Why not just develop natural gas stations and have automobiles run on the
natural gas itself? There is already tremendous transport infrastructure in
place (though it may not be sufficient to handle the increased demand) and the
technology for cars to run on natural gas is already in place as well? Natural gas burns 30% cleaner than gasoline, 42% cleaner than coal. Is
liquid alcohol that much cleaner? Perhaps it reduces methane gas because it
turns that into methanol.
@RationalSalt Lake City, UTAgreed.Using the Natural Gas
without the added expense of this distillary process is the better way to go.Besides, Alcohol is a petroleum solvent.Using it is harder
on the engines, because it dissolves the lubrication.BTW --
There are about 20 different types of alcohol.What kind is it, or is
that the trade "secret".
Its because the gasoline you are now buying is 10% ethanol (more in some states)
made from corn or sugarcane.
So we have yet another low-heat-emission means of creating energy..
. . Kind of like cold fusion.Utah research universities are really
There are exciting things happening every day in R & D in corporate,
academic, and government labs. We only hear about a small fraction of them in
the news. Having said that, this does sound like a significant breakthrough.
Way to go researchers. @Open Minded MormonNo worries,
just a small correction. If I remember my college chemistry, theoretically
there are an infinite number of alcohols as all it takes to be an alcohol is for
the molecule to have a hydroxyl group attached to an sp3 carbon, which is very
common. It's been awhile, but that's how I remember it. Perhaps you
mean there are only 20 commercially important alcohols used in bulk in industry
or as precursors for other chemicals?
Folks the beauty of this is ambient temp storage and transport. It is much
safer to transport and store methanol than it is to store and transport high
pressure natural gas.You are correct that alcohol is a solvent and more work
needs to be done to get it automobile friendly. But the technology is there to
do this. This alone could be the discovery that truly brings the US out of
foreign fuel dependency. Great work BYU
Is it too conspiratorial to wonder what the oil companies might do to thwart any
alternative to being at their mercy?
Jack from ArkHensley, ARFolks the beauty of this is ambient temp
storage and transport. It is much safer to transport and store methanol than it
is to store and transport high pressure natural gas.======= Agreed, but isn't electricity the cheapest, easiest, and
safest of all energy sources to transport/transmit? Besides, the internal combustion engine is only 16% energy efficient.As
good as an idea this maybe, it is still finite, and not renewable.It is a bridge or crutch technology at best, limited by an ever
dwindling supply.An ouce of prevention is worth a pound of the
cure.Save, conserve, and reduce demand is still our best hope.
The real beauty of this process is the fact that it makes alcohol a viable
alternative to oil as a fuel for our cars. In 2008 a 10% increase in production
caused gasoline to drop from $4.40 a gallon all the way down to $1.85 in my
town. Eliminate the scarcity of a commodity and it, and all the competing
products experience a dramatic price drop.It costs $6,000 to convert
a domestic vehicle to CNG (Compressed Natural Gas). In Peru the cost is $300.
There are difference in the safety requirement between the two countries. If the
car is built to use CNG at the factory the is competitive with gasoline.I wish that the auto industry was required to make all cars CNG ready
(becomes a bolt on option). The conversion kits would be dirt cheap. Some
states also prohibit the sale of CNG to the general public. I would deport all
elected officials who supported that kind of nonsense.
What it comes down to, is which energy producing company (oil, ethanol, solar
etc) company can get in the pant pockets of politicians, is the one that will
win.We already see how green energy is in bed with barock, Pelosi,
reid. As much as oil was in bed with bush etc.
Love my CNG! Utah is close behind CA (leading the US)for infrastructure
for fueling them, but more are needed. In a totally CNG car, one cannot go to
Boise, Northern CA, etc. More stations are needed. Also miles per gallon are
almost the same as the gasoline versions of the same vehicle and that number
could easily be doubled if the car makers would actually utilize the
technologies available. Only total electric's run cleaner! (A
couple of corrections: the picture is not a CNG filling station, cost to convert
is more in the $3,000 to $4,000 range.)
the drop in gas price in 2008 from 4.40 to 1.85 had little if anything to do
with any increase in production. It had to do with a tanking economy and
speculators no longer speculating that the price of oil would continue to rise,
so they all bailed on the oil commodities bubble.
airnaut-"but isn't electricity the cheapest, easiest, and
safest of all energy sources to transport/transmit?No, no and no.
Every mile of cable introduces greater resistance. Storage is woefully
inefficient and expensive. Not sure how to quantify safety but transporting and
burning coal has to be near the top.Cheapest comes down to the cost of
producing the energy. That starts will coal. Natural gas next. Hydro, wind and
then solar at the far end of the spectrum.
@airnaut"but isn't electricity the cheapest, easiest, and
safest of all energy sources to transport/transmit?You mean that
stuff that we run short of in various States where we have rolling blackouts?
I'm sure we are ready to provide enough electricity for all the cars in
America. /sarcasmSeriously...it would be really helpful if the left
could see both sides of an issue and view it realistically instead of just
believing and regurgitating the rosy propaganda the liberal media pumps out on a
I hope a BYU professor can start work on the abundant hot air coming out of
Washington D.C. and find a way to turn it into some sort of useful product.
