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Guest Post: A Plan for Synthetic Fuel Stimulus

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Brad Shaffer

A Plan for Synthetic Fuel Stimulus

It is time for the United States to embark on a serious effort to develop a synthetic fuels program.  In 1979, Americans imported 30% of our oil. Now that figure is 60% and growing. This raises a national security crisis that we have blissfully ignored, as the price of crude continues to inflate and our enemies grow stronger, financed by our own petrodollars.

There has never been an example of a nation so powerful being willing to place its economic life in the hands of so many hostile powers, while denying itself the natural resources within its own borders.  To wit: The U.S. has more energy in coal than all of Saudi Arabia has in oil. We float on a lake of natural gas and swim in a sea of agriculture: grain, corn, switchgrass — the three main substances from which we can create all the synthetic fuels our country needs.

Why synthetic fuels? Synfuels will reduce our dependency on foreign energy and thus stabilize national security. This helps keeps petrodollars in the U.S. as well.  Furthermore, investing in synthetic fuels would make us a leader in a new energy industry. Synthetic fuels could create well-paying manufacturing jobs here in the U.S., where we have already surrendered our manufacturing base in favor of a service economy with dubious consequences.

While synthetic fuels may or may not be green, depending on the raw materials used, (coal is less green, biomass more so) it is a tried and proven technology which can be implemented immediately.  For example, the Fischer-Trope process for hydrocarbonation dates back to the 1920s.  In fact, airlines and the U.S. Air Force are already converting some of their fleets to synthetic jet fuels — a recent development.  Furthermore, existing gas and oil pipelines can provide us with the infrastructure needed and the U.S. has all of the coal, oil shale, natural gas and bio-products we could possibly need for supplies.

One way to make the transition to synfuels would be through the establishment of a federal authority having short-term control over energy independence policy.  Synthetic fuels can be worked on by a hybrid quasi-government sponsored agency such as we are seeing with auto companies.

But why the federal role? A massive “Manhattan Project” to push for synthetic fuels would be needed because the capitalist machine is dysfunctional at the moment. Simply put, I do not trust Wall Street (the traditional source of investment capital) to act in the national interest. Rather, they will seek another avenue to reap a fast buck. Today’s venture capitalists and bankers view green tech as the next “new new thing,” and as such their sights are set on realizing quick gains instead of altering the national security infrastructure when the latter is what our dependence on foreign oil comes down to.

But shifting the focus away from green tech and toward the development of synthetic fuels will not happen overnight.  First, the U.S. government must invest in reinstating the synthetic fuels program scrapped in the 1980s, when the oil glut caused the price of crude to plummet.  The U.S. should also commit investment capital in existing synthetic fuel firms in exchange for stock, which the government could then offer out to the public at the appropriate time, once the firms are up and running. The government could then take the profits and plow them into R&D for more radical, cleaner and still-developing green tech, to prepare to meet the energy and environmental needs of the 22nd century.

Being conservative does not make one a libertarian.  Treating our current foreign/domestic energy deficit as a national security matter would place a synfuels program well within the auspices of the Department of Defense (DoD) and thus within what conservatives should view as a proper exercise in federal power.  The government should scale down the Department of Energy, which is bloated and inefficient, and move the synfuel development infrastructure to the DoD, which is already an active leader in the technology.

Furthermore, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an agency of the DoD  has estimated that the cost of a 100,000 barrel per day 21st century coal-to-liquids synthetic fuels plant would be about $6 billion.  Other private sector estimates place the figure higher at $10 billion.  Even that higher figure is equivalent to the cost of one and a half months of the Iraq war.  For the price of the Wall Street bailout—$700 Billion—the DoD could build between 70 and 100 new CTL plants, which would produce up to  ten million barrels of synthetic CTL fuel per day.

In addition, Washington must adjust current tax policies to be domestic synfuels-friendly by gradually ramping up import tariffs on oil as more synfuels plants come on line, and by creating tax-free energy enterprise zones (as Canada did starting in 1961 with their now-successful and profitable shale oil program in the Western provinces) to encourage small companies to enter this area.

The transition to synthetic fuels also provides a great platform for the more business and defense-friendly GOP to run on.  And by acknowledging that green tech is, in fact, vital by committing synthfuel profits to green R&D, realistic eco-friendly groups might grudgingly go along.

In short, America’s energy consumption habits are hard-wired and it is unrealistic to think that they will meaningfully change in the short or medium-term. It’s synthetic fuel, not green tech, that has the potential to bridge this gap (to materially lower consumption) while effecting real economic, social and political change. We are in dire need of business and political leaders who can carry the message and drive change.


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Sun, 09/26/2010 - 13:07 | 605607 MountainHawk
MountainHawk's picture

I have some stock in SYNM, their technology converts chicken fat to produce bio diesel.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:22 | 606022 LowProfile
LowProfile's picture

Synfuel and Butanol, bitchez!

Mon, 09/27/2010 - 02:30 | 606657 Bananamerican
Bananamerican's picture

Let's see....First Tyler pens a pean to H1-B's, then states his preference on the inevitability of Amerikan labor surrendering to their rendering in the great global meatgrinder of slave wage arbitrage.

Now we read that Amerika ..


has been "voluntarily" placing .."its economic life in the hands of so many hostile powers, while denying itself the vast mystic oceans of oil within its own borders" ...when we should really be getting jiggy with COAL (suggest blog name change to "Zero-visability" in that event) ...That we "float on a lake of natural gas (Infrastructure!) and swim in a sea of agriculture: grain, corn, switchgrass" (W was always so proud to roll that one off his simian tongue)— Dig it Tyler....that Ethanol scam was some DOPE ASS SHIT! Tyler, you are rapidly inhabiting my "Nutjob" file just as Denninger did before you.... How much of the rest of the shit on this blog is pulled out of your ass?


Mon, 09/27/2010 - 07:07 | 606792 mtomato2
mtomato2's picture

Wow.  What sophistikated arguments you make.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 13:25 | 605626 michael.suede
michael.suede's picture

It is time for the American government to stop using coercive violence against its own people, forcing them to buy crap they don't want and don't need.

For example, currently the American government violently loots the public to the tune of billions of dollars, then takes that money and hands it to corn farmers.

The corn farmers grow epic amounts of corn, which we are then forced to burn in our gas tanks.

Basically, the American government forces its people to burn money for fuel.

The criminal American government simply needs to get the hell out of the way and allow the market to produce the correct fuel for our vehicles and factories.  The "correct" fuel is the one which does not have to be rammed down the public's throat at gun point.


Sun, 09/26/2010 - 14:27 | 605693 panika2008
panika2008's picture

Would be cool if the american government's "getting the hell out of the way" actually increased the world's stock (or flow, for that matter) of usable energy. Unfortunately, no such luck.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 17:00 | 605893 SWCroaker
SWCroaker's picture

Respectfully, how do you know this?  The airwaves are presently full of mouthpieces who tell us about the failure of capitalism and free markets, all the while holding up the poor performance of our current near-socialist definitely *not* free markets as examples of failure.  You presume a result from a circumstance that hasn't actually existed.


