Monday, March 31, 2008

Bryce vs Zubrin: Round 1 Goes to Zubrin

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“Gusher of Lies” Author opts out of Debate...

From Robert Zubrin:

"On March 25, I challenged Robert Bryce, author of “Gusher of Lies,” a book saying we don’t need to do anything for energy independence, to public debate. He accepted the same day. The Set America Free Coalition immediately stepped forward and offered to host a debate in Washington DC at the end of April. However, today his publicist called me to say that he was chickening out of the DC debate. She said he couldn’t make it to DC. So I offered to meet him in NYC instead. Not possible. Chicago? No. Denver? No. Los Angeles? No. I offered to travel to any other city to do the debate at any place of his convenience. She answered that he could not make it there, either.
So for now, the “Gusher of Lies” continues, in hiding from refutation.
The challenge remains open.
Robert Zubrin"

The Hidden Cost of our Oil Addiction

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By Dr. Gil Luft

By now, it is abundantly clear that the U.S. economy is in dire straits. What should also be clear is that the path to economic recovery will be compromised as long as America is dependent on imported oil to the degree that it is while oil continues to hover over $100 a barrel.

At current oil prices, this country sends overseas $460 billion per year to finance the daily buying of 12 million barrels of imported oil. This amount of money is about the size of our defense budget and three times the size of the “economic stimulus” package recently passed by Congress. But the real economic impact of oil dependence is hidden to most Americans. Energy economist Milton Copulos (who passed away this month) calculated last year that the grand total of all external costs associated with foreign oil dependence -- including the cost of oil-related defense expenditures, amortized cost of supply disruptions, and lost economic activity and tax revenues -- stands at $825 billion per year.

To put the figure in perspective, this is equivalent to adding $8.35 to the price of a gallon of gasoline refined from Persian Gulf oil, making the cost of filling the gasoline tank of a sedan $214, and of an SUV $321. At today's oil prices, these costs would be even higher. For the U.S. economy, oil dependence is a double whammy. While it contributes to our economic decline, it allows OPEC governments, many of which do not have our best interests in mind, not only to laugh all the way to the bank but to literally own the bank. The recent buyout by foreign governments of chunks of America's prime symbols of economic prowess -- like Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Blackstone Group and Bear Stearns -- is only the preview to what is yet to come should the petrodollar fueled transfer of wealth continue.

To understand the forces at play it is instructive to visualize the scale of OPEC's potential wealth in comparison to that of the consuming countries. At $100 a barrel, OPEC's oil assets stand at roughly $92 trillion, equivalent to almost half of the world's total financial assets and nearly twice the market capitalization of all the companies traded in the world's 27 top stock markets. If one adds the worth of OPEC's huge gas reserves as well as additional oil reserves that have not yet been discovered, the wealth of OPEC more than doubles.

If oil prices climbed to $200, as President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela recently warned, this wealth would double again. While the value of the dollar and the U.S. economy is shrinking, OPEC's monumental wealth enables its countries unprecedented buying power. As an illustration, at current oil prices it would take OPEC just six days to buy GM and three years to buy a 20 percent voting block in every S&P 500 company. It is hard to see how such buying power amassed by oil producers would not upset the West's economic and political sovereignty. At the current rate of investment, foreign governments are likely to be increasingly willing to translate their wealth into power, dictating business practices, vetoing deals, appointing officers sympathetic to their governments, dismissing those who are critical of them and imposing Islamic laws on Western corporations.

Since stopping foreign investors from providing cash infusions for big companies in distress is not an option, the only way to stop the bleeding is for the United States and other major consumers to break the strategic stronghold of oil over our transportation system. Congressional leaders can start doing so by mandating that every new car sold in the United States is capable of running on -- in addition to gasoline – non-petroleum fuels like alcohols, coal-based fuels and electricity made from domestic resources.

To make a car flex-fuel so it can run on any combination of gasoline and alcohol would cost an automaker an extra $100 -- the cost of one barrel of oil. If each passenger car and truck sold in America were flex fuel, the cost to automakers would be less than the $30 billion the Fed forked over last weekend to salvage Bear Stearns’ riskiest assets.

The United States is essentially facing a terrible choice between a financial meltdown and a metastasizing sovereignty loss, political decline and eventual enslavement to OPEC and its whims. It’s past time for Congress to recognize that the solution to our economic predicament lies in our garage.

Gal Luft is executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security and co-chair of the Set America Free Coalition.
(Source: Cutting Edge News)

Friday, March 28, 2008

First Dealership Owned E85 Gas Station Opens in Texas

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GRAPEVINE, Texas, March 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Texans with flex-fuel vehicles gained easier access Friday to E85 ethanol at the first public biofuel pumps in the nation owned by a new car and truck dealership.

Classic Chevrolet/HUMMER, which sold more Chevrolet trucks than any dealer in the nation in 2007, spent more than $500,000 to install nine pumps dedicated to E85, E10 and biodiesel at the new Classic Clean Fuels station adjacent to its Mr. Good Wrench Quick Lube Plus and HUMMER dealership in suburban Dallas.

