsofinternalcombustionenginescanbetracedbacktoearly
experimentswithgunpowderinthelate1600s.HistorianLyleCumminshasnoted
thatatleastadozeninventorstriedtodevelopsomeformofinternalcombustion
enginebytheearly19thcentury.30
ThefirstauthenticinternalcombustionengineinAmerica,developedbySamuel
Moreyaround1826,ranonethylalcoholandturpentine.Itpoweredan
experimentalwagonandasmallboatateightmilesperhouruptheConnecticut
river.Morey,likemanyotherinventors,wasneverabletoattractfinancingforhis
ideaandonlytheprototypewasbuilt.31
AnotherearlydeveloperoftheinternalcombustionenginewasGermaninventor
NicholasAugustOtto.In1860,Ottousedethylalcoholasafuelinanearly
enginebecauseitwaswidelyavailableforspiritlampsthroughoutEurope.He
devisedacarburetorwhich,likeMorey's,heatedthealcoholtohelpitvaporizeas
theenginewasbeingstarted.ButaJanuary1861patentapplicationwiththe
KingdomofPrussiawasturneddown,probablybecauseheatedalcohol
carburetionwasalreadybeingwidelyusedinspiritlamps.32Itisinterestingto
notethatOtto'sinitialfinancingcamefromEugenLangen,whoownedaasugar
refiningcompanythatprobablyhadlinkstothealcoholmarketsofEurope.Of
course,theOtto&Langencompanywentontosuccessinthe1870sbyproducing
stationarygasengines(usuallypoweredbycoalgas)andthelater"Ottocycle"
enginewasfueledprimarilywithgasolinebutwasstilladaptabletoalcoholor
benzenefromcoal.

Numerousotherengineprototypesweredevelopedusingalcoholorturpentine,
includingUSinventorGeorgeBrayton'senginedevelopedinthe1870s.However,
atthedawnoftheautomotiveage,kerosenewaswidelyavailableandgasoline,
althoughvolatileanddangerousforlamps,wascheapandverymuchinsurplus.
PromotingAlcoholFuelinEurope18901914
Duringthe18901914timeperiod,German,FrenchandBritishscientistsand
governmentofficialswereworriedaboutthelongevityofoilreservesandthe
unpredictablenatureofoilsuppliesfromRussiaandAmerica."Theoiltrust
battlesbetweenRockefeller,theRothschilds,theNobelsandMarcusSamuel's
Shellkeptpricesinastateofflux,andenginesoftenhadtobeadaptabletothe
fuelthatwasavailable,"saidCummins.33ManufacturingcompaniesinGermany,
EnglandandFrancesoldenginesequippedtohandleavarietyoffuels.Intropical
nationswhereoilsupplieswerequiteirregular,andinclosedenvironmentssuch
asminesandfactories,alcoholengineswereoftenpreferred.
Withfewdomesticoilreserves,FranceandGermanyespeciallywereeagerto
encouragewidespreaddevelopmentofafuelthatcouldbereadilydistilledfrom
domesticfarmproducts.ResearchattheExperimentalMechanicalLaboratoryof
ParisandattheDeutscheLandwirtschaftlicheGesellschaftinBerlininthe1890s
helpedpavethewayforexpandeduseofalcoholfuel.34By1896,horseless
carriageswereshowinguponroadsinEuropeandtheUnitedStates,andinternal
combustionengineswerealsobeginningtoreplacesteamenginesinlight
machineryandfarmequipment.Thequestionofwhethergasolineoralcoholwas
thebetterfueloftenprovokedspiriteddebate,andnumerousracesbetweencars
withdifferentfuelswereheldinEurope.
Oneoftheseracestookplacein1899withfouralcoholfueledvehiclesracing
fromParistoChantilly.Onlyonemadetheentiredistance.35Twoyearslater,50
vehiclesrangingfromlightquadracyclestoheavytrucksmadethe167miletrek
fromParistoRoubaix.TherallysweresponsoredbytheAutomobileClubof
Parisandfuelsvaryingfrompurealcoholto50percentalcoholand50percent
gasolineweremeasuredforeachvehiclebeforeandafterthe1902rally.Most
driversapparentlypreferredthe5050blend.36
Exhibitsofautomobilesheldeveryyearcontainedlarge
proportionsofalcoholfueledcars,andthegrowing
enthusiasmwasreflectedinthe1902Parisexhibit
(mentionedaboveintheintroduction).Theexhibitwas
devotedtoalcoholpoweredautomobiles,farm
machineryandawidevarietyoflamps,stoves,heaters,
laundryirons,haircurlers,coffeeroastersandevery
conceivablehouseholdapplianceandagricultural

enginepoweredbyalcohol.Manyofthesewerenotexperimentalitemsbut
representedawellestablishedindustry.Byoneestimate,some95,000alcohol
fueledstovesand37,000spiritlampsweremadeinGermanyin1902.37The
exhibitpublishedasetofpapersandspeeches,.38andwasreportedinmany
newspapersandtechnicaljournalsoftheday.Eightotherexhibitionsand
congressesonalcoholfuelstookplaceinGermany,France,ItalyandSpain
between1901and1904.39Meanwhile,Frenchfuelalcoholproductionrosefrom
2.7milliongallonsin1900to5.7milliongallonsin1903and8.3millionin
1905.40Enthusiasmoverthemarriageofagricultureandindustryinalcoholfuel
wasnottheonlymotivationforFrenchinterest.Averypracticalproblemwasthe
declineinFrenchsugarbeetexportsandrisingsurplusofmanycrops.Another
concernwastheincreaseinoilimportsfromtheU.S.andthelackofdomesticoil
reserves.41
Germanswerealsoconcernedaboutadomesticfuelsupplythatwouldalso
providefarmerswithnewmarketsforcrops.In1899,theGermangovernment
organizedtheCentralefurSpiritusVerwerthung(officeofalcoholsales)which
maintainedalcoholpricesatanequilibriumwithpetroleumataroundthe
equivalentof27centspergallonthroughsubsidiestoalcoholproducersanda
tariffonimportedoil.42Otherincentivesincludedscientificprizes,includinga
medallionfromtheemperorofferedforthebestalcoholengines.Asaresult,
alcoholproductionrosefrom10milliongallonstoabout26milliongallons
between1887and1904.43"ToKaiserWilliamII,itseems,weareindebtedfor
thegreat,newindustry,"saidaNewYorkTimesmagazinewriterin1906."Not
thathediscoveredthefuel,butthatheforceditsuseonGermany.TheKaiserwas
enragedattheOilTrustofhiscountry,andofferedprizestohissubjectsandcash
assistance...toadapt[alcohol]touseintheindustries."44
AccordingtoarepresentativeoftheOttoGasEngineWorksofPhiladelphia,by
1906tenpercentoftheenginesbeingproducedbythefirm'sparentcompanyin
Germanyweredesignedtorunonpureethylalcohol,whileonethirdoftheheavy
locomotivesproducedattheDeutzGasengineworksofGermanyranonpure
ethylalcohol.45Alcoholengineswereadvertisedassaferthansteamengines(as
theydidnotgiveoffsparksfromsmokestacks)andfarcleanerthankerosineor
gasolineengines.Inasurveyconductedaround1903,some87percentofGerman
farmersconsideredalcoholenginestobeequalorsuperiortosteamenginesin
performance.46ConflictingreportsonthenumberofGermandistilleriesatleast
givesomeideaofthescaleoftheenterprise.Byone1906account,some72,000
distilleriesoperated,ofwhich57,000weresmallfarm"Materialbrennereien"stills
producingatotalof27milliongallons.47Anotheraccount,from1914,putthe
numberat6,000distilleriesproducing66milliongallonsofalcoholperyear.48
ThesealcoholstillsmayhavehadtheeffectofprolongingWorldWarI.
AccordingtoIrishengineerRobertTweedy,whenoilshortagesseemedlikelyto

paralyzeGermany'stransportationsystemin1915,thousandsofengineswere
quicklymodified."Everymotorcarintheempirewasadaptedtorunonalcohol.
ItispossiblethatGermanywouldhavebeenbeatenalready[by1917]if
productionofalcoholhadnotformedanimportantpartoftheagricultural
economy."49
U.S.CongressLiftsAlcoholTaxin1906
AmericanfarmerswatchedthegrowinguseofalcoholfuelinEuropewithgreat
interest.Theirmarketsweregluttedwithgrainsurplusescreatedwhenvastnew
tractsofvirginprairiewereplowedundertoproducebumpercrops.Toabsorb
thesesurpluses,manylookedtothemarketforliquidfuelscreatedbythe
widespreadacceptanceoftheautomobile.Itseemedlogicaltoreplacetheir
decliningmarketforhorsesbygrowingfuelforthehorselesscarriage.
Severalattemptshadalreadybeenmadetoremovethe$2.08federaltaxplacedon
alcoholduringtheCivilWar..In1894theWilsontariffbillallowedarebateof
taxesonalcoholforindustrialuses,buttheTreasuryDept.refusedtoissue
regulations.Manufacturerstriedtoclaimtherebatebutlostincourt.In1896a
jointcommitteestudiedtheissue,andminutesshowoppositionfromwood
alcohol(methyl)producers.
In1906,thefarmlobbyfoundanallyinPresidentTheodoreRoosevelt,abitter
foeoftheoilindustry.Althoughembroiledinotherdisputesatthetime,
RooseveltsentamessageofsupportfortherepealofthealcoholtaxtotheHouse
ofRepresentatives,sayingitprovidedapossiblechecktothedepradationsofthe
oiltrust.50InApril,1906,abilltorepealthealcoholsalestaxsailedthroughthe
Houseona224to7votewithwidespreadsupportfromfarmbeltrepresentatives.
AdditionalsupportcamefromtheTemperanceParty,whichsawinalcoholfuela
beneficialuseforaperniciouscommodity.
WhentheSenateFinanceCommitteeattemptedtotablethe"FreeAlcohol"bill,
thepresidentoftheAutomobileClubofAmericasaidthathewasconsiderably
surprisedanddisappointedattheSenatecommittee,althoughhedidnotthink
StandardOilwouldopposethebill."Gasolineisgrowingscarcer,andtherefore
dearer,allthetime...Automobilescannotusegasolineforalltime,ofthatIam
sure,andalcoholseemstobethebestsubstitutethathasyetappeared."51U.S.
SenatorChampClarkofMissouri,however,placed"theRockefellers"squarelyin
theopposingcampasattemptingtoretainthetaxonapotentialcompetitor.52
BymidMay,1906,theSenatecommitteerelentedandtheNewYorkTimes
reportedthebillwaslikelytobeapproved."Itisonlytheheavytaximposedby
theUnitedStatesthathaspreventedtheuseofalargenumberofvegetable
productsforthemanufactureofexceedinglycheapandavailablealcohol,"a

Timeseditorialsaid.ThesesourcesincludedpotatoesintheWest,sugarbeetsin
Michigan,andcheapimportedmolassesintheeast.AreportfromtheU.S.
ambassadortoCubanotedalcoholmadetherecost10centspergallon,andwith
improvedmethodsintheU.S.itcouldcostevenlesswhenmadefromimported
molasses."Thechiefopponents,atleasttheopenopponents,havebeenthe
manufacturersofwoodalcohol,"theTimessaid.53
Automanufacturerssupportedthebillwholeheartedly.Arepresentativeofthe
DetroitBoardofCommerce,JamesS.Capen,toldtheSenateFinanceCommittee
thatalcoholwas"preferable"togasolinebecauseitwassafer,"absolutelyclean
andsanitary,"andbecause"artificialshortages"couldnotraisethepriceinthe
future.Thebiggestproblemforautomakers,Capensaid,wasnotsomuchcostas
thequestionoflongtermsupply.54
TheSenatepassedthebillMay24,1906,andtheNewYorkTimesagainnoted
thelowcostofalcohol(14centsfromcorn,nineandahalfcentsfrommolasses)
ascomparedtothehighpriceofkeroseneandgasoline(18and22cents,
respectively)."Thenewfuelandilluminantwillutilizecompletelyanimportant
classofagriculturalcropsandbyproductsthusbenefitinginadoublesensethe
farmsandvillagesthroughoutthecountry,"aneditorialsaid.55Rooseveltsigned
thebillJune8,1906.
Additionalbillsspecificallyexemptingfarmstillsfromgovernmentcontrols
passedshortlyafterwards,andtriumphantfarmbeltsenators,likeNorthDakota's
Hansbrough,proclaimedthat"everyfarmercouldhaveastill"tosupplyheat,
lightandpoweratlowprices."Advocateslookforwardwithhopetoabigchange
inthefarmerslife,"theNewYorkTimesreported."Ifthelawaccomplisheswhat
ishopeditwill...makearevolutiononthefarm."
Expertsnotedthatwhilealcoholwouldprobablynotdriveoutgasolineentirely,
"itwillfinditsfieldaseveryotherfuelenergyhas."Moretypicalwasthe
statementofaNationalGrangemasterwhopredictedanimmediatemarketfor
100milliongallonsofalcohol.Alongwithalargeadditionalmarketforfarm
crops,alcoholwouldserveasa"balancewheeltomaintainanequilibrium"in
commodityprices.56
Theloftyfarmrhetoricobscuredadifficulteconomicpicture,butthebillkindled
interestinalcoholfuelsamongfarmerswhowantednewmarketsandautomakers
whowantedtocontinuetohaveamarketifoilweretorunout.Purealcoholfuel
wentonsaleinPeoria,Illinoisat32centspergalloninJanuary,1907asthetax
tookeffect,andpriceselsewherehoveredaround25to30cents.Atthesame
time,gasolinepricesat18to22centspergallonwerebeginningtodropasnew
TexasoilfieldscameonlineandfoundmarketsontheEastCoast.Thesenew
fieldswerebroughtinbyindependentoilcompanies,especiallyGulfandthe