As for factual examples, our government in the past pushed strongly for ethanol, an absolute disaster and epic fail from an engineering/scientific analysis.    Beautiful example of the government "getting in the way", and why many believe that ex-lawyers and car salesman shouldn't be making decisions about national energy policy, at all.  When the private sector pushes for something that isn't profitable or competitive, it comes to a screeching halt due to lack of continued funding.  When the public sector pushes for something that isn't profitable, there is no such check, and the idiocy can reach tremendous proportions buoyed on the back of unwilling taxpayers.  This is better how?

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 17:37 | 605961 panika2008
panika2008's picture

Changing the method of slicing a pie does not make the pie any larger or more tasty.

Nothing wrong with capitalism if you ask me. It's just that Earth is finite.

Mon, 09/27/2010 - 00:06 | 606501 Fred Hayek
Fred Hayek's picture

Did other posters argue that it's not or do you believe that there's somehow inherent in capitalism a set in stone belief that the earth is not finite?  It seems like arguing a straw man point. 

Mon, 09/27/2010 - 03:32 | 606685 RichardP
RichardP's picture

I think all understand the earth is finite.  It's just that some argue for using it all up now; others argue we should save some for later.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 13:27 | 605630 masterinchancery
masterinchancery's picture

Much more logical is to develop the enormous quantities of energy that we already have, especially coal, shale oil, tar sands, offshore oil, etc. which have been ruled out by the EPA dictatorship.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 17:17 | 605936 Seer
Seer's picture

It's MINIG, not "development!"

What you are advocating is the srtategy of strength through exhaustion.

People have to quit using the bening term "production" on a non-benign process/situation.  "Production" is a process, not a resource.  Exhaust a resource and there is NO production- capiche?

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 22:11 | 606338 Rusty Shorts
Rusty Shorts's picture

Yeah, I always get a kick when oil companies talk about production, "Oh, we produced 400 gadzillion barrels this quarter". Oil companies do not produce dick, the Earth produced the oil. Oil companies poke a hole in the Earth, siphon oil out, and destroy it.

Mon, 09/27/2010 - 03:37 | 606688 RichardP
RichardP's picture

Can a magician produce a rabbit out of a hat?  Can a thief produce the stolen goods?  Can an oil company produce oil from the ground?  The dictionary says all of these productions can happen.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 13:28 | 605631 grandcanonical
grandcanonical's picture

On the other hand as long as we own/control Iraq, House of Saud, et al isn't the Middle East actually a domestic supplier?

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 14:02 | 605664 Sqworl
Sqworl's picture

Collateral cost is too high!!!...

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 13:31 | 605635 Stevm30
Stevm30's picture

Here's a better plan.  Stop wasting our treasure and lives to artificially stabilize the middle east.  Next time the Arabs and Israel go to war, and oil spikes to $350/barrel - watch all those "green energy" companies get money from PRIVATE interests.  Problem solved.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 14:31 | 605702 panika2008
panika2008's picture

What kind of media brainfuck does it take to induce in american hatred for the hand that feeds them almost for free? Are you guys suicidal or what? Really think it would be cool to just forego the cheap oil provided under the US Army's aegis? I say madness! Suicidal, masochistic madness!

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 16:59 | 605912 SWCroaker
SWCroaker's picture

It doesn't take media blather, just morals.  And an expectation that human existence should contain a hint more responsibility and a lot less "gimmee"... 


PS.  Your "hand that feeds you" for "almost free" is stealing from you, right now, this very instant.  Can you feel it?  Are you even aware of it?  The value of your savings, your degree of personal freedom, your very self-image as a responsible human in a just world are being eroded, bit by bit.  A country that takes from its citizens, seizes from others by force of military might, and lies routinely sets a tone for entire generations to be raised thinking a dishonorable existence is natural and the way to go.  Please give totalitarianism a 2nd evaluation before embracing it so...

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 17:43 | 605973 panika2008
panika2008's picture

Every day I fill my tank at the station I feel that I'm getting something half free. Does it make me an accomplice? Probably. Fuck morals. Might makes right. And the cost of this might is so tiny for you Americans, and still you complain. How the fuck is this reasonable? Getting a heap of free goods for like a 2 or 4% GDP spent on DoD and friends. You guys seriously need to go back to school and learn to calculate what's good for you and your families.

As we are at families. Please tell me, do morals feed your relatives? Did morals feed the people of Carthage when their country was smashed by the Roman empire and themselves killed and enslaved?

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:22 | 606021 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

You're not really calculating the costs accurately.

If I go steal a 40oz bottle of beer from the local deli, it's "free," right?  But if I have to buy a gun to get it, or end up on Riker's because I get caught, the cost increases dramatically.

May as well burn down your house and watch all that big free insurance money roll in.

The most glaring (offensively so, really) omission is that the DoD budget doesn't fund the cost of the wars.  Military operations are funded with supplemental spending--very rarely on-budget.  The ongoing health-maintenance costs of all the war casualties get driven out of the costs paid by income taxes, and shifted to SSA and Medicare.

There's nothing "free" about any of it.  It's just a government-enforced system to increase wealth-inequality among the domestic population.  A few guys who were worth $40million get to be worth $50million, and a million other guys worth shit are now worth less-than-shit.  A few are dead.


Mon, 09/27/2010 - 03:51 | 606698 panika2008
panika2008's picture

So, what is the real cost of these wars? lists it as ca 1 trillion $ from 2001 on, I'm inclined to think that the site does not underrepresent it. 1 trillion per 9 years, OMG that's a lot, especially taking into account that your Capitol dupes spent lighheartedly like 2 trillions in 2 years saving the banks.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:28 | 606034 LowProfile
LowProfile's picture

You neglected to subtract out the 60 years of treasure spent on the guns to get you your "half free gas", which includes debasing the money to fund the war machine.

And that doesn't even figure in all the blood spilled.

From where I sit, your so called "half free gas" is pretty fuckin' expensive, bub.

Mon, 09/27/2010 - 03:55 | 606702 panika2008
panika2008's picture

That is quite possible, but please not that many other countries debased their currency much, much more and spent - or at least tried to - much more per capita on arms, well, and the winner is USA.

Please note that the domestic production of oil in US peaked in 1970s. Domestic production of oil in the USSR peaked in 1980s. US, contrary to USSR, was able, in spite of surging oil price, to stabilize its empire and by its brutal presence around the world ensure the flow of black gold. USSR failed it. Pray tell who did better.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 21:14 | 606260 l1xx3r
l1xx3r's picture

You have some serious re-evaluating to do.

Mon, 09/27/2010 - 03:52 | 606701 panika2008
panika2008's picture


Sun, 09/26/2010 - 16:03 | 605835 Sam Clemons
Sam Clemons's picture

You believe in the free market?


Anyways, seems like a good trade no matter what the cost of a barrel.  Trade fiat for oil.  What a deal.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 17:46 | 605975 panika2008
panika2008's picture

A good trade, and one that is largely possible thanks to the guys at the Pentagon.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 13:52 | 605653 Sqworl
Sqworl's picture

This has to be the work of Brad Schaeffer?? 

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 14:21 | 605686 Lapri
Lapri's picture

Who's Brad Schaffer? Maybe he owns some energy hedge fund or something and looking for a federally guaranteed profit, like Bill Gross does all the time by front-running the Fed?

