Setting America Free

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There is no reason for us to be dependent on hostile countries for our energy needs. While the U.S. is not rich in oil, we do have plenty of other domestic energy resources.

America’s approach to energy security has traditionally been based on two pillars: diversifying sources of oil and increasing efficiency. Reserves in non-Middle East countries are being depleted rapidly, and as time passes we will become even more dependent upon Middle Eastern producers. Therefore, supply diversification should be viewed as a stopgap solution that can, at best, buy us a few more years of status quo. Energy conservation is important, however, with oil consumption expected to grow by 60% over the next 25 years, the most that can be hoped for is that it will accommodate half of the projected increase in demand.

Since most of the world’s oil is used in the transportation sector, the only way to ensure long-term prosperity and security is for the U.S. to lead the world in a multinational effort to reduce global demand for oil by changing the transportation fuel playing field. This can be done through a shift to a global economy based on next-generation fuels and automobiles that can accommodate them.

Only by adding a third pillar, technological transformation, will we be able to affect profound change in America’s energy security equation.

Market transformation takes a long time. In the case of the transportation sector, we should not expect a process shorter than 15-20 years. That is why it is imperative to begin the process without delay.

We do not have to wait for technological breakthroughs to start reducing our dependence. There are things we can do right now.It is time to honestly assess all the options available to us, and to implement practical solutions with technologies that are available today. It's time to set America free.

America has a great many domestic resources, not the least of which is the determination of the American people. American ingenuity has always come through. We put a man on the moon. We can become energy independent.

A comprehensive strategy designed to reduce overall demand for oil should be based on the following principles:

Fuel diversification: Today, consumers can choose among various octanes of gasoline, which accounts for 45% of U.S. oil consumption, or diesel, which accounts for almost another fifth. To these choices should promptly be added non-oil-based fuels that are domestically produced, clean and affordable.

Real world solutions: We have no time to wait for commercialization of immature technologies. The U.S. should implement technologies that have been certified by the Department of Energy and can be commercialized rapidly. To the extent possible, solutions should be compatible with current infrastructure.

Economically sound technologies: after the initial investments in infrastructure, next-generation vehicles and fuels should be price-competitive to what we pay today.

Environmentally sensible choices: the technologies we rely on should improve public safety and respond to the public’s environmental concerns.

Domestic resource utilization: while the U.S. is not rich in oil or natural gas, we have a wealth of other energy sources that can be easily, cleanly, safely, and cheaply used as fuel for automotive transportation, among them: hundreds of years worth of coal reserves (25% of the world's total), billions of tons a year of biomass and hundreds of million of tons of municipal waste.

Optimal energy use: as long as gasoline is our main transportation fuel we must increase our fuel efficiency, increase mileage per gallon and seek technologies that allow us to optimize our use of scarce resources.

Maintenance of the American way of life: there is no reason for us to compromise our lifestyles, settle for smaller, slower, or less comfortable vehicles. Cars running on next generation fuels can have similar performance to those we use today.

IAGS endorses the following solutions:
Toyota Prius
Toyota Prius. It's a hybrid vehicle.

Gallon Stretchers

Fuel additives enhance combustion by up to 25%, and can be blended into gasoline, diesel, and bunker fuel.
Hybrid electric vehicles, among them the Toyota Prius, Ford Escape and Honda Civic, are entering the market by the thousands and increase efficiency by 30-40%.

Next Generation Vehicles

Energy security through fuel choice: Flexible fuel plug-in hybrid electric vehicles

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (Plug-in HEVs),a natural stop on the path to fuel cell vehicles, are electric drive cars that run on a combination of liquid fuel and electricity. Unlike standard hybrids, plug-in hybrids - which look and perform much like "regular" vehicles - draw charge not only from captured breaking energy, but also directly from the grid since they can, as their name suggests, be plugged in to a 120-volt outlet (for instance each night at home, or during the workday at a parking garage) and charged. Plug-ins run on the stored energy for much of a typical day's driving - depending on the size of the battery up to 60 miles per charge, far beyond

Plug in hybrid Sprinter van
Daimler Chrysler's plug-in hybrid electric Sprinter van.

the commute of an average American - and when the charge is used up, automatically keep running on the fuel in the fuel tank. A person who drives fewer miles every day than the car’s electric range would never have to dip into the fuel tank.
Roughly half the cars on the road in the U.S. drive 20 miles a day or less. A plug-in with a 20-mile range battery would achieve a fuel economy of 100 miles per gallon of gasoline consumed.

A study by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI,) a California-based research arm of the utility industry, found that consumers like plug-ins because they would offer the best of both worlds: the gas savings and emissions reduction benefits of battery powered electric vehicles, and the range of a "normal" car.

Flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) 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. The only difference between an FFV and a gasoline-only car is a different control chip in the fuel line and some different fittings, since alcohol is more corrosive than gasoline. The manufacturing cost differential due to these changes is under $100 per vehicle. That cost would be reduced further as volume of FFVs increases, particularly if flexible fuel designs were to become the industry standard.

Flexible fuel plug-in hybrid electric vehicles combine the two technologies and can thus be powered by any blend of alcohol fuels, gasoline, and electricity.