TexasCo.(Texaco).Suddenly,thefutureforalcoholfuelseemedmoreremote
thananticipated.
"OfallthechimericalprojectseverfoisteduponCongress,thefreedenatured
alcoholschemehasprovedthegreatestdisappointment,"saidanewscolumnin
theNewYorkTimesin1907.Withonlytenalcoholplantsbuiltunderthenew
law,"gasoline,keroseneandelectricityarestillbeingused."Onedisappointed
farmmachinerymanufacturersaidtheproblemwasalackoffrugalityamong
Americans;themanufacturersaidGermanfarmstillsoftenused"cull"cropsthat
hadbeenpartlydamagedorspoiled.Meanwhile,anInternalRevenue
commissionernotedthatGermanyprotectedfarmalcoholwithtariffson
petroleumimports,andsaidthatfuelpricesthereweretheequivalentof15to27
centspergallon.57USDAsetupademonstrationsmallscalealcoholstillinthe
BureauofChemistrywith"theaimofcreatingabodyofexpertswhowould
returntotheirdistrictsfilledupwithenthusiasmandknowledgewhichwouldbe
servedouttofarmers."In1908,fourteenexpertsweretrained;in1909onlyfour
couldbetrained,andtheprojectwasabandoned.TheU.S.commissionerof
revenuenotedin1910thatnoalcoholhadbeenusedforfuel,andin1911he
reportedthatanewindustrialalcoholindustrywasunlikely.
Attemptstorevivethemoribundhopesofthealcoholindustryprovedfutile.In
1914theFreeAlcoholbillwasamendedagaintodecreasetheregulatoryburden,
butoneobserversaidthatthesmalldistillery"isonlyamythinthiscountry."In
1915,Congressionalhearingsonmoredemonstrationsandproposalsforan
IndustrialAlcoholCommissionwithintheDepartmentofAgriculturewereheld,
buttheproposalswereturneddown."Thetheaterisopen,thestageisset,butthe
playdoesnotbegin.Therearenoactors..."saidTweedy.58
Alcoholfromgrainandpotatoes,atabout25to30centspergallon,wasfartoo
expensivetocompetewithpetroleum,butalcoholfromCubanmolasses,at10
centspergallon,wasthoughttobecompetitive.Someobserverssuspecteda
conspiracyinthefactthatStandardOilofNewJerseyhadfinancialtiestothe
Caribbeanalcoholmarket.Theinfluenceofanoilcompanyoverthealcohol
industrywas"acombinationwhichmanywillregardassinister,"saidTweedy.59
In1942,Senatecommitteesbeganlookingintotheextenttowhichtheoil
industryhadcontrolledotherindustries,includingthealcoholindustryandthe
rubberindustry.AttorneyGeneralThurmondArnoldtestifiedthatantitrust
investigationshadtakenplaceintotheoilindustry'sinfluenceinthealcohol
industryinthe19131920period,intheearly1920s,andbetween1927and1936.
"Renewedcomplaintsin1939werebroughttotheantitrustdivisionbutbecause
offundsnoactionwastaken,"Arnoldsaid.60Thentheinvestigationof1941
whichexposeda"marriage"betweenStandardOilCo.andtheGermanchemical
companyI.G.Farbenalsobroughtnewevidenceconcerningcomplexpriceand
marketingagreementsbetweenduPontCorp.,amajorinvestorinandproducerof

leadedgasoline,U.S.IndustrialAlcoholCo.andtheirsubsidiary,CubaDistilling
Co.Theinvestigationwaseventuallydropped,likedozensofothersinmany
differentkindsofindustries,duetotheneedtoenlistindustrysupportinthewar
effort.However,thetopdirectorsofmanyoilcompaniesagreedtoresignandoil
industrystocksinmolassescompaniesweresoldoffaspartofacompromise
workedoutwithArnold.
ScientificInvestigationsofAlcoholFuels18901920
Scientificjournalscontainhundredsofreferencestoalcoholfuelatthedawnof
theautomotiveera.Researchduringtheearliestdecadestendedtofocusonpure
alcoholasareplacementforpetroleum.Thefocusshiftedtotheantiknock
("octane"boosting)propertiesofalcoholblendsingasolineduringthe1915to
1936periodbecauseofanincreasingneedforantiknockgasolineandbecauseof
improvementsinanhydrousalcoholproductiontechniques.61
StudiesofalcoholasaninternalcombustionenginefuelbeganintheU.S.with
theEdisonElectricTestingLaboratoryandColumbiaUniversityin1906.Elihu
ThomsonreportedthatdespiteasmallerheatorB.T.U.value,"agallonofalcohol
willdevelopsubstantiallythesamepowerinaninternalcombustionengineasa
gallonofgasoline.Thisisowingtothesuperiorefficiencyofoperation..."62
Otherresearchersconfirmedthesamephenomenaaroundthesametime.
USDAtestsin1906alsodemonstratedtheefficiencyofalcoholinenginesand
describedhowgasolineenginescouldbemodifiedforhigherpowerwithpure
alcoholfuelorforequivalentfuelconsumption,dependingontheneed.63The
U.S.GeologicalServiceandtheU.S.Navyperformed2000testsonalcoholand
gasolineenginesin1907and1908inNorfolk,Va.andSt.Louis,Mo.Theyfound
thatmuchhigherenginecompressionratioscouldbeachievedwithalcoholthan
withgasoline.Whenthecompressionratioswereadjustedforeachfuel,fuel
economywasvirtuallyequaldespitethegreaterB.T.U.valueofgasoline."In
regardtogeneralcleanliness,suchasabsenceofsmokeanddisagreeableodors,
alcoholhasmanyadvantagesovergasolineorkeroseneasafuel,"thereportsaid.
"Theexhaustfromanalcoholengineisnevercloudedwithablackorgrayish
smoke."64USGScontinuedthecomparativetestsandlaternotedthatalcoholwas
"amoreidealfuelthangasoline"withbetterefficiencydespitethehighcost.65
TheFrenchWarOfficetestedgasoline,benzeneandanalcoholbenzeneblendin
roadtestsin1909,andtheresultsshowedthatbenzenegavehighermileagethan
gasolineorthealcoholblendinexistingFrenchtrucks.66TheBritishFuel
ResearchBoardalsotestedalcoholandbenzenemixturesaroundtheturnofthe
centuryandjustbeforeWorldWarI,findingthatalcoholblendshadbetter
thermalefficiencythangasolinebutthatenginesdevelopedlessbrakehorsepower

atlowrpm.67Ontheotherhand,aBritishresearchernamedWatsonfoundthat
thermalefficienciesforalcohol,benzeneandgasolinewereverynearlyequal.68
TheseexperimentsarerepresentativeofworkunderwaybeforeandduringWorld
WarI.TheconclusionsweresodefinitivethatScientificAmericanconcludedin
1918:"Itisnowdefinitelyestablishedthatalcoholcanbeblendedwithgasoline
toproduceasuitablemotorfuel..."69By1920,theconsensus,Scientific
Americansaid,was"auniversalassumptionthat[ethyl]alcoholinsomeformwill
beaconstituentofthemotorfuelofthefuture."Alcoholmetallpossibletechnical
objections,andalthoughitwasmoreexpensivethangasoline,itwasnot
prohibitivelyexpensiveinblendswithgasoline."Everychemistknows[alcohol
andgasoline]willmix,andeveryengineerknows[they]willdriveaninternal
combustionengine."70
Duringandafterthewar,theBritishFuelResearchBoardactivelyresearched
militaryandcivilianfuels.W.R.Ormandyin1918saidthatalcoholandcoal
basedfuelscouldreplaceoilinthepostwarperiod,andOrmandynotedthatonly
fivepercentoftheAmericangraincropwouldmeetrequirementsforablended
fuel.71Theboard'scommitteeon"poweralcohol"notedtheabsenceoftechnical
problemsayearlater,althoughitconcludedthat"alcoholcannotcompetewith
gasolineatpresentprices."72HaroldB.Dixon,workingfortheboardandother
governmentaldepartments,reportedin1920thathigherpossibleengine
compressioncompensatedforalcohol'slowcaloricvalue.Amixtureofalcohol
with20percentbenzeneorgasoline"runsverysmoothly,andwithout
knocking."73Also,B.R.Tunnisonreportedin1920theantiknockeffectsof
alcoholblendsingasolineandsaidmileagewasimproved.74
AnothersignificantsetofBritishexperimentswasperformedbytheLondon
GeneralOmnibusCo.in1919comparinggasolinewithblendsofethylalcohol
andbenzene.Mileagewasaboutthesame,withgasolineslightlyahead."Inall
otherrespectsthe[alcohol]fuelcomparedfavorablywithpetrol[gasoline],and
exhibitedthecharacteristicsofotheralcoholmixturesinrespectofflexibility,
absenceofknockingandcleanliness."75Theabsenceofknockingissignificant,
sinceLondonomnibusstudieswerewidelyreportedandwellknowntwoyears
beforeleadedgasolinewasdiscoveredandsixyearsbeforeoilindustry
representativestoldgovernmentofficialsthatalternativestoleadedgasolinedid
notexist.76Thebusexperimentalsoshowedthatalargescaleswitchfrom
petroleumwastechnicallyfeasible."Wearefastsquanderingtheoilthathasbeen
storedinthefuelbeds,anditseemssofarasourpresentknowledgetakesusthat
itistothefuelsexperimentedwiththatwemustturnforoursalvation,"saidthe
omnibuscompanyengineerinatechnicaljournal.77
Despitethevalueofdemonstratingtheflexibilityoftechnology,roadtestsproved
tobeanunreliableindexofmileageandthermalefficiency.AGermanroadtest

ofbenzenealcoholblendsfoundthatthe50/50alcoholbenzenemixturehad30
percentbettermileagethangasoline.78Becauseoftheunreliabilityofsuchroad
tests,ThomasMidgelyintheU.S.andH.R.RicardoinBritaindeveloped
referenceengines,indicators,andmeasuringapparatusforshowingtheexact
extentofknocking.Midgely'ssystemledtothedevelopmentofisooctaneasa
referencefuel,andeventually,the"octane"systemofmeasuringantiknock.
Ricardo'sworkfocusedinpartontestingfuelsatvariouscompressionratiosupto
thepointwheretheywouldbeginknocking,orwhathetermedthe"highestuseful
compressionratio."Ethylalcoholhada7.5value,withcommercialgasolinesthen
availableat4.5to6.RicardoalsodevelopedtheTolueneIndex,whichlike
"octane"measuredantiknockwithareferencefuel.Ricardoconcludedthatthe
lowburningrateofalcohollessensthetendencytoknock,andthat,usingtoluene
asthereferencepointat100antiknock,alcoholhada130rating.79
Severaldifficultieswithalcoholfuelswereknown:coldstartingwasone,and
E.C.FreelandandW.G.Harrynotedinachemicalsocietypaperthatblendsof
smallamountsofetherinalcoholcouldsolvetheproblem.80Anotherproblem
was"phaseseparation,"notedabove.Butthetendencyofalcoholandgasolineto
separateatlowertemperaturesinthepresenceofwatercouldbeeasilyovercome
with"binders,"andwasnotedbyThomasMidgley,amongothers.Thesewere
smallamountsofadditivessuchashighercarbonalcohols(suchaspropylor
butylalcohol),ethersand/orbenzene.Operatingpracticewasalsoimportanttin
dealingwithalcoholfuels.Fueldistributorsandchemistsusedanhydrous(low
watercontent)alcoholandavoidedstoringalcoholgasolineblendsintankswith
water"bottoms."SwedishresearcherE.Hubendicksaidthatthedangerof
separation"canbeignoredinmyestimation"becauseevenifitdidoccur,it
wouldneverstopthemotorinthewaythatasmallamountofwaterinthegas
tankwould.81
Inshort,technicalresearchintoethylalcoholasafuelrangedfromneutralto
extremelypositive,withveryfewnegativefindings.By1925,anAmerican
researcherspeakingatthesameNewYorkChemistsClubtoldanaudience:
"Compositefuelsmadesimplybyblendinganhydrousalcoholwithgasolinehave
beengivenmostcomprehensiveservicetestsextendingoveraperiodofeight
years.Hundredsofthousandsofmileshavebeencoveredinstandardmotorcar,
tractor,motorboatandaeroplaneengineswithhighlysatisfactoryresults...
Alcoholblendseasilyexcelgasolineoneverypointimportanttothemotorist.The
superiorityofalcoholgasolinefuelsisnowsafelyestablishedbyactual
experience...[Thus]thefutureofalcoholmotorfuelsislargelyaneconomic
problem.82
Yetinthe1930s,oilindustryopponentsofalcoholblendsintheUSclaimedthat
technicalproblemsprohibitedtheiruse."Alcoholismuchinferior,gallonfor

gallon,togasolineasamotorfuel,"claimedtheAmericanPetroleumIndustries
Committee.Whileadmittingtherewassomeantiknockadvantage,thecommittee
saidtheblendswouldbe"unstableinthepresenceofsmallamountsofaccidental
moisture."83TheAmericanPetroleumInstitute'sCongerReynolds,ina1939
barbaimedatHenryFordandtheFarmChemurgyconferencesofthe1930s,said:
"Withallduedeferenceforthedreamchemists,armchairfarmersandplatform
oratorswhohavetoutedalcoholgasolineasthegreatestofallfuels,oilindustry
technologistsknowandautomotiveengineersknowthatitisnotassatisfactorya
fuelasstraightgasolineofnormalquality."84
ThecontextofReynoldsspeechtofellowoilmenwasthatoffendingoff(byhis
count)19federalbillsand31statebillsonalcoholgasolinetaxincentivesand
blendingprogramsbetween1933and1939.Tobeforcedtousealcoholgasoline
wouldmeangivingconsumersaninferiorfuelatanexorbitantcost,Reynolds
said.Atthetime,theAPIhadvirtuallynotechnicaldatatobackupclaimsof
inferiority.Thevastbulkofscientificresearchpointedverymuchinfavorof
alcoholblendedfuels.Thatsoonchangedasindustrysponsoredtestsfoundphase
separation,coldstartingandotherproblems.Tenyearslater,Britishresearcher
S.J.W.Pleethwouldobserve:
"Thebiasarousedbytheuseofalcoholasamotorfuelhasproduced[research]
resultsthatareincompatiblewitheachother...Countrieswithconsiderableoil
depositssuchastheUSorwhichcontroloildepositsofotherlandssuchas
Hollandtendtoproducereportsantitheticaltotheuseoffuelsalternativeto
petrol;countrieswithlittleornoindigenousoiltendtoproducefavorablereports.
Thecontrast...ismostmarked.Onecanscarcelyavoidtheconclusionthatthe
resultsarrivedatarethosebestsuitedtothepoliticaloreconomicaimsofthe
countryconcernedortheindustrysponsoringtheresearch.Wedeplorethis
partisanuseofscience,whileadmittingitsexistence,eveninthepresent
writer."85

