H2CAR: Another blind alley

One of my repeated criticisms of the current US administration1 is that it is dishonestly opposed to real alternatives to petroleum (and fossil fuels in general), and acts to obstruct those alternatives outside the public eye rather than having a fair and public appraisal.  Some of this obstruction is more or less direct (cancelling a domestic hybrid-car program set to deliver product in the 2007 timeframe and also suitable for PHEV modification, and replacing it with a program of dubious feasibility and a very long time horizon), but some of it is more subtle, taking the form of misdirection.

This misdirection is evident in the shameless promotion of unready and perhaps impossible fixes, such as:

  • Cellulosic ethanol.
  • Oil from ANWR (at best, a fraction of what we could save with better CAFE or just plain price-driven demand destruction), and last but not least,
  • Hy(pe)drogen.

An ambiguous entry from Purdue

In this climate of disinformation comes a paper from Purdue, titled Sustainable fuel for the transportation sector.  The premise is rather simple:  US production of biomass contains sufficient carbon to replace all our transportation fuel, but barely enough energy; a lot of that energy and a great deal of the carbon (roughly 2/3) is lost in the conversion to liquid fuels.  The Purdue researchers propose to supply additional energy to the conversion process via hydrogen, allowing all of the carbon to be turned into motor fuel; they call this a Hybrid Hydrogen-CARbon process, or H2CAR.  They mention certain advantages for H2CAR, such as compatibility with the existing fuel-distribution infrastructure.  Presumably this will also save the Non-Negotiable American Way Of Life.

At a completely unaffordable price.

The cost of compatible renewability

In the H2CAR paper, figures such as 239 billion kg/year of hydrogen from 58,000 km2 of solar PV panels are tossed off rather casually.  These numbers bear deeper analysis than they receive.  For instance, 58,000 km2 of panels could be made by assembling an array of about 46 billion BP SX 170B PV panels (at roughly 1.26 m² each).  At a future cost of $2/Wpeak, this array would cost about $15.7 trillion; today's cost would be closer to $40 trillion.  Clearly we're not going to do this.

Another example of the disconnect between the researchers and reality is their proposed quantity and method of hydrogen production.  Their most optimistic (smallest) quantity of hydrogen required is 239 billion kg/year (see Table 1), which they propose to produce from renewable electricity via electrolysis.  The quantity of electricity required (at 100% efficiency, no less) is a staggering 9810 billion kWh/year2; this is nearly 2.5 times current annual US electric production.  (Worse than that, it's roughly 6-10 times what it would take to power all ground transport directly with electricity3.)  Even if produced from nuclear energy by a thermochemical process of 50% efficiency, this rate of hydrogen production would require nuclear plants equivalent to more than 8 times today's capacity4.  This may be possible in the realm of physics and even engineering, but it's very doubtful that a sane and sober nation would even look at it twice.

Guessing at an unstated agenda

At the very end, the authors toss out a bone:  hybrids, and especially plug-in hybrids, can slash the required production of liquid fuels and all the upstream items with it.  This is a backhanded and very obscure way of acknowledging that the major problem to be overcome is not the essential energy requirements of ground transport, but the horrendously inefficient internal combustion engines we currently use for the job.  (In so doing, they proved that Al Gore's much-ridiculed statement that the nation's #1 enemy is the internal combustion engine... is absolutely correct.)  In short, they wrote a whole paper in order to address what they know is the wrong problem in a way which is far too expensive to be put into practice.

Why didn't they say so up front?  I suppose it depends who is expected to grasp only the text, versus who is expected to read and understand the subtext.

  1. One possibility is that it was written to please the administration.  A paper which is properly down on the non-solutions like hydrogen doesn't fit with the priorities of the political minders of the scientific process (e.g. NASA's erstwhile editor and head-of-Minitrue-wannabe, George Deutch).  Had the researchers been working for e.g. NASA, this could have helped their chances of getting published without having conclusions re-written.  However, as they are from Purdue and the NAS isn't a government organization, this seems unlikely.
  2. Could it be intended to mis-direct the old-school proponents of renewables?  If so, it doesn't seem to be working.  Making hydrocarbons for the same old engines will still dirty the air and contaminate water.
  3. The last possibility that occurs to me is that it was written to be gobbled up by the cornucopians and others on the political right.  A straightforward paper wouldn't have received anything like the attention this one is getting from them.  The surface conclusions are bait; the numerical data within is the poison.  The numbers like 239 billion kg/yr say, in language too sophisticated to be seen on the political radar of the clueless, that the present course is untenable.  Having flown past their intellectual defenses and into the embrace of their prejudices, these inconvenient truths are utterly devastating to the cornucopian position.

Maybe, just maybe, this will help slay one more of the non-options so we can get on with the things that might actually work.

[1]  Some might consider this conspiracy-mongering, but in the light of the documented abuses and obsessive secrecy coming out even in the mainstream news media, the notion must be considered seriously.  Besides, it is relatively safe to assume that a politician is lying if his lips are moving.  (back)
[2]  2.39*1011 kg/yr * 500 mol/kg * 70600 cal/mol * 4.184 J/cal / 3.6*106 J/kWh = 9810 billion kWh/year, assuming 100% electrolyzer efficiency.  At the authors' figure of 60%, this rises to 16.3 trillion kWh/year.  (back)
[3]  As of 2003, US energy consumption in road vehicles of all types was approximately 184 GW average, or 1610 billion kWh/year.  This is about 1/6 the raw electric requirement to produce hydrogen under the Purdue scenario, or about 1/10 of what's required using 60%-efficient electrolyzers.  (back)
[4]  9810 billion kWh/year * 2 / 8760 hr/yr = 2240 gigawatts thermal.  Current US nuclear capacity is around 270 gigawatts thermal.  (back)

I'm sorry about the broken footnote links, but something in TOD's default HTML setup is setting the base URL to the main page instead of the current page.

EDIT:  SuperG fixed it, and all's well.

Another possibility. The scientists themselves are human and are themselves in denial and are unable to admit in print the fix we are in. It is kind of like going to a doctor and having him tell you that you have 4-6 months to live - how easy would it be to go out and tell others this grim news?

I think that most Americans would take a prescription to switch from gasoline to batteries a lot better than one to stop eating hamburgers and fries and live on salads instead.  It's the oil companies (any change away from oil is painful) and auto companies (hurting no matter what) which have the troubles; the public doesn't care what makes the car go, just if they can get enough of it and what it costs.