If he so believes in the synthetic fuel, he should feel free to do it himself. Don't drag us into it by forcing us to subsidize.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 14:30 | 605699 Sqworl
Sqworl's picture

Maybe you should google? just saying!

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 16:29 | 605870 Lapri
Lapri's picture

OK I found Brad Schaeffer, not Schaffer...

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 14:32 | 605706 Sudden Debt
Sudden Debt's picture

It's not about the oil. It's all about bribes.


Sun, 09/26/2010 - 14:43 | 605716 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

Why synfuels?  So the government can waste another trillion dollars and put more guns to our heads.  This has already been solved.  With new drilling technology we have over a hundred years supply of natural gas.  Convert fleet vehicles to natgas and piss on oil.

Cost - 40 % or less than gas or diesel

Great cold weather starts

No refining cost or pollution

Greatly reduced transport costs and related spills

Engines last forever because it burns clean

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 15:00 | 605736 drB
drB's picture

Being a chemist I think all this is CRAP and will result in disaster just like "bioethanol" which is neither green nor cheap. The only economically viable form of energy other than coal, gas, and oil is nuclear energy. For some reason it is not being developed enough, and if we would switch from fossil fuels to nuclear for electricity generation then Middle East can go and eat sand. My recollection is that 10% of oil consumed in US is used for residential heating/electricity production, and if that is cut out + convert some transportation to natural gas which is here in relatively large amounts then oil price/consumption will drop to the level that oil-producing nations will not be able to be stupid any more.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 15:19 | 605760 LMAO
LMAO's picture


Thorium anyone?

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 15:23 | 605770 drB
drB's picture

Exactly! But even current technologies for nuclear plants would be sufficient for many years. AND they are not pumping CO2 into atmosphere. I wonder why INconvenient truths did not advertise nuclear finantial gain there :)

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 17:37 | 605954 Seer
Seer's picture

Reading stuff like this just makes me feel better about not being one of the drones produced by "higher" education.

If one is myopic then the most hideous solution could be made to appear rational.

Assuming that nuclear plants could be constructed in time to save us from the impending energy drop, which they cannot (perhaps for the advantage of the wealthy), one must realize they are no more than a PROCESS, they do not CREATE anything, they TRANSFORM.  And what is it that they TRANSFORM? raw materials, LIMITED raw materials; as a matter of fact, raw materials that are SCARCER than any other materials from which we derive energy from.

How about we first determine whether all these energy-dependent systems/way of life is really needed before trying to perpetuate them?  That people can't see it for what it is -a centrally planned govt- just allows us to continue to be manipulated right up to the massive grow-or-die collapse that is on the horizon; and all that's being done it to adjust the SPEED at which we're heading there, NOT the direction!

Inconvenient Truth promoted nuclear through omission.  It did NOT bash nuclear: geezus, Gore is from a big nuke state! (fucking people are SOOO duped!)  Some of the biggest pro-nuke ads in years came out exactly when this film came out- conincidence?  I don't think so.  The elitists (many with "Dr." in front of their names) are all in it to perpetuate a system that CANNOT be perpetuated; they do so so that they can continue to make OTHER people do work, while they tell everyone else what to do!

"But even current technologies for nuclear plants would be sufficient for many years"

Without any metric applied you're just promoting blind faith here.

Just imagine BP running nuke plants.  It'll happen; and if not BP then someone else.

I tend to think that heroin junkies can kick heroin easier than energy junkies can kick energy.

Bottom line: entropy is going to kick everyone's ass.  Big systems WILL fail, and one day they will be no more.  What will you want to have at that point?  A wasteland?

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:26 | 606007 drB
drB's picture

Nothing is eternal. Even if you do not consume anything Sun will turn into red giant and swallow Earth. The question is, how to make our existence here reasonable for time being. If you are against any consumption why don't you leave for Pakistan of Zimbabwe..they do not consume much energy. And who will decide what is reasonable consumption and what is not? You? Government? People who make decisions are the ones who have their palms greased.

With respect to how long can we use energy. Fast breeders which use 238U would produce energy sufficient for billions years by current needs (if they would be built; American Journal of Physics, 51, (1), 1983). Sun will turn into red giant much earlier. I give you that any consumption is destructive, and as such it would be good if it is minimal, but that is unrealistic.

Mon, 09/27/2010 - 00:18 | 606519 Fred Hayek
Fred Hayek's picture

If you'd go look at any site about the use of thorium in liquid fluoride thorium reactors you'd find that the U.S. has, literally, thousands of years by best estimates of the stuff.  And it's actually harmless in its natural state.  You can hold a lump of it in your hand without injury. 

Please look into the issue.  For a start, you might try reading this:

and this:

and this:


Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:31 | 606042 LowProfile
LowProfile's picture


Hell yes, THORIUM!

You refine the thorium from coal deposits.

Then use that thorium to create electricity, some of which you use to convert coal into liquid motor fuel.

1000 years of energy indpendence.  At least.


Spread the word.



Mon, 09/27/2010 - 03:57 | 606703 panika2008
panika2008's picture

"Then use that thorium to create electricity", uh, it's not that simple really.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 16:51 | 605902 Mercury
Mercury's picture

Let's at least convert what we can to nat gas first which we apparently have a shitload of suddenly.  That would be an improvement in several areas at once plus we know it works and what the trade-offs are already.  When we've made that move (and nuclear too) then we can afford to tilt at windmills and cow farts and other wacky (sorry, alternative) things like that but lets pick the low hanging fruit first please.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 17:46 | 605976 Seer
Seer's picture

You've got a pile of dirt in your back yard.  It's a BIG pile.  If you advocate using that dirt, meaning that it's going to be REMOVED from that BIG pile, do you really think that your BIG pile is going to STAY big?

Stating that there's a "shitload" of NG is meaningless.  Without stating what kind of drawdown that can be expected -remember: you are, but default, encouraging a more rapid rate of drawdown- you have NO idea how long that resourse is gonig to last!

That stated, I DO agree that it would be more meaningful to use NG directly than indirectly, such as Canada is doing to produce oil from its tar sands.  And speaking of Canada, the US gets something like 16% (reference: of it NG from there.  Since the US is importing That much, does anyone honestly believe that increasing the demand will reduce imports here?

This energy shit is the yoke around people's neck.  It's how TPTB control you!  Yes, msater, just give me another fix!

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:55 | 606085 Landrew
Landrew's picture

Bravo! Well said! I will tell you this, uranium is also a finite fuel of which we have only ten yrs. supply at increased consumption. Working in high energy I always laugh when I hear friends say, don't worry you guys will take care of the technology to save us ha! People just don't get it, there is nothing like high btu crude oil and we wasted it. When you have to mine, drill a mile deep in water, inject water/nitrogen you are at the end of the cheap oil done over said. We don't have to worry about alternatives becoming available, nuclear, pollution etc., the countries with the last of the crude will withhold and horde the last 30% and tell us if you want to build anything come to us.  You can not feed 7 billion people with anything less then cheap crude. Remember the last 30% is worth far far more than the previous 70%!

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 14:52 | 605725 dussasr
dussasr's picture

"I do not trust Wall Street (the traditional source of investment capital) to act in the national interest." 

This is good because Wall Street acts in their own interest.  I think it is a mistake to assume that they should act in the national interest - they are business people whose priority is to earn a living.