U.S.Automakers,AlcoholFuelsandEthylLeadedGasoline
BeforeWorldWarI,U.S.automakerswereawareofthepotentialforalcohol
fuel,butgiventheshorttermeconomicpicture,stayedwithgasolineandlow
compressionengines.Mostpopularcars,suchastheFordModelT,hadlow
compressionengines,anadjustablecarburetorandasparkadvancethatmadeit
possibletoswitchfromgasolinetoalcoholtokeroseneasneeded.DespiteFord's
latersupportforalcoholfuelinthe1920sand1930s,theonlyfuelthecompany

actuallyhandledwas"Fordsol,"benzinefromFordfactorycokingoperationsand
regulargasoline.Someearlyautomanufacturers,suchastheOldsGasPower
Company,offeredasimplemixerattachmentforalcoholandfoundthat"under
actualoperatingconditions...thefuelconsumptionperhorsepowerisaboutthe
same,poundforpound,whetherusingalcoholorgasoline."TheHartParr
Company,atractormanufacturerbasedinCharlesCity,Iowa,commentedin
1907:"Wehavewatchedwithgreatinterest,andaddedoureffortstohelpbring
aboutthefreeuseofalcoholforpowerpurposes...Ourengineissoconstructed
thatalcoholcanbeusedwithverylittlechange..."86
MinneapolisSteelandMachineryCo.beganmakingalcoholenginesfortractors
in1909,andwithincreasingdemandforalcoholpoweredfarmequipmentafter
WorldWarI,beganintensivestudiesonamoreefficientalcoholengine."Inour
opinionalcoholisanidealfuel,"saidresearcherA.W.Scarratt,becauseit
vaporizedatapracticallyconstanttemperatureanditformednocarbondeposits.
"Webelievetheentireautomobileindustryshouldgetbehindthisideaandbring
ittopassasquicklyaspossiblesoastoprovideanothersourceoffuelsupplyand
tobringdowntheoperatingcostsofallequipmentdependingnowon
hydrocarbonfuels."87
AfterWorldWarI,thefocusoffuelresearchshiftedintotwodirections.One
researchdirectionledtothediscoveryofametallicadditivecalledtetraethyl
lead.ThestoryofhowGeneralMotorsresearchersThomasMidgleyandCharles
F.Ketteringdiscoveredithasoftenbeentold.88However,thesecondresearch
directionintothe"fuelofthefuture"isnotwellknown.
KetteringandMidgley'sinitialresearchintofuelinvolvedworkonDELCO
generatorsandairplaneenginesinWorldWarI.Inareportonthewarresearch,
Midgleywrote:"Engineershaveheretoforebelievedknockingtobethe
unavoidableresultoftoohighacompression,andwhilethefactthat[ethyl]
alcoholdidnotknockatextremelyhighcompressionswaswellknown,itwas
[erroneously]attributedtoitsextremelyhighignitionpoint.."89Thepointwas
generallyunderstoodbyscientistsandmilitarytechnologyexperts.Forexample,a
navalcommitteeconcludedin1920thatalcoholgasolineblends"withstandhigh
compressionwithoutproducingknock."90
Kettering,whohadbecomeGeneralMotorsvicepresidentofresearchandthe
presidentoftheSocietyofAutomotiveEngineers,notedtwodirectionsinfuel
researchina1919speechtothesociety.Therewas,hesaid,a"highpercentage"
direction,withblendsofupto20percentormoreofbenzineoralcohol;theother
wasa"lowpercentage"additive,suchasiodine,whichwastooexpensivetobe
practicalbutpointedtothepossibilityofotheradditives.91Thelowpercentage
researcheffortwouldleadtothediscoveryofleadedgasolinein1921.

Around1920and1921,Ketteringcametobelievethatalcoholfuelfrom
renewableresourceswouldbetheanswertothecompressionproblemandthe
possibilityofanoilshortage.AlongwithhisBritishcounterpart,H.R.Ricardo,
Ketteringsettledonalcoholasthekeytounshacklingtheinternalcombustion
enginefromnonrenewablefossilfuels,"saidhistorianStuartLeslie."Ethanol
(ethylalcohol)neverknocked,itcouldbeproducedbydistilingwastevegetable
material,anditwasalmostpollutionfree.Ricardocomparedalcoholfueltoliving
withinaman'smeans,implyingthatfossilfuelswereafoolishsquanderingof
capital."92
AtKettering'surging,GeneralMotorsbegantoconsiderjustwhatwouldbe
involvedinatotalswitchfrompetroleumtoalcoholfuel.OneG.M.researcher
reportedthatsome46percentofallfoodstuffswouldhavetobeconvertedto
alcoholtoreplacegasolineonaBTUforBTUbasis.93InanotherG.M.study,
T.A.Boydsurveyedthesteepriseinnumberofnewcarsandtheincreasing
difficultyofprovidingnewfuelsupplies.Thesolution,Boydsaid,wouldbeto
useotherfuels,andbenzeneandalcohol"appeartobeverypromisingallies"to
petroleum.94Alcoholwasthe"mostdirectroute...forconvertingenergyfromits
source,thesun,intoamaterialthatissuitableforafuel..."Boydsaid.
Despiteadvantagesofcleanlinessandhighantiknockrating,thereweresupply
problems.In1921,about100milliongallonsofindustrialalcoholsupplywas
available.Overall,enoughcorn,sugarcaneandothercropswereavailableto
producealmosttwicethe8.3billiongallonperyeardemandforgasoline.Butthe
possibilityofusingsuchalargeamountoffoodacreageforfuel"seemsvery
unlikely,"hesaid.95Inaspeecharound1921,Ketteringnotedthat"industrial
alcoholcanbeobtainedfromvegetableproducts...[but]thepresenttotal
productionofindustrialalcoholamountstolessthanfourpercentofthefuel
demands,andwereittotaketheplaceofgasoline,overhalfofthetotalfarmarea
oftheUnitedStateswouldbeneededtogrowthevegetablematterfromwhichto
producethisalcohol."96
Kettering,MidgleyandBoydapparentlyframedthequestionintermsoftotally
replacinggasoline,althougharelatedgoaloftheresearchwastocreateantiknock
additives.Itstandstoreasonthatifa20percentblendofalcoholweretobeused
inallfuel,then(usingBoyd'sfigure)onlyaboutninepercentofgrainandsugar
cropswouldbeneeded.Sincegrainwasinsurplusafterthewar,American
farmersprobablywouldhavewelcomedanewmarketfortheircrop,andthe
kindsofsupplyproblemsintheG.M.andduPontstudieswouldprobablynot
havematerialized.Also,withProhibition,distillerswouldhavewelcomedanew
usefortheirservices.AnotherproblemwithKettering'sanalysisdemonstratesa
lackofunderstandingofagricultureandthedistillingindustry.Grainisnot"used"
forfuel;itisfedtocattleafteritisdistilledwithnolossinfoodvalue.Thisisas
trueofbrewers'grainsfrombeerdistilleriesasitisoffuelfacilities.

Thus,supplyofanadditivewouldnothavebeentheproblemthatG.M.engineers
apparentlyassumedthatitwouldhavebeen.However,sincetheoriginalstudies
onfuelalcoholaremissingfromthearchives,anditisdifficulttofathomthe
reasonfortheirnarrowframeofreference.97Onereasonableexplanationisthat
Kettering,BoydandMidgleywerepreoccupiedwiththelongtermreplacement
ofpetroleum.In1920and1921theywerenottechnicallyorpoliticallyopposedto
ethylalcoholasastraightfuelorinblendswithgasoline.Ketteringspokeout
againsttaxesonalcoholasanimpedimenttofuelresearchandhelpedovercome
otherobstacles.98In1920,K.W.ZimmerschiedofG.M.'sNewYork
headquarterswroteKetteringtonotethatforeignuseofalcoholfuel"isgetting
moreseriouseverydayinconnectionwithexportcars,andanythingwecando
towardbuildingourcarburetorssotheycanbeeasilyadaptedtoalcoholwillbe
appreciatedbyall."Ketteringassuredhimthattheadaptation"isathingwhichis
veryreadilytakencareof,"andsaidthatG.M.couldrapidlychangethefloatsin
carburetorsfromlacqueredcorktometal.99Midgleyalsofiledapatent
applicationforablendofalcoholandcracked(olefin)gasolineonFebruary28,
1920,clearlyintendingittobeanantiknockfuel.100
Theproblemofthelongtermresourcebaseforthefuelofthefuturecontinuedto
worryKetteringandMidgley.Atonepointtheybecameinterestedinworkon
celluloseconversiontofermentablesugarbeingperformedbyProf.Harold
HibbertatYaleUniversity.Hibbertwasavisionary,andpointedoutthatthe1920
U.S.G.S.oilreservereporthadseriousimplicationsforhiswork."Doesthe
averagecitizenunderstandwhatthismeans?"heasked."Infrom10to20years
thiscountrywillbedependententirelyuponoutsidesourcesforasupplyofliquid
fuels...payingoutvastsumsyearlyinordertoobtainsuppliesofcrudeoilfrom
Mexico,RussiaandPersia."Butchemistsmightbeabletosolvetheproblem,
Hibbertsaid,byconvertingabundantcellulosewastefromfarmcrops,timber
operationsandseaweedintoethylalcohol.101Inthesummerof1920,Boydand
hisfamilymovedtoNewHavensothathecouldstudywithHibbert.Boydfound
Hibbertimpressivebutthevolumeofliteratureaboutcellulosehydrolysisand
synthesiswasoverwhelming.WhenMidgleycameeastinlateJuly,hewasmore
interestedinmeetingStandardOilCo.officialsthanwithHibbert,andBoydleft
withoutaclearsenseofwherethecelluloseresearchcouldgo.102
Boyddidinsistthatasourceofalcohol"inadditiontofoodstuffs"mustbefound,
andthatthesourcewouldundoubtedlybecellulose:"Itisreadilyavailable,itis
easilyproducedanditssupplyisrenewable."Usingitandreturningfarmcrop
residuestothesoilwouldnotharmsoilfertility.Buttheproblemofdevelopinga
commercialprocessforcelluloseconversiontoalcoholwasserious,hehad
learnedinhisstaywithHibbert.Atonofwoodyieldedonly20gallonsofalcohol
intheleastexpensive"weakacid"process,whereasacommerciallyprofitable
"weakacid"processwouldneedayieldofatleast50gallons,andpossibly60to
65.Suchyieldshadbeenachievedwiththe"strongacid"process,butthat

technologywascomplexandmoreexpensive.Still,successmightbefoundifthe
"strongacid"yieldcouldbeobtainedinaweakacidprocess,andasaresult,"the
dangerofaseriousshortageofmotorfuelwoulddisappear,"Boydsaid."The
greatnecessityforandthepossibilitiesofsuchaprocessjustifyalargeamountof
furtherresearch."
Topromotetheideaofalcoholblendedfuelsamongautomotiveandchemical
engineers,Midgleydroveahighcompressionratiocar(7:1)fromDaytontoan
October,1921SocietyofAutomotiveEngineers(SAE)meetinginIndianapolis
usinga30percentalcoholblendingasoline.Thiswasonlytwomonthsbefore
tetraethylleadwasdiscovered."Alcoholhastremendousadvantagesandminor
disadvantages,"MidgleytoldfellowSAEmembersinadiscussion.Advantages
included"cleanburningandfreedomfromanycarbondeposit...[and]
tremendouslyhighcompressionunderwhichalcoholwilloperatewithout
knocking...Becauseofthepossiblehighcompression,theavailablehorsepoweris
muchgreaterwithalcoholthanwithgasoline..."Minordisadvantagesincluded
lowvolatility,difficultystarting,anddifficultyinblendingwithgasoline"unlessa
binderisused."103Anotherunnamedengineer(probablyfromG.M.,possibly
Boyd)notedthatasevenandahalfpercentincreaseinpowerwasfoundwiththe
alcoholgasolineblend"...withoutproducingany'pink'[knock]intheengine.We
haverecommendedtheadditionof10percentofbenzol[benzene]toour
customerswhohaveexporttradethatusesthistypeoffueltofacilitatethemixing
ofthealcoholandgasoline."104Inaformalpartofthepresentation,Midgley
mentionedthecelluloseproject."Fromourcellulosewasteproductsonthefarm
suchasstraw,cornstalks,corncobsandallsimilarsortsofmaterialwethrow
away,wecanget,bypresentknownmethods,enoughalcoholtorunour
automotiveequipmentintheUnitedStates,"hesaid.Thecatchwasthatitwould
cost$2pergallon.However,otheralternativeslookedevenmoreproblematic
oilshalewouldn'twork,andcoalwouldonlybringinabout20percentofthetotal
fuelneed.105
MidgleyandKettering'sinterestinethylalcoholfueldidnotfadeoncetetraethyl
leadwasdiscoveredasanantiknockinDecember,1921.Infact,notonlywas
ethylalcoholasourceofcontinuedinterestasanantiknockagent,butmore
significantly,itwasstillconsideredtobethefuelthatwouldeventuallyreplace
petroleum.AMay,1922memofromMidgleytoKetteringwasaresponsetoa
reportonalcoholproductionfromtheMexican"century"plant,adesertplantthat
containsfermentablesugars.Midgleysaidhewas"notimpressed"withthe
processasawaytomakemotorfuel:
Unquestionablyalcoholisthefuelofthefutureandisplayingitspartintropical
countriessituatedsimilar[sic]toMexico.Alcoholcanbeproducedinthose
countriesforapproximately71/2centspergallonfrommanyothersourcesthan
thecenturyplant,andthequantitieswhicharesuggestedaspossibilitiesinthis

reportareinsignificantlysmallcomparedtomotorfuelrequirements.However,as
adistilleryforbeveragepurposes,thesegentlemenmayhaveamoneymaking
proposition.106
Evenaschemiststinkeredwithvariousprocessestoproducetetraethylleadina
nearbylab,MidgleyandBoydcontinuedworkingonalcoholforfuel.InaJune
1922SocietyofAutomotiveEngineerspaper,theysaid:
Thattheadditionofbenzeneandotheraromatichydrocarbonstoparaffinbase
gasolinegreatlyreducesthetendencyofthesefuelstodetonate[knock]...has
beenknownforsometime.Also,itiswellknownthatalcohol...improvesthe
combustioncharacteristicsofthefuel...Thescarcityandhighcostofgasolinein
countrieswheresugarisproducedandtheabundanceofrawmaterialsfor
makingalcoholtherehasresultedinaratherextensiveuseofalcoholformotor
fuel.Asthereservesofpetroleuminthiscountrybecomemoreandmore
depleted,theuseofbenzeneandparticularlyofalcoholincommercialmotorfuels
willprobablybecomegreatlyextended."107(Italicsindicatesectionomitted
fromprintedversion).
InSeptember,1922,MidgleyandBoydwrotethat"vegetationoffersasourceof
tremendousquantitiesofliquidfuel."Cellulosefromvegetationwouldbethe
primaryresourcebecausenotenoughagriculturalgrainsandotherfoodswere
availableforconversionintofuel."Somemeansmustbeprovidedtobridgethe
threatenedgapbetweenpetroleumandthecommercialproductionoflarge
quantitiesofliquidfuelsfromothersources.Thebestwaytoaccomplishthisisto
increasetheefficiencywithwhichtheenergyofgasolineisusedandthereby
obtainmoreautomotivemilespergallonoffuel."108Atthetimethepaperwas
written,inlatespringorearlysummer1922,tetraethylleadwasstillasecret
withinthecompany,butitwasabouttobeannouncedtofellowscientistsandtest
marketed.Thereferencetoameansto"bridgethethreatenedgap"andincreasein
theefficiencyofgasolineclearlyimpliestheuseoftetraethylleadorsomeother
additivetopavethewaytonewfuelsources.
Thisinferenceisconsistentwithanimportantstatementinanunpublished1936
legalhistoryofEthylGasolinefortheduPontcorporation:
Itisalsoofinteresttorecallthatanimportantspecialmotiveforthis[tetraethyl
lead]researchwasGeneralMotors'desiretofortifyitselfagainsttheexhaustion
orprohibitivecostofthegasolinesupply,whichwasthenbelievedtobe
impendinginabouttwentyfiveyears;thethoughtbeingthatthehigh
compressionmotorswhichshouldbethattimehavebeenbroughtintogeneraluse
ifknockingcouldbeovercomecouldmoreadvantageouslybeswitchedto[ethyl]
alcohol.109

