Archive for December, 2011

December 19, 2011

The Methanol Story: A Sustainable Fuel for the Future

Rnichols.pdf application/pdf Object.

Development of vehicles that could operate on alternative fuels began in earnest as a response to the oil shocks of the
1970s. Of the various choices, methanol appeared to be the best candida~ for long-term, widespread replacement of
petroleum-based fuels. Initial support by the government was based on the desire for energy security, but the potential for
improvement in air quality became an important driver as well. Experimental fleets of dedicated methanol vehicles did well
in the field, but the lack of refueling infrastructure led to the development of the flexible fuel vehicle (FFV), a vehicle that
could operate on either gasoline or methanol with only one fuel system Oll’ board. Legislation was put in place to encourage
the auto industry to begin production, which started in 1993 for the M85 FFV at Ford. By the end of the decade, however,
full production volumes had been transferred to the E85 FFV (gasoline or ethanol). The technical, economic and political
reasons for this shift are emphasised and are discussed below, including visions for the future, and the direct
methanol fuel cell.

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December 6, 2011

Methanol Wins – Robert Zubrin – National Review Online

Methanol Wins – Robert Zubrin – National Review Online.

On August 2, I published an open wager on National Review Online. I offered to bet up to ten people $10,000 each that I could take my 2007 Chevy Cobalt, which is not a flex-fuel car, and, running it on 100 percent methanol, get at least 24 miles per gallon on the highway. Since methanol averages less than half the price of gasoline — and can readily be made from coal, natural gas, or any kind of biomass without exception — this would demonstrate superior transportation economy from a non-petroleum fuel that is producible from plentiful American resources.

Unfortunately, no one took the bet. That fact alone says a lot. Of the 7 billion people on this planet, there are about a million or so who know a great deal about cars. Clearly, not one of them was sufficiently doubtful that it could be done to put his money on the line. Although it left me short a nice chunk of easy cash, the refusal of anyone to accept my challenge should have settled the matter. But some people, while refusing to take the bet, still demanded that I conduct the test anyway. I did, and here are the results.