I agree with you that it is a national security risk to import as much energy as we do.  However, part of me doesn't mind using up other country's resources while our domestic supplies remain underdeveloped.  This helps to ensure that we will have domestic energy in the future.  

Finally, I also think it is a mistake to assume that we need more feds on the public nipple to solve this issue.  After all, the reason the Department of Energy was created was to reduce dependence on foreign oil.  How has that worked out? 

The best way to encourage development of alternative engery supplies is to tax the ones you are trying to reduce consumption on.  However, this raises the overall cost of energy for Americans and sends jobs overseas where energy would be cheaper.  You would have to be extremely careful with such a move to avoid doing something counterproductive.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 17:54 | 605984 Seer
Seer's picture

"I agree with you that it is a national security risk to import as much energy as we do."

Whose "national security?"  With all this increase in said "national security," do YOU feel safer?  I sure the fuck don't!  "National security" is a fucking racket by TPTB to control the masses.

"However, part of me doesn't mind using up other country's resources while our domestic supplies remain underdeveloped.  This helps to ensure that we will have domestic energy in the future."

Which part of you believes this way?  Would you be willing to go to where your oil is coming from and inform the people There how you feel?  Probably not.  You are, in essence, just participating in the pillage of other people.

Your approach, however, is nothing new.  One of the Forbes stated this very strategy back in the early 70s: of course, if any of the oil exporting countries were to take this same approach our "national security" apparatchik would demonize them.

As far as having any assurance of having energy in the future... fantasy land!  Build up an even BIGGER energy consuming country and then have it feed only on its own resoruces will only result in an extremely fast drawdown/depletion, and Then what?

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 14:53 | 605726 LostWages
LostWages's picture

Why not listen to Boone Pickens?  His plan to convert all the big trucks to CNG would create jobs (converting all the big rigs, adding CNG fueling depots along major interstates), and would reduce our imports greatly.

The falling price of oil would create a tax reduction in the form of cheaper gas prices and boost the economy by putting more money in the hands of Ipod buyers.

A Fast Money guest the other day (sorry I don't remember his name, a big hedge fund guy) also suggested giving citizenship to foreign immigrants who pay cash for a house and live in it for at least two years.  This would cause housing prices to recover and force the would be homebuyers off the sidelines.  As deflation in the housing market continues, the urgency to buy today has been removed as prices will be cheaper tomorrow. 

Never mind, it makes too much sense and the politicians would have to get their hands out of the pockets of big oil. 

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 17:57 | 605988 Seer
Seer's picture

Yeah, right on!   Let's just keep the Ponzi going so that it can get around to dying!

And when the "conversion" is over, then what do all those mechanics do?

And, why the fuck do we have to be moving big trucks around?

BIG = FAIL! (be it big government, big busienss, ANY BIG system [except nature])

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 22:26 | 606362 OldTrooper
OldTrooper's picture

Why not listen to Boone Pickens?

Because, just like this article, Boone's plan revolved around tax credits, subsidies and other public funding (using our money to force us to buy his product and making him even richer).  Not a bad deal if you're Boone!

Does anyone really think that a plan like that - or this - would be anything except another tax-payer funded boondogle?  A handful of people would get rich and we'd be stuck with the tab.


Sun, 09/26/2010 - 14:56 | 605728 Bob
Bob's picture

The problem with NatGas, the otherwise obvious solution, is that it undermines the need for trillion dollar military-industrial-congressional complex outlays and takes a few bucks outta the hands of domestic (though multi-national) oil corporations while doubling the life of engines.  It would also make the case for Goldman's Carbon Tax scheme a bit less compelling. 

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 14:59 | 605738 MarketFox
MarketFox's picture

Another interesting point is ...

What would be the price of oil and other commodities today....if GS, MS, JPM did not have newly manufactured investment products for them...???

I submit that the price of oil would probably be more than 50% less than what the current prices are....

Commodities that are food and fuel oriented should not be played by the likes of GS...MS...JPM...etc...

Time for some new rules of the road....

And also time for some GS...MS....JPM heads on poles....

 Needless to is getting closer to REVOLUTION time whereby ¨heads on poles ¨could become reality....


Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:04 | 606001 Seer
Seer's picture

"I submit that the price of oil would probably be more than 50% less than what the current prices are...."

Based on what criteria?

It doesn't matter what the price of oil is if people cannot AFFORD it!  (2/3 of the world's population lives on $3/day or less) If oil was $1/bbl and everyone was unemployed?

While I don't necessary argue that the commodities aren't being played, no fan am I of any of this system, I nonetheless have to ask- just how the hell are we to allocate/distribute such resources?

"Needless to is getting closer to REVOLUTION time whereby ¨heads on poles ¨could become reality...."

And Then what?  Again, how are you going to change things such that your precious commodities (which are NOT affordable to a good 2/3 of the world's population, the very population that's likely "producing" much of the commodities, or the lands that they once held and were bootedfrom does) fall into the hands of the non-manipulators?  And, how are you going to address growth?

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 15:07 | 605743 bugs_
bugs_'s picture


Sun, 09/26/2010 - 15:07 | 605744 Dollar Bill Hiccup
Dollar Bill Hiccup's picture

Canada is our biggest single source of foreign oil ...

Nuclear power supplies France with 75% of its electricity. If Harry Reid did not scuttle the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada for storing nuclear waste, we could be making strong headway in that direction.

Not to mention all of the other abundant resources cited above. Or synthetic fuel from bacteria, algae etc.

The only thing the government is good for is establishing a direction by taking a strategic outlook and then seeding creative response. Look at DARPA. Once the seeds are sown, private enterprise works out whether or not the solution is marketable as the market clears at a certain price.

We really should be pushing much harder into energy infrastructure, period, which includes carrots and sticks for usage and efficiencies as well. The "Free Market" can be idolized to the point of idiocy, just as well as being demonized.

Free market SUVs to carry stuff home from Walmart to stuff into the McMansion on funds borrowed thanks to a communist dictatorship bent on developing as quickly as possible and employing as many as possible by instituting a well thought out mercantilist plan is not exactly what Adam Smith had in mind. Put up tariffs for the mercantilists and develop energy independance. It is possible but BP and Exxon are not going to be the ones to do it unless they have no alternative.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 15:28 | 605776 drB
drB's picture

Fischer-Tropsch is expensive - is done only if there is no alternative like in Germany 1944 or South Africa under embargo

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 17:58 | 605991 panika2008
panika2008's picture

Costly. Much-less-than-stellar EROEI.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:14 | 606010 Seer
Seer's picture

Well, France is fucked.  Their reactors are cooking their rivers.  It's only a matter of time.

I find it interesting that one one had you bash socialist govts ("communist dictatorship") and then on the other praise France.

" Put up tariffs for the mercantilists and develop energy independance. It is possible but BP and Exxon are not going to be the ones to do it unless they have no alternative."

This sounds just like "democracy at the end of a gun."  Who is doing the develping here?  If it's a BIG plan then it's sure as hell NOT going to come by way of indepentent operators, it's only going to come by way of BIG govt and or BIG business, both of which WILL create massive systems that we'll be forced to pray to/feed (read "be totally dependent upon").