Thus,duringthetimeKetteringandMidgleyresearchedantiknockfuels(1916to
1925),andespeciallyaftertetraethylleadwasdiscoveredinDecemberof1921,
thereweretwo"ethyls"onthehorizonforGeneralMotors:Ethylleadedgasoline,
whichwouldserveasatransitionalefficiencyboosterforgasoline,andethyl
alcohol,the"fuelofthefuture"thatwouldkeepAmerica'scarsontheroadsno
matterwhathappenedtodomesticorworldoilsupply.Thus,Kettering'sstrategy
inthepostWorldWarIyearswastopreparecarsforhighoctanealternative
fuels.
Clearly,G.M.switchedgearssometimein1923or1924.Whencontroversybroke
outaboutthepublichealthimpactsofleadedgasolinein1924,Midgleyand
Ketteringtoldthemedia,fellowscientistsandthegovernmentthatnoalternatives
existed."Sofarasscienceknowsatthepresenttime,"Midgleytoldameetingof
scientists,"tetraethylleadistheonlymaterialavailablewhichcanbringabout
these[antiknock]results,whichareofvitalimportancetothecontinuedeconomic
usebythegeneralpublicofallautomotiveequipment,andunlessagraveand
inescapablehazardexistsinthemanufactureoftetraethyllead,itsabandonment
cannotbejustified."110AndataPublicHealthServiceconferenceonleaded
gasolinein1925,Ketteringsaid:"Wecouldproducecertain[antiknock]results
andwiththehighergravitygasolines,thearomaticseriesofcompounds,alcohols,
etc...[to]getthehighcompressionwithouttheknock,butinthegreatvolumeof
fueloftheparaffinseries[petroleum]wecouldnotdothat."111Eventhough
expertslikeAliceHamiltonofHarvardUniversityinsistedthatalternativesto
leadedgasolinewereavailable,112thePublicHealthServiceallowedleaded
gasolinetoremainonthemarketin1926.(Leadedgasolinewasbannedin1986
intheUSforthesamepublichealthconcernsthathadbeenexpressed60years
earlier).
Interestingly,KetteringandMidgleycameupwithanotherfuelcalled"Synthol"
inthesummerof1925,atatimewhenthefateofleadedgasolinewasindoubt.
Syntholwasmadefromalcohol,benzeneandametallicadditiveeither
tetraethylleadorironcarbonyl.Usedincombinationwithanewhigh
compressionenginemuchsmallerthanordinaryengines,Syntholwould
"revolutionizetransportation."113WhenEthylleadedgasolinewaspermittedto
returntothemarketin1926,KetteringandMidgleydroppedtheSyntholidea.
Bythemid1930s,thealliancebetweenGeneralMotors,DuPontCorp.and
StandardOiltoproduceEthylleadedgasolinesucceededbeyondallexpectations:
90percentofallgasolinecontainedlead.Publichealthcrusaderswhofoundthis
troublingstillspokeoutinpoliticalforums,butcompetitorswerenotallowedto
criticizeleadedgasolineinthecommercialmarketplace.Inarestrainingorder
forbiddingsuchcriticism,theFederalTradeCommissionsaidEthylgasoline"is
entirelysafetothehealthof[motorists]andtothepublicingeneralwhenusedas

amotorfuel,andisnotanarcoticinitseffect,apoisonousdope,ordangerousto
thelifeorhealthofacustomer,purchaser,userorthegeneralpublic."114
Directcomparisonbetweenleadedgasolineandalcoholblendsprovedso
controversialinthe1920sand1930sthatgovernmentstudieswerekeptquietor
notpublished.Forinstance,aCommerceDepartmentreportdatedMay15,1925
detaileddozensofinstancesofalcoholfueluseworldwide.115Thereportwas
printedonlyfivedaysbeforetheSurgeonGeneral'shearingonEthylleaded
gasoline.Yetitwasnevermentionedinthenewsmediaofthetime,orin
extensivebibliographiesonalcoholfuelbyIowaStateUniversityresearchers
compiledinthe1930s.Anotherinstanceofa"buried"governmentreportwasthat
ofUSDAandNavyenginetests,conductedattheengineeringexperimentstation
inAnnapolis.ResearchersfoundthatEthylleadedgasolineand20percentethyl
alcoholblendsingasolinewerealmostexactlyequivalentintermsofbrake
horsepowerandusefulcompressionratios.The1933reportwasnever
published.116
InternationalUseofAlcoholFuels,1920sand30s
Bythemid1920sethylalcoholwasroutinelyblendedwithgasolineinevery
industrializednationexcepttheUnitedStates.Tentotwentyfivepercentalcohol
blendswithgasolinewerecommoninScandinaviancountries,wherealcoholwas
madefrompapermillwastes;inFrance,Germanyandthroughoutcontinental
Europe,wherealcoholwasmadefromsurplusgrapes,potatoesandothercrops;
andinAustralia,Brazil,Cuba,Hawaii,thePhilippians,SouthAfrica,andother
tropicalregions,whereitwasmadefromsugarcaneandmolasses.Insome
countries,especiallyFrance,gasolineretailerswererequiredtoblendinlarge
volumesofalcoholwithallgasolinesold.Germany,Brazilandothersalso
followedthe"mandatoryblending"model.Inothercountries,suchasSweden,
IrelandandBritain,alcoholblendsreceivedtaxadvantages.117
InFrance,insecuresuppliesofoilduringWorldWarIledtoaresearchprogram
atthePasteurInstituteonsourcesofalcohol,includingmarinebiomasssources
likekelp.118Continuedresearchbyanationalfuelscommitteeappointedin1921
ledtoarecommendationsofanationalfuelconsistingof40to50percentalcohol,
andonFeb.28,1923,"Article6"requiredgasolineimporterstobuyatalcohol
fromastatemonopolyatavolumeofatleast10percentoftheirgasolineimports.
"Article7"providedafiveFrancperhectolitertaxongasolinetohelpsubsidize
thealcoholmonopoly.Theblend,oftenreachingasmuchas50percentinsome
fuels,wasnotwellacceptedbyconsumerswhowereusingengineswhichwere
specificallyadaptedtogasoline.Ataminimum,carburetorsettingsneededtobe
changedtoallowagreaterfuelvolumewhenthepercentageofalcoholinthe
gasolineroseabove20to30percent,andbittercomplaintsflowedinfrommotor
clubsandgarages.119Amendmentstothelawin1926and1931helpedcreatea

moreworkableblend,andalcoholfueluserosefrom7.8milliongallonsperyear
in1925to20milliongallonsin1932.
AlthoughtheFrenchgovernmentwasinitiallyoneofthemostenthusiastictoward
alcohol,by1932somanyothernationshadsurpassedtheFrencheffortthatone
proponentexplainedthe"slowness"inrevivingalcoholfuelsuse.It"isdueinpart
tothepoorresultsobtainedwhensuchfuelswerefirstintroducedandalsotothe
castingofdiscredituponsuchfuelsbyitsadversarieswhoprofitinthefuel
business,"saidCharlesSchweitzer,aresearchchemistintheMellecomplex.120
Schweitzeralsonotedthatalcoholwasfarpreferabletoleadedgasolinefroma
publichealthstandpoint.121
NationalinitiativeswerealsounderwayinBritain,ItalyandGermany,andtax
incentiveswerepassedinallthreenationstoencouragetheuseofalcoholor
alcoholblendedfuels.
InEngland,aDepartmentalCommitteeonIndustrialAlcoholreportedin1905
thatalcoholfrompotatoeswouldbemoreexpensivethangasoline,eventhough
farmerswantedanalcoholindustrybuilttoabsorbcropsurpluses.In1915
"agitation"foranalcoholindustrywasnoted.122AFuelResearchBoard
experimentedwithalcoholproductionbetween1917and1924,andreportedthat
whileeconomicsoftraditionalcropsweremarginal,novelcropslikeJerusalem
artichokesmightbeuseful."Themosteconomicalsource[ofalcohol]maybe
foundultimatelyinsomeoftheluxurianttropicalgrowthswithintheEmpire,"an
articleinSAEJournalsaid.Evenso,itcontinuedattentiontopoweralcoholwas
important."Lookingatthefuelquestionverybroadly,thedominantfactisthat
almostallthefuelsuppliesatpresentusedarewhatlawyerscallwasting
securities...Asmineralfuelsgrowdearer,theadvantageoffuelsofvegetable
originmustbecomeaccentuated."123Bythe1930s,twomajorblendsofupto30
percentalcoholClevelandDiscoll(partownedbyStandardOilofNewJersey)
andCitiesServicewerewidelyused.Discollcontinuedtobeuseduntilthe
1970s.
GermanfirmssuchasI.G.Farbenhadbytheearly1920scomeupwithaprocess
formakingsyntheticmethanolfromcoal,adevelopmentwhichwaswidely
reportedinthepopularandtechnicalpress.Observingthesynthesisofmethanol
andotherfuels,theeditorofIndustrialandEngineeringChemistrysaid:"Wedo
notpredictthatthesewillnecessarilybethefuelstosupplementourdiminishing
petroleumreserves...Butwhoshallsay?Thefieldisnewandtheopportunities
arecorrespondinglygreat."124TheGermanethylalcoholmonopolyofthepre
WorldWarI(theCentralefurSpiritusVerwerthung)hadapparentlyfallenapart
inthepostwarchaos,butinSeptember,1926acommercialfuelcalled
"Monopolin"wasintroducedand"favorablyreceivedduetoitsantiknock
qualities."125Thefuel,whichincludedI.G.Farben'soctaneboostingiron

carbonyladditive,wasendorsedbyafamousracecardriveroftheera,Herbert
Ernst,andalcoholuseinfuelclimbedfromaquartermilliongallonsin1923to46
milliongallonsin1932.In1930gasolineimporterswererequiredtobuyfrom2.5
to6percentalcoholrelativetotheirgasolineimportvolumes,butaround1933,
I.G.Farbenandseveraloilcompaniesacquired51percentofMonopolin.126
Productionofalcoholdidnotdiminish,abutclimbedby1937toabout52million
gallonsperyearaspartofHitler'swarpreparations.127
InItaly,thefirstCongressofIndustrialChemistrywhichtookplaceinApril1924
focusedstronglyonfuelproblems,withalargepercentageofthepapers
concernedwithalcoholfuels.128Astrongscientificendorsementoftheideaof
usingsurpluscropsinthenationalfuelmixledtoanationaldecreeonmandatory
useofalcoholfuelsin1925.Severaloilcompaniesinitiallyrefusedtoblend
alcoholwithgasoline,butgovernmentpressuresprevailed.Bythelate1920s
blendsincludedBenzalcool(20%ethanoland10%benzine)andRobur(30%
ethanol,22%methanol,40%gasolineandotheradditives).Othernations,suchas
Hungary,Poland,andBrazilwouldfollowtheFrenchandItalianexampleswith
mandatoryalcoholandgasolineblendsinnationalfuelsinthe1920sand30s,
whilethetaxincentiveapproachwasadoptedbymanyotherEuropeannations
suchasSwitzerland,Sweden,GermanyandCzechoslovakia.
ThetotaluseofalcoholasasubstitutefuelinEuropemayhaveneverexceeded
fivepercent,accordingtotheAmericanPetroleumInstitute.Syntheticgasoline
andbenzenecreatedbyI.G.Farbenfromcoalsubstitutedforsevenpercentand
6.5percentrespectivelyofEuropeanpetroleumby1937.Syntheticgasolinewas
cheaper(at17to19centspergallon)thanalcoholataround25centspergallon,
APIsaid.129
Intropicalnationswheresugarcanewasabundantandpetroleumsourcesdistant,
blendsandstraightalcoholfuelswerecommon.AtractoroperatorforAmerican
SugarCo.inCubainthe192124periodrecalledusingcheapmolassesderived
alcoholbythebarrelatatimewhengasolinewasexpensivetoimport.The
practicewastostartthetractorswithgasoline(whichcost40to50centsper
gallon)andthenrunthemonalcohol(at5centspergallon)fortherestoftheday.
Whenthetractorsweretobeidledoveraweekendorbetweenharvests,alittle
gasolinewasinjectedintothecylinderstominimizecorrosion.130In1931the
BraziliangovernmentfollowedtheFrenchexampleandrequiredalcoholmixtures
infivepercentofimportedoil;blendingcontinuedsporadicallythroughthe
1950s.WhentheoilpriceshockshitBrazilinthe1970s,therelativelyrecent
technologicalexpertisewithalcoholfuelblendswasafactorinthatnation's
adoptionofanextensivealcoholfuelsprogram.131
Alcoholuseinfueldroppedby25percentin1937asEuropeshiftedgearsand
preparedforwar.Cropfailuresin1938and1939eliminatedsurplusesand,

temporarily,theneedforanalcoholfuelsprogramforfarmers.Withtheoutbreak
ofWorldWarII,virtuallyallindustrialalcoholproductionshiftedtoammunition,
andcropsurplusesdisappearedforadecade.
U.S.CommercialAlcoholFuelsPrograms
AlcoholblendedfuelwasadoptedinisolatedinstancesinAmericaduringthe
1920sandearly1930s.OneWorldWarIeraAmericanblendwas"Alcogas."
Littleisknownaboutit,althoughaphotoofaservicestationatanunknown
locationsurvives132andreferencestoAlcogasarefoundinthetechnical
literature.133Another1920sblendwasmadefrompotatoes.Thealcoholwas
distilledinSpokaneandtheblendedfuel,called"Vegaline,"waswidelysoldin
IdahoandWashingtonstate."Therewasnoapparentdifferenceintheoperation
ofthevehiclewhetheritwasfueledbytheStandardOilpumportheVegaline
pump,"saidRalphCurtis,aWashingtonresident.Curtis'greatgrandfatherwasan
enthusiasticinvestorinVegaline."Hewouldtellusthatbyaddingthisalcoholto
gasolinethatthefarmersofourareawouldbenefit.Histheorywasthat
productionofthealcoholwouldnotbelimitedtocullpotatoesbut[couldinclude]
otherunmarketablefruitsandvegetables."TheVegalineplantwascaughtupin
thegreatdepressionof1929andcloseditsdoors.134
AnapparentlyformativeexperiencefortheoilindustrywasStandardOil's
attempttomarketa10percentalcoholblendinBaltimoreforafewmonthsin
1923.Atthetime,industrialalcoholfrommolasseswassellingforlessthan20
centspergallon,whileretailgasolinepriceshadreachedanalltimehighof28
centspergallon.But"difficulties"stoppedtheexperiment,accordingtoacryptic
1933internalmemooftheAmericanPetroleumInstitute's"SpecialTechnical
Committee"onalcoholfuels.ThememodidnotrefertoStandarditself,butsaid
thatamajorcompanyhadexperiencedthedifficulties.A1939publicationwould
lateridentifyStandardasthecompanyinquestion.Allthatisknownaboutthe
difficultiesisthattheywere"largelywereofamarketingandcaroperatingnature
andresultedfromtheinstabilityofthealcoholgasolineinthepresenceof
water."135Standardapparentlydidnotcleanoutitsfuelstoragetanksandviewed
theresulting"problem"asadifficultyinherentinusingthefuelratherthaninthe
fuelhandlingsystem.Standarddidnotdocumenttheexperimentorpublicizeits
results.NoreferencetoitisfoundintheBaltimoreSunduringthisperiod.
However,theAmericanPetroleumInstituteusedthissingleincidentasatechnical
justificationforoppositiontoalcoholblendedfuelsinthe1930s.
Alcogas,Vegalineandothersporadicattemptstomarketanalcoholblendedfuel
nevercaughtoninthe1920s,duetoprimarilytoeconomicdisadvantagesbutalso
toProhibitionandoppositionbytheoilindustry.Bythe1930s,withthecountry
caughtinthedepthsoftheGreatDepression,newideaswerewelcome.Corn
priceshaddroppedfrom45centsperbushelto10cents,itwasonlynaturalthat