Yes, it seems that whoever has the capital naturally wants the most profit possible from its use. If you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Somehow, the paradigm has to be changed. How to get the maximum possible benefit for the largest part of the entire world -- can't forget the plants and the animals we share it with, and totally depend upon for survival -- from capital, rather than the maximum narrowly-defined "profit" for a small group. But how to define the groups -- who profits? who pays?

So far in history all human systems have tended to collapse toward basic greed -- monarchist, free capitalist, socialist, caudillo, whatever. It takes a lot of energy to maintain complexity.

Probably in 100 years a tiny elite will be driving cars and the rest of the survivors of the great technological collapse will be cutting sugar cane for ethanol to power them. And the politicians and religicos will be justifying the god-blessed nature of the system, and the poets will still be busy questioning it all. But there won't be so many people, and the rivers might run clean again (if only seasonally, since the glaciers are all melted.)

This is a good place for history. Ford and Edison were to produce an electric vehicle, a century ago. Delays because Edison’s batteries suffered performance problems due to the cold were a problem, but loss of Edison’s labs were the clincher. Notice no one is saying firebombing in the following quote. Book is full of seldom heard history. Black favors a natural gas powered Honda as one solution to our dilemma; not a good idea really.

“Few understood the voracious fire's extraordinary speed and broad destruction. Ten buildings completely burned to the ground. All but Edison's lab and the storage battery building were reduced to fire-ravaged rubble. It was hypothesized that a random spark from a switch in the film department suddenly ignited the surroundings. Yet it was as though the fire erupted all at once from everywhere across the fireproofed compound in building after building, and even across the walkways. Certainly Edison's complex was filled with every form of flammable chemical and material. But no one could explain certain "funny capers," as they were termed.

Reports soon documented that for some reason "in one of the little low red buildings, they found 2,000 gallons of very high proof alcohol that wasn't damaged." What's more, investigators "also found on some of the floors cans of gasoline that didn't even ignite. The flames swept right over the top of them. Corners in the concrete building weren't even touched with fire." Some rooms emerged without any fire damage at all.

How did the fire spread from fireproof concrete building to fireproof concrete building? Everyone assumed it was the wooden window frames and their heat-broken panes. But no one could explain the massive blaze that destroyed much of Edison's life work. The majority of the$7 million property loss was not insured, precisely because the concrete buildings were considered so impervious to fire and because a private on-premises fire brigade was always on duty.

Edison's dreams--past, present, and future--were now reduced to char and ash. A lifetime of invention had succumbed in the twinkling of an eye. Standing amidst the scorched ruins and smoldering memories, a smoke-battered yet still strong and undefeated Edison emerged to bravely and boldly announce to gathered reporters, "Although I am over 67 years old, I'll start over again tomorrow."

But in truth the disaster was not only the final blow to Edison the man, but also to a bold venture by two titans of American invention and entrepreneurship--Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Their plan was to blunt the world's irrepressible and growing appetite for oil and the internal combustion machine. If successful, Edison and Ford--in 1914--would move society away from the ever more expensive and then universally known killing hazards of gasoline cars: air and water pollution, noise and noxiousness, constant coughing and the undeniable rise in cancers caused by smoke exhaust particulates.” Internal Combustion by Edwin Black at http://www.amazon.com/Internal-Combustion-Corporations-Governments-Alter... "> Amazon.com

Based on what I've read about the history of electric cars and transportation in general -- it would appear that the fourth law of thermodynamics is that no mass produced transportation system will be allowed to run on anything other than liquid hydrocarbons.

I agree with you, of course.

But I think there is more to it than that. In Germany for example, there are no Big Oil lobbys obstructing alternative research but the car makers are still attached to hydrogen. They completely neglected the Hybrid/Electric car as much as the American car makers, and they have been playing with hydrogen for quite a long time. Daimler with fuel cells and BMW with direct Hydrogen combustion.

I think the problem runs deeper. PHEVs are technically ready, and should have been long ago. They can compete with the combustion engine as a useful car, but not as a 200PV monster. And that is what the car makers know how to sell. Look at their commercials. Car = Power, Freedom, Style... A car is a tool for God's sake, not an status symbol. That is what the car makers don't want to loose. Perfectly useful EV that top 80mph and 80kw is not a world they want to live in.

There is an old argument for the existence of God: Believe, because if you are right you get the benefit of heaven. If you are wrong, you will be dead anyway and won't care.
In the present case, the logical argument is: Believe that peak oil and global warming are a left-wing conspiracy. If you are right, we get to continue our comfortable lifestyle. If you are wrong, we are all condemned to a miserable, Orwellian existence no matter what we do.

Actually that argument isn't that old; it was first stated by Blaise Pascal [1623-1662].

E-P makes a very timely point, how interested is the U.S government in finding viable energy alternatives? If you look at research funding for NREL you get the answer. Ethanol is a trojan horse, this will never fuel the fleet, major conservation and efficiency measures are the only way forward.

Right, I'll start believing we're serious (or, we're a "sane and sober nation"--loved that qualifying line!) when we begin with the simplest, cheapest, easiest ways to conserve, starting with lowering the speed limits back to 55. Hmmm, haven't heard much talk about that one...

During the gas "crisis" of '67 and again in '73, I remember that the saving by driving at 55 mph was said to be around 5-10%. Proper tire inflation saves between 2-5% of fuel usage.

I would think that reducing the speed limits in normal commuting areas to 55 mph, and encouraging all gasoline retailers to have functioning air supply, to facilitate proper tire inflation would make for a potential gross saving of 5-10% fuel immediately.

In a related vein; people buy cars to meet most of their total needs. Which means the vehicles are generally too large for daily routine use.
What if car were made with a trailer hitch adapter already in the bumper? With my Jetta I know that that would meet just about 99% of my needs, if I can conveniently attach the trailer hitch and pull a small trailer, capacity no more than what two people can comfortably lift.

In some places, putting speed limits at 55, in real life would result in persistent traffic lockups (variance in speed would be even higher as fewer would obey and this causes perturbations and accidents), and cause lots of additional fuel use and frustration.

Cars (but not really trucks) are more aerodynamic than in 1975, and have more gears in transmissions. Efficiency gains might not be as big today.

It would be much better of course to reduce the silly high-frontal-area trucks used for commuting.

By the way, the auto makers and even car magazines rarely tell the whole story about "Cd" the coefficient of drag.

Of course, lower is better, but total drag equals Cd TIMES the frontal area. So even if a big Lexus can have an impressive Cd, it still means more drag than a Mini with a higher Cd number. I'd prefer a standardized drag number relative to a standard size frontal area.

