Oil Dependency & Alternative Fuels in 1909

“The fuel chiefly employed for motors (to the abundant supply of which the rapid rise of the automobile industry may be said to be largely due) is petrol. The motor industry, which is fast becoming one of the world’s greatest industries, is thus dependent upon the supply of a fuel which to all appearance must, according to the present trend of progress, fail in the near future to be equal to the demand. The Motor Union of Great Britain and Ireland became somewhat alarmed at the serious rise in the price of petrol, and in September 1906 it was suggested that a special Committee should be appointed to fully discuss this important subject.”

1909 car “In July 1907 the official report of the Committee was issued, and through the courtesy of the secretary of the Motor Union the following extracts are taken: The Committee have carefully considered the various substitutes for petrol which have been brought before them, and have unanimously arrived at the conclusion that the main efforts of the Motor Union should be in the direction of encouraging in every way the use and development of a substance, such as alcohol, produced from vegetation.”

“Alcohol offers a complete and satisfactory substitute for petrol so far as its properties are concerned, and hence probably the most important recommendation of the Committee is that connected with the production on a large scale of alcohol for the purposes of a fuel. It may be noted that the argument added to all others, but which to many in this country would probably appear the most important of all, is the fact that it would form a home industry, especially if produced from some substance, such as peat, potatoes, or beet, which would place the country in an independent position with regard to foreign supplies, a consideration which, it should be noted, is leading the Governments of France and Germany, particularly the latter, to give every encouragement to the use of alcohol as a fuel.”

Quoted from “Commercial peat: its uses and possibilities“, Frederick T. Gissing, 1909. Picture: the 1909 Alco Six Race Car.