peopleinMidwesternbusinessandsciencewouldbeginthinkingaboutnewuses
forfarmproducts,andindeed,alcoholfuelturnedouttobethemostcontroversial
oftheseproposals.ThebattlebetweenU.S.farmersandtheoilindustryinthe
1930soveralcoholfuelhasbeenreviewedbyGiebelhaus136andBernton137but
aspectsofthistumultuousdebatehasyettobefullyexplored.
Manyscientists,businessmenandfarmersbelievedthattomaketheirownfuel
wouldhelpputpeoplebacktoworkandeasethesevereproblemsofthe
Depression.Nearlythreedozenbillstosubsidizealcoholfuelweretakenupin
eightstatesinthe1930s.Mostofthesubsidyproposalsinvolvedforgivenessof
statesalestaxes.Notsurprisingly,theincentiveshadthemostsupportinthe
centralfarmstatessuchasIowa,Nebraska,IllinoisandSouthDakota.Legislation
didpassinNebraskaandSouthDakota,butthetaxbreakpassedbytheIowa
legislaturewasstruckdownbythestatesupremecourt.TheNebraskalegislature
alsopetitionedtheUSCongressforalawmaking10percentethylalcohol
blendingmandatorythroughouttheUS.Thisproposal,alongwithanationaltax
incentiveandotherproalcoholbills,weredefeatedinCongressinthe1930s.
Thethinkingbehindtheseproposalshadlittletodowithenergysubstitution.
Rather,itwas"aformoffarmreliefandnotenergyrelief,"saidRalphHixon,
whoalongwithLeoChristensenandothersinIowaStateUniversity'schemistry
department,hadbeentestingblendsofalcoholandgasoline."Wefoundthatit
wasoneoftheverybestfuels,itgaveaperformancegreaterthanEthyl,"Hixon
said.TheAmeschemistsworkedwithlocalgasolineretailerstoputa10percent
alcoholblendwithgasolineonsaleinAmesservicestationsin1932.Thealcohol
gasolinepumpattheSquareDealstationsoperateduntilthelate1930s,andthe
blendsoldfor17cents.Itwas"incompetitionwithEthyl,"whichalsosoldfor17
centsatthesamestations.138Some200,000gallonsofAgriculturalBlended
MotorFuelwereeventuallysoldinanIowacampaignintheearly1930s.139
Similarefforts,notaswellbackedupwithresearchanddocumentation,brokeout
allovertheMidwest.InLincoln,Nebraska,theUniversityofNebraskaandthe
EarleCoryellgasolinecompanymarketedseveralhundredthousandgallonsof
"CornAlcoholGasolineBlend."InPeoria,Illinois,theIllinoisAgricultural
AssociationteamedupwithKeystoneSteel&WireCo.andHiramWalker
distillerytoproducehalfamilliongallonsof"HiBall"and"Alcolene"blended
fuels.140InYankton,SouthDakota,GurneyOilCo.marketed200,000gallonsof
blendedfuel.141
Afterlegislativesetbacksin1933,themovementforalcoholfuelsthencametobe
seenaspartofabroadercampaignforindustrialusesforfarmcropstohelpfight
theDepression.Itwascalled"farmchemurgy,"anditwas,inpart,apopulist
RepublicanalternativetoDemocraticPresidentFranklinDelanoRoosevelt's
agriculturalpolicies.HenryFordbackedtheideabysponsoringaconferenceat

Dearborn,Mich.in1935.TheconferencecreatedtheNationalFarmChemurgic
Council,andannualconferencesfollowed.142
AnotherkeysupporterofthefarmchemurgyconceptwastheChemical
Foundation,quasifederalagencywhichadministeredGermanpatentroyaltiesas
partofreparationsforWorldWarI.TheChemicalFoundation,withFord's
blessing,decidedin1936tofinanceanexperimentalalcoholmanufacturingand
blendingprogramintheMidwest.Thechemurgymovement,withalcoholfuelas
acontroversialcenterpiece,hadfaroutstrippingoriginallegislativeproposalsand
hadgrownintoanunprecedentedmixtureofagronomy,chemistryandPrarie
Populism.Manyfeltthatthetimehadcometocompetedirectlywiththeoil
industry.By1937motoristsfromIndianatoSouthDakotawereurgedtouse
Agrol,anethylalcoholblendwithgasoline.TwotypeswereavailableAgrol5,
withfivetosevenpercentalcohol,andAgrol10,withtwelveandahalfto17and
ahalfpercentalcohol."Tryatankfullyou'llbethankful,"theAgrolbrochures
said.Theblendwassoldtohighinitialenthusiasmat2,000servicestations.
However,Agrolplantmanagerscomplainedofsabotageandbitterinfightingby
theoilindustry,143andmarketpriceswerealsoamajorinfluence.Although
Agrolsoldforthesamepriceasits"maincompetitor,"leadedgasoline,itcost
wholesalersandretailersanextrapennytohandleitandcutintotheirprofit
"spread,"BusinessWeeksaid."Noveltyappealplusballyhooprovidedsufficient
increaseingallonagetooffsetthedifferenceinspread.Nowjobbersanddealers,
havingdonetheirshare,areagainpluggingtheoldhousebrandswithfouranda
halfcentspreads.Agrolisinthelastpumpforthosewhowantit."
By1939,theAtchisonAgrolplantcloseditsdoors,notinbankruptcy,butwithout
viablemarketstocontinue.Theexperimenthadfailed,butitwasnottheendof
thestory.Aswarbrokeouttwoyearslater,Californiaassemblyconsidereda
motiontocreateanauxiliaryfuelfromsurplusfruitsandvegetables.President
FranklinRooseveltwrotethespeakeroftheassemblyandsaid:
"Whileitistruethatanumberofforeigncountriesprocessagriculturalmaterials
fortheproductionofalcoholasamotorfuel,itisequallytruethatthemotorfuel
economyofcountriespossessingnopetroleumresourcesisverydifferentfrom
sucheconomyintheUnitedStates.Ithasneverbeenestablishedinthiscountry
thattheconversionofagriculturalproductsintomotorfueliseconomically
feasibleornecessaryfornationaldefense.Ontheotherhand,ithasbeen
recognizedforalongtimethatarealneedexistsinthiscountryforthe
developmentofalltheinformationpossibleonthisverycontentioussubject..."
144
Roosevelt'sintensepoliticalfeudwiththeRepublicanforceswhobacked
chemurgy,andespeciallywithSen.GuyGilletteovertheSupremeCourtissuein
thelate1930s,wouldhaveledhimtoopposevirtuallyanythingthatthe

MidwesternRepublicansadvanced,butRoosevelt'sjudgementwaspremature.
Severalmonthslater,aswarindustryplanswereaccelerated,theneedforalcohol
becameapparent.Withintwoyears,chemistsandagriculturalengineersfrom
MidwesternuniversitieswhohadtriedtheiralcoholproductionideasattheAgrol
plantwouldbemassproducingenormousquantitiesofethylalcoholforsynthetic
"BunaS"rubberandforaviationfuel.Fromaprewarpeakproductionof100
milliongallonsofalcoholperyear,wellover600milliongallonsofnewcapacity
wascreated.Thealcoholbasedsystemwhichin1942seemedcapableof
providingonlyonethirdoftherawmaterialsforthetotalsyntheticrubber
demandendedupsupplyingthreequartersandmakingasignificantimpactonthe
wareffort.145TheAgrolexperiencehadclearlyhelpedpavethewayforthiswar
effort,intermsofprovidingtrainedpersonnel,noveltechniquesandahistoryof
mistakestoavoid.Theresilienceandflexibilityofagriculturalsystemswaswell
demonstrated,thechemistsbelieved,becausepetroleumbasedsyntheticrubber
technologiesownedbyStandardandtheGermanchemicalcompanyI.G.Farben
hadfalteredatthecriticalmoment.Withoutthepreviousexperienceinalcohol
fuelsproductioninthe1930s,thewareffortmighthavebeenconsiderably
delayed.146
TheAgrolexperiencesandthemassproductionofalcoholforwarindustrieswere
alsorecalledinthe1970s,whentheconventionalwisdomrecognizedonlycoal
andnuclearpowerasalternativestoembargoedMiddleEasternoil.147In
contrast,itwasclearattheendofWorldWarIIthateventuallyUSoilreserves
wouldbedepleted.AccordingtotheUSTariffCommissionin1944:148
"Whenacertainpointincostshasbeenreached,severalmethodsofmeetingthe
situationwillbeavailable:Theseinclude:increasedimportationofpetroleum;
morecompleterecoveryofdomesticpetroleumfromthegroundbyvariousso
calledsecondarymethods;conversionofnaturalgasintogasoline;extractionof
oilfromshale;synthesisofoilfromcoal;domesticproductionofalcoholfrom
vegetablematerials;andforeignproductionofsuchalcohol."

OilIndustryOppositiontoEthylAlcoholFuel
Theonsetofinterestinalcoholfuelin1933caughttheoilindustryoffguard,but
oncealarmed,itreactedswiftly.TheAmericanPetroleumInstituteurged
formationofstatelevel"emergencycommittees"inthespringof1933tooppose
proposalsfortaxincentives.Inasetofmemossentunderaredcovermarked
"IMPORTANT,"APIintroduceda"coordinatedprogramtobeconnected
throughouttheindustry"tocombatalcoholgasolineblending.Thememo
explainedthethreat:compulsoryblendofalcoholandgasoline,aswasusedin
France,ItalyandGermanyinthe1920sandearly30s,"willharmthepetroleum

industryandtheautomobileindustryaswellasstateandnationaltreasuriesby
reducing[oil]consumption,"thememosaid.Theonlyonestobenefitwouldbe
distillers,railroads(whichwouldtransportthealcohol)andbootleggers"towhom
wouldbeopenedbrandnewfieldsoffraud."149
API'scampaignwaswagedacrossmanystates,especiallytheMidwest,inthe
springof1933,andatthefederallevelformostofthe1930s.150Technical
expertsintheoilindustryclaimedthatalcoholfuelblends"aredefinitelyinferior
togasolinealonefromeveryangleofmotorperformance."151Editorialsby
LowellThomasandotherradioannouncerspaidforbyoilindustrysponsors
claimedthatalcoholfuelwouldmake"speakeasys"outofgasolinestations
becausebootleggerscouldeasilyseparateoutthegasolineandsellthealcohol.
Thomassaid:"Theautomobilemanufacturerresentsit[alcohol]becauseit
interfereswiththehorsepowerofthemotoristscar,requiresextensivecarburetor
changesandpresentsotherdifficulties..."(Infact,thismightbetrueofpure
alcoholbutnotalcoholblendswithgasoline).Thomas'radioaddresswas
recordedinacablesentfromSunOilCo.'sJ.HowardPewtoH.D.Collier,
presidentofStandardOilCo.ofCalifornia,onApril26,1933."Confirming
telephoneconversationreferencealcoholblendourradioannouncementwasas
followsquote..."Whenanapparentlylargenumberofcriticaltelegramspoured
in,SuntookpainstodistanceThomasfrom"ourradioannouncement,"even
writinga"suggestedreplytoCongressmanDirksen"inwhichThomaswastosay
"Thisisnewsandnotpropaganda,whichImyselfnormysponsorswouldfora
momenttolerateovertheair."Thesuggestedreplywasunsignedbutwrittenon
stationaryclearlyshowingtheSunocowatermark.152Itwasnotclearwhether
Thomasactuallysentthesuggestedreply.
Othertacticsinvolvedprivateinvestigationsofpoliticiansandbusinessmenwho
supportedalcoholblends.SunOilCo.investigatedtheprivatelivesofthe
directorsofKeystoneSteelandWireCo.andothers.153ThenCongressman
EverettDirksen,whosupportedKeystone,wroteconstituentsthathewasbeing
investigatedbyunknownpeople."Hereyouhavetheproofofhowtheinsidious
oillobbyworksinordertodefeatanymeasureoranyindividualwhoopposes
theirinterests,"Dirksensaid.154
OfficialsfromStandardOilofIndianaandtheEthylCorp.exchangedworried
lettersabouttheoutbreakofinterestinalcoholblendsinthewinterof1933.
Standard'schieflawyerwroteEthylpresidentEarleWebb:"Muchpublicityhas
gonethroughthestatetotheeffectthatalcoholmixedwithgasolinemakesa
motorfuelhighinantiknockratingandthemovehasbeentorequiregasolineto
containahighpercentageofalcohol(manufacturedlocally,ofcourse)orpaya
highstatetax.ManifestlythiswouldmateriallyinterferewiththeuseofEthylin
Iowa...Letmeknowwhatyouaredoingorintendtodo,andtowhatextentwe
cancooperate."155Webbwroteback:"Ientirelyagreethatproposedlegislation

ofthischaracterisapttohaveaseriousterminationandthatalmostanythingmay
happenwherethereissomuchdiscontent.Wewouldverymuchappreciatebeing
keptinformedastodevelopments."156ByApril,1933,Standardwasapparently
worriedaboutantitrustlaws,andwiredEthyl:"Believeabsolutelynecessary
EthylGasolineCorp.avoidanypublicoppositionoranysuchdirectaction."157
Alsointhe1930s,asEthyl'smarketingpowergrew,thecompanybeganto
enforcewhatitconsideredtobe"businessethics"onthemarket.Ethylrefusedto
grantdealercontractstocertaingasolinewholesalers,andoftenprovidedno
formalexplanationfortheiractions.Theexclusionof"unethical"businessmen
wasespeciallyaimedatthosewhocutprices,butitwasameansofexcluding
fromtheentirefuelmarketanywholesalerwhoadoptedpracticeswhichtheoil
industrydisliked.Sincewholesalershadtocarryawiderangeofproductsto
survive,andsinceadvertisinghadcreatedenormousconsumerdemandforEthyl,
tobedeniedanEthylcontractwasineffecttobeforcedoutofbusiness.Most
wholesalerscouldnotorwouldnottelltheFederalBureauofInvestigationwhy
Ethylwouldconsiderthemunethical,butatleastonewholesaler,theEarlCoryell
companyofLincoln,Nebraska,blendedethylalcoholaboutthesametimethatit
couldnotgetanEthyllicense.158PressuretostickwithEthylleadedgasoline
exclusivelyratherthantryalcoholfuelblendswouldhavebeenquitestrongwith
thisenforcementmechanismattheoilindustry'sdisposal,butitisdifficultto
estimatehowmanygasolinedealerswantedtousealcoholinsteadoflead.In
1940theU.S.SupremeCourtupheldanantitrustverdictagainstEthyl,159but
bythen,theMidwesternalcoholfuelmovementhaddisintegrated.
Clearly,thetacticsusedbytheoilindustryinvolvedmorethansimple
marketplacecompetitionandpublicrelationsinresponsetotheprospectof
legislativecontrols.Yeteconomicissuesandassumptionsareattheheartofthe
disputeanddeservecarefulconsideration.