"We sell a lot of trucks capable of running on alternative fuels like E85, and even though there has been some increased availability, we saw a need for more E85 pumps where drivers could fill up," said Charles Martin, general manager at Classic Chevrolet/HUMMER. "This was the right thing for us to do for our customers, and it's good for the Metroplex."

To celebrate the grand opening of the pumps, General Motors sponsored a two-hour promotion between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. during which flex-fuel customers could buy E85 for 85.9 cents a gallon instead of the regular E85 price of $2.74 a gallon.

With fewer than 1 percent of filling stations nationwide offering E85 fuel, the addition of Classic Clean Fuels could be the start of making alternative fuels available in alternative locations. CleanFUEL Distribution of Georgetown, Tex., provided a turnkey program to create the new station and supply the fuel. CleanFUEL also is converting the dealership's onsite pump to E85, meaning all FlexFuel vehicles sold at Classic will start with a tank of E85.

"There's no telling where this might lead," said Larry Burns, GM vice president of Research & Development and Strategic Planning. "We have to keep looking for ways to improve the overall ownership experience of our customers."

Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which operates a rental branch within the Classic dealership, will dedicate a quarter of its fleet at the branch to GM FlexFuel models that will be filled at Classic Clean Fuels. It is the eighth FlexFuel Enterprise outlet in the country.

GM, the industry leader with more than 3 million flex-fuel vehicles on the road in the United States, has pledged to double flex-fuel production by 2010 and make half its portfolio E85-capable by 2012.

As part of that commitment, GM's HUMMER Division revealed the 2016 E85- capable H2 SUT at Classic HUMMER on Friday, one of more than 15 FlexFuel models GM will offer for the 2016 model year. The H2 also will be E85 capable for 2016.

"We'll offer a biofuel powertrain in every model we build by the end of 2010," HUMMER General Manager Martin Walsh said. "A HUMMER's off-road capability and care for the environment are in no way mutually exclusive. This is simply one more step in our effort to promote responsible adventure."

E85, which consists of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, is a cleaner-burning, less-polluting and renewable alternative fuel principally

made from corn today. Numerous cellulosic ethanol startups around the country are racing to commercialize ethanol made from non food-based sources.

A gallon of E85 has 20 to 25 percent less energy density than unleaded gasoline, but offers other advantages. For example, a well-to-wheel study by Argonne National Laboratory showed 23 to 29 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions from E85 fuel than from gasoline. E85 also has about 96 octane compared with 87 octane for regular unleaded. That can mean a performance boost in many vehicles.

"This signals that GM and our dealers are trying hard to give our customers choices," said GM's Burns. "Down the road, we may even want to consider hydrogen dispensers at dealerships."

General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest automaker, has been the annual global industry sales leader for 77 years. Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 266,000 people around the world. With global headquarters in Detroit, GM manufactures its cars and trucks in 35 countries. In 2007, nearly 9.37 million GM cars and trucks were sold globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, HUMMER, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.

(SOURCE General Motors Corporation)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bob Lutz: We can Flex Fuel a car for $120....

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Bob Lutz has a frank and candid discussion with an Australian reporter on the Chevy Volt, hybrids and flex fuel. In perhaps an astonishing admission Lutz confirms the extremely low cost to convert a gasoline only vehicle to flex fuel. He goes on to strongly advocate for flex fuel over hybrids as a means to displace petroleum in the near term...

According to Mr Lutz , a lot of car owners who have large distances to cover and who cart things around with their families will not appreciate the changes. “They are not going to like the result of everything being scaled down with itty-bitty four-cylinder engines. It is not what people want.

“Now, you could avoid all of that trauma for $120 a car, which is what it takes to convert the fuel system to Flex Fuel (running on 85 per cent ethanol). You could avoid all of that and the world could continue to enjoy their Chevrolet Corvettes and Cadillac Escalades, the utes with their V8 engines, its Ford Falcons, we wouldn’t have to change a thing and we could get the world off oil.”
Lutz goes on to discuss the initial rollout plans for the Chevy Volt...

“Initially the production is going to be pretty low as we ramp up and make sure the battery suppliers can follow us with the volume etc, but at a very early stage we want to get to 60,000 a year, and then it’s ‘you name it’.”

California will be the first US state that will receive the Volt because its government requires car-makers to build a certain number of electric vehicles each year.

Mr Lutz said GM would then introduce the Volt in Washington “for political reasons” and subsequently in Florida “where no-one buys American cars anymore.”

He said the Volt would be a “re-conquest” weapon to win back buyers GM had lost to imports.
(Source: GoAuto.com)

Super Nanotech Battery Could Revolutionize Transportation

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Troy, N.Y. — Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new energy storage device that easily could be mistaken for a simple sheet of black paper.

The nanoengineered battery is lightweight, ultra thin, completely flexible, and geared toward meeting the trickiest design and energy requirements of tomorrow’s gadgets, implantable medical equipment, and transportation vehicles.

Along with its ability to function in temperatures up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and down to 100 below zero, the device is completely integrated and can be printed like paper. The device is also unique in that it can function as both a high-energy battery and a high-power supercapacitor, which are generally separate components in most electrical systems. Another key feature is the capability to use human blood or sweat to help power the battery.



