Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Thomas L. Hobbs


Oil is the principal energy form in all the major developed countries. Most nations domestically produce only trivial quantities. For most of these countries, the energy requirements are met predominantly by oil imports. The Arab oil embargo of October 1973 caused a dramatic jump in the real price of oil. Oil markets were further shocked in 1979 by the Iranian political crisis. Since the beginning of this instability in the world petroleum market, an extremely high level of public concern for liquid fuel energy sources has been created. Farmers have been hit hard by the increases in fuel costs; these increases have caused a squeeze on farm income. The energy cost has become a significant portion of the delivered cost of agriculture products. Indeed, fuel and energy costs, coupled with interest and other cost increases of recent years, now threaten the existence of many American farms. All these concerns have focused attention on energy from alternative sources. Many farmers have responded to the energy crisis by looking for ways to become more energy self-sufficient. One source of energy that has received such attention in recent years is fuel ethanol from corn and other crops such as sweet sorghum and fodder beets. Farmers have been interested in this fuel primarily for use in cars, trucks, and tractors and as a new commodity for sale. Secondary considerations include the use of ethanol fuel for crop drying and for home heating. There are several motivations in addition to the cost motive for replacing petroleum-derived fuels by renewable sources of fuel. The national energy objective of an ethanol fuel program is to reduce the U.S. dependence on petroleum imports by developing a domestic synthetic fuel. A related economic objective is the strengthening of the U.S. balance of payments, burdened by petroleum imports that approached $100 billion in 1981, or more than one-third of total imports. In addition to the above motivations, other specific purposes of domestic synthetic fuel programs are to: a. Give communities or farms assured supplies of fuel; b. Convert surplus grain or other crop production into new products in order to help farming communities eliminate farm surpluses and boost prices; and c. Reduce fuel bills for farmers.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Alcohol fuel industry
Alcohol as fuel
Beets -- Industrial applications



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - United State