EconomicsofAlcoholFuel
Alcoholfuelhasneverbeeneconomicallyattractiveasastraightgallonforgallon
substituteforgasoline.WhenalcoholfuelreturnedtotheAmericanmarketin
1907ataretailpriceof32centspergallon,itwascompetingwithgasolineat18
to22centspergallon.Thisroughlyonethirdadvantagehasbeentherulefor
mostofthe20thcenturyintheU.S.In1933,grainalcoholcost25centsper
gallonwholesaleasopposedtogasolineat10to13centspergallonwholesale.
Despiteattemptstomakealcoholfromcheapermaterials(suchaswoodwasteand
cellulose),thecostdifferentialhasbeenthemostseriousobstacletothe
widespreaduseofalcoholfueland,accordingtosomehistorians,theprimary
focusofmostoilindustryresistancetoitsuse.160

Modernresearchershavenotedthatthevalueofalcoholasafueldependson
whetheritisconsideredagasolinesubstituteoranoctaneenhancer."Ifrefiners
turntousingalcoholsasoctaneenhancersasleadphasedownoccurs,theremay
besufficientdemandtowarrantthecapitaloutlayrequiredforproduction
facilities,inwhichcasethemarketvalueofalcoholfuelswouldbecomemuch
greater,"accordingtotheCanadianEnergyResearchInstitute.161
AlthoughT.A.BoydandThomasMidgleyofEthylfoundethylalcoholtobea
goodantiknockadditivein1922,itwasnotuntil1933thatstudiesatIowaState
Universitypubliclyquantifiedthequalityandeconomiccomparisonsbetween
ethylalcoholandEthyllead.Hixonandothersconcludedthatittook15percent
alcoholtocreatetheoctaneboostof3gramsoflead,asseeninthetablebelow.
SinceEthylleadsoldata3centpremiumoverregulargasoline,thequestionwas
whetherethylalcoholblends,withthesameantiknock/octaneadvantage,should
notbesoldatthesamepremiumprice.Proponentsofalcoholblendedfuels
insistedthatthisandnotthe"extender"useofalcoholwastheproperbasisof
comparison.

TableI
HowAgricultureCompared
Ethylleadedgasolineandethylalcohol
Fuel

Octanenumber Increase WholesalePrice*

Basefuel

56

10

Basefuelplus3gramslead

68

12

13

Basefuelplus10%ethyl
alcohol

65

11.5**

Basefuelplus20%ethyl
alcohol

80

24

13**

*Wholesaleprice;assumes25centspergallonforethylalcoholand10centsper
gallonforgasolinepurchasedfromjobberinMidwest.
**Notesubstitutionofbasefuelwith10percentethylalcoholmeans9cents
worthofgasolineaddedto2.5centsworthofalcohol.Substitutionof20percent
ethylalcoholis8centsgasoline+5centsalcohol=13.

Alsonote:IowaStateincludedahalfcentpergallonblendingchargeforthetwo
alcoholblendedfuels.Datafrom:IowaStateCollege,TheUseofAlcoholIn
MotorFuels,ProgressReportNumberIII,Divs.ofIndustrialScience,
Engineering,Agriculture;Jan.20,1933.Also:RayburnD.Tousley,"The
EconomicsofIndustrialAlcohol,"WashingtonStateUniv.,1945.

Theoilindustrydidnotusethesameeconomicyardsticksincomparingthecosts
ofalcoholfuelblends,althoughtheydidincorporatethesamehalfcentpergallon
blendingchargeusedbytheIowaStateresearchers.Accordingtoonepamphlet,
alcoholcostfivetotentimesmorethangasoline,dependingonthepriceofcorn,
andhadtechnicalproblems."Seeingthatalcoholfuelscannotcompetewith
gasolineonapriceorqualitybasis...hugesumsofmoney[are]nowbeingspent
onanationwidepropagandacampaigntoconvincetheAmericanpeoplethat
alcoholgasolinewouldbringpermanentprosperitytofarmers."The"AlkyGas"
scheme"robsPetertopayPaul,"thatis,ittakesmoneyfrommotoriststopayfor
farmrelief.Itwouldbecheaperjusttopayfarmerstoburntheircorn.162

TableII
HowtheOilIndustrySaw
AlcoholFuelEconomics
Fuel
Totalcostgasolineonegallon

Cost
13.5cents

Comparedwith
Basegasoline9/10gal

12.1cents

Ethylalcohol1/10gal(at39.3cents/gallon) 3.9cents
Totalcost10%alcoholgasolineblend

16cents

Notes:Allpricesbeforetaxes.Source"WhowouldPayforCornAlcohol?"Iowa
PetroleumCommissionpamphlet,1935,AmericanPetroleumInstitutelibrary,
Washington,D.C.
Perhapsthemostextremeexampleoftheoilindustry'sargumentisillustratedby
aletterfromJosephPewofSunOilCo.toanalcoholfuelsproponent.Pewsaid
thatalcoholhad60percenttheBTUvalueofgasoline,anditwouldonlybeworth

60percentofthevalueofgasoline.Toarefinery,gasolinewasworthonly6cents
pergallon.Thus,alcoholwouldhavetocostonly3.6centspergallontocompete
withgasoline,andeventhentherewouldstillbetheexpenseofhavingit
transportedtotherefinery."Ifigureitisn'tworthmorethanacent"pergallon,
Pewsaid.163
Thedifferencesintheseeconomicassumptionsdemonstratethatthedebateover
alcoholfuelthatbrokeoutintheMidwestinthe1930sdependedgreatlyonthe
viewpointofthecompanyorindividual.Inessence,politicalconditionsshaped
themarketplaceandthenewcompetitionfacedadifficulteconomicplayingfield
heavilytiltedtowardestablishedindustries.

Conclusion
Alcoholfuelsasantiknockblendingagentswerewellknownlongbefore
tetraethylleadwasdiscoveredin1921,andtheirtechnicalqualitieshadbeenwell
characterizedbyscientistsintheUSandinEuropeby1925.Theexperiencein
othernationswithalcoholblendedfuelswasusually(althoughnotuniversally)
quitepositive.Practicaltechniqueswerewellknowntoovercomemostproblems
withalcoholasapurefuelorinblendswithgasoline.Fuelblendswere
economicallysuccessfulincountrieswhereoilwasmoreexpensiveorwhere
independenceinfuelsupplywasseenasapoliticalorstrategicproblem.
AlcoholfuelsadvocacyamongAmericanfarmerswaspresentinthe19061908
periodandagaininthe1930s.ScientistsandengineersintheU.S.andEurope
rangedfromneutraltoenthusiasticaboutthecleanburning,highcompression
characteristicsofalcoholfuel,yettheU.S.oilindustryclaimeditwastechnically
inferior.CharlesKetteringandhisGeneralMotorsresearcherswereparticularly
interestedinalcoholfromcelluloseinthe19191925timeframe,andsawEthyl
leadedgasolineaspavingthewayforthe"fuelofthefuture"byprovidinga
temporaryoctaneboostandallowingenginecompressionratiostoincrease.In
1924,however,G.M.allieditselfwithStandardOil,creatingtheEthylCorp.
Shortlyafterwards,G.M.researcherscontradictedyearsoftheirownresearchand
hundredsofotherstudiesbyclaimingthatonlytetraethylleadcouldproduce
antiknockresults.
Ifthereisanhistoricallessontolearnfromthe"fuelofthefuture,"itisthat
technologyisoftenpolitical.Inthiscase,fueltechnologydevelopedinadirection
thatwasamatterofpolicychoiceandnotpredeterminedbyanyclearadvantage
ofonetechnologyoveranother.Fordifferentreasons,HenryFordandCharles
Ketteringbothsawthefuelofthefutureasablendofethylalcoholandgasoline
leadingtopurealcoholfromcellulose.Adedicatedagrarian,Fordthoughtnew

marketsforfuelfeedstockswouldhelpcreatearuralrenaissance.Ontheother
hand,Kettering,asascientist,wasworriedaboutthelongtermproblemofthe
automotiveindustry'sneedforoil,aresourcewithrapidlydecliningdomestic
reserves.Clearly,theshortageofdomesticoilthatwasfearedinthe1920shas
occurredinthelate20thcentury,althoughithashardlybeennoticedbecauseof
theabundanceofforeignoil.Whethertheoilsubstituteenvisionedbythe
scientistsandagrariansofthefirsthalfofthecenturywouldbeappropriateinthe
latterhalfremainsanopenquestion.
"Manyyearsmaybenecessarybeforetheactualdevelopmentofsucha[fuel]
substitute,"Ketteringconcluded.Therewasalwaysthepossibility,accordingto
Kettering'sfriendCharlesStewartMott,"thatifatimeevercamewhenthe
sourcesof[fossil]heatandenergywereeverusedup...thattherewouldalways
beavailablethecapturingof...energyfromthesun...throughagricultural
products..."164
Footnotes
1"FordPredictsFuelfromVegetation,"NewYorkTimes,Sept.20,1925,p.24.
2ReynoldMillardWik,"HenryFord'sScienceandTechnologyforRural
America,"TechnologyandCulture,Summer1963;alsosee"FordPredictsFuel
fromVegetation,"NewYorkTimes,Sept.20,1925,p.24
3AugustusW.Giebelhaus,"ResistancetoLongTermEnergyTransition:The
CaseofPowerAlcoholinthe1930s,"papertotheAmericanAssociationforthe
AdvancementofScience,Jan.4,1979.
4HalBernton,BillKovarik,ScottSklar,TheForbiddenFuel:PowerAlcoholin
the20thCentury(NewYork:Griffin,1982).
5BillKovarik,FuelAlcohol:EnergyandEnvironmentinaHungryWorld,
(London:InternationalInstituteforEnvironmentandDevelopment,1982).Also,
"CharlesF.KetteringandtheDevelopmentofTetraethylLeadintheContextof
TechnologicalAlternatives,"SocietyofAutomotiveEngineers,Fuels&
LubricantsDivision,HistoricalColloquium,Baltimore,Md.Oct.17,1994.
6FrancisP.Garvan,"ScientificMethodofThoughtinOurNationalProblems,"
ProceedingsoftheSecondDearbornConferenceonAgriculture,Industryand
Science(NewYork:TheChemicalFoundation,1936),p.86.
7JohnStaudenmier,Technology'sStorytellers(Oxford:OxfordUniversityPress,
1988),p.175.

8CongressdesApplicationsdeL'AlcoolDenature,16au23Dec.,1902,
AutomobileClubdeFrance,NationalAgriculturalLibrarycollection,Beltsville,
Md.Ironically,itwasinthissameParisexhibitionhallin1900thatAmerican
writerHenryAdamsfounddarkinspirationforhisbook"theVirginandthe
Dynamo,"inwhichhedescribedtheendofreligiousfaith.andthedawnof
powerfulyetsomehowprofanetechnology.Adamsdarkvisionmighthavebeen
lightenedhadheattendedthe1902Parisexposition.Notonlywasthescaleof
machineryfarlessimposing,beingmadeupofsmallhorselesscarriageengines
andhouseholditemslikealcoholpoweredironsandstoves,butthesymbolismof
theexpositionhadafardifferentflavor.
9NationalGeographic,Vol.31,Feb.1917,p.131.
10ChristyBorth,ChemistsandTheirWork(NewYork:BobbsMerrill,1938).
11ThomasMidgely,"OurLiquidFuelReserves,"SoceityofAutomotive
Engineers,Oct.13,1921;CFKettering,"TheFuelProblem,"draftaddress,
unprocessedpapers,ThomasMidgelydrawer,GMIAlumniFoundation
CollectionofIndustrialHistory,Flint,Mich(citedasGMI).
12GeorgeBasalla,TheEvolutionofTechnology,(CambridgeUniversityPress,
1988)p.197.
13Some152popularandscholarlyarticlesundertheheading"AlcoholasaFuel"
canbefoundthetheReadersGuidetoPeriodicalLiteraturebetween1900and
1921;about20referencestopapersandbookswrittenbefore1925arefoundin
theLibraryofCongressdatabasecatalog;a1933ChemicalFoundationreportlists
52referencesbefore1925onalcoholfuels;a1944Senatereportlists24USDA
publicationsonalcoholfuelsbefore1920;andseveraltechnicalbooksfromthe
perioddocumenthundredsofreferencesfromthe19001925period.
14DanielYergin,ThePrize,(NY:Simon&Schuster,1991),p.14,alsop.51.
15HenryR.LuceexhibitonAmericanJournalism,SmithsonianMuseumof
AmericanHistory,WashingtonDC.19701990.
16SamH.SchurrandBruceC.Netschert,EnergyintheAmericanEconomy
18501975;AnEconomicStudyofitsHistoryandProspects(Baltimore,
ResourcesfortheFuture,JohnsHopkinsPress:1960).
17Anon.,"GasolinetoBurn,"EthylNews,March,1943,p.20.
18RobertN.Tweedy,IndustrialAlcohol(Dublin,Ireland:PlunkettHouse,1917).