Details of the project are outlined in the paper “Flexible Energy Storage Devices Based on Nanocomposite Paper” published Aug. 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The semblance to paper is no accident: more than 90 percent of the device is made up of cellulose, the same plant cells used in newsprint, loose leaf, lunch bags, and nearly every other type of paper.

Rensselaer researchers infused this paper with aligned carbon nanotubes, which give the device its black color. The nanotubes act as electrodes and allow the storage devices to conduct electricity. The device, engineered to function as both a lithium-ion battery and a supercapacitor, can provide the long, steady power output comparable to a conventional battery, as well as a supercapacitor’s quick burst of high energy.

The device can be rolled, twisted, folded, or cut into any number of shapes with no loss of mechanical integrity or efficiency. The paper batteries can also be stacked, like a ream of printer paper, to boost the total power output.

“It’s essentially a regular piece of paper, but it’s made in a very intelligent way,” said paper co-author Robert Linhardt, the Ann and John H. Broadbent Senior Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering at Rensselaer.

“We’re not putting pieces together — it’s a single, integrated device,” he said. “The components are molecularly attached to each other: the carbon nanotube print is embedded in the paper, and the electrolyte is soaked into the paper. The end result is a device that looks, feels, and weighs the same as paper.”

The creation of this unique nanocomposite paper drew from a diverse pool of disciplines, requiring expertise in materials science, energy storage, and chemistry. Along with Linhardt, authors of the paper include Pulickel M. Ajayan, professor of materials science and engineering, and Omkaram Nalamasu, professor of chemistry with a joint appointment in materials science and engineering. Senior research specialist Victor Pushparaj, along with postdoctoral research associates Shaijumon M. Manikoth, Ashavani Kumar, and Saravanababu Murugesan, were co-authors and lead researchers of the project. Other co-authors include research associate Lijie Ci and Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center Laboratory Manager Robert Vajtai.

The researchers used ionic liquid, essentially a liquid salt, as the battery’s electrolyte. It’s important to note that ionic liquid contains no water, which means there’s nothing in the batteries to freeze or evaporate. “This lack of water allows the paper energy storage devices to withstand extreme temperatures,” Kumar said.

Along with use in small handheld electronics, the paper batteries’ light weight could make them ideal for use in automobiles, aircraft, and even boats. The paper also could be molded into different shapes, such as a car door, which would enable important new engineering innovations.

“Plus, because of the high paper content and lack of toxic chemicals, it’s environmentally safe,” Shaijumon said.

Paper is also extremely biocompatible and these new hybrid battery/supercapcitors have potential as power supplies for devices implanted in the body. The team printed paper batteries without adding any electrolytes, and demonstrated that naturally occurring electrolytes in human sweat, blood, and urine can be used to activate the battery device.

“It’s a way to power a small device such as a pacemaker without introducing any harsh chemicals – such as the kind that are typically found in batteries — into the body,” Pushparaj said.

The materials required to create the paper batteries are inexpensive, Murugesan said, but the team has not yet developed a way to inexpensively mass produce the devices. The end goal is to print the paper using a roll-to-roll system similar to how newspapers are printed.

“When we get this technology down, we’ll basically have the ability to print batteries and print supercapacitors,” Ajayan said. “We see this as a technology that’s just right for the current energy market, as well as the electronics industry, which is always looking for smaller, lighter power sources. Our device could make its way into any number of different applications.”

The team of researchers has already filed a patent protecting the invention. They are now working on ways to boost the efficiency of the batteries and supercapacitors, and investigating different manufacturing techniques.

"Energy storage is an area that can be addressed by nanomanufacturing technologies and our truly inter-disciplinary collaborative activity that brings together advances and expertise in nanotechnology, room-temperature ionic liquids, and energy storage devices in a creative way to devise novel battery and supercapacitor devices," Nalamasu said.

The paper energy storage device project was supported by the New York State Office of Science, Technology, and Academic Research (NYSTAR), as well as the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center at Rensselaer.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

An Easter letter to Mr. Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman General Motors

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Mr. Vice Chairman Lutz,

One of the great gifts of this fleeting life is to enjoy the fruits of ones labor. It has been said that the ability to enjoy one's work is reserved for the fortunate few who have been granted that grace by the Maker.

You are standing at a great place in human history. Let there be no doubt, you have been placed there by divine providence. As you undertake each day to make decisions that will effect the success or failure of the company to which you are employed, please do not underestimate the impact that your decisions will ultimately have on the future of mass transit, and to a surprisingly larger extent, on the path of future civilization. That's a bold statement, I know, but I really believe it.

You have the opportunity to steer the what was once one of the world's most recognizable brands into the spotlight of not only international automotive leadership, but also of environmental leadership and national and international security leadership.

Your efforts at championing a new era in automotive transport with the diversification of energy and propulsion that you are undertaking are to be hailed and fully supported to the extent that they have the opportunity to bring forth dramatic shifts in multiple industries. Please keep up the good fight.