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 19:28 | 606135 Dollar Bill Hiccup
Dollar Bill Hiccup's picture

France is ... well so much for the French. Point is that there are abundant ways to produce energy self sufficiency and nuclear is one of them.

And I would not equate the Chinese Communist Party as the latest incarnation of Imperial China with French socialism. I'm not worried about French socialism. I don't think the French are holding a gun to your head.

Big is always bad? Sometimes a bully needs a bigger bully. And in theory, the US government is your bully. The role for government should be effective regulation, Theodore not Franklin Roosevelt.

If people held the government accountable through the political process and their first amendment rights then we would all be in better shape. Instead, we are overweight and hungover. Get off the Nigerian, Venezuelan, Saudi and friends bus. Wake up and smell the coffee. Hold your government accountable. 


Sun, 09/26/2010 - 15:13 | 605748 nevadan
nevadan's picture

"as Canada did starting in 1961 with their now-successful and profitable shale oil program in the Western provinces"

Tar sands operations yes, but I doubt shale oil in any significant quantity is, or ever will be produced.  I assume the above is a mistake and if there is any viable oil shale operations that produce more than token amounts please provide some evidence.


Sun, 09/26/2010 - 15:29 | 605779 drB
drB's picture

Crap - capture eats up substantial amount of energy produced. Why not nuclear? And "hydrogen energy" is among most stupid buzzwords I have seen in science

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 15:33 | 605791 CombustibleAssets
CombustibleAssets's picture

 "While the replacements for oil are uncertain, the leading candidates have one thing in common - the need for massive quantities of hydrogen in the production process."

- Dr. Charles Forsberg is the Executive Director for the MIT Nuclear Fuel Cycle Study

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 15:45 | 605808 drB
drB's picture

He has personal interest in this to get grant money to MIT. There is no distribution network for hydrogen, besides driving a car with H2 in it is kind of dangerous (explosions can happen even at low conc of H2 in air, so think about collisions of cars). There is an article by Nobel winner G. Olah with a substantiated criticism of "hydrogen economy" and he proposes "methanol economy"

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 16:11 | 605846 CombustibleAssets
CombustibleAssets's picture

 This is not about driving a car with Hydrogen.

This is about using CO2 as feedstock for biofuel. You need hydrogen to do that.

Remember the topic of the article was about synthetic fuels and the Fischer-Tropsch process.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 16:38 | 605853 drB
drB's picture

I do not see how converting CO2 to biofuel can be economically viable. And I do not see how if you convert CO2 to fuel it becomes biofuel. It takes a lot of energy to convert CO2 to anything and why not generate energy with cheaper methods than first consume it (CO2-->something) and then release it (something--->energy). Please remember that academia, to which now I also belong, needs to create a buzz to get more grant money from government. I would be extremely sceptical if academics like this MIT person push some applied science which should be done by industry. Academics should stick to fundamental investigations but unfortunately it is not how it works now.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:19 | 606018 Seer
Seer's picture

Thank you for these comments!  It gives me a bit more hope that some intelligence (free-thinkers) can survive the upper levels of programming that is our educational system...

Clearly this all sounds exceedingly nutty, and it's because it's just that- fucking nutty!

I'm sure that as people start to lose the ability to watch their big HDTVs they will clamour for some sort of subsidy fix, no matter if it should mean that that will result in their inability to feed themselves down the road...

The logic of energy junkies is no different than the logic of heroin or crack addicts- massively distorted.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:25 | 606026 drB
drB's picture

I kind of understand your sentiment about "energy junkies" but I do not see what can be done about it. People should start by not living in 10-room Mcmansions and not driving SUV's all the time, but what is the chance it will stop? This is monkey psychology where dominance with a biggest cave or shiniest trinket and it is hard-wired into most people.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 15:28 | 605783 Bob
Bob's picture

Alot of new technologies should be coming out in the not distant future.  E.g.:

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 16:08 | 605841 Patrick Bateman
Patrick Bateman's picture

I think one crucial point being missed in this whole discussion is the word "infrastructure". So switch to nuclear energy completely, natural gas, or coal would take a monumental amount of oil to do considering all the machinery, tooling, engineering in order to do so is mainly derived from some type of oil based energy. I don't know, I've heard both sides and I just think a switch from oil at this point is impossible. I would check out a book called "Crossing the Rubicon".

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 16:21 | 605857 drB
drB's picture

you can not switch completely but even if 10-20% switch is made then oil price will drop and imports will decrease..and Middle Eastern regimes may go and eat sand

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:31 | 606037 Seer
Seer's picture

ANY "switch" means a reduction in something else.  The US is in NO position, it's freaking broke!  Quit using so damn much energy!  Eventually it'll have to happen.

"and Middle Eastern regimes may go and eat sand"

Now you show ignorance (and bigotry) again, sigh...

The US imports  very little from "Middle Eastern 'regimes'" (WTF do you insert "regimes?" that's a fucking loaded word, is it not? - when was the last time that anyone called the US [behavior or other] a "regime?"]).  How about saying that the US can then tell the Canadians to fuck off?  Oh, wait, they are white and are bordering our country, we couldn't possibly do That!

Also, apparently you don't understand the game of preto-dollar-recycling.  When this stops you'll find that the USD will likely collapse (that's why the attack on Iraq and the the threats against Iran- TPTB aren't going to paint the story that way else people will lose confidence in the USD, thereby taking out TPTB [before they can make their escape]).

Further, the ASSUMPTION that oil prices will drop is not only NOT known by you, but it's a meaningless metric.  As I've noted (been doing so for years) price is NOT an issue, AFFORDABILITY IS!  (does it matter to Zimbawaens if oil is $50/bbl?)

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:52 | 606064 drB
drB's picture

OK, US is also a "regime" albeit a milder one but that makes no difference in argument, I think. Also, oil is purchased not only by US so any reasonable drop in price (which is set by overall demand) will hurt the "regimes" with their fanatic religions. Finally, if the demand for oil drops then may be the stupid wars will become unnecessary. It would be good if the new energy sources would be mined in US for a change.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 17:22 | 605943 RonnieColeman
RonnieColeman's picture

Has anyone else seen the HBO documentary about the nat gas industry and how NG extraction basically pollutes the groundwater where ever they drill? And how fracking fluid is some of a toxic collection of chemicals which ends up going directly into our groundwater?

Natural gas may be a clean burning and cheap source of fuel, but we'll end up paying for it in other ways if we start to expand drilling efforts on a larger scale. I would recommend switchgrass or some biodegradable fuel source that is not used for consumption. We all know what happened to corn prices when the gov't mandated 10% ethanol to be used in all gasoline....

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 17:33 | 605950 drB
drB's picture

Unfortunately at this point any biofuels are not economically competitive...unless you are in Brasil and grow sugarcane. Any biofuel will take agricultural land so even if you can not eat it it will have influence on price of other crops.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:35 | 606046 Seer
Seer's picture

"Unfortunately at this point any biofuels are not economically competitive...unless you are in Brasil and grow sugarcane"

Yes, and No.

Yes, biofuels aren't economicall competative: they're competing against a highly subsidized fossil fuel system.