19Indexofpatentsissuedfrom1790to1873,Inclusive,(Washington,D.C.:US
PatentOffice).Listedas"patentforalcoholforburningfluid,carbureted,"March
17,1834.
20LyleCummins,InternalFire(Warrenton,Pa.:SocietyofAutomotive
Engineers,1989),p.81.Also,HorstHardenberg,SamuelMoreyandhis
AtmosphericEngine(Warrendale,Pa.:SocietyofAutomotiveEngineers,Feb.
1992),SP922;alsoKatharineGoodwinandCharlesE.Duryea,CaptainSamuel
Morey:TheEdisonofHisDay(WhiteRiverJunction,Vermont:TheVermonter
Press,1931);alsoGabrielFarellJr.,Capt.SamuelMoreywhobuiltaSteamboat
FourteenYearsBeforeFulton,(Manchester,NH:StandardBookCo.,1915).Ray
Zirblis,"WasSamuelMoreyRobbed?"VermontLife,Autumn,1994,p.53.
21HistoryofLight,pamphletbytheWelsbachGasCo.,PhiladelphiaPenn,1909;
onfileintheSmithsoniancollectionofAdvertising,MuseumofAmerican
History,Washington,D.C.
22FreeAlcoholLaw,SenateFinanceCommitteeHearingsonHR24816,Feb.
1907,Doc.No.362,page320.TheauthoritycitedistheCivilWareraSpecial
CommissioneroftheInternalRevenueService,DavidA.Wells,andtheapparent
referenceistotheNewYorkregionalmarket.Itispossiblethatovarahundred
milliongallonsperyearofcampheneweresoldbythelate1850s.Thecityof
Cincinattiealonereportedlyused10milliongallonsin1860.Notethatkerosine
salesin1870reached200milliongallons.
23HaroldF.Williamson&ArnoldR.Daum,TheAmericanPetroleumIndustry,
18591899,TheAgeofIllumination(EvanstonIllNWUPress,1959).
24RufusFrostHerrick,DenaturedorIndustrialAlcohol,(NewYork:JohnWiley
&Sons,1907),p.16.
25Freealcoholhearings,U.S.Senate1907,p.320.Also,FreeAlcoholHearings,
HouseWays&MeansCommittee,59thCongress,Feb.Mar.1906.Itis
interestingthatWells'contemporaryaccountplacesthediscoveryofpetroleum
afterthecessationofalcoholfueluse.Notealsothatmostturpentinecamefrom
theU.S.Southatthistime.
26JohnK.Brachvogel,IndustrialAlcohol:ItsManufactureandUse,(NewYork:
Munn&Co.,1907)p.13.
27"HowLongtheOilWillLast,"ScientificAmerican,May3,1919,p.459.
28RobertN.Tweedy,IndustrialAlcohol.
29Author'ssearchofrecordsattheU.S.PatentOffice,CrystalCity,Virginia.

30LyleCummins,InternalFire(Warrendale,Pa.:SocietyofAutomotive
Engineers,1989).
31Ibid.,p.81.Seeaboveforadditionalreferences.
32Ibid.,p.135.Thepatentwasnotgranted"becauseofcitedpriorart."
Apparentlytheideawasacommonplace.Americanburningfluidlamp
manufacturersdescribedthecarburetionprocessinbrochuresinthe1850s.
33Ibid.,p.281.
34Brachvogel,IndustrialAlcohol,p.353;alsoG.W.MonierWilliams,Power
Alcohol:ItsProductionandUtilization(London:OxfordTechnicalPublications,
1922,p.275.
35"AlcoholAutomobilesattheParisAlcoholExhibition,"ScientificAmerican,
Dec.28,1901.Notethatgasolinepoweredautomotiveraceshadbegunfiveyears
earlierwiththeParisRouenraceof1894.
36"Alcoholasafuelformotorcarriages,"ScientificAmerican,June1,1901,p.
344.
37RobertN.Tweedy,IndustrialAlcohol.
38CongressdesApplicationsdeL'AlcoolDenature,16au23Dec.,1902,
AutomobileClubdeFrance,NationalAgriculturalLibrarycollection,Beltsville,
Md.
39C.E.Lucke,ColumbiaUniversity,andS.M.Woodward,USDA,"TheUseof
AlcoholandGasolineinFarmEngines,"USDAFarmersBulletinNo.277,
(Washington:GPO,1907).
40RufusFrostHerrick,DenaturedorIndustrialAlcohol,(NewYork:JohnWiley
&Sons,1907),p.9.AlsoseeBrachvogelp.405.
41"ParisExhibitionofAlcoholConsumingDevices,"ScientificAmerican,Nov.
16,1901
42RufusFrostHerrick,DenaturedorIndustrialAlcohol,(NewYork:JohnWiley
&Sons,1907),p.307.
43Brachvogel,IndustrialAlcohol,p.13.
44"LaunchingofaGreatIndustry:TheMakingofCheapAlcohol,"NewYork
Times,Nov.25,1906,SectionIIIp.3.

45StatementofLeonardB.Goebbels,OttoGasEngineWorks,SenateFinance
CommitteehearingsonHR24816,Feb.1907.
46Brachvogel,IndustrialAlcohol.
47"FreeAlcoholDistilleries,"NewYorkTimes,Sept.13,1906.Thesourceof
thestatisticisU.S.ConsulGeneralThackarainBerlin.
48Col.SirFredericNathan,"AlcoholforPowerPurposes,"TheTransactionsof
theWorldPowerCongress,London,Sept.24Oct.6,1928.
49RobertTweedy,IndustrialAlcohol.
50Tweedy,IndustrialAlcohol.TweedydidnotdirectlyquoteRooseveltbutthe
phrasingissuggestiveofRoosevelt'stone.
51"AutoClubArousedoverAlcoholBill,"NewYorkTimes,April26,1906.
52FreeAlcoholHearings,HouseWays&MeansCommittee,p.113.
53"TaxFreeAlcohol,"NewYorkTimes,May22,1906.
54CapentestimonytoSenateFinanceCommittee.
55"TheNewCheapIlluminant,"NewYorkTimes,May25,1906.
56"FutureofAlcoholintheIndustries,"NewYorkTimesAug.5,1906.
57"FarmersNeglectMakingofAlcohol,"NewYorkTimes,Dec.23,1907;note
thattheUSDA's1907reportsaidalcoholpriceswere15centspergallonin
Germany,whilebenzenewas16centspergallonandgasoline32centsper
gallon).
58Tweedy,IndustrialAlcohol.
59Ibid.
60"UtilizationofFarmCrops,"HearingsofaSubcommitteeoftheCommitteeon
AgricultureandForestry,UnitedStatesSenate,S.Res.224,(1942),PartI,p.286.
61Gasolineandalcoholdonotreadilymixunlessthealcoholisnearlyfreeof
water("anhydrous"or99.4%pure),orunlessablendingagentor"binder"isused,
suchasbenzeneorahigheralcohol(butanol,propanol,etc.).Otherwise,alcohol
tendstoseparatefromgasolineatlowertemperatures,aproblemknownas"phase
separation."Ordinarydistillationonlyachieves95percentpuritybecauseofa

finalchemicalbondbetweentheremainingwaterandalcoholknownasthe
azeotrope.Thefinalazeotropicprocessingtendstobesomewhatcomplexand
expensive.
62"FutureofAlcoholintheIndustries,"NewYorkTimesAug.5,1906.Note
thatinpublicationsasrecentas1990,fueltanksofdoublethevolumeare
supposedtobeneededforpurealcoholvehiclesbecauseofthissmallerBTU
value.
63C.E.Lucke,ColumbiaUniversity,andS.M.Woodward,USDA,"TheUseof
AlcoholandGasolineinFarmEngines,"USDAFarmersBulletinNo.277,
(Washington:GPO,1907).
64RobertM.Strong,"CommercialDeductionsfromComparisonsofGasoline
andAlcoholTestsonInternalCombustionEngines,"Dept.oftheInterior,U.S.
GeologicalSurvey,Bulletin392,(Washington:GPO,1909).
65R.M.StrongandLausonStone,"ComparativeFuelValuesofGasolineand
DenaturedAlcoholinInternalCombustionEngines,"BureauofMinesBulletin
No.43,(Washington:GPO,1918).Strangely,some75to80yearslater,many
technicaleditorsstillbelievedthatacrticialproblemwithalcoholfuelwasthat
lowerBTUnecessitateddoublesizedfueltanks.
66A.E.Davidson,Proc.Inst.AutomobileEngineers,191314,p.98,citedin
G.W.MonierWilliams,PowerAlcohol:ItsProductionandUtilization,Oxford
Technicalpublications,1922,citedhereafterasMonierWilliams.
67W.R.Ormandy,Proc.Inst.AutomobileEngineers,191314,p.49,citedin
MonierWilliams.
68W.Watson,Proc.Inst.AutomobileEngineers,191314,p.73,citedinMonier
Williams.
69ScientificAmerican,April13,1918,p.339;alsoJuly6,1918.
70ScientificAmerican,Dec.11,1920p.593.
71W.R.Ormandy,"TheMotorFuelProblem,"JournaloftheInstituteof
PetroleumTechnologists,Vol.5,1919,p.3366.
72Redwood,Boverton,etal,"TheProductionofAlcoholforPower,"Chemical
Age,1919,citedinChemicalAbstracts,13:2271
73H.B.Dixon,"ResearchesonAlcoholasanEngineFuel,"SAEJournal,Dec.
1920,p.521.

74B.R.Tunnison,IndustrialandEngineeringChemistry,1921,p.370.
75G.J.Shave,ImperialMotorTransportConference,Oct.1821,1920,citedin
MonierWilliams.
76U.S.PublicHealthService,ProceedingsofaConferencetoDetermine
WhetherorNotThereisaPublicHealthQuestionintheManufacture,
DistributionoruseofTetraethylLeadGasoline,PHSBulletinNo.158,
(Washington,D.C.:U.S.TreasuryDept.,August1925).
77G.J.Shave,"FuelMixturesonLondonOmnibuses,"SAEJournal,Dec.1920,
p.556.
78DonathandGroger,DieTreibmittelderKraftfahrzeuge,Berlin1917,citedin
MonierWilliams.
79H.R.Ricardo,"TheInfluenceofVariousFuelsonEnginePerformance,"
AutomobileEngineer,Feb.,1921.
80E.C.FreelandandW.G.Harry,"AlcoholMotorFuelfromMolasses,"PartII,
IndustrialandChemicalEngineeringNews,July1925,p.717;alsoseePartIin
theJuneissue.ItsinterestingtonotethatGeneralMotorsconsideredcoldstarting
tobeaseriousproblemina1979technicalpaperwhichdidnotconsideradditives
asasolution.
81E.Hubendick,"UseofAlcoholMotorFuelsinSweden,"PetroleumZeitschr.
26,No.12,39,1930,citedinHixon,"R.M.Hixon,L.M.Christensen,W.F.
Cooverin"TheUseofAlcoholinMotorFuels:ProgressReportNumberVI,"
May1,1933,unpublishedmanuscript,IowaStateUniversityarchives,Ames,
Iowa.
82M.C.Whitaker,"AlcoholforPower,"ChemistsClub,NewYork,Sept.30,
1925.CitedinHixon,"UseofAlcoholinMotorFuels:ProgressReportNo.6,"
IowaStateCollege,May1,1933.
83VictorH.Scales,PublicityDirector,AmericanPetroleumIndustries
Committee,"EconomicAspectsofAlcoholGasolineBleds,"API,May1,1933;
Also"AReplytoTheDesertedVillage,No.6oftheChemicalFoundation,"
AmericanPetroleumIndustriesCommittee,1935;"WhowouldPayforCorn
Alcohol?,"IowaPetroleumIndustriesCommittee,DesMoines,Iowa,1933.
84CongerReynolds,"TheAlcoholGasolineProposal,"AmericanPetroleum
InstituteProceedings,20thAnnualmeeting,Nov.9,1939.

85S.J.W.Pleeth,Alcohol:AFuelforInternalCombustionEngines(London:
Chapman&Hall,1949).
86RufusFrostHerrick,DenaturedorIndustrialAlcohol,(NewYork:JohnWiley
&Sons,1907),p.299.
87A.W.Scarratt,"TheCarburetionofAlcohol,"SAEJournal,April1921.
88JosephC.Robert,Ethyl:AHistoryoftheCorporationandthePeopleWho
MadeIt(Charlottesville,Va.:UniversityPressofVirginia,1983);AlsoStuart
Leslie,BossKettering(NewYork:ColumbiaUniversityPress,1983);T.A.Boyd,
ProfessionalAmateur(NewYork:E.P.Dutton,1957);RosamondYoung,Boss
Ket(NewYork:Longmans,Green&Co.,1961);GrahamEdgar,"Tetraethyl
Lead,"papertotheAmericanChemicalSociety,NewYork,Sept.37,1951,
reproducedbytheEthylCorp.;T.A.Boyd,"PathfindinginFuelsandEngines,"
SocietyofAutomotiveEngineersTransactions,(April1950),pp.182183;and
StantonP.Nickerson,"TetraethylLead:AProductofAmericanResearch,"
JournalofChemicalEducation31,(November1954),p.567.
89"AReportofFuelResearchbytheResearchDivisionoftheDaytonMetal
ProductsCo.andtheU.S.BureauofMines,"July27,1918,Midgleyunprocessed
files,GMI.
90"AlcogasasAviationFuelComparedwithExportGradeGasoline,"SAE
Journal,June1920,p.397.
91CharlesF.Kettering,"StudyingtheKnocks,:HowaCloserKnowledgeof
WhatGoesonIntheCylinderMightSolvetheProblemsofFuelSupply,"
ScientificAmerican,Oct.11,1919,p.364.
92Leslie,BossKettering,p.155.Ethylalcoholwas"income"ratherthan
"capital"becauseitcouldbeproducedfromrenewableresources.
93Boyd,EarlyHistoryp.54.
94Largescaleproductionofbenzenewasquestionable.Evenifallthecoal
minedintheU.S.in1920wereusedtosupplybenzene,onlyabout900million
gallons,oronefifthoftheU.S.gasolinesupplywouldbereplaced,hesaid.
95T.A.Boyd,"MotorFuelFromVegetation,"JournalofIndustrialandChemical
Engineering13,No.9(Sept.1921),pp.836841.
96C.F.Kettering,"TheFuelProblem,"undated,probably1921,Kettering
collectionunprocessed,GMI.

97Thisisprobablyagoodpointtonotethatagoodmanyoriginaldocumentsare
missingfrompublicGeneralMotorsarchives.Theseinclude:"TheLeadDiary,"a
collectionofseveralthousandoriginaldocumentsfromwhichT.A.Boydand
CharlesKetteringrefreshedtheirmemoriesastheirmemoirswerewritteninthe
1940s;Testdiariesanddaytodayrecordsofexperimentsconductedduring1920
22periodwhentetraethylleadwasdiscoveredbyG.M.researchersinDayton,
Ohio.;MinutesoftheBoardofDirectorsoftheEthylCorp1924to1940;Minutes
ofthe"MedicalCommittee"ofduPont,G.M.andStandard,1924to1925.
ReportsoftheStandardOilCo.ofNewJerseyexperimentwithalcoholfuel
blendsinBaltimore,Md.in1923and(possibly)correspondencewithG.M.
researchersabouttheexperiment;Reportsontheuseofthecenturyplantin
Mexicotoproducealcoholat7centspergallon,citedin1922memofrom
MidgleytoKettering;andrecordsormemosrelatingto"Synthol"experiments,
DaytonG.M.labs,summer1925.
98Leslie,BossKettering,p.156.
99ZimmerschiedtoKettering,Feb.27,1920;KetteringtoZimmerschied,March
3,1920,Ketteringcollection,GMI.Notethatcarburetorshadbeenbuiltwith
lacqueredcorkfloatsbeforethistime,whichwasnotaproblemwithgasoline.
However,alcoholwasasolventforthelacquer.Therefore,GMswitchedtometal
carburetorfloatstoaccommodatethenewinternationalfuelblends.
100ApplicationSerialNo.362,139,PatentNo.1578201,issuedMar.23,1926.
Thepatentcoversblendingalcoholandunsaturatedhydrocarbons,particularly
olefinsformedduringthecrackingprocess.
101HaroldHibbert,"TheRoleoftheChemistinRelationtotheFutureSupplyof
LiquidFuel,"JournalofIndustrialandChemicalEngineering13,No.9(Sept.
1921)p.841.
102BoydtoMidgley,July8,1920,Midgleyunprocessedfiles,GMI.
103Thisisanimportantpointintechnicaldiscussions.Manywhoobjectto
alcoholfuel,ostensiblyontechnicalgrounds,willomitanymentionofthe
possibilityofa"binder,"whichisasmallamountofahigheralcoholorother
compoundthatprevents"phaseseparation"ofgasolinefromalcoholinthe
presenceofwater.TheAmericanPetroleumInstitute'sdiscussionsconcerningthe
technicalproblemsofalcoholblendsintheearly1930s,forexample,didnot
mentionsuchbinders..
104"TheDiscussion"transcriptofSAEmeetingdiscussion,Indianapolis,Oct.
1921.Midgleyunprocessedfiles,GMI.

