How Much Alternative Fuel Is Available?

Friday, December 21, 2012

In Turning Oil Into Salt, a paradigm-shifting book by Gal Luft and Anne Korin, they write:

Making methanol from coal
One of the Department of Energy's clean coal demonstration program's most successful efforts is a commercial scale facility in Kingsport, Tennessee that generates methanol from coal at roughly 50 cents a gallon. Methanol contains about half the energy of gasoline per gallon so that's equivalent to about one dollar for a quantity of methanol that will take you as far as one gallon of gasoline.

Producing one million gallons of methanol requires about 5,000 short tons of coal. So 4 percent of current U.S. annual coal production, which in 2007 was 1,146 million short tons, would yield 10 billion gallons of methanol, which is about the same amount of fuel the corn ethanol industry contributes today to America's fuel supply.

There are many other ways to produce methanol. In Germany, Schwarze Pumpe produces 100,000 tons of methanol from sewage sludge and industrial wastes each year. In Sweden, methanol is made from black liquor, a sludge byproduct of paper pulping. Natural gas can also be a feedstock.
And it just so happens that America is rich in natural gas. Says a recent Washington Post article: "So much natural gas is being produced that soon there may be nowhere left to put the country’s swelling surplus."

The OFS bill includes methanol and ethanol, and the sources of ethanol are almost as vast as methanol, and with the advent of such an open market and with so much money to be made, new sources and ways of producing fuel would proliferate in abundance.

We can stop our economy's vulnerability to oil prices right now. We can bring down gas prices permanently. All we need to do is open up the fuel market to competition. If you want to help make this happen, start here.

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