Know that there are those of us out here in the hinter lands that are watching intently for the results of your labor to bear fruit. We are cheering you on in this moment of great opportunity and challenge for our states, nations and the planet earth.

With your commitment to alternative fuels such as ethanol E85 you are in a position to help bring forth the change necessary to provide fuel choice for the first time in the history of mass transit.

Perhaps even more promising, your development of a viable plug-in electric vehicle has the capability to revolutionize the future of automobile travel. That cannot be overstated.

Chevy Volt has the potential to not only revitalize a tarnished brand (and if it's successful, I have no doubt it will), but it has the opportunity to completely change the automotive marketplace. Along with that change, will come a whole host of reciprocal effects that cannot even be measured at this point. You are no doubt aware of them, but it bears repeating: decreased emissions, petroleum displacement, increased national security, decreased trade imbalance, and on an on. I'm not saying this little concept car can right all the wrongs of our current oil addicted society and the requisite problems that come along with it, but I am saying that large changes are most often started with a spark, a small but impactful moment in time where a visionary people seized an opportunity and made it their life's passion.


On this Easter day, we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Risen Savior, Jesus Christ. GM's resurrection pales in comparison to this singular event on which the whole of Christianity is based. However, in terms of the future of the country and the automobile itself, the resurrection of GM is paramount.
You are standing at the precipice of a historic turning point. I will pray that you fulfill the destiny set before you.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Capping America's Gasoline Consumption Through a Manageable 'Eco-Fuels Program'

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Raymond J. Learsy, of Huffington Post writes:

My two-part prescription involves weaning the automobile away from gasoline and putting policies in place that curb open-ended access to petroleum based gasoline. These steps are essential to substantially diminishing our dependence on fossil based fuels.

To begin, I believe we must create an infrastructure to power vehicles that use none or only minimal amounts of gasoline -- that is, hybrids/plug -ins or flex-fuel cars and trucks. This changeover would require:
• An electric grid system based on power generated from the traditional sources, but increasingly supplemented by nuclear,wind, and solar power generation, combined with greatly expanded delivery capabilities to permit the widespread use of plug-in hybrid vehicles.
• Broader cultivation and land use targeting greater production of ethanol from both corn and biomass to power flexible fuel/biodiesel vehicles (think of Brazil's astounding success with ethanol made from sugar cane).
• A national program to facilitate distribution of eco-fuels to a new generation of vehicles accessing alternative fuels -- plug-in stations for city dwellers, ethanol-pumping facilities, and so on -- must be as widespread as gasoline pumps are now.
• Policies designed to bring about an orderly conversion from gasoline-powered vehicles to hybrid, flex-fuel, and plug-in vehicles, including help for Detroit, car owners, and refiners that would be called upon to produce ethanol-rich gasoline formulations.

Full Story Here

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Say hello to "Air Car"...

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Video from the "Beyond 2000" program showing production vehicles powered by compressed air. In the first segment, we see the X prize candidate "Air Car" from Zero Pollution Motors. In segment two, a Melbourne Australia inventor combines compressed air with a revolutionary simple and ultra efficient new rotary engine.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Who profits from $3 gas and who doesn't


With prices at the pump continuing to escalate, oil at record highs and Big Oil profits at the highest point in human history, folks are naturally wondering where all the money is going.

CNN.com has a feature story on the topic. Here are some excerpts...

So exactly who is gePost Optionstting rich?

Oil traders: While often blamed for pushing up prices, traders don't necessarily benefit from the high price of crude or gasoline; they profit from how much the price changes. Traders can get rich - as long as they bet correctly on whether prices will rise or fall.

For example, an investment bank that makes a bet that the price of oil will rise makes money when oil prices go from $95 to $100 a barrel - or $100 to $95 if it bet the price will fall - not on the difference between production cost and trading price.

"If you wanna keep your job, you gotta be more right than wrong," said John Kilduff, an energy analyst at the trading firm MF Global in New York, explaining how traders make their money.

Gas stations: A surprisingly small amount goes to the guy who runs the station.

Most service stations are independently owned and operated and take in between 7 and 10 cents for every gallon they sell, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

That 7 to 10 cents going to the gas station isn't even profit. Out of that, station owners still have to pay leases, workers, and other expenses - leaving them with a profit of just a few cents. For the service stations, most profit comes from selling coffee, cigarettes, food and other amenities.

These calculations are based off of EIA's most recent numbers, when gas was $3.04 a gallon. Gasoline hit another record nationwide average of $3.27 a gallon Thursday… [Read More]

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Reuters: Brazil flex-fuel cars help tame gasoline prices


RIO DE JANEIRO, March 14 (Reuters) - A massive new fleet of flex-fuel cars in Brazil has prevented state oil company Petrobras from charging more for gasoline despite record world oil prices, the company said on Friday .

Petrobras downstream director, Paulo Roberto Costa, said consumers in Latin America's largest country would stop buying gasoline and switch to cheaper ethanol if the price of the fossil fuel was raised to match world levels after being frozen since late 2005.

"It doesn't make sense hiking the price of gasoline abruptly if it will cause me a bigger loss of the market than what is already happening today," he told reporters. "It's possible that this year we'll sell more ethanol than gasoline in Brazil."

