By Tom Quiner

I love the Arab world with three exceptions.

I don’t love the way they attempt to crush Christianity.

I’m not in love with the way some of their religious zealots like to target and kill innocent people in the name of God (Allah).

I don’t like the way they stick it to the rest of the world with their oil cartel.

Each of these is a huge problem to Americans. Do you think we would have gone to war in Iraq if it wasn’t for concerns about the world’s oil supply?

So what is the key to accomplishing the audacious boasts of the headline of this post?

Methanol.

America needs an inexpensive source of energy using domestic sources. According to aerospace engineer and author, Robert Zubrin, methanol is the solution, no pun intended.

The price of oil and unemployment rates are directly connected. For the past forty years, every big jump in oil prices has produced a corresponding increase in unemployment, as you can see on the chart above.

Mr. Zubrin says the cost to the U.S. is huge:

“A sustained oil price of $100 per barrel will add $500 billion to the U.S. balance-of-trade deficit. This represents a subtraction from our gross domestic product equal to that required to support 5 million jobs at $100,000 per year each. And when Americans are out of work, many cannot pay their mortgages — a factor that undoubtedly contributed to the recent crash of home prices and the resulting recession.”

The president’s approach to our energy problem is to prevent the Keystone Pipeline project, reduce oil exploration on federal land, prevent oil harvesting in the Gulf of Mexico, and to make the mining of coal prohibitively expensive. At the same time, he wants to increase the development of renewable green energy resources, like wind and solar.

Nothing wrong with that, except he wants taxpayers to pay for it.

Nothing wrong with that, except he wants to funnel it to his political cronies who pocket the loot and go broke.

Nothing wrong with that, except that green energy can’t compete in the free market with oil.

Robert Zubrin suggests that methanol is the better way to go. It is fairly “green” and it can more than hold its own in the free market without taxpayer subsidy.

The bad news: methanol contains about half the energy content as gasoline.

The good news: it can be burned more efficiently with less pollution.

For the last five years, many auto makers have equipped autos with a flex-fuel capability which would allow them to run with methanol. But automakers aren’t activating that capability.

A bipartisan bill, The Open Fuel Standard bill (H.R. 1687) would remedy that situation.

The U.S. is sitting on 4 billion tons of oil reserves, which we should consider tapping.

But we’re sitting on 270 billion tons of coal, unimaginable quantities of natural gas, and the world’s most productive ag sector. Each of these are sources of methanol.

Mr. Zubrin converted his own auto to methanol and tested the results using it verses gasoline. Methanol won. Every dollar of methanol carried him 18.5 miles compared to just 13.25 for gasoline. And the emissions produced came well within EPA  limits.

Methanol can appeal to both parties by weaning us off of Arab oil and all of its associated complications. At the same time, lower energy costs will help us begin creating jobs by the bucketload.

Let’s think outside the box with with market-driven solutions is the mantra of Robert Zubrin.

 

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  1. Paul Sharp on May 21, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Mr. Zubin is probably qualified to fully describe use of methanol as substitute for gasoline. For example: Are there methanol transport constraints such as pipeline corrosion and evaporation? What is energy return on energy invested (EROEI) to convert coal to methanol? Are agricultural products a significant source of btus, and again what is the EROEI to convert ag products to methanol? The mantra of agriculture used to be “grass and grain make meat and milk”; I think that ultimately prevails. Methanol energy density of 1/2 that of gasoline means about 1/2 the mileage per unit volume; will the public be OK with that? Sorry to sound pessimistic but I reflect on the continuing hype and government funding support of solar, wind and corn based ethanol despite the fact that theses sources of energy are puny and have little if any impact on our energy supply and needs. But, go for it Mr. Zubin, I have no quarrel with your endeavor – maybe you are on to something – but do your homework to avoid joining the current alternative energy disasters, and use private funds.

  2. juwannadoright on May 21, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    You certainly can’t accuse Congress of “jumping the gun”. We’ve known about the potential for methanol for forty years – and, as I recall, there were several thousand vehicles which ran on it back then. I thoroughly endorse this bi-partisan bill – but even if passed – would it survive a veto from the White House?

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