105ThomasMidgley,"Discussionofpapersatsemiannualmeeting,"SAE
Journal,Oct.1921,p.269.
106MidgleytoKettering,May23,1922,FactoryCorrespondence,Midgley
unprocessedfiles,GMI.
107ThomasA.MidgleyandT.A.Boyd,"DetonationCharacteristicsofSome
BlendedMotorFuels,"SAEJournal,June1922,page451.Note:italicsindicatea
sectionusedattheoralpresentationataJune1922SAEmeetingbutnot
publishedintheSAEpaper;oralpresentationfromMidgleyunprocessedfiles,
GMI.
108ThomasMidgleyandThomasBoyd,"TheApplicationofChemistrytothe
ConservationofMotorFuels,"IndustrialandEngineeringChemistry,Sept.1922,
p.850.
109N.P.Wescott,OriginsandEarlyHistoryoftheTetraethylLeadBusiness,
June9,1936,DuPontCorp.ReportNo.D1013,Longwoodmsgroup10,Series
A,418426,GMAntiTrustSuit,HagleyMuseum&Library,Wilmington,Del.,
p.4.
110"RadiumDerivative$5,000,000anounce/EthylGasolineDefended,"New
YorkTimes,April7,1925,p.23;Also,ThomasMidgley,Jr.,"TetraethylLead
PoisonHazards,"IndustrialandEngineeringChemistry,Vol.17,No.8August,
1925,p.827.
111U.S.PublicHealthService,ProceedingsofaConferencetoDetermine
WhetherorNotThereisaPublicHealthQuestionintheManufacture,
DistributionoruseofTetraethylLeadGasoline,PHSBulletinNo.158,
(Washington,D.C.:U.S.TreasuryDept.,August1925),p.6.(Hereaftercitedas
PHSConference).Ofcourse,Ketteringoriginallyplannedtogetalcoholsfom
outsidetheparaffinseriesthroughgrainandcellulose.
112"U.S.BoardAsksScientiststoFindNew'DopedGas,'"NewYorkWorld,
May22,1925,p.1.
113"WorkonNewTypeofAutoandFuel,"NewYorkTimes,Aug.7,1925;also
"NewAuto,FueltoSaveCostsareAnnounced,"UnitedPress,Aug.6,1925.
114FederalTradeCommissionDocketNo.2825,CushingRefining&Gasoline
Co.,June19,1936,Dept.ofJusticefiles,6057107,NationalArchives,
Washington,D.C.
115HomerS.Fox,"AlcoholMotorFuels,"SupplementaryReporttoWorld
TradeinGasoline,MineralsDivision,BureauofDomestic&ForeignCommerce,

TradePromotionSeriesMonographNo.20(Washington,D.C.:Dept.of
Commerce,May15,1925).Thereportprovideddetailedstatisticsontrade
volume,duties,taxincentivesandlawssurroundingtheuseofalcoholblended
fuels,includingethanolandmethanol,inFrance,Germany,England,Italyand15
othercountrieswereitwasroutinelyused.
116R.B.Gray,"OntheUseofAlcoholGasolineMixturesasMotorFuels,"
unpublished,USDA,April1933,NationalAgriculturalLibrary,Beltsville,Md.
117WorldTradeinGasoline,BureauofDomestic&ForeignCommerce,US
Dept.ofCommercemonograph,TradePromotionSeriesNo.20,May15,1925.
118"SeaweedasaSourceofAlcohol,"ScientificAmerican,Nov.9,1918,p.371.
Asimpleacidhydrolysistechniqueyieldedonlyabout10gallonsperton.
119"WhatFrenchMotoristsSayaboutAlcoholGasolineMotorFuelBlends,"
Washington,D.C.:AmericanMotoristsAssociation,Dec.15,1933.The
associationreprintedletterstothemagazineoftheFrenchNationalFederationof
Automobile,Bicycle,AeronauticalandRelatedTrades.Inadecidedlynon
randompoll,themajorityof40letterwritersdisapprovedoftheinconveniences
ofalcoholblends,primarilycitingproblemswithcorkfloatsincarburetorsand
hesitationandstallingwithhighvolumealcoholblendsusedinunadapted
engines.NotethatGMchangedcorkfloatstometalfloatsintheearly1920sto
dealwiththisproblem.
120CharlesSchweitzer,"L'EtatActuelDeLaQuestionDeL'AlcoolCarburant,"
Chimie&IndustrieVol.28,No.1,1932;TranslatedandabstractedbyE.I.
Fulmer,R.M.Hixon,L.M.Christensen,W.F.Cooverin"TheUseofAlcoholin
MotorFuels:ProgressReportNumberI,ASurveyoftheUseofAlcoholas
MotorFuelinVariousForeignCountries,"May1,1933,unpublishedmanuscript,
IowaStateUniversityarchives.
121"Antidetonants:leuremploidanslescarburantsetleurdanger,"Ind.
Chimique,1931,No.208,p.332,citedinFulmer,"TheUseofAlcoholinMotor
Fuels."
122NewYorkTimes,Nov.28,1915.
123"PowerAlcoholfromTubersandRoots,SAEJournal,May,1925,p.546.
Also,Nathan,"AlcoholforPowerPurposes."
124IndustrialandEngineeringChemistry,April1925,p334.
125E.I.Fulmer,"TheUseofAlcoholinMotorFuels."

126Ibid.
127GustavEgloff,MotorFuelEconomyofEurope(Washington,D.C.:American
PetroleumInstitute,Dec.1940).
128"ItalianCongressofIndustrialChemistry,"Industrial&Engineering
Chemistry,July10,1924,p.6.
129Egloff,MotorFuelEconomyofEurope.
130Personalcommunication,FredR.RobinsontocolumnistJackAnderson,
April24,1978.SeefootnoteNo.91.Cubacontinuedusingalcoholfuels
throughoutthe20thcentury,especiallyafterthecommunistrevolutionof1960,in
ordertostretchpetroleumsuppliesfromtheformerSovietUnion.
131Bernton,TheForbiddenFuel,p.140,p.226.
132Personalcommunication,MaurineLorenzetti,editor,OxyFuelNews,
InformationResourcesInc.,WashingtonDC,March,1991.
133"AlcogasasAviationFuelComparedwithExportGasoline,"SAEJournal,
June1920,p.397.
134Personalcommunication,Col.RalphCurtis,April17,1979.Curtis'letterto
columnistJackAndersonwaspromptedbyAndersonstafferHalBernton's
articlesaboutgasohol.
135"AnalysisofTechnicalAspectsofAlcoholGasolineBlends,"Preparedby
AmericanPetroleumInstituteSpecialTechnicalCommittee,No.216inan
unspecifiedseries,undated,withmemodatedApril10,1933.Series4,Box52,
Pewcollection,HagleyLibrary,Wilmington,Del.
136AugustusW.Giebelhaus,"ResistancetoLongTermEnergyTransition:The
CaseofPowerAlcoholinthe1930s,"AmericanAssociationfortheAdvancement
ofScience,Jan.4,1979.
137HalBernton,BillKovarik,ScottSklar,TheForbiddenFuel:PowerAlcohol
inthe20thCentury(NewYork:Griffin,1982).
138JoyceManchester,"GasoholborninAmes,soldatservicestation,"Ames
DailyTribune,March11,1978.
139DonaldDespain,TheOneandOnlySolutiontotheFarmProblem(New
York:VantagePress,1956),p.113.Criticsofalcoholfuelmightdescribethis
bookasoneoftheworld'slongestcranklettersbecauseDespainissoobviously

emotionalabouthissubject.Factualinformationshouldbeseeninthislightas
potentiallybiased.
140EverettM.Dirksen,"TheCongressionalFront,"March,1933,Dirksen
CongressionalCenterarchives,Peoria,Ill.Also,"WhytheProposaltoBlend
AlcoholwithGasolineforAutomotiveFuelisSimpleandPractical..."Keystone
Steel&WireCO,Peoria,Ill.
141DonaldDespain,TheOneandOnlySolutiontotheFarmProblem(New
York:VantagePress,1956),p.113.
142See,forexample,ProceedingsoftheThirdDearbornConference,Farm
ChemurgicJournal,NationalFarmChemurgicCouncil,Dearborn,Mich.,various
volumes.NumerousreferencestotheFarmChemurgymovementarefoundinthe
literature.
143StatementofL.M.Christensen,"UseofAlcoholfromFarmProductsin
MotorFuel,"CommitteeonFinance,U.S.SenateHearingsonSB522,May1939
(Washington:GPO,1939);Alsosee"AlkyGasFlopsinSiouxCity,Business
Week,July30,1938,p.20;"FarmCropAlcoholBlendedintoAutoFuel,"
PopularMechanics,Oct.1937;"AlkyGasGetsGoing,"BusinessWeek,Dec.25,
1937;"BlackstrapAlkyGas,"BusinessWeek,Sept.9,1939.
144"PowerAlcohol:NotyetfeasibleornecessaryinU.S.,"ScientificAmerican,
April,1942.
145U.S.TariffCommission,IndustrialAlcohol,WarChangesinIndustrySeries,
ReportNo.2,(Washington,GPO:Jan.1944).
146Itcertainlywouldhavebeendelayedhadnotchemistsfamiliarwithdetailsof
thesyntheticrubberprocessbeensmuggledbyBritishspygroupsoutofPoland
andRussiatotheUSjustaswarbrokeout.TheBritishwerewellawarethat
StandardOilofN.J.hadadealwithFarbentoblocksyntheticrubber,and
consideredStandarda"hostileanddangerouselementoftheenemy"accordingto
WilliamStephenson'sAManCalledIntrepid(NewYork:Ballentine,1976),p.
284.
147Forexample,seeAlFrisbie,"TheOldAlcoholPlant:IsthereaLesson
There?"WorldHeraldMagazine,May28,1978,Omaha,Nebraska.Similar
articlesbyotherenterprisingreportersturnedupinformationaboutAmerican
energyhistorywhichhadbeencompletelyoverlooked.
148USTariffCommission,IndustrialAlcohol.

149HarryBengeCrozier,DirectorofPublicRelationstomembersofthepublic
relationsadvisorycommittee,AmericanPetroleumInstitute,April24,1933,
Series4Box52,J.HowardPewpapers,HagleyMuseumandLibrary,
Wilmington,Del.
150Hundredsofmemosontheorganizationoftheantialcoholcampaign
originatingfromAPI'svariouscommittees,includingtheindustries,public
relationsandrefinerycommittees,arefoundinSeries4Box52,J.HowardPew
papers,HagleyMuseumandLibrary,Wilmington,Del.Memospreparedbythe
"SpecialTechnicalCommittee"andthe"SpecialEconomicsCommittee"showan
intenselevelofactivity.EverymajorAmericanoilcompanyandmostminorones
wereinvolvedinthecampaignagainstalcoholfuelthroughthesecommittees,
eitherdirectlyorindirectly.Itisinterestingtonotethatthepositionpapers
presentedbythesecommitteescontainednotawhiffofdissentingdata,norwere
anyoftheconclusionsfootnotedorreferencedinanywaywhatsoever.
151GustavEgloff,"AlcoholGasolineMotorFuels,"NationalPetroleum
Associationpaper,April21,1933,Series4Box52,J.HowardPewpapers,
HagleyMuseumandLibrary,Wilmington,Del.
152ThesedocuemtnsarefoundinSeries4Box52,J.HowardPewpapers,
HagleyMuseumandLibrary,Wilmington,Del.
153"IhavetoldyouwhatwecouldfindoutabouttheKeystoneofficials..."E.W.
Teagle,ChicagoofficeofSun,toJ.N.Pew,April27,1933.Series4Box52,J.
HowardPewpapers,HagleyMuseumandLibrary,Wilmington,Del.
154EverettM.Dirksen,"TheCongressionalFront,"May5,1933,Dirksen
CongressionalCenterarchives,Peoria,Ill.
155L.L.StephenstoWebb,Jan.24,1933,transcribedbyFBIagents,USDept.of
JusticeCentralFiles,RG6057107,Box386387,NationalArchives,
Washington,D.C.Parenthesesastranscribed.
156WebbtoStephens,Feb.9,1933.USDept.ofJusticeCentralFiles,RG6057
107,Box386387,NationalArchives,Washington,D.C.
157WilliamB.PlummertoGrahamEdgar,Ethyl,April12,1933,USDept.of
JusticeCentralFiles,RG6057107,Box386387,NationalArchives,
Washington,D.C.ItshouldbenotedthatwhiletheFBIfoundthistelegram,other
documentarysourcesaboutEthyl'sactivitiesatthistimethatshouldhavebeen
reviewedaremissingfromGMI,JusticeDept.archivesandotherareas.
158FBIInterviewwithL.L.Coryell,Jr.,Jan.18,1935,USDept.ofJustice
CentralFiles,RG6057107,Box386387,NationalArchives,Washington,D.C.

159EthylGasolineCorp.etal,vUnitedStates,309US436,March25,1940.
160Forexample,Giebelhausreachesthisconclusion.
161MichelleHeath,TowardsaCommercialFuture:Ethanol&Methanolas
AlternativeTransportationFuels,CanadianEnergyResearchInstitute,Studyno.
29,Jan.1989.
162"TheABCsofAlkyGas,"IowaPetroleumPublicRelationsCommittee,
1936,library,AmericanPetroleumInstutute,Washington,D.C.
163JosephPewtoH.SmithRichardson,Dec.23,1938,HagleyMuseum&
Library,Wilmington,Del.
164C.S.Mott,KetteringOralHistoryProject,InterviewedbyT.A.Boyd,
October19,1960,GMI,Flynt,Mich.