Not sure how great this news is. The metals used to convert natural gas to
liquid form are poisonous. Thallium is highly toxic, soluble in
water, readily absorbed through the skin, and is suspected of being
carcinogenic. For many years it was used as rat poison, but even that use has
been banned because it is so dangerous. We removed lead from
gasoline decades ago because of high toxicity - in fact, there is no known safe
threshold for lead exposure. It is toxic to many organs and tissues including
the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and reproductive and nervous systems.The risk here cannot be overstated.
Natural Gas requires a rather large and heavy bottle (tank) to contain it. It is
usually loaded from a storage tank into the container by a compressor that fills
the tank under pressure. The tank on the car has an expiration date
requiring it to be replaced every few years. The average driver is not
certified to fill their own tank.An auto accident where a fuel line is
ruptured becomes a major HAZMAT situation.Natural gas stations are quite a
bit more expensive to build and operate than gasoline.The argument
about electric being less expensive is a strange issue. The car isn't
plugged into a wall with a 200 mile extension cord. It requires batteries to
operate. Recharge stations are very expensive to build in the quantity needed
for long trips. A trip of three hours in a gas car may take four in an electric
due to recharge times.The alcohol conversion seems to be a better
way. The lubrication problem is a solvable issue. The distribution is a lot
easier than Natural Gas fueled cars or electric recharge stations.This looks like a good thing.
My wish list: A BYU Hydrogen car!Or a TARDIS... I'd be fine
with either one. =)
"In 2008 a 10% increase in production caused gasoline to drop from $4.40 a
gallon all the way down to $1.85 in my town"That is so far from
true. You may want to look at the world economy. It tanked big time in 2008.
THAT is why gas prices plummeted.
@ Bill McGeeI was wondering about the metals. Metals usually
don't mix well with the human body. I'll wait for more
information before I get excited. Still, the researchers deserve
congratulations for the discovery and the hard work. Nice job.
Bill McGee:re: "The risk here cannot be overstated."Unfortunately risks are overstated all the time. What is needed is a
careful analysis that weighs the costs and benefits.
The most important indicator that this is an important discovery is the fact
that it was published in Science. That means it was peer reviewed by the top
experts in this field (anonymously) with no financial incentive to accept the
research into the journal.
I should get a DesNews story. I've perfected a way to convert diesel into
cheap, out of state alcohol, by adding careful disguise and vehicular operation.
It's like getting something for less than nothing.
All the oil companies have to do to kill this process is drop crude oil prices
below $50 a barrel. That will crush fracking and CNG production. Alcohol has
limited attributes in replacing oil and there are still trillions of dollars
research still needed to make it a competitive alternative to oil and carbon
fuels. Alcohol has limited commercial use and make-up removal is about its only
function. If CNG alcohol was useable in vehicles we wouldn't be using
consumer grade food fermented whiskey in gasoline. Using food resources is very
stupid waste of human resources.We can liquify a lot of gases like
oxygen, nitrogen, and CNG but it still has limited use and is a very expensive
process no matter how its done. And it cost 100 times more to process than it is
to refine oil for its thousands of industrial and commercial uses in a refinery
that can't replace crude oil dependence. Gasoline is a waste product of oil
refining while alternatives have only one source and one purpose, that is the
flaw in being oil independent and it will never happen. Technology and machines
to make green machines (robots) are crude oil dependent.
@airnautWhile electric may be "sustainable" and appear to
help the environment, electric cars actually damage the environment more than
gas cars because of their manufacturing process. We burn more carbon fuels
producing these cheap cars than we could ever save by driving them. Eventually, we will get to a place where electric is efficient enough,
perhaps. But most technology developments happen organically and natural gas a
solid alternative to being enslaved to hostile countries where we buy our oil.
@The Rock"In 2008 a 10% increase in production caused gasoline to drop
from $4.40 a gallon all the way down to $1.85 in my town."That
wasn't the cause, and if it were it wouldn't happen again because no
free market oil company would ever increase production slightly in exchange for
dealing massive damage to what they could get paid for it.
@ Bill McGee,Are you planning on bathing or swimming in the
350ºF vats where these chemical reactions take place? Toxic exposure could
be a problem there, but I think the heat would be a bigger health hazard.
Otherwise, I doubt you would have to worry about significant exposure to
thallium or lead in the finished product. Government regulations to ensure our
safety are not exactly in short supply.
Alcohol as a fuel contains less energy than gasoline. Therefore whenever I
refuel with ethanol enhanced gasoline, fuel mileage drops by nearly 10%.
Additionally most vehicles on the road today in the US cannot operate without
fuel system damage on ethanol blends exceeding 10-15% . On the
other hand, vehicles sold in Brazil operate quite well on 100% alcohol as
government regs require alcohol compatibility.
Seriously...it would be really helpful if the right could see both sides of an
issue and view it realistically instead of just believing and regurgitating the
false propaganda the conservative radio media pumps out on a regular basis.
The best and most effective baseload electrical production facilities are
nuclear. Nuclear, the new, old, green energy solution.Great that we
can convert with heavy metals, would like to see some dumb-man's science
explanation of how that actually happens and whether it creates a heavy metal
hazard like our leaded gasoline did some many decades ago.Not really
a solution if we are just trading one problem for another, particularly when the
hazard concerns known problems.