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Charlie says:

Thank you for your extraordinary service. Go out and tell the world.

Open Letter to President Barack Obama:

Alcohol Fuels are the best way to reduce GHG, get off oil and clean our air.

February 1, 2013

Dear President Obama,

You, of course, realize that we are in a new economy. To speed up the rate of economic recovery in this new world, we need to revisit our attempts to get off oil by moving to more technically and economically feasible transportation alternatives. The problem is that the current approach has been setup to create a step function of change, using ethanol made from wastes (cellulosic ethanol) and electric vehicles. It is now clear that cellulosic ethanol has production and cost limitations; and electric vehicle sales are stunted by high cost, poor range, small vehicle size and long charging times. Both would require decades, if ever, to become mainstream, and so cannot accomplish the rapid change needed. CNG is also the wrong approach for our 135,000,000 light duty vehicles, as the excessive conversion costs for both vehicles and fueling infrastructure would be in the Trillions.
       As you have said, we need an 'all-in' approach. The answers for the (ICE) Internal Combustion Engine today, and for fuel cells down the road, are the liquid fuels ethanol and methanol (methanol is also a fuel for Fuel Cells). Ethanol is already established, and corn ethanol is close to it limit. But methanol fuel, used in racing and in California for 15 years, can be made from our natural gas, and/or any organic wastes (and if more is required, from the anaerobic digestion of algae). Methanol can fill the supply gap that cellulosic ethanol is unable to economically fill, and much more than the 36 billion gallons required can be produced. It can be done NOW and can be done cheaper and with less pollution, using years of proven technology. It can also become increasingly more economic and, of course greener, as we make more and more bio-methanol from our wastes. Bio-methanol is Well-To-Wheel CO2 neutral. It certainly appears that combined ethanol-methanol facilities can take care of the CO2 issue.
      Furthermore, future ICE engines, using high levels of ethanol/methanol, can be made to have diesel engine efficiencies, with significant in cost reductions compared to making a diesel, and without the pollution of diesels!  We will not need diesel engines, but can still achieve their 30% greater efficiency. Methanol costs less than ethanol and gasoline. It is currently made for 60 cents a gallon and sold for $1.3/gal. It pollutes less. For example: it emits no particles, 1/2 the NOx, and no benzene.
      Current engines can be converted to methanol for a few hundred dollars, vs. thousands for CNG. The corner garage mechanic can do the conversions -- think of the jobs. Detroit produced methanol ready cars can be made for even less. Methanol can be added to gasoline, as ethanol can. In fact, gasoline, ethanol and methanol mixtures work exceptionally well. It gives us a smooth transition path to a new fuel using the same basic engines and fueling infrastructure that we have today. The cheaper price and ease of use will be compelling to consumers.
 The jobs added, the cheaper transportation, and the fuel dollars prevented from going out of the country will give a big boost to the economy - we will have a catalyst to grow jobs - while keeping the farmers and new cellulosic bio-fuels industry happy. But, most important, it will give America long-term energy security and pricing control with a 100% home based fuel source.
     Government action in this regard will be very important. It is not subsidies that are needed, but the government leading by example and testing. We urge you to ask the DOE/EPA/DOT to:
a) Work together with the auto industry to determine what % of ethanol can be used in various models and model years of our most common vehicles, importantly including both E10 “gasoline only” as well as E85. It has been found that at 15-50% ethanol, many of both types of vehicles actually deliver higher mileage than on E10, and with no detrimental engine effects.
b) Work together with industry to determine what the costs are of modifying the production of Flex Fueled vehicles to run on any combination of methanol, ethanol and gasoline, both ones to be built, and ones already one the road.
c) Move the Federal fleet to the use of the blend with the highest ratios of methanol and ethanol in the fuel to the gasoline, to reduce fuel costs, reduce pollution, reduce dependency on oil and possibly improve mileage of existing as well as future vehicles.
d) Have the EPA encourage cities, through the Clean Cities Program to move in the direction of the Federal fleet.



Robert Falco, PhD, Director, IER
Institute for Energy Resourcefulness


Ron Will, Senior Associate, IER
Institute for Energy Resourcefulness