Charley says:

There is a very doable path to get off oil and sustainably fuel our cars with much less junk going into the air. It has many parts, but almost no part requires discovery or research. Just some development.



Details about the Current IER Mission to get off the use of oil:

Removing the stranglehold of oil buys us economic advantages, health advantages and GHG advantages.

To present you with enough information to understand that there is a way to achieve the above vision and goals with existing resources and technologically feasible developments (all with engineering: research is not needed to accomplish our goals, but research can possibly enhance our efforts). Furthermore, we see to debug some commonly accepted beliefs, and to present a long term picture that is sustainable.

We will show that ethanol and methanol made from fossil natural gas and renewable natural gas, combined with ethanol made from corn, sugarcane, energy crops and cellulosic wastes are currently the only vehicle fuels that can enable us to meet the vision and goals of the Institute for Energy Resourcefulness. Using natural gas directly, in the form of CNG (compressed natural gas) or LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) is too costly, as we must convert our cars, and our distribution. Furthermore, the efficiency of ~ 10:1 compression engines is low running on natural gas. We must use fossil natural gas as the feed stock to start the transition away from oil now. Methanol made from natural gas is much cleaner for our cities and reduces global warming, cancer and lung disease risk. At the same time we must increase the number of waste-to-methane gas recycling facilities, so that we can eventually generate enough renewable natural gas (methane) to convert into ethanol and/or methanol to run our transportation. Along the way we will mix increasing amounts of renewable natural gas (biogas) with its fossil version on their way to the refineries/distilleries. We will also discuss the topic of growing algae and then anaerobically digesting it to produce additional methane feedstock, and then the even more distant technology of mining methane gas from the bottom of the world's oceans.

As we proceed to wean ourselves off oil, we will get much more help from ethanol. In the US ethanol is predominately made from corn. Although in the early days (actually less than 10 years ago) ethanol was not efficiently made from corn, the situation has changed, see our section here. Today corn ethanol is becoming much more energy and environmentally friendly. However sugar cane ethanol, especially as it it made in Brazil, is still many times more energy efficient. in the US, because of our more temperate climate, we can grow variants of sorghum, and a host of other energy crops to significantly add to the output from corn. Sugarcane is grown in massive quantities in Brazil, and can also be grown in many places such as Hawaii, and the southeastern US and even California. But sweet sorghum can closely rival the alcohol output of sugarcane and can grow over a much large stretch of US soil. Eventually ethanol made from bio-wastes will also make a contribution. This is the year (2013) when we will see the first significant cellulosic ethanol output. Cellulosic ethanol and biogas generated ethanol from anaerobically digested bio-wastes will become strong contenders in the REF2 'advanced' biofuel pool. Celanese Corp. notes that ethanol can be made from any of the feedstocks below. Importantly, the biomass and waste, although in development, are renewable, and don't use biotechnology.

Mixtures of ethanol, methanol and a small amount of gasoline may become the common fuel blend of the future. Other alcohols, such a butanol may begin to be added to the mixture. In the end it probably will be the vehicle emissions and lowest WTW GHG's that determine the alcohol blends that win out.

By laying out the facts as unbiasedly as possible, we will show that there is no better way to meet the vision and goal of the Institute for Energy Resourcefulness in the next 2-3 decades, and to enable the vision to be sustained far beyond. Our challenge is to present you with enough information so that you can build on the data and convince yourself. Along the way we will also debunk the Li-Ion battery based electric car myth of 'clean transportation'.

Our mission includes the need to educate you about the urgency of moving to the use of these alternative fuels before either the coming economic crisis, or the environmental crisis besets us. Again we will try to be as unbiased as possible, and use real data not scare tactics. If you follow the Institute for about 2 years from the winter of 2013 you will be able to verify - along with us - the accuracy of our view. That's all it will take! On the longer horizon, the efficiency of fuel cells running on methanol will, more likely than new battery chemistry, propel us into even more efficient and cleaner transportation modes.

We will, of course, use all the data that is available, but special mention must go to the work of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). By arriving at the conclusions that the well-to-wheel carbon associated with electricity from the grid (needed for plug-in electric cars) is greater than that of reformulated gasoline or low sulfur diesel (both of course refined from oil), the CARB provides a launching pad away from the electric car fantasy and back to a realistic internal combustion engine fueling picture. In addition, hydrogen’s well-to-wheel carbon content is even higher than all electric cars, because most of the hydrogen comes from reforming natural gas, or electrolysis of water using that same electricity. The key result is that we can't look to electric vehicles until renewable electricity, i.e., wind and solar form a substantial mix of our sources. Of course nuclear is an open option, but even if agreed upon will take at several decades to make a significantly greater contribution.

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