When you think of it this way the Hummer is even worse.

Another proposal, and this would be easy. Have the 'trip computers' now nearly ubiquitous have an input for fuel costs. Then you could display, like a taxi-meter, running fuel cost for each tank. I think people would respond to real-life $ better for changing their driving habits.

So, mbkennel, your solution is no solution? The two ideas you presented are hi-tech nonsense, and wouldn't have an impact anyway.
The first step is lowering speed limits to forty and using draconian enforcement - 10 over = 1 month in a Mexican-style jail [provide your own bed and food]. The problem is very serious and pussy-footing won't solve it!

Solutions must also be politically and economically possible. If your solution were politically possible, demand would drop and gas would get cheap, then someone would use it. In the long run there is only one answer, energy must be more expensive. This will almost certainly happen.

I think that 55MPH is too slow. As stated above, today's cars are probably most efficient at higher speeds. My Prius has a sweet spot around 62MPH.

Rather than lower the speed limit we could simply enforce existing speed limits. Where the speed limit is usually 65MPH you mostly see people traveling well over 70MPH.

I also agree that simply adding a dash indicator showing current mileage would be a big help. I recently drove a loaner Lexus from the dealer that had this. I was stunned to see it drop to under 3MPG as I drove up hill on the freeway.

Almost everyone who drives a Prius or Insight knows the fun of trying to maximize one's mileage.

The "double nickel" holds such a stigma that even people that weren't around in the 70's have an instantaneous negative emotional response to it. If you want to go with a standardized slower speed it should be 60mph. No stigma, and barely any difference from the 5mph increase. One of the keys, as you note, is merely enforcing the current speed limits since many people drive well beyond even what's posted.

Putting a prominent fuel mileage indicator in the dash I think is a good attempt at a technofix since it is targeted at social engineering.

As many have pointed out here, and I basically believe as well, there is no technofix to this situation. There are techofixes that could allow us to build a comfortable and high quality of life without having to revert back to the 1800's, but they all hinge on people's acceptance of a new way of life. One of the most ingrained is out current transportation system. I don't believe you'll ever get people to give up personal transportation. People across the world want cars, crave them, and even dogs love cars - the experience spans species. But no one needs a 350 horsepower race car to commute in bumper to bumper traffic on speed limited streets to their desk job 20 miles away. No one needs a 3 ton, 7 passenger aerodynamic brick to carry one person. No one needs a gigantic, poorly insulated house that's kept at 78 degrees in the winter and 68 degrees in the summer and built with no passive or active solar features. No one needs a poorly insulated refrigerator, poorly insulated water heater. Yes...these would all be technofixes I've listed here, and they would go a long way to solving energy problems - but they can't work - not without people wanting them to work. That's why no technofix can work. People want to commute to work with race cars and tanks - they want to commute "period." They don't want to live where they work. They want the bigger house and not the more efficient one, the bigger fridge not the smaller and more expensive fridge, the cheapest water heater. They want to have 5 kids and a million grand kids. Every technofix will either be rendered useless, or even worse, facilitate more problems if the social aspects are not addressed.

If you want to make an impact on vehicle choice without hiking CAFE standards or fuel taxes, a 55 MPH speed limit for all uneconomical vehicles (designated by special plates) and perhaps restriction to the right lane on 4-lane freeways would do it.  People could drive what they wanted, but the conspicuous consumers would also be official pariahs.

If a relatively innocuous suggestion like the one I made generates this much resistance on TOD, what chance do we really have for more drastic, but necessary changes? Thanks, you guys, (excluding the author of the post) you have helped clarify my thinking...

That's why I'm a doomer. You will never get enough people to cooperate towards the end goal when it involves their vehicles and lifestyles -- that is until it is too late.

a 55 MPH speed limit for all uneconomical vehicles (designated by special plates) and perhaps restriction to the right lane on 4-lane freeways would do it. People could drive what they wanted, but the conspicuous consumers would also be official pariahs.

I was thinking of that as well, but didn't mention it. Sort of a societal shaming of a sort. Such a thing would be extremely effective in the goal of retiring low fuel economy vehicles. An example (without the stigma) of how something like this can work can be found in California's allowing hybrid vehicles to use the HOV lanes with a single person. Many people there are buying Priuses not because they're environmentally conscious, but because they get to zip by everyone else stuck in the non-HOV lanes.


yeah - you are right btu -
the only way is freeze and when you thaw - bend your knees - and ultimately start to crawl.

Hehe - sounds like some kind'a sombre reversed life cycle ...

In the (unlikely) event that the hydrogen cars are magically made to work, the cost of the solar panels is absorbed in the cost of the hydrogen, and the cost of this small sea of solar panels--however large--is paid for by the people doing the driving. That's the virtue of market capitalism.

That cost, however, is from your numbers something like $100/kg H2/year, which on a highly hypothetical 20 year life span for the panels is something like $5/kg H2. That may be too expensive to be practical, especially ir straight electric is as much cheaper as you report.

phillies, it's where to find the capaital [and silicon] to build the solar array; secondly, a much smaller array would suffice to power all USA ground transportation, as the article states.

If you see this I can post comments, but I can't open an article with comments.

Imagine if (when) TPTB address food and water shortages the way they have handled energy/transportation: Lots of public money given to well-connected firms for projects that will never bear fruit.

I think probably a fairly normal combination of naivety and self-promotion is enough to explain the genesis of the Purdue paper...

Hi Stuart,

Your reservoir simulation visualization of rock permeability in 'Ain Dar and Shedgum has gray vertical lines all over it. Can you tell us what they are? They don't look like wells because the length varies so much. Is it depth of oil column or Arab D? There could be a hidden message there.

Thanks for that stunning post. I found it very educational. TOD has got really busy since then. Lots of posts.

The german Open Source Car (OSCar) is driven by solar energy only.

Darmstadt University has a roof of only 10 square meters with solar panels that give OSCar 20.000 km/year. They say they didn't drive more than the roof produced - and that was enough for 100.000 kilometres.

Akasol and their partners intend to build 1.000 cars now to test them under real conditions.

BTW - OSCar really looks weird somehow (it was called "smooching bowl" in a newspaper article) but it accelerates 0-100km/h in only 6 seconds! Almost as powerful as the Tesla ..

Quoting from OSCar site:
“ If you still don't like the short term "Solar vehicle" may be we can agree on "Grid combined Lightweight electric vehicle".”

