Ever since ethanol was first touted as the panacea for fuel efficiency problems, it has been attacked on such issues as the effect of the use of corn-based ethanol on the cost of food, the cost efficiency of producing it as an alternative to gasoline, the lack of filling stations that offer ethanol, etc.
Add another to the list: Ethanol fires.
It seems that alcohol, which is basically what ethanol is, burns so clear that the fire can’t be seen in daylight. Worse, an ethanol fire cannot be extinguished with water. A special foam is needed to put it out. Using water to put out an ethanol fire can actually cause it to spread.
Fire departments in ethanol-producing states are keeping a cautious eye. In Nebraska, for example, where there are 17 ethanol plants, personnel at nearby fire departments have gone through special hazardous materials training and has been given special equipment. Firefighters are learning more about ethanol by touring plants and are working with plant owners to assure that the foam that puts the ethanol fires out are stockpiled.
Our take? We guess it’s the nature of the beast. A combustible engine needs a combustible fuel to power it whether it is gasoline or ethanol.