Traditionally, Petrobras uses an argument that prices have not settled at a new threshold level yet and it cannot adjust key fuel prices during market turbulence. Costa echoed this stance, saying Petrobras believed oil prices of $110 a barrel had "a speculative element which doesn't look sustainable".

While it keeps the domestic price of diesel and gasoline unchanged, the oil giant, which also accounts for practically all refining in Brazil, regularly has been adjusting prices of other oil products like naphtha and aviation fuel.

Costa said flex-fuel vehicles, which can use any mixture of ethanol and gasoline or each of these fuels alone, already accounted for 20 percent of Brazil's car fleet, while the number of single-fuel cars on the road was falling gradually.

Flex-fuel vehicles account for nearly 90 percent of all new car sales in Brazil.

Costa said Petrobras will keep evaluating the fuel market and may adjust prices when it has a more solid analysis, "but in the short term there is no such position".

Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao said earlier this week the government will do its best to keep gasoline prices steady as a hike would boost inflation. (Reporting by Rodrigo Gaier, writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by David Gregorio)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Video: Vinod Khosla at Google


From Google Talks:

On Wednesday, March 29th, by invitation from our co-founders and CEO, our special guest, Vinod Khosla, visited Google to deliver a tech talk about the emergence of ethanol as a viable, market ready, and competitive source of renewable energy.

His presentation has been making huge waves in the investor, policy, and business communities and we are privileged to have had him take time to talk to us about the tremendous potential for ethanol's explosion into the market. Here are some recent articles that might be of interest in relation to this talk:


Vinod Khosla, a Silicon Valley billionaire, who wants to save the world from oil http://www.economist.com/people/displaystory.cfm?story_id=5655161

Video: Investor Vinod Khosla's talks clean energy at Think Equity....

This is a recording of Vinod Khosla's presentation on alternative sources of energy, such as making ethanol a viable substitute for much of the petroleum now used to fuel cars, hosted at Think Equity's annual Growth Conference at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco (Sept 11-&', 2006, http://www.thinkequity.com/about/
conf_Growth_06.html#agenda). Famed venture capitalist, Vinod Khosla is considered one of the most influential and successful investors in Silicon Valley. He has been called the top VC in the world by Forbes magazine in their annual Midas survey. Vinod has become a key leader in the "green-revolution" by "thinking outside the barrel" with the use of Ethanol as a gasoline substitute. Vinod is one of the co-founders of Sun Microsystems, a general partner of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers and founder of Khosla Ventures. $1.00 invested in a Vinod portfolio company, where he sat on the board, returned a mind numbing $71.00. This video has been produced by CitizenValley.org, the only community-run news web site in French covering Silicon Valley with the support of Gervais Restaurant, Silicon Valley's authentic French restaurant (www.gervaisrestaurant.com).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thomas Friedman cries out for the Open Fuel Standard


This piece by noted columnist and author Thomas Friedman (The World is Flat) was originally posted in June of 2005. It is completely relevant today and still stands as a precient preview and blueprint for curing our nation's oil addiction...

As Gal Luft, co-chairman of the Set America Free coalition, a bipartisan alliance of national security, labor, environmental and religious groups that believe reducing oil consumption is a national priority, points out: the majority of U.S. oil imports go to fueling the transport sector - primarily cars and trucks. Therefore, the key to reducing our dependence on foreign oil is powering our cars and trucks with less petroleum.

There are two ways we can do that. One is electricity. We don't import electricity. We generate all of our needs with coal, hydropower, nuclear power and natural gas. Toyota's hybrid cars, like the Prius, run on both gasoline and electricity that is generated by braking and then stored in a small battery. But, says Luft, if you had a hybrid that you could plug in at night, the battery could store up 20 miles of driving per day. So your first 20 miles would be covered by the battery. The gasoline would only kick in after that. Since 50 percent of Americans do not drive more than 20 miles a day, the battery power would cover all their driving. Even if they drove more than that, combining the battery power and the gasoline could give them 100 miles per gallon of gasoline used, Luft notes.


Then add to that flexible-fuel cars, which have a special chip and fuel line that enable them to burn alcohol (ethanol or methanol), gasoline or any mixture of the two. Some four million U.S. cars already come equipped this way, including from G.M. It costs only about $100 a car to make it flex-fuel ready. Brazil hopes to have all its new cars flex-fuel ready by 2008. As Luft notes, if you combined a plug-in hybrid system with a flex-fuel system that burns 80 percent alcohol and 20 percent gasoline, you could end up stretching each gallon of gasoline up to 500 miles.

In short, we don't need to reinvent the wheel or wait for sci-fi hydrogen fuel cells. The technologies we need for a stronger, more energy independent America are already here. The only thing we have a shortage of now are leaders with the imagination and will to move the country onto a geo-green path.

Full article here

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Call for entries: Fuel the Change video


If you have a video camera and/or a computer, plus a little creativity and some time, you could win $10,000 and the chance to have your creativity seen by millions.