That's right; I don't. And all electricity is not equal...
But good-enough-batteries for PHEV or even some BEV is at least feasible – whereas the H2 track seems to be thermodynamically and economically flawed

“It’s not that I’m stupid; I just have bad luck when I am thinking”

"BTW - OSCar really looks weird somehow"..
I suppose "smooching bowl" is a translation of the German "schmuse Schüssel" meaning a cuddly dish or something you can melt your heart into.

It's just plain cute.
My grandfather pumped oil with an engine-house,
my father pumped oil with a 20 lb. electric motor,
can't I just pump it online?

George W. Bush, Meet M. King Hubbert 
March 26, 2007 
By: Jeffrey J. Brown 

In this article, I will attempt to put some of the crude oil production and consumption numbers during the first term of the Bush administration in the context of the Peak Oil debate. 

George Bush has talked about the US “oil addiction,” and he has talked about curtailing US gasoline consumption and encouraging biofuels production, but the underlying assumption is that we can continue our current lifestyle, perhaps with just more efficient SUV’s. If he were still with us, I suspect that M. King Hubbert would disagree.
I will make three key points: (1) During George Bush’s first term, the world used about 10% of all crude oil that has ever been consumed; (2) Based on our mathematical modeling, at our current rate of consumption, during the second Bush term the world will use about 10% of all remaining conventional crude oil reserves and (3) Net oil exports are falling much faster than overall world crude oil production is declining. 
I also have some recommendations for actions on an individual basis--ELP (Economize; Localize and Produce).


Hi Jeff,

Based on your work and Stuart's work, what message would you craft to convince your average American that we have a serious problem if you were given one of those 2 minute sound bites on CNBC or some news channel?

How do we craft a short message that really gets their interest without going over their heads and that doesn't "turn them off" or cause them to outright dismiss peak oil claims. Some of Simmons' sound bites aren't bad, but I'm never left with the feeling that we have a real crisis. Maybe it's due to the reaction of the interviewer, most of whom either don't seem to have a clue (like MariaB seeming to relax when Matt said that the world isn't running out of oil) or have an agenda of their own (shills like the Larry Kudlows of the world).

It seems we need repeated opportunities to get a concise, motivational sound bite of our own out there--short sound bites that they can't escape. After repeated barraging, they they might be interested enough to actually watch that 1/2 hour detailed program. In other words, use that same marketing technique they use to convince us to buy, buy, buy.

I also ask because at some community meetings we each get a chance to say a few words about our top concerns, but we aren't given a lot of time and don't get to go up front with charts, etc. I could use some help.

What struck me about this non-solution was that it seemed more designed as an "everybody gets a piece of the action" plan. Farmers, biofuel enthusiasts, H2 proponents, nuclear proponents, automakers. Think of all the jobs this would create...

I had similar goals for "Sustainability", except that I was trying to pull old interest groups away from the current dysfunctional system rather than create new ones.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree.

In reality if such a plant was built it would consume coal and use nuclear reactors to produce the hydrogen.

Working with some of the stated figures you'd need 276 billion kg for 13.8 million barrels/day of synthetic fuel.

So I make that to be about 54.8kg of hydrogen per barrel produced.

Working on the assumption that you might want a 3000MW thermal nuclear reactor producing your hydrogen at 50% efficiency you need 74kWh to make 1 kg of hydrogen. Assuming about 20hrs of production per day averaged over a year you're looking at 810 tonnes of H2 per day.

Enough for about 14,800 b/d

It wouldn't be beyond the imagination for 10 such plants to be in operation in the UK by 2050.
By 2050, 148,000 b/d plus whatever dregs we're getting from the north sea will be enough to run agriculture and road distribution systems and will be most welcome.

I wouldn't be so quick to write off this technology. The world revolves around diesel fuel. We're not going to give it up easily.


There are now 1600 MWe reactors now almost in production, so perhaps 4000 MW thermal might be reasonable.

And considering that a "plant" might have 3 reactors (big economies of scale of course since the infrastructure for one plant is already huge), it's not completely insane.

Though I think it is more likely that Russia will combine its large amounts of CH4 with hydrogen-poor coal (Russian? Chinese?) and continue exporting liquid fuels at great profits. And a top-down system can order nuclear reactors and chemical processing plants with little NIMBY interference, they'll be able to heat and power their population. As global warming will be to their benefit, agriculturally and in arctic access, I see little reason they'll deviate from their current course.

Russia might be a superpower again soon.

It probably still is a broken idea but if you were going to try and produce hydrogen from solar energy you would probably
want to use solar concentrators and thermochemical splitting
such as the sulphur hydrogen process. 20,000 km² of reflector are better than 58,000 km² of solar cells but still fairly preposterous.

Hydrogen only makes sense if you assume that electricity is cheap and transportation fuels are expensive. That's not true now, but it's not inconceivable for "some day" -- say, after we get the bugs worked out of fusion ("Just another 20 years now, this time we mean it"). So I'm not opposed to the basic research in these fields. But I agree with the author that it's irresponsible to promote it as a solution to the current crisis. It's a technology whose time is still decades away.


Right now, it is a crisis only in the minds of the doomers.

Right now, it is a crisis only in the minds of the doomers.

I guess poor Africans have pretty good imaginations.


Published on 18 Nov 2006 by Wall St Journal. Archived on 23 Nov 2006.
As Fuel Prices Soar, A Country Unravels
by Chip Cummins

Conakry, Guinea

The impact of today's energy crunch on the poor is plain in rich nations such as America: Expensive gasoline and soaring heating bills make a hard life harder. In impoverished countries such as Guinea, where per capita income is just $370 a year and surging gasoline prices have helped spark bloody riots, the energy shock has become a matter of life and death.

True.  However, a failure to act to head off a crisis practically guarantees we'll sleepwalk into one.  In that sense, the doomers are not wrong so much as premature.

Actually, from what Fractional Flow appears to have been saying today, they're right on time. Looks like we don't get a decline in Saudi Arabia, more like an "Opps, It's Gone."

In that sense, the doomers are not wrong so much as premature.

Or, as someone said, "The future is already here. It just isn't well distributed yet."

Getting unpalatable or ideologically suspect truths across with the numbers only, while accompanying them with a lot of waffly text does happen in Science.

Usually, however, the numbers are ‘data’ from ‘observations’ of some kind, and what is avoided is the conclusion, while the data is somehow nevertheless given. (In psychology, typically a core table with correct numbers but fudged stats leading to a conventional blah peppered with learned references and closing with ‘more attention is needed’, the word attention being repeated if possible 3 times.)

