Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Flex Fuel

Here's a fascinating interview with Robert Zubrin, founder and head of the Mars Society, on his new book entitled Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil. Zubrin advocates making all cars sold in the States "flex fuel" vehicles which run on gasoline, alcohol (ethanol), methyl alcohol (methanol) or any combination of the three. That means you could pull into the service station and fill your tank up with whichever of those three is cheapest. Ethanol and methanol are easily renewable resources. You can make methanol out of almost anything. Ethanol has traditionally been made out of corn, but recent studies have shown it can be made out of grass, and "virtually any carbon-based feedstock—including biomass, municipal solid waste, and a variety of agricultural waste". Making cars flex fuel capable is fairly simple, and only costs about $100. In order to accomplish this, Zubrin advocates creating legislation requiring all new cars sold in the US to be flex fuel. I'm not sure if I agree with legislating this move, but I can't think of a more effective way to do it. Overall I think it's a great idea. If anyone wants to buy this book for me, I won't turn it down. Nor will I turn down Zubrin's books on space science:

The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must
On to Mars: Colonizing a New World
On to Mars 2 : Exploring and Settling a New World
Entering Space: Creating a Spacefaring Civilization
Islands in the Sky: Bold New Ideas for Colonizing Space
Mars on Earth: The Adventures of Space Pioneers in the High Arctic

and that's not even all of them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do think we need to break free of oil, but legislating ethanol and methanol is not the best answer. Unfortunately we use SOOOO much petroleum for driving, if we tried to convert that all to ethanol and methanol, we would be way short on land, and even shorter on food for ourselves. I'm not saying flex fuel doesn't help alleviate our dependence, but it isn't an answer. While people may call it renewable, at the rate we need fuel, it is a dangerous game. Solar, wind, thermal, those are truly renewable. I myself am a biodiesel advocate and make my own fuel (atleast I did when I lived in the USofA). But it is not THE answer, only a part of a solution that still needs more science and fewer SUVs. Just my thoughts, nice blog by the way.