Monday, March 31, 2008

Air Force Wants To Fly On Liquid Coal


With the price of oil over $100 a barrel and looking like it may go even higher, the United States Air Force is feeling the squeeze. In 2003, they paid $2.9 billion to buy about 3 billion gallons of fuel. In 2007, it cost them $5.8 billion to buy only 2.6 billion gallons of fuel. This year, the cost will be even higher. In fact, every time the cost of a barrel of oil rises by $10, it costs the Air Force another $600 million.

The skyrocketing price of oil and the desire to be free of imported oil, is driving the Air Force to look for alternatives. Since the United States has about a quarter of the world's supply of coal, they are looking to convert their planes to fly on a 50-50 mixture of liquified coal and petroleum-based fuel. Liquifying coal was once considered too expensive a process, but with the price of oil so high, it is now feasible to consider.

The Air Force has already tested the fuel on their big planes -- the B52 bombers and the C17 transports. Now they're ready to test it on the F22 fighters. They hope to have their 6000 plane fleet converted by 2011.

This is sure to raise some concern among environmental groups, and frankly, I'm not sure what I think about it. It would be a good idea if the fuel could be made and used without adding to the already-too-high carbon emissions. The thing is, that has yet to be proven.

Weaning ourselves off foreign oil and petroleum-based products is a good idea. We just need to make sure the alternative is not as bad as or worse than the problem.

2 comments:

  1. Coal= energy of the future! Yay!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Liquid coal made with carbon sequestration can be as clean or cleaner than conventional oil fuels. Carbon sequestration has already been proven at Kinder Morgan in TX where over 1 billion cu ft of co2 is captured daily and pumped underground for permanent storage. We only have 50 years max left on the oil supply according to the DOE experts - less according to the worlds leading geophysicists. There will be 9 billion mouths to feed, and mass economic chaos will ensue long before that when the shortages hit. We need to exercise every available option to prolong the world’s survival. Ethanol can only supply 10%. Electric for everything is not feasible. Biodiesel is similar to ethanol. Both will add to food shortages. There is a 200 year coal supply that can take up the slack while sources like hydro phonic algae are developed. Liquid coal can be made with recycled water, and the land can be redeveloped into farms, forests, and lakes with minimal environmental damage – I have seen the photos of redeveloped coalmines.

    Why the Price of Peak Oil is Famine
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/money/2008/02/07/cnoil107.xml

    ReplyDelete

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