This paper deals with hypotheticals, numbers that are extrapolated from some basic ‘facts’ but thereafter not crunched or manipulated in function of other parameters to their conclusion as Engineer Poet shows.

Proceeding in that way would seem to suggest bushy-tailed enthusiasm or sincere (if perhaps temporary!) belief (see ericy or Stuart Staniford), or simply a need or desire please and be a Good American as E.P. lists in no 1. Or a combination of the two. One imagines teenagers dead keen on some variation of a pyramid scheme...

In all cases, it demonstrates that Science has become subservient to ideology.

Either because of group-think set in a larger system, or through semi covert, sneaky attempts at subversion, implemented to save one's honor, and justify sitting on the side lines because of 'pressure.' The small peer group will get the point, but impact is, at the end of the road, nil.

Bad news. But not new news.

There's another interpretation possible.

Somebody was funded to study The Hydrogen Economy by an organization who wants good news about it.

The reality is quite otherwise---so scientists publish honest numbers and computations---wiht anodyne conclusions.

They leave the policy considerations for somebody else, and if the numbers say "hydrogen is bogus", which readers here quickly said, then that message gets out too.

The impact may not be as bad as we think.

I am actually impressed by the speed at which the cornucopian delusions of current corn-based ethanol are getting serious investigation. Hasn't yet changed policy of course, but the message is in the air.

Hydrogenation of carbon is backstop technology for making expensive (military?) aircraft fuel if all else is unavailable.

I predict that at some point the ANWR fields will be nationalized and assigned to the DoD. Reservists will be ordered to work rigs.

Other than ANWR, I actually have been very impressed with the federal and state government response. I have been less impressed with the average citizen's response.

Cellulosic ethanol: The DOE is funding 6 cellulosic ethanol plants that are being built as I write this--and that is just in the US.

Oil from ANWR: Every little bit helps. This should be done now, along with increased drilling along the continental shelf on all coasts. It is ridiculous that this bill did not get passed.

Other initiatives that weren't mentioned:
Oil shale. A big report on US oil shale reserves is coming out at the end of the month and it looks like we are going to fast-track these.

International market for ethanol. Bush met with De Silva in Brazil and got this going.

Supporting flex-fuel vehicle production. The Big-Three have their marching orders.

Clean Coal. This isn't related to vehicle fuel directly but the government is funding Futurgen.

Coal- and natural gas- derived jet fuels. The department of defense is validating all airplanes to fly on this. This step will kick-start a market for these fuels. This will help the airline industry.

Wind-power. Again, not a liquid fuel but the tax credit was extended.

There are other important initiatives that don't get press. Lots of money is being spent by the DOE, NIH and other research departments on basic research. These initiatives coupled with common-sense changes by average people will completely mitigate Peak Oil.

Robert Rapier has a piece on the logistic problems of cellulosic ethanol.

This is an issue which is also key to the model I set forth in "Sustainability".  I am looking at immediate torrefaction as a possible way to reduce the transportation and storage burden, as well as eliminating most of the problem of decomposition.

Yes, Robert always has a clear eye when looking at these kinds of issues; people like him solve problems.

I would like to write a lot more about my own ideas. For now I will just note that the vast oil industry infrastructure devoted to taking millions of barrels of oil a day from the far-flung corners of the earth and bringing it in the form of gasoline to my street corner was a laughable dream when the first oil well was drilled. Where there is a profit, there is a way.

EP, I always appreciate your offerings. Yours is a strong voice of reason.

Has anyone done the numbers on the idea of using solid biomass for all space heating so as to free up liquids/gas for vehicle use, while at the same time, using the space heat combustion to run small cogen units?

My 1kW stirling does pretty well for biomass domestic use, and gets about 23% fuel/electricity efficiency. But I don't like the expensive linear alternator, and now have a new project to do the same with a so-called free casing engine, wherein the power comes from the oscillation of the pressure enclosure which drives a fluid pump/turbine/alternator. This thing is cheaper, very simple, efficient, and uses a lot of existing technology. And of course you can store pumped fluid energy.

Wimbi, some years back I found an analysis of wood-fired stoves with various (including Stirling) cogenerators, in the context of replacements for various heating systems.  Not surprisingly, wood stoves plus Stirlings compared very well to electric resistance heat (but not so well against natural gas).  Unfortunately, I cannot find that paper again.

I also seem to recall piles of stuff about pelletized grass as heating fuel, and a search finds enough for hours of browsing.  However, as soon as you add "cogenerator" to the search terms, you wind up with mostly blog chatter instead of news or test results.

I'd love to see your designs.

Just go to sunpower.com and look at the many papers on various engine-alternators over the years. My home cogen engine is simply an opposed twin version of a standard sunpower free piston -linear alternator, made with less elaborate components.

Those Sunpower designs are favorites of NASA because of long life and high efficiency. Of course NASA cares nothing about cost/unit.

There are also papers there on free-cylinder engines- an old, good and under-exploited idea. I don't think there is a cheaper external combustion engine in $/watt actually delivered.

My thought on solid biomass is that solids might do space heating with minimal pre-treatment, and thus release gas/liquids for vehicle use. This eliminates the hassle of liquifying biomass. Maybe.

Many assumptions made here and the jury is still out on most of them.

Flex fuel vehicles don't add much to the solution to less oil unless the ethanol has a high EROEI. Sure cane gives an EROEI of five or more (corn at 1.25 or less), but the US is not well suited to grow much cane. Also our farming techniques would make it much less efficient than ethanol produced by Brazil. Bush made a good appearance in South America, but the US still has that $.53 per gallon tariff on imported ethanol, forcing us to use more corn ethanol at great disadvantage to the environment.

Coal can infact produce liquid fuels, but at a cost much higher than for petroleum produced fuels. When oil gets to $120/barrel then coal to liquid may be economical, although the GHG problem still looms. This may be the only long term solution for the survival of the aviation industry, but only if governments allow carbon trading.

As always, a government can fund research that proves a technology can produce a certain fuel source. The question is: at what cost? If all of these solutions require huge government subsidy (like ethanol now and oil shale in the past), how can these ever alleviate peak oil problems? And lastly, many of the solutions don't reduce Global Warming because they produce more GHG.

Life will not continue as we know it once peak oil is past five or ten years. Only major energy conservation efforts combined with a few certain alternative fuels and some new technology (cost limited) will save us.

Coal as a feedstock for CTL, is better served for aviation platforms infosfar as NASA is concerned.