No, Brazil's ethanol production isn't signficant (which is what your inclusion of it's mention here would tend to imply).  Of Brazil's total liquid fuel consumption biofuels/ethanol (from that great sugar cane) is only about 9%.  The US produces more ethanol than Brazil.  Sugar cane is less damaging to soils than corn though.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:49 | 606076 drB
drB's picture

Ethanol from corn consumes the same or larger amount of fossil fuel per energy unit produced. Lets say 1 kcal of bioethanol from corn requires about 1 kcal of fossil fuel consumption. Bioethanol from sugarcane is net energy positive and if I rememebr correctly it is also not an economic disaster but fairly profitable. But import of it into US is highly restricted by tariffs....guess why? Big oil is not the cause.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 17:40 | 605967 Missing_Link
Missing_Link's picture

I totally agree with this article.  Time to synthesize our own fuels directly.  There's absolutely no reason not to (other than the greens, who don't have America's best interests at heart and aren't worth paying attention to anyway).

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:38 | 606054 Seer
Seer's picture

Ok, get off your ass and start producing!  Oh, and don't ask for any subsidies from ME or anyone else.  Good luck!

BTW - WTF are "America's best interests?"  Grow-or-die?  And?

Food, shelter and water.  Anyone stupid enough to shift valuable food-producing Ag land toward subsidzing corn growers and fuel producers, well...

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:38 | 606056 Sqworl
Sqworl's picture


Sun, 09/26/2010 - 17:49 | 605977 knukles
knukles's picture

Time for the United States of America's Federal Gubamint to step up and create a Department of Energy, fund it to the tune of some $25 Billion per year for 35 years and at the end of that period, we'll be energy independent just as President Carter promised us.  


Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:44 | 606065 Seer
Seer's picture

How come no metion that we're not all moving about in flying cars, just as industry promised us back in the 50s?

We ignored the facts presented by Carter at our own peril.  The energy junkies didn't want to hear how growth and finite resources play out.  So, we got Reagan, who yanked solar panels from the White House and told everyone that corporations would solve our problems, and that we could all just party on! (he unleashed the financial sector on us as well)

In NO way do I believe that energy measures promoted by the Carter administration would have propvided us with a never-ending source of unlimited energy, but I also know that it's not possible from any other measures or source(s).

The ONLY thing in doubt was at what speed we'd hit the wall.  And is true of all junkies, energy addicts will blame EVERYONE ELSE for THEIR lack of energy.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 19:08 | 606105 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

The DOE's job is to maintain our nuke silos, which are incredibly important because they prevent war and make us kings of the world and everything.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 23:47 | 606462 knukles
knukles's picture

Well, lemme tell ya'll this, my SUV runs Great on Iraqui Oil.
Acceptance be damned; Gubamint is the answer to all my problems.


Sun, 09/26/2010 - 17:59 | 605993 Psquared
Psquared's picture

I have a newspaper article from 1963 in which GM announced a new engine that would get 50 mph and was more powerful than then in production gasoline engines and did not emit gases that would pollute the atmosphere. It was fueled by something called "synthol" which was to be produced by DuPont.

Obviously that never happened.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:47 | 606072 Seer
Seer's picture

And are you still waiting on the flying cars that were promised by them (back in the 50s)?

EVERY change in energy results in SOMETHING.  So, to state that there would have been NO gases emited seems a bit silly.  But, if you just wait we'll have that flying car ready for you in just a jiffy! (if you'd like to pony up $50 million or so I'm sure that we can get you one; at at such limited numbers I could assure you that any emission would likely be inconsequential- one has to think about scale...)

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 20:09 | 606189 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

Can you imagine the FAA handing out pilot's licences to all the id10ts that you see in traffic today?  Ain't gonna happen (please!)

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 18:54 | 606083 Scorched Earth
Scorched Earth's picture

No synthetic oil can compete with mined oil until peak oil is reached.  At that point, it is really more about who can get the amount of oil desired.  I suspect that is why we the US resists developing oil reserves - burn everone else's first.  The last oil is the national security issue, not the cheapest oil.


Sun, 09/26/2010 - 19:04 | 606101 oncefired
oncefired's picture

Just deport the tree-huggers and drill!

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 19:06 | 606104 wake the roach
wake the roach's picture

A manhattan project to develop synthetic fuels, really? Mr Shaffer, you do realise that agricultural, coal, natural gas uranium, AND UNCONVENTIONAL OIL energy resource production on the present scale is only possible via the massive net energy subsidy obtained via conventional oil production? And lets not even start on top soil erosion (THIS IS VERY REAL not some green conspiracy)... Todays agricultural methods are not and never were sustainable, even if we had $10 oil indefinitely!!!  This is almost as bad as those that claim they can save the happy motoring paradigm with used cooking oil, as long as we have enough fastfood restaurtants, we're all good right? Or even worse, the hydrogen economy (bahaha)... Yes, synthetic fuels have a future in our longterm energy mix but for limited industries only... Global demand destruction by the willful abondonment of the now energy obsolete monetary profit sytem (exponential consumption/waste system) is the only option we have and we can make it by choice or allow the universal physical laws of thermodynamics to choose for us (as is happening now)... Luckily for us, it is clear that this is the direction we are being guided (herded is probably a more appropriate term)... This next decade is going to challenge every perception of wealth that we had ever taken for granted but the emergent system will leave every single person wealthier in ways never imagined possible... Of that I'm sure...   

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 19:22 | 606124 proLiberty
proLiberty's picture

"But shifting the focus away from green tech and toward the development of synthetic fuels will not happen overnight.  First, the U.S. government must invest in reinstating the synthetic fuels program scrapped in the 1980s, when the oil glut caused the price of crude to plummet. "  

This is a command-and-control, central planning approach to this issue.  I think a different approach is indicated and the solution is simple: let the free market operate to address the need.

Because so much of our hard-printed, air-backed money is being traded for a real asset, crude oil from countries that are, at their core, hostile to us, we should take our business elsewhere.  However, the seller's boycott by Arab OPEC of the US failed for an essential economic principle: oil is fungible.  If the US somehow declines to purchase oil from Muslim sellers, as long as they can pump the oil out of the ground, they will be able to sell it to some other buyer.  The only way to prevent sales of oil from funding jihad against the west and the US in particular is to prevent Muslim sellers from being able to pump that oil.

That said, that does not change what I think is a national security issue: we are just too dependent upon non-domestic sources of the hydrocarbons used to refine motor vehicle fuels.  It is our own fault, in part for thinking we had sufficient prosperity that we could entertain the foolish and wrongheaded demands of environmentalists.  In an effort to buy their satisfaction, we agreed to import oil rather than to develop our own resources.  We can no longer afford the luxury of entertaining them.  We must be honest about had dangerous to our national security the present policy is. 

We do not burn crude oil in our cars or airplanes.  We burn fuel products that can be made from a number of sources.  Some of these sources, such as coal, are nearly at breakeven cost when compared to the world price for crude oil.   All it would take would be a structure of import restrictions that are set up to slowly increase the cost of imported crude oil so that investors, inventors, business executives and others would know how much synthetic fuels would be needed in any future year.  They could thus develop the conversion facilitiies and the infrastruture changes to support this. 

If this was done in an orderly, pre-planned manner, the cost of finished fuels might even drop, compared to what fuels made from chaotic world souces might cost in just a few year. 


