While electric cars, bio-diesel, hydrogen and ethanol all sound great, the truth is we are 50 or more years away from a true alternative fuel source that is not supported by big oil.
Let's take a look!
Electric cars: I truly believe electric vehicles 50 years from now will be the norm, as for these early years, it makes no sense to take coal, oil or even natural gas, burn it, create steam to turn a turbine, transmit the electricity hundreds of miles to charge an electric car! And, if you buy a solar system to charge your car, it puts the cost of an electric car on a mass availability scale. Out of the practical range for all but the wealthy green boys. Plus it costs $10,000 to $20,000 to convert a car to electric, and a new battery pack in 8 years will cost you about $8,000 to $12,000 on your Prius or Chevy Volt so really, it's a throwaway car. For what? A 50-mile range on electric? Until you need to use carbon fuels to recharge them?
Hydrogen: Again, it is just plain stupid to take a base fuel like natural gas, convert it to hydrogen, and try to build an infrastructure all over America to fuel cars (why not just use the natural gas to fuel cars?) plus again, hydrogen is subsidized by the government (you and me).
Bio-Diesel: Again, making your own at home from restaurant left overs is really cool, but on a mass basis, if it weren't subsidized by the government, bio-diesel would cost more than carbon-based diesel (should it be developed anyway as a way to get off foreign fuel? You bet! But remember, you and I are paying for it).
Ethanol: This is the fuel of huge debate. It takes 4-5 barrels of oil to make four barrels of ethanol (from the time you plant the crop until you get it in your gas tank). Again, if it weren't subsidized by the government, it wouldn't be here! With ethanol, you average a 17 percent decrease in horsepower and fuel economy so the math is this: Unless the cost of E85 is 20 percent or more less than gasoline, you are wasting money. (LP gas or propane is about the same) The truth is, there is a four-mile radius around every plant that is a dead zone: no butterflies, no insects. A dead zone. What is it doing to the people that live there (just like oil refineries)? Also, ethanol mash for cows is actually not healthy, but is a very bad bi-product being fed to animals that give us milk that we drink!
What makes sense? I have spent years in the alternative energy business doing all the research possible to make sense of what is real and what is propaganda. The truth that I have discovered is that the only fuel that makes sense right now is CNG (Compressed natural gas). This is methane gas, which the earth, landfills and anything made of decaying nature is making every day. 80 percent of the rest of the world is switching over to run on it. Think about it: it's American made, it's abundant, it's 90 percent pollution-free, 90 percent of homes in America have it to heat the house, natural gas is pumped through pipelines to your home or business, it needs virtually no refining, no transportation, no trucking, no trains. It literally comes out of the ground and is distributed underground to your house with little big oil involved. It has the smallest carbon footprint of any mass available fuel on the market (including the mass production of electricity!)
You can refuel from home, it's cheap (about 75 cents per gallon from home, $1.41 at the local pump), any car or diesel can be affordably adapted to run it (unlike batteries which will cost you $8,000 to $12,000 in 10 years) and no more work is needed once a car is converted. It is something we can do now, nationwide, just like all the other major countries are doing. Why? It's abundant and it's here now! Engines last longer, you get better fuel economy and more horsepower. It's stored in tanks that are safer than gasoline.
I praise all the engineers who are working on alternatives but until they are available without Government subsidies, I recommend CNG. All of you must keep searching, keep dreaming, keep trying to make a difference!
Some people ask, is there really a conspiracy?
Let me tell you of my own experience. CNG (compressed natural gas) is something that is available now to reduce our dependency on foreign oil now. It's abundant and with all the new wells and technology in drilling for natural gas, hundreds of small companies are now drilling for natural gas, and these companies compete or bid daily to sell their gas to the open market. This keeps the price low. America is building windmills at a proportionate rate So here is the math: if we increase the use of CNG vehicles by 20 percent and decrease the electric companies' need for natural gas, by using windmills, we have a flat demand increase for natural gas and a flat no increase in cost for natural gas.
But what about the conspiracy? The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is in charge of air quality control, but somehow the EPA was put in charge of testing and approving CNG systems.
This is how unbelievable and controlling big oil is. Let's say a company makes a CNG conversion system for cars. The EPA requires the company to pay $250,000 to have that system certified on a specific year, make and model of car. Example: CNG conversion system maker makes conversion system "A." System "A" is tested on a 2008, Ford F-250, with an automatic transmission. The company pays $250,000 for this test to get it certified, but the certification is only good for that model year and make. Is this insane or what?
I actually called the EPA and got a young woman who was very well coached on how to handle guys like me. It's as if she was reading off a script. She said, "The certification is for public safety,” so I asked her since when is the EPA in charge of public safety? her answer was that, in the mid-90s, many CNG conversions actually increased pollution. My answer was, can I have the names of those systems and the test results to support what you are saying under the Freedom of Information Act?
Since CNG is 90 percent pollution free, how can it increase emissions? (total propaganda). She said that information was not available. I then asked why the EPA and not the DOT (Dept of Transportation) was testing these systems, The DOT sets standards for the tanks used for CNG and LP. What is the EPA doing getting involved in this? when the EPA isn't testing any other products in nuclear? Oil refining? Products made from oil? she had no answer.
O.K. That's the scenario. Again, my suggestion is: Have the DOT set standards for the conversion system. A standard conversion system can be used on hundreds of different makes and models. Once a system is DOT approved (one-time expense for the manufacturer), then require that system to be installed by a CSA certified installer / inspector, require an emissions report after the system is installed, and a CSA report passing the system, then require that the system is reinspected every 36,000 miles or 36 months. Doesn't that make sense?
The truth is, the EPA is not empowered by Congress to certify anything. I am personally offering a $100 reward to anyone who can get me the name of the Congressional committee and members' names who wrote these laws and empowered the EPA to senselessly restrict the use of CNG in this manner. They are only in charge of air and water quality, not approving or disapproving anything.
Big Oil is using the EPA to slow down the use of natural gas. Some say vehicles using natural gas will drive up the price. Who cares? It's here now until we find a real solution. It's American made, and it's 90 percent pollution free! And as we increase nuclear, wind and solar power, we are lessening our need for natural gas in those sectors of the market, freeing it to be used as a virtually pollution-free solution to foreign oil. --Dr. L. Otto