The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council’s “Fuel the Change” sweepstakes has a casting call out for a 30 second video about how ethanol is a part of your life and how you’re fueling American independence and a greener, cleaner future one tank at a time. The producer of the winning video will receive a $10,000 cash prize and have the chance to have his or her commercial aired during the 2008 Indianapolis 500 on ABC.

Not creative, even with 10,000 bucks at stake? There’s still a chance to win some green just for voting on your favorite submitted videos.

Go to www.fuelthechange.com and enter or vote before April 21, 2008.

Startup's "Ethanol Reformer" Makes Fuel Consumption Breakthrough

Alfred DiMora of DiMora Motorcar & Ron De Shay Producer, American Idol plan to use AGH's patent pending "Alcohol Reformer" in their new hyper luxury flex fuel automobile.

American Green Holdings, a renewable fuel manufacturer headquartered in Crane, Mo., has announced that its proprietary ethanol reformer technology is now commercially available for agricultural use.

The "ethanol reformer" is a patent-pending technology that efficiently processes fuel-grade ethanol in stationary engines, reducing hourly ethanol use in irrigation systems by more than 50 percent while substantially improving emissions.

According to Russel Gerhke, inventor of the reformer, the technology uses ethanol’s flame speed to match the engine’s workload in a different and more efficient process than carmakers have achieved using fuel injection and carburetion alone. “People for too long have believed that they would achieve their best results with ethanol by having the fuel match the air,” Gehrke said. “Instead, we use the waste heat energy to increase the engine’s volumetric efficiency. Ethanol’s higher octane number allows us to do the same amount of work with a great reduction in fuel.”

The reformer was originally developed by EcoSense Solutions LLC in 2006 and subjected to a rigorous testing process. The testing stemmed from research on a new air valve for carburetors on a 460-cubic-inch, Ford big-block engine, which injected a blend of 80 percent ethanol and 20 percent water into the combustion chamber. After AGH acquired EcoSense Solutions in late 2006, the technology was refined to be used more efficiently, according to AGH Chief Executive Officer and Founder Dale Wiley. “Now, we have a much better version than the original one that’s ready to go wherever people need it,” he said.

Related:
Hollywood Stars Illuminate Visionary's Second Coming for US Auto Industry

GM, Toyota Cool on Fuel Cells. Honda silent.


Earlier this week at the Geneva Motor Show, GM and Toyota executives independently expressed that their optimism about hydrogen fuel cells as a power source for mass-market cars had cooled. The revelations are especially significant coming from two of the three companies that have been most bullish on fuel cells over the past decade. (Honda, maker of the FCX fuel-cell prototype of which 100 will soon be tested around the country, is the mum third.)

From Cars.com:

It seems GM vice chairman Bob Lutz reached the same conclusion when he said, "If we get lithium-ion [batteries] to 300 miles, then you need to ask yourself, Why do you need fuel cells?" as reported by the Wall Street Journal. I’d even argue that you don’t need to get to a 300-mile battery. The ability to recharge conveniently at home overnight and/or at work — along with the prospect of onboard generators like those in GM’s experimental E-Flex system — greatly diminish the need for such long ranges. In the same article, Toyota president Katusaki Watanabe cited fuel cell and infrastructure costs as obstacles to “the spread of fuel cells in 10 years’ time.”

Click here for more

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wood waste fuels race for cellulosic ethanol. Georgia plant to open this year...

Range Fuels president Mitch Mandich speaks to guests at the groundbreaking ceremony. Seated to his left are Vinod Khosla (noted alternative fuels advocate and founder of Range Fuels), Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, and Georgia governor Sonny Perdue.

The nation’s first commercialized cellulosic ethanol facility, designed to turn wood waste into fuel, is under construction and set to open later this year near Soperton, Georgia.

Range Fuels, Inc. has successfully tested close to 30 types of biomass for producing ethanol at its testing facility in Broomfield, Colorado. The commercialized facility in Georgia will use wood waste as its feedstock to produce more than 100 million gallons per year.

“Wood waste has already proven to be a feasible fuel alternative from a production and economic standpoint,” said Mitch Mandich, chief executive officer of Range Fuels.

Mandich said that unlike other methods of producing cellulosic ethanol, Range Fuels’ technology eliminates enzymes, which have been an expensive component of producing cellulosic ethanol. The company’s proprietary thermo-chemical conversion process, known as the K2 system, uses a two step process to convert biomass to fuel-grade cellulosic ethanol.

Full Story here


INTRODUCING THE OPEC-AVENGER...


David Reinhard, associate editor of the Oregonian, writes in a commentary on Robert Zubrin's plan to switch the world to an Open Fuels Standard:

"What if a car could run on gasoline or alcohol or any combination thereof. . . .

Think about the possibilities. Drivers wouldn't be lashed to the skyrocketing price of oil on world markets. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) wouldn't have consumers over a barrel. Cars able to burn petroleum- or alcohol-based fuels or any brew of the two would drive down oil prices. Oil would have a competitor in the transpiration sector -- a fuel that's better for the environment. And less dependence on foreign oil would mean less dependence on unsavory regimes living off petrodollars -- such as Iran and Venezuela. U.S. drivers would no longer indirectly fund terrorists who want to kill us. U.S. farmers could start to grow our own auto fuel. So could farmers in what are now some of the globe's poorest nations.