As reference, I would refer people to the presentation on fuels by Dr. Theodore K. Barna. Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, the Clean Fuels Initiative.




(google search: "OSD Clean Fuel Initiative -")

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 19:26 | 606131 Quinvarius
Quinvarius's picture

I like the ethanol idea.  You turn cattlefeed corn into ethanol and it is still cattlefeed when you are are done.   But it doesn't work in a global grain shortage combined with a reduced local energy demand.  Those companies need to shut down when corn prices are high because it becomes unprofitable pretty fast.  It also does not scale well because it requires limber management who understand that hedging is for farmers, not ethanol producers.

The funny thing is the amount of people who never researched ethanol who try to bash it based on stuff an oil company or analyst paid CNBC to say.  LOL.  It is actually a really good business model when corn prices are not going through the roof.  People are just brainwashed crusaders against it for purely nonsensical reasons.  If it makes money and is using things that we already have in abundance, while taking nothing from the food supply, why not?

So I wait for the flame so I can debunk the ridiculous anti-ethanol claims.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 19:44 | 606154 Scorched Earth
Scorched Earth's picture

One major problem with ethanol is that it is water soluble.  That makes it energy intensive to separate it from water.  The process is basically a still.  Basically, the only difference between ethanol and vodka is that vodka is produced in plants that are food-safe and ethanol is distilled further.  LS9 is a corporation that is developing synthetic OIL (not alcohol) from biomass using genetically engineered microbes that excrete hydrocarbons instead of alcohols.  Very compelling technology.  Oil is the perfect fuel - non-voltaile, transportable, self lubricating, extremely high energy density, etc. 

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 22:25 | 606361 ChevronSky
ChevronSky's picture

"One major problem with ethanol is that it is water soluble."

True, that is why most ethanol is blended into gasoline at approx. 10%.  The reason for the large increase in ethanol production capacity in 2004-2007 was the phase-out of MTBE, an oxygenate required to be present in several non-attainment zones.  MTBE was implicated as a severe groundwater pollutant, and ethanol was/is the only viable alternative.

"Basically, the only difference between ethanol and vodka is that vodka is produced in plants that are food-safe and ethanol is distilled further."

Actually, ethanol is not like is grain alcohol (everclear).  Ethanol is denatured with 5% gasoline to make it unfit for human consumption.

Quin is correct, the ethanol production business model can be quite profitable (however, hedging IS required).  Quin also points out that many people blamed the increase in corn prices in 2006-2007 on increased ethanol demand for corn production.  This is absolutely ludicrous considering the massive commodity/equity/real estate inflation that happened contemporaneously with the increase in corn prices.  Oil, natgas, metals, grains, stocks, houses, all went up at the same time; all of this was the result of speculative herding of hedge funds and others.

It takes 7 bushels of corn to produce the fuel derived from one barrel of oil.  Once he barrel of oil is pumped out of the ground and used, that barrel is lost and gone forever.  However, the same ground that produced the 7 bushels of corn will continue producing corn, year after year.


As for the "energy balance of ethanol is negative" arguments, two factors are routinely omitted from their case.  First, most do not account for the fact that once the starch in corn is converted to ethanol, the remaining protein of the corn kernel is sold as high-quality cattle feed ("distillers' grains").  Second and universally omitted from the argument, is the cost of oil production, including the cost of occupying countries to ensure unimpeded flow from the Middle East, tax subsidies for oil which are exponentially larger than subsidies for ethanol (if you drill a dry hole, you get to write it off), and the possibility of carbon dioxide injection into marginally producing oil fields for tertiary oil recovery (a considerable asset if the plant is located adjacent to such oil fields).

Ethanol is not the ultimate solution to America's energy needs, but for now it is filling its necessary function of oxygenate for non-attainment zones and replacing a fraction of the gasoline made from imported oil.


Sun, 09/26/2010 - 23:16 | 606429 Quinvarius
Quinvarius's picture

Explaining to people that they have been victimized by a very expensive and organized anti-ethanol PR campaign is not easy.  They should first sit back and ask themselves why they have it in their heads that they even care.  Who put it in their head that they should have any more opinion on ethanol than they do on Jack Daniels or WD40?

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 20:35 | 606193 wake the roach
wake the roach's picture

Fuck the physicist's, agrobiologist', agronomist's, climatologist's, economists and every other waste of space. You sir, are a genius... We need to get your ethanol solution to all our problems out to the wider brainwashed world right now... Wow, we must all be so blind... Here we were believing that todays agricultural energy production was completely dependent upon and only possible via the net energy surplus of fossil fuels that not only power the capital that makes such yields possible, that also produce the fertilizers in quantities unattainable via traditional crop rest and rotation? And that if we used the finite capital of arable land and water to produce ethanol crops, the energy price of food production would not rise leaving an economy worse off via the energy conversion loss? Maybe you can also explain to the world why electricity costs will not also rise if we use the fischer-tropsch process to convert coal into liquid fuels and how we can overcome the net energy production limits of the required hydrogen from non fossil fuel sources? Oh, I have so so many more questions to ask but we don't have time... We need to get you to the united nations to inform the world of your breakthrough in thermodynamics/energy economics...Yeesh, and here I was believing that increasing demand on scarce resources actually led to price rises... And I bet you have never even stepped foot on a farm too, we are gonna feel so stupid once you debunk all this nonsense hahahahahahahblaaaaaaaaaaaaagh... Jokes;-)


Sun, 09/26/2010 - 23:09 | 606422 Quinvarius
Quinvarius's picture

Nothing in that post is an argument against processing feed corn to get some ethanol out of it.  Everything you described was a bash on farming, not ethanol production.  You are typical of the kind of person that spouts some nonsense they see on TV.  The corn being used for ethanol is being grown anyway.  It is feed corn that goes through the additional step of having its' starch removed.  When it is done, it is still feed corn and you have ethanol.

You obviously have no idea what you are talking about.  You are exactly the misinformed kind of person I was expecting to reply.

So I again pose to you the question.  If you can make money processing feed corn into fuel and feed corn, why not?

Mon, 09/27/2010 - 08:52 | 606942 wake the roach
wake the roach's picture

Everything I said was a bash on farming huh? Pfft... You must FIRST GROW THE CORN which in present volumes is completely subsidized by the net energy gains only available via fossil fuels... WHAT THE FUCK DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND ABOUT THAT!!! Oh, and both sides of my family are broadacre farmers in the Riverina district of Australia (rice, corn, wheat, barley, canola, cattle)... So yeah, I'm well aware of our complete dependence upon diesel for the production of energy crops and fertilizers/pesticides/herbicides (derived from natgas) which minimize land rest/rotation/crop damage that make todays high crop yields possible...Ethanol may have a 30% net energy production gain but only whilst we can run our machinery on diesel derived from oil !!! I wonder, would we even have an energy surplus if our machinery had to run on the ethanol that the crops produced???  Get fucked and whilst your at it, learn about net energy (and maybe even soil erosion, salinity, and diminishing water supply), dipshit... There are many major interlinked global challenges we face... Nothing is just THATt simple!!! I'm not going to the poor house for ignorant city fucks who don't want to change their wasteful useless latte sipping yuppy lifestyles... You want ethanol, then you can pay the fucking real price and go hungry asshole... We'll survive just fine...