Biomass can be turned into ethanol with much greater yield and efficiency via BTL or thermo-chemical production path while the H2CAR process could theorectically provide the icing on the cake re: carbon conversion and GHG emission.

The delivery platform for the end product (ethanol) should not be a FFV but a BPHEV specifically designed to take advantage of the lower heat combustion value of ethanol. Such autos are currently under development by SAAB.

Who do you work for Keithster?

You are perhaps the most obvious paid flack here.


Somebody on this website should point out that world oil consumption fell for five years after 1978, and did not reach agan 1978 levels until 1988. When oil became cheap again, in other words.
World fossil fuel consumption is going to start falling, and already fell last year. The price is high. If oil stays above $60, consumption of fossil fuels will likely decline annually and continuously.
This radically alters the "running out of oil" problem.
Other fixes are many. Hybrid-plug-in cars, lighter cars, and ethanol are more than promising, They are doable.
The mach maligned CERA may be right when they say there is 3.8 trillion barrels out there, at $60 a barrel. Given that fossil fuel consumption flatlines, we have about 150 years left.

If global warming is human caused and it almost certainly is, the CERA estimate of 3.8 trillion barrels is as close to more irrelevent than an already false estimate can be.

I lived through the 1979 oil crisus caused by the overthrow of the Shaw in Iran. This rise in the price of oil resulted from the removal of most of Iran's oil (about 4 million barrels ber day) from the world oil market for an extended time. This politically caused oil shortage and consequential tripling of the price cause a rise in inflation and shrinking of the economy at the same time (called stag-flation).

When the world economy tanked in late 1981 and early 1982 the demand destruction in oil lead to much lower oil prices. The conversion to more fuel efficent cars/trucks/planes/etc. also helped drive down demand and consequently the price. In the US unemployment reached nearly 15%, and with so many people not working (including me for six months) gasoline and diesel fuel use plummeted.

At this same time more oil production from huge fields came on line around the world including the North Sea and Mexico. Then Iran also slowly came back as an oil exporter along with a few new small suppliers including China (now world's second largest importer after US).

Oil is currently at $64 per barrel and set to go higher. Demand destruction for developed countries (biggest users) does not occur until $80 to 100 per barrel oil. Problem is as demand is destroyed and oil price falls, so does production as new oil is much more costly to produce than old oil. And just look at the Tar Sands of Canada for an example. Two years ago producing Athabasca oil required an oil price of $23 per barrel. Now Shell says they need $45 per barrel to increase production there. With inflation in oil production sector running 25% or more per year don't count on a lot of cheap oil from these alternative technologies or from hard to reach places.

I went to a book signing/talk by Bill McKibben last night in Boulder, Colorado. Inspring and depressing simultaneously. For me, though, the main takeaway is that most of this talk about future technology as the solution to our problems is just intellectual wanker wagging. We need a doomsday clock set to the amount of time that James Hansen says we have until it is too late. But, noooo. We will waste what little precious time we have left researching hydrogen, wasting our time, food, and resources with ethanol, and working on yet more tweaks to get 250 or 300 horsepower, multi ton vehicles to squeeze out a few more miles per gallon. By the time that's all done, it will be GAME OVER.

Well, I'll be at the anti global warming march on April 14th, anyway. I supposed that makes me a cockeyed optimist.

Message to American People, and the rest of the world for that matter. Wake the fuck up!!!!

Oh, I forgot we're going to cut carbon emissions 80% by 2050. How convenient that virtually all legislators and other politicians alive today will be dead by then.

In January, 2007, the Doomsday clock was set to 5 minutes to midnight marking "the first Clock movement to include climate change as a threat to humankind." -- Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (www.thebulletin.org)

I was looking forward to your response on this paper EP as we had a brief discussion here on the H2CAR process last week.

Your review is a little surprising considering that:

a) Dr. Agrawal et al. explicity outline in their conclusion that much research into cheap, carbon free H2 production paths is further warranted

b) PHEV usage was given considerable recognition both in the body (see fig. 5) and conclusion

c) and perhaps most confusing, is why you consider the H2CAR process to be a 'blind alley' when the proposed theorem improves upon the carbon conversion of a process both you and I support.

“A key technical difficulty faced by Sheppard, who is in charge of developing the photoelectrodes for solar hydrogen, is measuring the efficiency of energy conversion using the titanium oxide ceramics. The US Department of Energy estimates 10 per cent efficiency is needed to make the process economically viable. Titania now on the market is less than 1 per cent efficient. The centre has achieved much higher relative efficiency, but no one has been able to measure titanium oxide's efficiency accurately yet.

The time frame for achieving the goal of a method for producing cost-efficient solar hydrogen on a commercial scale ranges from a few years to 20, dependent on serendipity and funding. "Because the centre has a good handle on the fundamental science, it will have the optimised system," Sorrell says.”
Scientists power into the future

Break through? Who knows, “in a few years” was a few years ago too.

H2CAR is a blind alley because of its staggering cost.  Let's take the $15.8 trillion cost (@$2/watt) for the solar PV hydrogen-generation system alone.  Annual interest on this at 7% would cost $1.11 trillion; even if you could get 200 billion gallons/year of fuel out of the system, the hydrogen alone would cost you over $5.50/gallon.  The biomass, the gasifiers and the F-T systems would add to this.

Even short-lived lead-acid batteries become cheaper than liquid fuel in the region of $3/gallon.  H2CAR probably can't compete with today's Li-ion batteries; if a Tesla Roadster's battery pack costs you $.20/mile, the breakeven point is around $6/gallon fuel in a 30 MPG vehicle.  H2CAR is proposed to fuel the existing fleet, which averages ~22 MPG; the current breakeven point is a lot lower.

There are better ways to recapture the CO2 from a gasification system, using algae.  Greenfuel and Solix have pretty good examples.  Perhaps not quite as land-efficient, but low-tech and cheap; this will achieve the same end much faster than H2CAR, and then batteries will shove liquid fuels out of most of the transport market while outbidding for H2CAR's raw material:  renewable electricity.

H2CAR has all the problems of raw hydrogen, plus a bunch of its own.  That's why it is a dead end.

Oh, come on, you and I both know that the reference to solar electrolysis is just a sop to the environmental movement on this.

This system will run on coal & nuclear reactors.

Let take a 1500Mw electrical nuke for comparison. At a cost of about $2 billion including electrical gensets.

Now lets assume that you swap the electric gensets for a high temperature sulphur iodine hydrogen production system that adds another $0.5billion

So you’re looking at $2.5billion over say 30 years. Assuming finance over 30 years I work this out to be approx. $150million a year plus running costs.

