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There's a lot of buzz going around about the T. Boone Pickens plan. My surface research shows it pushes major wind electric contruction. Hip Hip Hooray! But also a major push for natural gas cars. Not sure about that one. Any insight?
 

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There's a lot of buzz going around about the T. Boone Pickens plan. My surface research shows it pushes major wind electric contruction. Hip Hip Hooray! But also a major push for natural gas cars. Not sure about that one. Any insight?
I'm for it. Not only can it help move us away from petroleum but methane can be produced by using animal and plant waste. There is also solar methane. From that you can also then make methanol for liquid fuel uses.

I'm guessing the best way to go is convert fleets first because the infrastructure investments are very low. Busses, garbage trucks, short haul, etc. would be good candidates. Home gas stations can also be a market. This can start moving the market. If things continue to work out favorably the market can continue to expand as fast as we need. Check out the beautiful Honda Civic NGV:



and the cool home gas station:



http://automobiles.honda.com/civic-gx/
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I'm for it. Not only can it help move us away from petroleum but methane can be produced by using animal and plant waste. There is also solar methane. From that you can also then make methanol for liquid fuel uses.

I'm guessing the best way to go is convert fleets first because the infrastructure investments are very low. Busses, garbage trucks, short haul, etc. would be good candidates. Home gas stations can also be a market. This can start moving the market. If things continue to work out favorably the market can continue to expand as fast as we need. Check out the beautiful Honda Civic NGV:



and the cool home gas station:



http://automobiles.honda.com/civic-gx/
My only concerns are:

1. I think the best approach is to work toward making the ICE obsolete ASAP. Any car that can run on compressed gas can possibly be retrofitted to also run on gasoline. The end result, Al Qaeda keeps getting paid because we aren't making their only commodity unneeded as a fuel. Plug-in electric and hydrogen cars will in a short time force the Al Qaeda trickle down economy into the camel dairy, date sugar and tourism industries. Of course, its better than gasoline but not the best option I don't think (if I'm right and compressed gas keeps the petroleum fuel market alive.

2. My suspicion is one of the key reasons we don't have hydrogen or electric cars already is the built-in obsolesces factor in a product that has metal against metal friction at 3000 rpm. If the car companies can make a product that will wear out and have you back in the show room every 3 to 5 years or make a product that will rust out before it wears out, which do you think they will focus on? From what I can tell natural gas cars run on a similar technology as traditional ICE cars that are designed to keep 40% profits in replacement parts rolling in and have you back to buy a new one sooner rather than later. I’d hate to get behind something that will only delay the necessary modernization of our surface transportation fleet.
 

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My only concerns are:

1. I think the best approach is to work toward making the ICE obsolete ASAP. Any car that can run on compressed gas can possibly be retrofitted to also run on gasoline. The end result, Al Qaeda keeps getting paid because we aren't making their only commodity unneeded as a fuel. Plug-in electric and hydrogen cars will in a short time force the Al Qaeda trickle down economy into the camel dairy, date sugar and tourism industries. Of course, its better than gasoline but not the best option I don't think (if I'm right and compressed gas keeps the petroleum fuel market alive.

2. My suspicion is one of the key reasons we don't have hydrogen or electric cars already is the built-in obsolesces factor in a product that has metal against metal friction at 3000 rpm. If the car companies can make a product that will wear out and have you back in the show room every 3 to 5 years or make a product that will rust out before it wears out, which do you think they will focus on? From what I can tell natural gas cars run on a similar technology as traditional ICE cars that are designed to keep 40% profits in replacement parts rolling in and have you back to buy a new one sooner rather than later. I’d hate to get behind something that will only delay the necessary modernization of our surface transportation fleet.


I'm also for the quick-charge BEV. I think it's the perfect long-term solution. However, you have to keep in mind reality - long-range, quick-charge BEVs and hydrogen cars are not ready for the mass market. That's just a fact. There needs to be alternatives to petroleum that can run our existing equipment and infrastructure. Massive infrastructure transitions take a long time (at least a decade) If we don't have a petroleum problem for that 10 years then everyone will be happy. If however things stay as they are or get worse we are going to be looking at every possible option that can help out. NG and methanol are great candidates. We can use fossil NG today and transition to bio-methane and bio-methanol in the mid-term BEFORE the BEV or hydrogen car is ready prime time.

