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AutoblogGreen reader Vinay wrote in with a simple request: "Hey, can you guys do a piece on butanol?" Of course we can. After all, it is a fuel that can be made from plants and used in regular gasoline engines with no modifications and will get better mileage than gasoline. At least, that's what some people claim.

In the 1970s and 1980s, when that energy crisis caused scientists and politicians to start the hunt for a gasoline substitute, butanol and ethanol were brought to the table as possible replacement fuels. Butanol, an alcohol that can be derived from fermentation or from petroleum, showed promise: it burns cleaner than ethanol, has a higher energy output, can travel through existing gasoline pipelines, and can be used at 100% concentrations in unmodified vehicles. So why did ethanol win the federa

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