March 16, 2012
Methanol as an Alternative to Gasoline – NYTimes.com.
PRESIDENT Obama recently called the United States the “Saudi Arabia of natural gas” and asserted that it was time for our oil-dominated transportation fuel market to open the door to natural gas. He’s right. It would be cheaper for consumers and reduce the strategic importance of oil. But first we need cars that can run on methanol, a high-octane fuel made from converted natural gas.
We’re producing more natural gas these days than we can use, thanks to new techniques to extract gas from shale. A recent report from the M.I.T. Energy Initiative, “The Future of Natural Gas,” called methanol “the liquid fuel that is most efficiently and inexpensively produced from natural gas.” China has already taken notice. Automakers there, like Chery, Geely and Shanghai Maple, have all introduced vehicles capable of running on methanol. Indeed, methanol is so much less costly per mile than gasoline that illegal fuel blending is rampant in China.
March 12, 2012
America’s Energy Disaster – Robert Zubrin – National Review Online.
President Obama says his energy policy is a great success. In support, Democratic-party stalwart John Podesta trumpets the claim that the United States is now producing more oil than it imports. A recent article in the Bloomberg News goes even further, saying that the U.S. is now a net oil exporter. New York Times columnist Tom Friedman instructs us to rejoice: High oil prices are now good for the United States.
Unfortunately, none of this is true. For the record, according to the Department of Energy/Energy Information Agency February 2012 Monthly Energy Review, the United States currently consumes (November 2011 figures, p.52) 12.93 million barrels of oil per day (mpd) in its transportation sector, 4.55 mpd in its industrial sector, 1.159 mpd in its residential and commercial sectors, and 0.096 mpd in electrical-power generation, for a total consumption of 18.735 mpd. In contrast, (page 37) in 2011, the United States averaged a production rate of 5.671 mpd of crude oil, or 30 percent of its total consumption, for a net deficit of 13.064 mpd, or 4.77 billion barrels per year. At today’s oil price of $105 per barrel, the bill for these imports runs to $500 billion per year, a tax on our economy equal to 20 percent of what Americans pay the IRS, and a reduction in the nation’s GDP sufficient to account for a loss of 5 million jobs at an average salary of $100,000 per year each.
March 12, 2012
Robert McFarlane: A Flex-Fuel Mandate Is Pro-Market – WSJ.com.
The current election cycle and the rising price of gasoline have rekindled interest in energy security and how best to achieve it. We’ve had these spasms of interest and hand-wringing before—many times. And each time we believed we had identified a way to overcome our vulnerability to the disruption or unaffordable pricing of oil, the price would decline, we would become complacent again, and effective, long-term solutions were forgotten.
This time, however, the stakes go well beyond the price of a fill-up at the pump. They involve a predictable renewed recession and prolonged, severe economic hardship for all Americans. As we tackle this energy challenge again, if the outcome is to be any different it may help to start with a few facts:
• Petroleum products drive 97% of all air, sea and land transportation in our country. Oil is truly the lifeblood of every industrial economy. If goods don’t move, revenues stop, jobs are lost and economies collapse. Oil is a strategic commodity, an essential good which if disrupted or priced extravagantly can cause our economy to collapse.
• Unlike other essential commodities such as clothing and food, where we have choices, in transportation fuel we’re stuck with petroleum alone. It enjoys a monopoly.
• The price of oil is set by a foreign cartel. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) owns almost 80% of global oil reserves yet produces only 36% of daily global supply. This dominant position enables OPEC to raise or lower their production to maintain the global supply-demand relationship that suits their interest. If U.S. oil companies produce more, OPEC will produce less.
December 6, 2011
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.
September 30, 2011
Open Fuels Standard Act aims for 50% flex-fuel cars in US by 2015 : Biofuels Digest.
In Washington, Sen. Maria Cantwell joined Sen. Dick Lugar in introducing a bill to break oil’s monopoly over the U.S. transportation fuel industry by ensuring that most new vehicles in the United States are capable of running on a range of domestically produced alternative fuels starting in 2015.
The Open Fuels Standard Act requires that starting in 2015, 50% of new vehicles manufactured or sold in the United States be flex fuel capable – meaning able to run on non-petroleum fuels such as domestically-produced ethanol or methanol or other alcohols in addition to, or instead of, petroleum-based fuels.
August 31, 2011
Open Fuel Standard: Defeating Al Qaeda: The Energy Offensive.
In the aftermath of the siege and death of Osama bin Laden, counter-terrorism officials prepare for Al-Qaeda’s response. The home front is on alert with heightened awareness for both soft and hard target attacks. There have been numerous false alarms, including the foiled terrorist plot in New York City a couple weeks ago. Intelligence analysts assert that Al-Qaeda is seeking to conduct a large-scale attack, proving to their enemies the group’s resilience and adaptive modus operandi, while rallying support from affiliates.
In the last decade, however, the elimination of key individuals within the terrorist network has left Al Qaeda on the defensive, forcing the remaining operatives into hiding and reducing their effectiveness. Furthermore, intelligence gathering and dissemination has improved tremendously since 9/11. Law enforcement officials have thwarted numerous attacks by radical individuals such as the cases involving Bryant Neal Vinas and Najibullah Zazi, two men who, on separate occasions, traveled from the United States to Pakistan, and underwent weapons and explosives training in Al-Qaeda’s training camps, but were foiled by the FBI before they were able to carry out their missions.
August 24, 2011
The Frederick News-Post Online – Frederick County Maryland Daily Newspaper.
The U.S. congressman who represents the district including Frederick County recently released a statement encouraging support of a bill to increase production of cars that run on non-petroleum fuels.
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-6th, also criticized a U.S. Department of Energy report about federal subsidies of energy sources, saying it should have centered more on transportation than electricity. While the country has many ways of generating electricity, oil prices are pinching the wallets of many Americans, he said.