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hunter

(38,386 posts)
1. The oil and automobile companies are not willing to change their business model.
Tue Aug 18, 2015, 11:01 PM
Aug 2015

The cheapest methanol is made from natural gas. The first attempt by ARCO (now owned by BP) to supplant gasoline with a natural gas product was MTBE. That was a disaster, MTBE got into lakes, rivers, and groundwater.

The oil companies are now using hydrogen derived from inexpensive gas, and electricity generated in coal fired plants, to transform heavier oils (like the Canadian tar sand crap) into gasoline and diesel fuels for conventional cars and trucks, distributed through conventional channels. There's no reason to use methanol or ethanol for anything. There's no economic reason to replace existing underground tanks certified for gasoline, gasoline- ethanol blends, or diesel with methanol certified tanks.

Gasoline and diesel fuel can also be synthesized from gas or coal. This is done on a very large scale in some places. The U.S. Navy has developed a process that uses electricity from the nuclear power plant on an aircraft carrier to extract carbon dioxide from ocean water to make fuel for both it's jets and accompanying fuel oil powered vessels.

Methanol is corrosive stuff, and its vapors do not play well with traditional lubricants and sealants. Experiments with the fuel in the 'seventies and 'eighties did not end well. Those problem has largely been solved by modern material science.

If you are looking at alternative fuels, my favorite is dimethyl ether (DME). DME is handled like liquid propane, and works as a fuel in very efficient, high compression diesel engines, and as a home heating and cooking gas, producing no troublesome particulates as ordinary diesel and gasoline powered vehicles do. DME can be made from cheap fracked gas, coal, or agricultural "wastes." A DME diesel plug-in electric hybrid vehicle might compete favorably with a Prius if the fuel was widely available.

But personally I'm sick of the fueled automobile age and would like to end it in favor of walkable cities, slow 35mph electric vehicles, and a massive expansion of electric powered railroads.

Every community could have a large railroad station at it's heart, handling both cargo and people.

People would walk, ride bicycles, of drive urban electric cars to places they worked and shopped. Electric cars parked and charged underneath solar roofs is an ideal arrangement. Employee and customer cars don't get cooked in the sun, and they are refueled as they are parked.

Still, it's better to work at home or walk to work.

A larger community might have just a single fuel station for people who still have reason to use dangerous, polluting, and obsolete forms of transportation. The sound of internal combustion engines or gas turbines is not music to my ears.

I hate my car. It's a nice comfortable car that cost $800 and has a salvage title. There's an analog fuel injection computer in this car that's lasted over 300,000 miles without a fault. I'll never buy a new car, especially a new car with all the systems computerized, cell phone network connectivity, and copy protected spyware installed as standard equipment.

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