Next Generation Fuels
electricity is a fuel

Electricity as a fuel
Less than 2% of U.S. electricity is generated from oil, so using electricity as a transportation fuel would greatly reduce dependence on petroleum. Plug-ins would be charged at night in people’s garages, a time interval during which electric utilities have significant excess capacity. The Electric Power Research Institute estimates that up to 30% of market penetration for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with 20 mile electric range can be achieved without a need to install new electric capacity.

Alcohol fuels: ethanol, methanol, and other blends
Ethanol, also known as grain alcohol, is currently produced in the U.S. from corn. Upping production entails a shift to producing ethanol from biomass waste and dedicated energy crops.
P-Series fuel (DOE approved, 1999) is a blend of ethanol, natural gas liquids, and ether made from biomass waste.
Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, is produced for the most part from natural gas. Expanding domestic production would best be done by producing methanol from coal, a resource with which the U.S. is abundantly endowed. The commercial feasibility of coal to methanol technology was demonstrated as part of the DOE’s clean coal technology effort: methanol is produced from coal at the Eastman Chemical Company’s Kingsport, TN plant for under 50 cents a gallon.
It costs about $60,000 to add a fuel pump that serves one of the above fuels to an existing refueling station.

Non-oil based diesel
Diesel can be produced from coal, from any animal or vegetable fat, and from waste products such as tires and animal byproducts.

Flexible fuel/plug-in hybrid electric vehicles: If the two technologies are combined, such vehicles can be powered by any blend of alcohol fuels, gasoline, and electricity. If a plug-in vehicle is also a FFV fueled with 80% alcohol and 20% gasoline, fuel economy could reach 500 miles per gallon of gasoline. If by 2025, all cars on the road are hybrids and half are plug-in hybrid vehicles, U.S. oil imports would drop by 8 million barrels per day (mbd). Today, the U.S. imports 10 mbd; projected imports for 2025 are almost 20 mbd. Were all of these cars also flexible fuel vehicles, U.S. oil imports would drop by almost 12 mbd.

On the Horizon

Fuel Cell Vehicles powered by hydrogen carrier fuels
The key to utilizing the vast resources of our country is shifting from the combustion engine to fuel cell powered vehicles running on made-in-the-USA next-generation fuel.

Unlike combustion engines, which convert chemical energy into mechanical energy via fuel burning, fuel cells convert chemical energy directly into electrical energy, which then is converted to mechanical energy via electric motors.

Fuel cell vehicles are not a pipe dream: Auto companies have already stepped up to the plate, designed, and road tested a variety of models. Mass produced, a fuel cell power system would cost about the same as today's internal combustion engine.
Fueling with
The methanol powered Jeep Commander 2 by Daimler Chrysler. It's a fuel cell vehicle.
Fuel cells can be powered by hydrogen, either in its pure form or else packaged as ethanol or methanol. A vehicle using methanol as a hydrogen carrier fuel, can be built with either a hydrogen fuel cell coupled with a reformer (either at the fueling station or on-board the vehicle,) which converts methanol to hydrogen during usage, or with a direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC.)

The biggest advantage of using methanol as the hydrogen carrying fuel of choice for the automotive industry is that logistically, methanol, a liquid with physical characteristics very similar to gasoline, can be transported and distributed using the existing distribution infrastructure, existing gasoline stations and pumps, and on top of this can be stored on board a vehicle in a fuel tank similar to existing gas tanks. This means that from the fueling logistics standpoint, transition could be almost immediate. While building a pure hydrogen fueling station costs about $1 million, fitting an existing gas station to supply hydrogen in a methanol formulation costs about $60,000.

There are about 200,000 gasoline stations in the U.S, so this is a significant cost advantage. To put the numbers in perspective, keep in mind that $1.4 billion is spent each year to upgrade the retail gasoline network, and that the U.S. refining industry spent more than $12 billion to retool for reformulated gasoline. It would cost $2.7 billion to add methanol pumps to one-quarter of the corner service stations in the U.S.

While pure hydrogen in a laboratory setting may be more efficient than methanol, practically, using pure hydrogen as an automotive fuel entails multiple technological difficulties that to date have not been satisfactorily resolved. Packaging hydrogen as methanol resolves these issues.
Indy 500 car, fueled by methanol
Methanol fueled Indy 500 race car.
Methanol itself is quite cheap as compared to gasoline: today the retail price of methanol at the pump varies from 84 cents to $1.10 per gallon.
Methanol is much less flammable than gasoline, one of the reasons that since the 1960s methanol has been the fuel of choice for the Indy 500. Each year there are more than 180,000 vehicle fires in the U.S. in which the first substance to ignite is gasoline. The EPA projects that a switch to methanol could reduce this number to 18,000, saving the lives of 720 people, preventing 3,900 serious injuries, and saving hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage.
The biggest potential source of methanol in the U.S. is coal.
It should be noted that methanol use would greatly reduce emissions of pollutants and potential for environmental damage in the case of spills or accidents.

More information:
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
P-Series Fuels
Sources of methanol

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