Everything will depend on the pain. No pain no change. Don't worry, since the world has been at flat oil production since 2005 we are not going to be getting much more daily production. Thus, most people agree that the transition must come and are working hard on the problem. Just look at all the plug-in hybrid, BEV, battery development activity. I know you are worried that we will substitute one bad fuel for another but I don't think the electrification of the automobile can be stopped or even slowed down at this point. Too many countries and too much capital has been thrown into the ring. If for just the geopolitical or environmental issues alone. Oil may once again be cheap but only if there is significant transition to other energy sources. We have around 85 million barrels per day. It's not going to increase like in the past or remain as cheap (EROI). We humans just have to face it and move on. We are. Perhaps methane and methanol will help get us there.
 

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There's a lot of buzz going around about the T. Boone Pickens plan. My surface research shows it pushes major wind electric contruction. Hip Hip Hooray! But also a major push for natural gas cars. Not sure about that one. Any insight?
I used to drive duel fuel NG/Gasoline cars back in the late 80's and early 90's. We had a number of them in the government fleet and from time to time I would get one, usually a Taurus, and drive it. The range of those on natural gas was about 40 miles, at which point it would switch over to gasoline. The natural gas seemed to have less energy and gave less passing and acceleration power than gasoline, but drivablity was good. Some of the later conversions would actually switch from NG to gasoline when the passing gear engaged and switch back once you got your foot out of it.

The advantage seemed to be that they were much cheaper to fuel.

The disadvantages were: Most of the trunk was taken up with a large NG tank. There were only a couple of fueling stations in the State where you could fill them up. They didn't go very far on NG and then they were back on gasoline.
 

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Before people get the wrong idea that NG cars can't go very far, here are the numbers for the above Honda NGV:


5-Speed Automatic (City/Highway): 24/36
Estimated EPA Driving Range (miles): 220
Fuel Capacity (gasoline gallon equivalent): 8.0 @ 3600 psi
Required Fuel Compressed Natural Gas


Thus, if the car is designed for the higher pressure 3600 psi NG tank than it can hold the equivalent of around 8 gallons of gas. Very nice and you can fill up at home! Tell me that’s not cool.
 

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Mainstream Solution

NG cars are not a mainstream, but a Texas, solution.
The best transportation fuel medium is a liquid, and the best substitue is a flex fuel. Liquid refueling is much easier. The infrastructure is established for transporting and refueling using liquids. NG requires large tanks for equivalent range. I suspect Pickens, although well meaning, wants a solution that leverages the type of resources that are his strengths.

Brazil, China, and France have dictated that methanol is the transportation fuel of choice. Brazil has already converted 90% of vehicles to methanol. Both Obama 's and McCain's energy plans provide for a swift conversion to FFVs. At today's prices, it is 1/2 the cost of gasoline per equivalent energy.

Myth: It takes more gas to produce ethanol than it provides as a fuel. Easy to refute. Methanol is less expensive than gas.
 

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NG cars are not a mainstream, but a Texas, solution.
The best transportation fuel medium is a liquid, and the best substitue is a flex fuel. Liquid refueling is much easier. The infrastructure is established for transporting and refueling using liquids. NG requires large tanks for equivalent range. I suspect Pickens, although well meaning, wants a solution that leverages the type of resources that are his strengths.

Brazil, China, and France have dictated that methanol is the transportation fuel of choice. Brazil has already converted 90% of vehicles to methanol. Both Obama 's and McCain's energy plans provide for a swift conversion to FFVs. At today's prices, it is 1/2 the cost of gasoline per equivalent energy.

Myth: It takes more gas to produce ethanol than it provides as a fuel. Easy to refute. Methanol is less expensive than gas.



Let's get the facts straight before we move forward. Firstly it’s very important to know the difference between Ethanol and Methanol. People often mix up the two but they are two different animals:

Ethanol Production:

“Ethanol is produced both as a petrochemical, through the hydration of ethylene, and biologically, by fermenting sugars with yeast.[16] Which process is more economical is dependent upon the prevailing prices of petroleum and of grain feed stocks.”

When talking about the use of ethanol for fuel we are talking about the fermentation process:

“When certain species of yeast, most importantly, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, metabolize sugar in the absence of oxygen, they produce ethanol and carbon dioxide. The chemical equation below summarizes the conversion:
C6H12O6 → 2 CH3CH2OH + 2 CO2 ... In order to produce ethanol from starchy materials such as cereal grains, the starch must first be converted into sugars”


Ethanol: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol


Methanol Production:

Methanol production is a bit more complex and can be made from many different resources. For example, you can make methanol from fossil natural gas, animal, human, plant wastes, etc. There is even a coal-to-methanol process. Surprisingly, you can even make regular gasoline from methanol using a process invented by Mobil in the early 1970s. Thus, methanol is very flexible in that it can be produced from both fossil fuels as well as biological feedstock’s.