Read full article here

Energy Independence: Brazil’s Best Kept Secret

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Herman Cain has a commentary on his recent visit to Brazil and the celebration of their energy independence (They officially import zero foreign oil as of late last year). In the piece, he gives a nod to Robert Zubrin's excellent book, Energy Victory as a model for our US policy to reverse our current trend of energy dependence on foreign oil.

In essence, Brazil developed a competent energy policy in the 1970s while we as a nation were ringing our hands over the Arab oil embargo. Since that time, Brazil has gradually adapted the use of flex-fuel technology to all cars in Brazil. This means that all cars in Brazil can use either gasoline (which is 25 percent ethanol from sugar cane) or 100 percent ethanol.

When a Brazilian stops to fill up at a local station, the car does not care what is put in the tank. The engine determines what it is burning and burns it accordingly. This technology is not foreign to U.S. automakers, since they produce a large portion of the Brazilian car market.

While Brazil was achieving energy independence from 1972 to 2006, the United States’ dependency on foreign oil went from 30 percent to 60 percent. Brazil’s use of foreign oil went down to zero.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Coskata's lab tour - $1 gallon ethanol from trash, tires, wood chips, switchgrass...

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The guys over at Technology Review were treated to a tour of cellulosic ethanol startup sensation Coskata's labs and they've documented the tour with a photo essay.

Coskata plans to automate its ethanol-making process with robots in this room. "Much like the automotive industry, we want to use machines to [automate the process] so we can do thousands instead of hundreds [of colonies]," Tobey said. Also, while the company has a "laser focus" on ethanol right now, it plans to expand to other fuels and products. Some companies have asked about bioplastics, Tobey said, and co-founder Todd Kimmel said Coskata already has an organism that makes butanol.

Wal Mart poised to install E85 at over 3000 US stores. $1.99 fuel anyone?

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Wal Mart is considering placing what it calls "America's Fuel", E85 ethanol, at each of it's 3000 stores nationwide, including it's Sam's clubs locations as well as the Murphy Oil fuel centers that are operated in it's parking lots at over 950 locations.

"Our goal would be to make E-85 available across the U.S.," Rich Ezell, senior strategy manager of fuel at Wal-Mart, said recently.

"That would be a complete game-changer," said Reid Detchon, the executive director of the Energy Future Coalition. "Everybody knows where the local Wal-Mart is. You would immediately know where to buy E85."

If Wal Mart follows through on this plan - and it fits in perfectly with their new environmental stewardship initiatives - we would soon see $1.99 per gallon E85 within driving distance of almost every American. Short of a congressional mandate to require all new cars sold in the US to be flex fuel capable, this move by Wal Mart would be the kick start that the E85 industry has been looking for.

Friday, March 7, 2008

cellulosic ethanol for under $1 per gallon? Coskata says yes, and now.

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The Cars.com editor had doubts, serious doubts that the hype surrounding startup biofuels wonderkin Coskata, fresh from a capital injection from none other than General Motors, was justified. Could they really hold up to the claim of producing cellolosic ethanol, from virtually any organic feedstock, for under a dollar a gallon. Not likely, not in this decade at least.

That was before he saw it for himself...

For years we've heard that ethanol's viability as an automotive fuel will depend on cellulosic sources. "Could this be it?" I asked myself as the plant tour ended. From what I've seen so far, it absolutely could be, and then some. We won't know, though, until we see how well and affordably Coskata's process scales up. Currently under construction is a 40,000-gallon-per-year demonstration plant that late this year or in early 2016 will begin supplying GM with ethanol. Coskata will also work with ICM, the company responsible for roughly half of the current corn-based-ethanol plants, to build a commercial facility capable of producing 50 to 100 million gallons per year. Its product should be in consumers' cars early in 2011.

Update: Wes Bolton, Coskata CMO answers the scaling question with a definitive yes...

Kroger Becomes first National Retailer of E85

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Kroger will offer VeraSun’s branded E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, for Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFV) at 20 different locations in and around the Dallas and Houston metro areas.

With this addition in Texas, VeraSun now has more than 140 retail fueling stations in 13 states and the District of Columbia. VeraSun and Kroger initially partnered in August 2007 to open VE85™ fueling locations at 20 Kroger convenience stores primarily in Ohio, making Kroger the first national retailer to sell VE85™.

“We look forward to offering VE85™ to our customers who have flexible fuel vehicles,” stated Roman Williams, Kroger southwest fuel merchandiser. “Our Kroger fuel centers have been leaders with new fuel products and services like E85 and fuel rewards.”


Thursday, March 6, 2008

The human body mimics a flex fuel vehicle...(huh?)

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It's an odd connection indeed, but here's a very interesting article about how the human body essentially acts like a flex fuel vehicle in the way that it alternates between burning glucose (during the day) and fat (during the night).

