Old school thought and the same tired myths pushed by anti-ethanol groups continues to spread doubt about the safety of ethanol-blended fuels. Fuel consulting company MEG Corp sets out to address those misconceptions with an influential group—auto mechanics.
With support from the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA), MEG Corp Founder Hoon Ge has been traveling to technical schools to present a fuel-focused curriculum for more than seven years. During the 2018-2019 school year, he presented at 12 technical schools, reaching more than 500 students. Each is an opportunity to focus on fuels—a topic not covered extensively in auto programs—and address the safety of ethanol-blended fuels and emphasize the benefits.
Ge, a chemical engineer and a veteran of the petroleum industry, has noticed the reception by faculty and the students has evolved over his time offering the curriculum. He credits word of mouth as the driver for increased interest in ethanol education in the classroom.
“Most teachers and instructors are certainly changing,” Ge said. “Most of time when we go to classes today they are really looking forward to it, it has become more positive because I don’t think a lot of people understand the fuel, and they want to.”
Each educational session includes Ge explaining the process of how crude oil becomes gasoline before transitioning into introductory ethanol topics, including its production from corn, blended fuels and flex fuels. Ge’s objective is to keep the lesson straightforward for the students early on in their education.
Ge said the one part of his curriculum that helps the future technicians understand the safety of ethanol is the fact that nearly 98 percent of all fuel sold in the country contains 10-percent ethanol or higher. Emphasizing its prevalence has also driven home the need for a science-based education on ethanol-blended fuels.
By reaching technicians, MEG Corp is developing a future workforce that understands ethanol-blended fuels. In addition to the tech school visits, and with support from MCGA, MEG Corp is working with Minnesota Ag in the Classroom to develop an accredited curriculum on ethanol for students junior high through high school. The curriculum is currently being tested and adjusted based on teacher feedback, and the goal is for a full rollout of the materials in 2020.