Sun, 09/26/2010 - 20:02 | 606180 gwar5
gwar5's picture

I agree and think it's our only way out to sell the world stuff they want -- energy!  Coal, gas, and oil -- we got it all. And we could build Nuclear reactors for our own use.


It's so absurd to think that we'd voluntarily not use our own resources because of a "global warming" fraud that the Chinese actually confided to T. Boone Pickens that it was so stupid, and made so little sense, they were sure it had to be a sneaky Western plot to entrap the Chinese somehow. Serious.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 20:44 | 606229 trav7777
trav7777's picture

This is the stupidest fucking article ever on ZH.

Tyler wtf is with posting shit like this?  There's not a goddamned person on here with an IQ over 120 who doesn't realize that this synthetic fuels nonsense is grossly EROI negative.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 23:25 | 606434 Sqworl
Sqworl's picture

Trav: Dude you seriously need to get some poontang or find an appropriate sandbox to stick your inflated IQ in...

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 23:47 | 606468 Lower Class Elite
Lower Class Elite's picture

Yeah, I'm with trav on this.  Utter horseshit.  "Golly gee whiz, there's practically free energy just sloshing all around us just waiting to be seamlessly converted for use in my Expedition if only those dastardly (insert false dichotomy buzzword here) would (insert magical faith-based technological/social/political solution here)!  I know it's true 'cause I read it on Zero Hedge!"


Sun, 09/26/2010 - 21:23 | 606272 digalert
digalert's picture

Bonafide hokum! How about the government getting the hell out of the fuel business? Let the free market scientists and entrepreneurs do it. It you insist on government crap, maybe they can issue some grants. Lastly, for crying out loud never think of using food (corn) for fuel, it's asinine.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 21:31 | 606282 Papasmurf
Papasmurf's picture

Instead of biomass, why not convert politicians into fuel?  They are cheap, renewable and the supply is abundant.  

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 22:40 | 606387 OldTrooper
OldTrooper's picture

LMAO!  But are you sure there is no toxic residue?

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 22:48 | 606378 Rusty Shorts
Rusty Shorts's picture

"I think this is the great example of why so many pin their hopes on the "as-yet-unknown-future-technology-fix". We just pop together the as-yet-unknown free energy device into the as-yet-unknown spaceship and fly to the as-yet-unknown destination and *wham!* populate the galaxy."


We're toast.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 23:26 | 606435 palmereldritch
palmereldritch's picture

Interesting article here from May 1982 (product of the post 70's oil embargo) where Professor Calvin Melvin from U Cal Berkeley, a Nobel prize winner in 1961 for Chemistry and one of the then world's greatest authorities on the biochemistry of plants investigates the conversion of the latex sap found in gopher weeds into a simpler and purer replacement petroleum stock.

"Auto fuel from plants" [p.84]

(Courtesy of Propular Science)

Mon, 09/27/2010 - 00:18 | 606520 palmereldritch
palmereldritch's picture

Addendum [because the freaking edit function wouldn't work]

Just when you thought the Internet couldn't make you anymore cynical...OK.

Further research on Milkweed (Gopher weed) and its latex sap as a replacement for petroleum yields this little gem [all emphasis is mine...for emphasis]


Milkweed: The Worth of a Weed

by Herbert D. Knudsen, President, Natural Fibers Corp., Ogallala, NE, and Renee Y. Sayler, Associate Director of Industry Development, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.




In the late 1970's, Nobel Laureate Melvin Calvin and others were promoting the idea that billions of barrels of synthetic crude oil could be recovered from plant biomass. Standard Oil of Ohio began a milkweed research program, working with Native Plants, Inc., to produce a synthetic crude oil from milkweed biomass. Milkweed was grown, cut, dried, and baled much like hay. Analysis of that research concluded that the cost of producing the synthetic crude oil was too high and the yield of oil too low to be economically feasible.

During the course of that research project, Herbert D. Knudsen, Manager of Corporate Ventures for Standard Oil, was looking at alternative uses of milkweed. He made contact with William G. Wilson of Kimberly-Clark in Neenah, WI. Kimberly-Clark was interested in the potential of milkweed floss for use in its disposable absorbency products. With Standard Oil's 5 years of experience growing milkweed in research plots for the synthetic crude oil project, the fit of interests seemed good. Arrangements were made for Kimberly-Clark to proceed with product development research and Standard Oil to grow milkweed.

When British Petroleum acquired Standard Oil of Ohio, they eliminated diversification efforts, so Knudsen decided to acquire the milkweed venture himself. In 1987, Natural Fibers Corp. was founded with the dream of creating a new agricultural industry, comparable in size to the cotton industry, based on milkweed.

Yeah, that British Petroleum killed the petroleum replacement research in Milkweed.

What a fucking surprise....

BP = Been Pwned


Sun, 09/26/2010 - 23:30 | 606442 Occams Parsimony
Occams Parsimony's picture

The Oceans are the solution, I just don't know how. Something less then electricity or possibly more efficiently produced electricity for a net +. A small cheaply produced nuclear reactor or solar power to kick off the separation process. This is the solution and solves both global warming issues as well as rising oceans from the damage we have already caused. The bottom line is that we all know that this is the way we need to go and where all efforts of any type should be placed.

Mon, 09/27/2010 - 00:11 | 606510 Lower Class Elite
Lower Class Elite's picture

Well, I think the the solution is UNICORNS.  It's high time that our politicians step up to the plate and invest big money in genetically modified unicorn research (But they also need to stay completely out of the way and let the free and unfettered unicorn markets do their thing).  Do you know how much investment has been made in the past 20 years in genetically modified unicorn research?  ZERO, that's how much.  And everybody knows that unicorns shit Skittles, a portion of which they then consume (no food costs, no waste disposal, leftover Skittles for everyone else, duh!).  It's really just a hop and a skip over to creating mutant unicorns that also piss a zero carbon emissions 96 octane liquid that can be burned as-is in existing internal combustion engines.  Basic science really.

Mon, 09/27/2010 - 00:57 | 606559 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

It is human nature to look for a solution and maybe even imagine you have found one -- even if you have not.

Biodiesel is not the solution.  And no, this isn't a left wing rant that will demand you change your behavior and reduce consumption.  You should go out and consume all you want.  Enjoy the time you have left.

There is no solution.  The Earth doesn't care if the human population went from 1 billion in 1900 to 7 billion just 100 years later.  (7X in 100 yrs !!)  That was fueled by oil.  When oil flow reduces, very soon now, population will go back to 1 billion.  And it won't happen by 19 year olds deciding not to procreate.  A lot of people are going to die of starvation and war.

Soon.  Accept it.  There's nothing you can do about it.

Mon, 09/27/2010 - 01:22 | 606597 enobittep
enobittep's picture

This situation has never made sense - more so given that we are paying the muslim hoards billions for this foreign oil so they can hate us.  Too bad we don't put some serious $$$ into hybrid research for the exclusive and sole use of US based auto/agriculture companies.  We could really kick some serious GDP ass if everyone in the US drove 150mpg cars so we could take the money we spend on oil and invest it in advanced life sciences and computing technology innovation.  Moreover, if we converted our agriculture industry over to hyprid power - think of the possibilites.  This is a friggen economic war - when are we going to begin fighting.

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