Just like a flex-fuel vehicle that can run on either gasoline or ethanol, the human body can switch between different types of fuel: During the day the body mostly burns glucose, and during the night or prolonged fasting, it burns primarily fat. But neither flex-fuel engines nor human brains can run on ethanol or fat alone - a little bit of gasoline or glucose needs to be thrown into the mix to keep either one of them humming.
Full Story

Company Announces After Market Flex Fuel Kit...

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If you want to run E85 in your automobile but don't have a flex fuel capable vehicle, you just might be in luck. A Brazilian company has manufactured an after market kit that will allow you to easily convert for flex fuel. No word on pricing yet...

Read the entire release from PR NewsWire

Flex Fuel Kit is manufactured in Brasil, the world leading country in use of Bio Fuel and Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) technology since the 1970’s. Abcesso Technology have the best product for the after market, now available worldwide.

Flex Fuel Kit has been developed ‘with state of the art’ processors. The management system recognises the “Oxygen Sensor” signal to determine the correct timing for the fuel mix.

Once installed on a vehicle, FLEX FUEL KIT IS TOTALY AUTOMATIC; there is no fuel selection or switch required, no matter what the mix between Ethanol (E85) fuel down to all gasoline.

Update: I just found out that there is a US company offering E85 conversion kits for nearly every make and model of vehicle. Prices range from $400-$500.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Hold on to your hats! Rick Santorum calls for Flex-Fuel mandate!

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Senator Rick Santorum writes in the Philadelphia Enquirer...

At this point I would say to all of my hard-core conservative friends: Hold on to your hats.

What we need is a government mandate! We need to mandate that all cars sold in the United States, starting with the 2010 model year, be “flex-fuel vehicles” - that is, they should be able to run on a blend that is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline (the so-called E85 blend), or even a coal-derived methanol/gas mixture. This mandate would cost a fraction of the new fuel economy standard with the added benefit of saving barrels more oil.

What would Chávez and company do in response? Jack up production to kill this industry off before it gets off the ground. So - hold on again, conservatives - let’s put a temporary tax trigger on imported oil if the price hits $50 per barrel. Anyone think it will go that low without this idea?


Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil

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A little known section of the Energy Security Act of 2007 contained a provision that would require all vehicles sold (not made) within 5 years in the United States to be capable of running on alcohol based fuels (aka “flex fuel” capable) as well as gasoline. It costs, on average about $100 to make a car flex fuel capable. The most common flex fuel available today is ethanol or E85, but flex fuel cars can run on any alcohol based fuel such as methanol or butunol or even bio-butonol and of course gasoline.

This one provision would have had the effect of creating an international standard for flex fuel automobiles. In turn, it would have had a domino effect on the rest of the world forcing foreign automakers to equip their vehicles with flex fuel sensors (or walk away from the huge US market). With the minimal cost involved to make the conversion, they would have done so without hesitation. It is estimated that this would, within 3 years of enactment, resulted in 50 million flex fuel capable automobiles on the road in the US and millions worldwide; creating a huge market for alternative fuels based on ethanol (E85) and methanol (M85/M50). For the first time in history of mass transportation, gasoline would be forced to compete with alcohol based fuels.

This simple plan has been passionately outlined by Robert Zubrin in his recently released book entitled Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil. In it, he outlines in very simple and straightforward terms how the key to breaking free from our oil addiction lies not in conservation, but rather in substitution. He goes on to say “Indeed, where it takes a huge hike(in price) to reduce energy use, it only takes a small edge to cause a shift from one energy source to another. This is the key insight needed to beat OPEC: we need to switch the world to a different fuel.”

If we were to take the simple step advocated by Dr. Zubrin (and others), we would, for the first time in history, create a competitive market for fuel that would ultimately provide the elusive trump card needed to break the oil cartel’s vertical monopoly on oil prices. Oil is currently hovering around $100 per barrel. This creates a huge opportunity market for alternative sources of energy such as ethanol (ethanol, or E85 for short, is competitive with gasoline as long as oil is selling for $50 per barrel or more). However, since the number of flex fuel vehicles nationwide is only around 3% of all cars on the road, no compelling market exists for station owners to install the E85 pumps necessary to provide consumer choice and thus kick start this market. The Open Fuel Standard provision would have changed all that and we would see a national and international standard evolve without any further government intervention needed.

Let’s also seek to persuade our congressman and senators that it is in our interest to have fuel choice. Had the Open Fuel Standard mentioned above been enacted (and not removed at the last moment due to lobbying by Nissan corporation), we would be well on our way towards creating a global competitor to OPEC’s cartel and towards weaning ourselves of the shackles of our oil addiction. The corollary effect is that our domestic sources of biofuel (and the market that is created as more and more flex fuel automobiles hit the roads) help our local farmers and agricultural industry. And that’s something we can all get behind.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Oil and the New Economic Order

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To highlight the danger posed by the weakened US dollar coupled with the market vulnerability created by the US mortgage crisis, Gal Luft over at the Set America Free Coalition has posted a very enlightening article on the ramifications of the current wave of foreign investments in US companies and institutions.

“Unlike ordinary investors motivated solely by desire to maximize the value of their shares, governments have a broader agenda—to maximize their geopolitical influence and sometimes to promote ideologies that are blatantly anti-Western.”