Now at 3000MW thermal and, say, 20 hours average production a day at 50% efficiency you’re looking at about 802 tonnes per day of hydrogen. This works out to be about 51 cents per kg of hydrogen. Plus running costs of the plant. I’d say that you’ve got a fighting chance of seeing less than a $1 kg hydrogen all in.

At that price, assuming 54.8 kg per barrel of synthetic fuel (see post above), that works out to be $55 barrel in hydrogen plus coal and syngas plant operating costs. Again I reckon you have a fighting chance of being profitable at $100-$130 barrel oil.

That may seem high to an American, but I need not point out that in Europe the price we see at the pump is equal to over $180 barrel due to end point taxes. If fuel released onto the market from a synthetic fuel plant was given significant tax breaks (eg not having to pay the 48.35 pence per litre UK fuel duty for example)) then it would already be competitive in todays market.


That may seem high to an American, but I need not point out that in Europe the price we see at the pump is equal to over $180 barrel due to end point taxes.

I beg to disagree. In Europe people pay less at the pump than Americans. I'll explain.

First: Due in part to higher population density, and in part to higher taxes, typical drive distances are shorter (saner city planning, less sprawl). Say half the distance travelled.

Second: Due mostly to higher taxes, the European vehicle fleet may be twice as efficient as the fleet in the USA.

Result: Europeans would spend the same amount of money at the pump if European prices were 2 x 2 = 4 times as high as American prices. $3/gallon x 4 = $12/gallon. Europeans pay less than $12/gallon, ergo gasoline is "cheaper" in Europe than in America.

You see, high taxes work :-)

Only one problem with that:  the sulfur-iodine process requires heat at about 850°C, which pressurized-water reactors can't reach.  We don't have any HTGR's operating in the USA at the moment.  While the new crop of PWR's should hit the grid around 2016, HTGR's are probably much further off.  Nuclear chemical production is further still.

By the time we get reactors which can produce hydrogen, most cars will be liquid/electric bi-fuel or pure EV.  Even using nuclear power, the electric path will be something like 25% efficient heat-to-wheels while the nuclear H2CAR path would be about 0.5*0.5*0.15=3.75% efficient.

Does it make sense to build 6-7 times as many reactors to help supply liquid fuel?  That's why I doubt we'll see it.

For what its worth the way I see this system being phased in would be that existing CTL plants built in the next 20 years would be retrofitted with these IV gen high temperature reactors in the 2025 – 2050 timeframe. All it would mean is that the steam shift units at the CTL plant would be bypassed and more fischer tropez units added to cope with the increase in daily output.

Right now a more pressing matter is to shut down existing coal fired power plants to free up the coal for CTL units. Replacing coal burners with nukes frees up a lot of coal for CTL. This would be the logical first step but more than likely we’ll just build new CTL capacity without mothballing coal power stations and drive the price of coal up…


... existing CTL plants built in the next 20 years would be retrofitted with these IV gen high temperature reactors in the 2025 – 2050 timeframe.

I doubt that GHG limitations would allow a large CTL infrastructure to be developed in the first place.  The only way it could come about is if carbon emissions becomes expensive years down the road, or coal becomes more expensive than nuclear hydrogen.  I think GHG's will become costly much sooner than that, preventing a boom in CTL plants.  With no big base of CTL plants, there's nothing to retrofit.

Our current vehicles use on the order of 180 GW average, or about 900 watts each; a PHEV or EV would probably use about 600 watts, due to higher efficiency.  A conventional vehicle using H2CAR fuel would need about 6000 watts.  At $1500/kW, would you rather pay $900 or $9000 to build the electric powerplant for your car?

Wouldn't PHEV's use about 340 watts (at 250 watt-hours per mile, and 12,000 miles pre vehicle)? The Tesla is 215 wh's: on the one hand, it's very small, OTOH it's optimized for speed, not efficiency (big soft tires, etc). IIRC the Volt is estimated by GM to use 250. SUV's will likely use more, but I would expect production experience to increase overall efficiency.

My calculation included heavy trucks, which drive up the average quite a bit.  Personal consumption is probably much closer to your number.

Ah. I calculated that your base was 200M vehicles, which is just under the current US light vehicle inventory, so I figured it was just light vehicles.

What do you estimate for heavy trucks, and for how many?

I was just calculating numbers based on diesel-fuel consumption and 40% efficiency (details here).  Number of vehicles isn't really relevant.

First, there are other lower temperature thermochemical methods for hydrogen production (though probably none suitable for PWRs)

Second, steam electrolysis is comperable to some thermochemical methods in efficiency and is suitable for PWRs. Not to say I expect that PWRs will become hydrogen factories, but they certainly can.

Does it make sense to build 6-7 times as many reactors to help supply liquid fuel?

Absolutely. Theres more to liquid fuel than to and from the office in the family car. We will have a massive run on synfuel production, the only question is whether we get the hydrogen from nuclear fuel or from the water shift reaction via coal.

And how long will it take to set up this whole nuclear hydrogen, coal syngas system. As Engineer Poet says, you can't do it with normal PWRs and the high temp reactors needed are much further off.

By the time they are available, it is my claim that distributed production sources and concentrating solar in optimal desert areas, which can much easier attain even higher temperatures will do it more cost effectively if we went in that direction. I doubt that we will go through all that trouble however when doing things like electrification will prove way easier.

One technology I like for concentrated solar thermochemical water splitting has a very high temperature step where a metal oxide (for example, of manganese) is partially reduced to a lower oxide and oxygen gas. This could be done in a 'power tower' by dropping oxide particles through the focus in free air.

Whether this will ultimately be practical, who can say, but I thought it was a clever adaptation to the specific way solar energy can be collected, avoiding exposing any other materials to the high temperatures.

I don't agree on the SOP viewpoint, however, I do agree that H2 generation for such purposes will indeed fall to the nuclear sector.

As stated previously, the blueprints for an integrated nuclear biorefinery should be drawn up somewhere within the next 3 years.

An enormous extra energy input is also required for PHEVs on ethanol so I wouldn't entirely rule out the H2CAR approach or a variant of it. It is claimed nanotechnology can improve sevenfold the hydrogen output from electrolysis and perhaps there will be a way to use electrical input directly without making hydrogen separately. H2CAR might turn out like clean coal in that it is unsuitable for most real world situations.

