How to Wean America Off Fossil Fuels in 15 Years
By EV World
America can end its dependence on imported oil in fifteen years, and do so without any significant technological break-throughs.
So argues a Pentagon-commissioned study authored by the Arlington Institute, a small think tank who includes on its board such disparate luminaries as Joe Firmage and Jim Woolsey. In their recently released report, "A Strategy: How To Move America Away from Oil" its authors argue over the course of some 264 pages that we have the technology to virtually eliminate the nation's oil dependence by 2018.
Their solution is both logical and pragmatic beginning with utilizing current technology and infrastructure. They recommend that fuel cell research be viewed and funded as a much longer-termed goal than currently envisioned, with funding shifted to several key areas including cellulosic biomass and research and development of hybrid and HyperCar(r) technologies.
According to their proposed strategy, by 2010, all new vehicles would either be hybrid-electric and/or capable of running on E85 ethanol (a blend 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline). Millions of vehicles on the roads of America today already are capable of burning E85, but the problem is a lack of retail outlets for the fuel. For example, Nebraska is one of the nation's largest ethanol producers, yet it just opened only its second retail outlet for E85. Funding and incentives would go into rapidly ramping up the production of ethanol derived by modern enzyme fermenation that enables all types of crop and plant residue to be converted efficiently into fuel.
Beyond 2010, the goal would be to find ways to run fuel cells directly off cellulosic ethanol and methanol, both renewable fuels. A recent breakthrough at the University of Minnesota has found a way to extract hydrogen from ethanol and Mitsubishi already has commercialized a methanl-to-hydrogen system in Asia.
Ultimately, the strategy would be to increasingly electrify more and more of the nation's transportation, residential and industrial sector, using both central and decentralized generation systems. The study sees ten key benefits to this approach.
- It uses existing infrastructure to move the U.S. away from oil in the most expedient fashion.
- It moves the U.S. to energy independence - fast.
- It uses the shorter-term solution - alternative biofuels with existing infrastructure - as a stepping-stone to the longer fuel cell and hydrogen solution.
- It uses renewable fuels.
- It is politically viable because of a strong agricultural lobby.
- It creates jobs in rural areas.
- It upends the U.S. trade deficit. (The U.S. currently spends $70 billion for imported oil, which is 40% of the current trade deficit.)
- It uses the newest technologies.
- It will contribute no net carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
- It is flexible enough to allow for new technologies and discoveries to arise in the next decade that will alter or accelerate this transition.
Interestingly, the report also includes an appendix on what might be considered "exotic" energy technologies that -- if successfully commercialized -- could become "wild card" game changers. These include everything from over-unity devices to cold fusion to sonoluminescence.
As a concluding aside, we at EV World were both surprised and pleased to find a footnote reference to an article archived on our web site.
The report makes fascinating reading and lends credence to the notion that we are heading toward an "EV World."
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