Methanol: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanol


Secondly, we need to get the correct facts on what is being done around the world. That way we get a more accurate picture of why they do it and what would be good for our country.

The above poster stated that Brazil, China and Iran have all dictated that methanol will be the fuel of choice. Brazil, has converted 90% of it’s fleet to run on ethanol (although methanol will also work). Brazil uses it’s unique ability to grow massive amounts of sugar cane to produce ethanol, not methanol. It is very hard for other countries to grow sugar cane because it requires a specific climate. Thus, Brazil loves ethanol and will continue to use it in huge quantities. However, many may be surprised to know that the US produces more ethanol for fuel than Brazil does!


2007 world fuel ethanol production
Country Millions of Gallons
USA 6498.6
Brazil 5019.2
European Union 570.3
China 486.0
Canada 211.3
Thailand 79.2
Columbia 74.9
India 52.8
Central America 39.6
Australia 26.4
Turkey 15.8
Pakistan 9.2
Peru 7.9
Argentina 5.2
Paraguay 4.7
Total 13,101.7



Here is another interesting situation we have going on in the US:


“Brazilian sugar-cane ethanol is barred from the country by a steep 54-cent-per-gallon import tariff, courtesy of ethanol protectionists and their representatives in Congress. (No tariff is imposed on imported oil, of course.) For similar reasons, flex-fuel cars sold in the United States are certified to run only on ethanol, keeping methanol and other viable biofuels off the market -- even though they are cheaper and can be made from a wealth of coal and biomass resources.”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/03/AR2008070303250_2.html

Now let’s talk about Iran. Believe it or not, Iran uses flex fuel cars that run on NG (natural gas). The poster just destroyed his argument! Yes, Iran has one of the largest methanol production plants in the world but it mostly exports the production.

“The first country, surprisingly enough, is Iran. The Islamic republic has lots of crude but little capacity to refine it, leaving Tehran heavily dependent on gasoline imports. The country's blustery president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is fully aware that this is Iran's Achilles' heel and worries that a comprehensive gasoline embargo could cause enough social unrest to undermine his regime.
So Ahmadinejad has launched an energy-independence program designed to shift Iran's transportation system from gasoline to natural gas, which Iran has plenty of. "If we can change our automobiles' fuel from gasoline to [natural] gas during the next three-four years," he said last July, "we won't need gasoline anymore." His plan includes a mandate for domestic automakers to make "dual-fuel" cars that can run on both gasoline and natural gas, a crash program to convert used vehicles to run on natural gas and a program to convert Iranian gas stations to serve both kinds of fuel. According to the International Association of Natural Gas Vehicles, more than 100 conversion centers have been built throughout the country: Iranians can drive in with their gasoline-only cars, pay a subsidized fee equivalent to $50 and collect their newly dual-fuelled cars several hours later. Ahmadinejad's plan, which has been largely ignored by the West, means that within five years or so, Iran could be virtually immune to international sanctions. ”


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/03/AR2008070303250.html


Finally, France using methanol? Can you please provide a reference? I have France using ethanol and only use a small fraction per capita of what the US uses for fuel.

Also, we are basically talking about 1st generation ethanol that uses food stocks like corn. These have proven to raise the price of food too much that alternatives are being researched. The newer 2nd generation ethanol fuels use cellulosic wastes like wood chips, plant wastes, etc. and have very good promise because things like switchgrass and even algae can be used. These new feedstocks will free up arable lands for food production.

Finally, with the use of better tank technology (carbon fiber), using NG (from fossil or biological) resources is a viable alternative. Since the energy content is less than that for gasoline we need to be more careful about fuel efficiency. For older cars we will just have to fill up a bit more and for newer cars we can use hybrid and multi-fuel technologies to expand our options to help us get away from using petroleum based gasoline (remember that methanol can be used to make gasoline in a crunch). NG and methanol (as well as ethanol) are great fuel alternatives for our petroleum based infrastructure because only minor equipment modifications need to be done, unlike the changes needed to run hydrogen or electricity. NG and methanol (as well as ethanol) are here today to help transition our tomorrow.
 
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