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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.

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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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