Gasoline Grows On Trees

Click to viewApparently scientists (and some of our readers, surely) have known that we can grow oil for years, and not in the grow-corn-make-oil kind of way. The Brazilian Copaifera langsdorfii can be tapped (ala maple syrup) for a natural diesel fuel that requires only simple filtering before being poured into a truck. (This picture is of the tree's cells.) The catch? The diesel only has a shelf-life of about 3 months.

So how many trees would it take to match the oil output of, say, Saudi Arabia? Check our stats after the jump.

Saudi Arabia Oil Output Daily

11 Million Barrels



Output of One Acre of Copaifera langsdorfii Yearly


25 Barrels



Number of Acres Needed To Match Saudi Arabia Yearly Output


182,500,000 (Total Trees: 18,250,000,000)



Number of Acres in North America Alone


6,050,697,738



Number of Acres in North America Used For Corn (2007)


90.5 million



Amount of American Corn Spent on Ethanol


15% and growing

Frequency Corn Needs Replanting

Every Season



Frequency Copaifera langsdorfii Needs Replanting


Every 90 Seasons



UPDATE: Gallons of Oil In One Gallon of Diesel


7 (thanks lailoken!)

Some interesting metrics to think about. On a worldwide scale, it doesn't seem all that impossible to alleviate oil shortages with plants...and the natural carbon offsets seem worthwhile. It's just too bad these trees take 15-20 years to mature (by which time we plan on flying around in a hydrogen Jetsonmobile).

Is anyone out there a specialist on the topic who could enlighten us in the comments? [abc via treehugger]



Additional Sources
: [world factbook] [nass] [yahoo] [popular mechanics]