Henry Ford, Charles Kettering and the Fuels of the Future   

How the conflict between ethyl alcohol and Ethyl leaded gasoline helped shape the modern environment     

By Bill Kovarik, PhD     

A book in progress to be published next year.   Inquiries, suggestions and advance orders should be directed to editor at environmentalhistory.org or bill dot kovarik at gmail dot com.   The book’s title is based on a 1998 Society of Automotive Historians paper by the same author.


By Bill Kovarik, PhD 

 Dedication — To Col. Wm. C. Holmberg, and to Lin Burton 

 Preface — Ethyl’s hidden victims 

Introduction — Why we need a new history of energy


  1. Spirit lamps, petroleum and the whale oil myth  (1800s – 1906)      
  2. Germany, France and  l’alcool (1890s – 1920s) 
  3. Teddy Roosevelt busts the Standard Oil trust (1901 − 1912)  
  4. Henry Ford  and the farmer’s fuel  (1900s − 1930s) 
  5. Alcogas, Prohibition and the Rockefeller family  (1900s − 1930s)   
  6. Charles Kettering, General Motors and the leaded gasoline disaster  (1916 − 1952)        
  7. Harry Ricardo and Britain’s Discol racing fuel (1900s – 1960s)   
  8. Leo Christensen, Agrol, Chemurgy  and the American midwest, (1930s – 1950s)    
  9. Nelson Rockefeller, synthetic rubber, the BSC and the Nazis, (1930s – 1940s)
  10. K.M. Munshi, the United Nations and “power” alcohol, (1950s  – 1960s)      
  11. Bill Holmberg, the energy bureaucracy and the Arab oil embargo (1970s – 1980s)   
  12. Ernesto Stumpf and Brazil’s Proalcool program (1930s – 1980s) 
  13. George H.W. Bush, C. Boyden Gray and the 1990 Clean Air Act  (1980s – 1990s) 
  14. Roberta Nichols and Ford’s flex fuel car (1990s – 2000s)      
  15. Midwestern pioneers:  William Scheller, Loren Schmidt, Jeff Broin and the return of the American ethanol industry (1990s – 2000s)    
  16. Political horizons — New talking points in a changing climate (21st century)      
  17. Scientific Horizons — Second & third generation biofuels   (21st century) 
  18. International horizons — Biofuels for developing countries   (21st century) 


Technical notes