P-Series is a family of renewable, non-petroleum, liquid fuels that
can substitute for gasoline. They are a blend of 25 or so
domestically produced ingredients. About 35% of P-Series comes from
liquid by-products, known as "C5+" or "pentanes-plus", which are left
over when natural gas is processed for transport and marketing.
Ethanol, fermented from corn, comprises about 45%, and the remaining
20% is MeTHF, an ether derived from lignocelullosic biomass -- paper
sludge, wastepaper, food waste, yard and wood waste, agricultural
waste, and so on.
P-Series fuel addresses three
problems: the need for non-petroleum energy
sources, solid waste management, and affordability. Using feedstock with a negative cost - that means waste that municipalities would otherwise pay to have hauled away -
allows the fuel's selling price to be about the same as mid-grade
gasoline. It also gives urban areas control over a large portion of
the generated trash stream without relying on burning, burying, or
bequeathing it to other states. The feedstock is not incinerated,
but chemically digested, so there is no combustion with the
accompanying toxic air emissions.
P-Series fuels were officially designated as an alternative fuel by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in 1999. The
Since P-Series is not derived from petroleum, the DOE
concluded that P-Series fuels would effectively help replace
petroleum imports. DOE also found P-Series to have environmental benefits because of the
reductions in hydrocarbon and CO emissions, toxics, and greenhouse
Much like gasoline, P-Series fuels range from 89-93 octane (mid-grade
to premium) and can be formulated specifically for winter or summer
use. Refueling with P-Series is as quick and familiar as with
gasoline. But P-Series is not gasoline and cannot be used in a
regular gasoline car. The basic capability for utilizing P-Series in
vehicles has already been incorporated into methanol/ethanol
flexible-fuel vehicles (FFV's). FFV's are designed to operate on
alcohol, on gasoline, or on any mixture of the two. Nearly three
million FFV's have been manufactured since 1996. It's almost
impossible to see the difference between a regular car and an FFV, so
check the owner's manual.
Check to see if your car is an FFV: click here
and select "ethanol" as the fuel type. Many people
own FFV's and don't know it.
Note that though P-Series blends are specifically designed to work in
FFV's and have been tested successfully for thousands of miles on
Ford Taurus and Dodge Caravan FFV's, P-Series blends are so new, no
manufacturer presently certifies a "P-Series specific" FFV. So
check your car's warranty and when buying a car, ask for a P-Series
FFV. Customer interest is very important because American
manufacturers have shown a willingness to offer P-Series specific
FFV's if there's a demonstrated demand.
One of the attractions of FFV's is that they are very easy to use.
There is no need for any special fuel management because gasoline and
P-Series can be freely intermixed in any proportion with fuel that is
already in the vehicle's fuel tank. So, even if P-Series is not
available at a particular location, simply fill up with gasoline.
How P-Series fuel is made
All ingredients except for the MeTHF can be purchased as bulk
commodities from natural gas processors and ethanol producers.
Fortunately, MeTHF is a high yield product of hydrolysis, a very
well known process. Hydrolysis is actually a century-old process
that had been utilized primarily in Germany and Russia during World
War II to produce fermentable sugars that were used to manufacture
ethanol fuel for vehicles. This approach has largely been abandoned
because, upon formation, the sugars are rapidly destroyed, resulting
in low ethanol yields. This problem is bypassed when producing MeTHF
instead of ethanol, because sugar production is not necessary.
Several companies engineer hydrolysis plants. One, the Biofine
process, is a commercialized technology that uses two-step dilute
mineral acid hydrolysis to break down biomass containing
lignocellulose into intermediate chemicals that can be further
transformed into MeTHF and chemical products.
As of May, 2003, the projected retail (pump) price for P-Series (89
mid-grade) incl. all taxes is $1.49 per gallon (based on NJ state
taxes). This about $.13 /gallon less than mid-grade gasoline, but
the lower price reflects the lower energy content of the ethanol. On
a BTU basis, P-Series is more efficient than gasoline, but on a
gallon basis, the fuel mileage is about 10% less than gasoline. The
upshot is that the operating cost -- in $/mile -- is about the same
as mid-grade gasoline. Fortunately, the scale of production to reach
this price point is very modest, only 10 MBD (150 million gallons per
year), or about 5% of the production volume of even a small oil
refinery. Economies are met even at such a small scale because
revenue is obtained for accepting the waste as well as producing the
fuel. Because of the small size and scale, multiple plants can be
distributed geographically so that no one neighborhood need become
the trash importer for the region.
America has a great many domestic resources, not the least of which is the
determination of the American people. Make a choice to drive a car that can be powered with
made-in-the-USA fuel. Do your part to Set America Free.