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|Gasification Archive for January 2002|
|100 messages, last added Tue Nov 26 17:18:13 2002|
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GAS-L: Fuel Cells -- ethanol -- reforming natural gas
A question -- Gentlemen and Ladies;
During my perusal of "reforming" technology I came across so many
references to reforming natural gas into many various products -- including
Being as their are humongous deposits of natural gas in Alaska and the
North West territories of Canada that are presently no commercially viable
due to the extreme costs of pipe-lining said product to market:
Would it not be viable to "reform" natural gas to ethanol for tanker
shipment to market??
If such a market was to develop --
How is that you might say??
Well, read below ---
[Note: ethanol is an ideal fuel cell propellent]
January 9, 2002
U.S. Ends Car Plan on Gas Efficiency; Looks to Fuel Cells
By NEELA BANERJEE with DANNY HAKIM
he Bush administration is walking away from a $1.5 billion eight- year
government-subsidized project to develop high-mileage gasoline- fueled
vehicles. Instead it is throwing its support behind a plan that the Energy
Department and the auto industry have devised to develop hydrogen-based
fuel cells to power the cars of the future, administration and industry
officials said yesterday.
The new effort, to be announced in Detroit today by Energy Secretary
Spencer Abraham, aims at the eventual replacement of the internal
combustion engine. Fuel cells use stored hydrogen and oxygen from the air
to create electricity, and the only emission from engines they power is
Environmentalists and some energy experts favor the research. But critics
said that the new program would let Washington and Detroit focus on vague,
long-term aims while avoiding the more difficult task of improving the
mileage of existing cars and sport utility vehicles in the short term.
Experts say that commercial production of cars with fuel- cell engines is
10 to 20 years away.
With hearings scheduled in the Senate next month on a Democratic
alternative to President Bush's energy program, it has been unclear how
either party will address fuel economy standards, which are equally
unpopular with carmakers and organized labor.
Yesterday, an administration official speaking on the condition of
anonymity said that the Transportation Department would offer a proposal
later this year on tightening those standards. But he added that since any
changes would be years in the making, the fuel-cell project could make them
The original program, begun in 1993, aimed to develop affordable cars that
got 80 miles to a gallon of gasoline. Vice President Al Gore, its most
vocal backer in the Clinton administration, likened the project, known as
the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, to the Apollo space
program in its technological complexity. In addition to about $1.5 billion
in government subsidies, the Big Three automakers — General Motors
(news/quote), Ford Motor (news/quote) and DaimlerChrysler (news/quote) —
together spent about $1 billion a year on related technologies.
The carmakers all developed prototype vehicles that got at least 70 miles a
gallon, and the project nurtured advances in aerodynamics and lighter
composite materials now used in auto manufacturing.
But none of the Big Three came close to commercial production of an
80-mile-a-gallon car. The average fuel economy of cars and trucks for sale
in the United States has, meanwhile, steadily dropped, so that this year's
fleet — with its growing proportion of sport utility vehicles — gets the
worst gas mileage in 21 years, according to the government.
The new program, called Freedom Car, will not require the automakers to
produce a fuel-cell powered vehicle, according to the Energy Department.
Energy experts expressed concern yesterday that without such clear targets,
it too would do little to alleviate the country's growing dependence on oil.
"I think fuel cells are a useful long- term goal," said Steven Nadel,
executive director of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy,
a research and advocacy group in Washington. "But the big problem I have is
that the Bush administration proposal doesn't seem to address anything for
the next 10 years. There's a lot of technology that can go into cars in
2006 or 2007."
The new initiative was disclosed yesterday by The Detroit News. The
administration said it would not discuss its proposed spending on the
project until President Bush's 2003 budget proposal was released in
February, but the program it replaces was to receive $127 million in
federal funds this year.
Although gasoline prices are now low, the conflict in Afghanistan has
thrown a spotlight once more on America's enormous appetite for fuel and
has renewed calls for reducing American dependence on foreign oil. The
United States, with only 5 percent of the world's population, consumes 25
percent of its oil, mostly in the form of gasoline.
Mr. Abraham, in remarks prepared for delivery today at the North American
International Auto Show in Detroit, said the new project was "rooted in
President Bush's call, issued last May in our National Energy Plan, to
reduce American reliance on foreign oil." He added, "The eventual goal of
this research are technologies that aim to solve many of the problems
associated with our nation's reliance on petroleum to power our cars and
While the Clinton administration program focused on developing high-
mileage family sedans — vehicles that fell out of favor with consumers as
the research progressed — Mr. Abraham said the new project would give
automakers the flexibility to use the fuel-cell engines in a range of
"We should be developing energy- efficient components that can be adapted
for use in several models throughout our fleet," he said.
The stocks of several companies that are developing fuel cells surged
yesterday on news of the administration initiative. Shares in Ballard Power
Systems (news/quote), probably the best known of these companies, jumped 15
percent, to $34.96. FuelCell Energy (news/quote) rose 22 percent, to
$21.85; Plug Power was up 39 percent, to close at $12.04.
The Big Three automakers are expected to introduce so-called hybrid
vehicles, using gasoline-electric engines, by 2004. Toyota (news/quote) and
Honda — which did not share in the Clinton-era program's subsidies —
already have hybrids getting at least 40 miles a gallon.
The auto industry has steadily resisted government-mandated increases in
fuel economy, with some carmakers arguing that such requirements would
divert investment from fuel-cell research. Government standards, unchanged
for more than a decade, require each automaker's cars to average 27.5 miles
a gallon and light trucks — including pickups, minivans and sport utility
vehicles — to average 20.7 miles a gallon.
Kara Saul Rinaldi, the deputy policy director for the Alliance to Save
Energy, a bipartisan advocacy group in Washington, said that she welcomed
the investment in fuel cells but hoped the administration would explore
improvements in fuel-economy standards. "We're looking at long-term
technology when we haven't made the first step," she said. "Raising
fuel-economy standards is the first step."
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