As for the inefficiencies of ICE cars I seem to
recall that piston engines cost $35 a kilowatt
and run for 1,000 hours trouble free. Fuel cells (PEM) cost $500 a kilowatt and run for 200 hours or thereabouts which makes fuel use a secondary problem. Changing over 800 million vehicles even to reduced miles will itself consume enormous energy.


If you like space photo's from Cassini and a ummm nice little mystery, take a look at this.


Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

This is OT but it is well known that polygonal shapes can appear in a rotating fluid even in a perfectly symmetrical container, see for example:


for a nice pentagon. They rotate a glass plate under a stream of water and depending on the relative speeds they get different numbers of sides in the polygon.

Seen that.,



Off topic, perhaps, however I see this phenom as a power question so to speak.

Where does the energy come from to create this pattern. This is not a small volume of material or area. How long has been there, etc.

They said it had "thickened" since the last imagery, . Intensified perhaps might be another word. This is a huge storm, and its intensified. What force is acting upon the planet.

This image of Jupiter is not hum drum stuff. Its amazing.

Its shown up in our "clouds" too lately. A pentagon pattern appeared in the eye of at least two different Cat 5 hurricanes. one in 2004 and one in 2006. Perhaps one in 2003. Guess which ones. Plain as day on satellite imagery. Watch it form and whirl away then collapse. There seem to be geometric patterns in the sky in other small ways too. If you look up and watch. I know oil is below ground and thats where the energy is. I say really.

There is force, energy at work to create the patterns.

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

It is claimed nanotechnology can improve sevenfold the hydrogen output from electrolysis

Given that electrolysis is already very energy efficient (at least 70% in cells run at typical current densities, isn't it?), this claim would seem to run counter to the first law of thermodynamics.

I suspect real claim is that nanotechnology can increase the current density of electrolysis cells at a given efficiency. The net effect of this would not be to reduce the cost of electrolytic hydrogen too terribly much, but rather make low-duty-cycle electrolysis more economical, for example to absorb excess generating capacity from intermittent sources or 'always-on' sources during off-peak times. But PHEVs could do that too, and nanostructured battery materials show much promise also.

great post engineer-poet AND a timely focus - conserning an energy carrier 'nicknamed' an energy source by to many.And on top of it all - it is the most miniscule particle in the univerce - the herdest little thing to contain that is ... Where are these proponents for Hydrogen from anyway ? anyone ?

Now - I will keep on comming back to this piont of mine - namely urban commuting for the future. Every urban planner particularly those representing metropolises - should take the Mumbai/India study trip (!)

It will give an indepth understanding of a functioning big city - facing peak-oil and the like. AND the best part IT is working....

Mumbai local trains are serving a wopping 7 million commuters a day - and there are a sort of "station-vicinity-service" done by auto rickshaws/taxies ---

Cars are on the rise - but this city actually works all fine without them (partly due to its longstretched narrow layout)

Yes, known as Pascal's wager.


Known as Pascal's wager.


I think the fuels of the future will be close substitutes for petrol/diesel and propane/natural gas but increasingly replaced by electricity. I don't think hydrogen from any source or clunky fuels like wood pellets can be made and distributed on the required scale. That's why we have to find ways of converting non-food biomass into electricity, room temperature liquids and safely piped gases. Case in point; as I write this I'm slightly freaked by a nightime forestry burnoff fanned by strong winds. That's thousands of tonnes of CO2 that could have done heating and mechanical work instead of scaring people and irritating sinuses. Waste biomass has to be one of our best options and if there is no solution then we're in trouble.

I don't think hydrogen from any source or clunky fuels like wood pellets can be made and distributed on the required scale.

The distribution issues were one of my driving considerations in Sustainability; you can process biomass to charcoal (or bio-oil, or to torrefied pellets) almost anywhere, after which it is a relatively consistent and stable product for bulk handling.  The only things which would go all the way to the average consumer are electricity and the secondary algal biofuels.

That's thousands of tonnes of CO2 that could have done heating and mechanical work instead of scaring people and irritating sinuses.

Perhaps most planned burns can be replaced by cutting and carbonization or torrefaction followed by drilling into the soil (long-term carbon sequestration and fertility enhancement).  Bio-oil is another possible product, and if the equipment can be made to run on bio-oil the entire cycle can "live off the land".

"...you can process biomass to charcoal (or bio-oil, or to torrefied pellets)"

OR to ethanol.

Charcoal for DCFC's for electricity (50% carbonization * 80% DCFC = 40% throughput on the direct path alone) is many times as efficient as gasification to ethanol and internal combustion vehicles (50% conversion * 25% vehicle = 12.5% throughput at best, probably under 10%).

This is why ethanol and biodiesel are secondary products in "Sustainability":  a system designed with the primary goal of making electricity can deliver several times as much energy to the user than one organized around liquid fuels first.

Check out these bad-holiday snaps
if you want to see a criminal waste of a potential fuel.

Instead of this gee-whiz technology, why do we not look to the demand side in two ways:

Current diesel trains if well used: 180 passenger/miles to the gallon if half full (Chicago's Metra as an example. Rail electrification produces even more efficiency. The asphalt-highway truck complex is ungodly and unsustainably expensive, and still depends on cheap oil (asphalt), even with exotic fuel vehicles. More freight and passenger rail, along with community relocalization, will help solve things, if we think outside the carbox. And, as my calculations found, cutting out 50% of our mowed turf will create enough fuel savings to power a rail system with five times more rail miles than the current Amtrak.

Second of all, and this should be a no-brainer: mandatory four day work week. This would eliminate 20% of fuels used for commuting right off the bat and save approximately 7 percent of our total petroleum use without increases in efficiency and new technology.

Why is nobody considering these simple, off the shelf solutions?

The petroleum landscape is unsustainable
The American economy is built on waste

The Honda Civic GX retails for about $25,000. It is a natural gas car.


A US buyer may be eligible for a 4000 dollar tax credit. One may install a natural gas pump in one's garage (?) for a few thousand dollars. Natural gas is much cheaper per BTU than gasoline. There were already some natural gas vehicle fuel stations in California. Soem will try to make hydrogen from natural gas, why not burn compressed natural gas directly?

Some LNG is on the way. If there will be a super spike in oil some nations with ample natural gas such as Egypt, Australia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Angola, Bolivia, Russia, Iran, Qatar, etc. might switch to this form of transport. It is not as expensive as cracking shale oil. There were yet places in the world where natural gas was below two dollars per mcf, and in recent years prices of a dollar per mcf have been reported.

"Why is nobody considering these simple, off the shelf solutions?

Because then Syntec's industry won't get the incentives he's pushing for.