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NYTimes: Usaf Wants Alternative To Oil-based Fuel  
User currently offlinePmg1704 From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 162 posts, RR: 0
Posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 4062 times:

Military Plans Tests in Search for an Alternative to Oil-Based Fuel

The idea of alternative jet fuels has come up a few times, I thought this would be of interest.

Note: "The United States is unlikely ever to become fully independent of foreign oil, Mr. Aimone said, but the intent of the Air Force project is "to develop enough independence to have assured domestic supplies for aviation purposes.""

[Edited 2006-05-13 22:27:03]

43 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineLumberton From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 4708 posts, RR: 20
Reply 1, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 3992 times:

Didn't South Africa successfully develop fuel from coal during the 80s? Can't find a reference but I remember reading that they had a program due to the international boycotts. I suspect it wouldn't be commerically feasible (yet), but it would be a good idea to have some degree of self sufficiency.


"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
User currently offlineCopaair737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 3984 times:

Quoting Lumberton (Reply 1):
Didn't South Africa successfully develop fuel from coal during the 80s

They may have. The Nazi's invented the process during World War II when the Odessa Oil Fields were bombed. The name of it is the Fischer-Tropsch method. Currently, Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana is proposing gasifying coal in that state. Here's the link to the story:
http://www.billingsgazette.com/newde...08/02/build/state/25-coal-fuel.inc
Quite the idea really, I'd be in support of it.

-Copa


User currently offlinePSA727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 974 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 3962 times:

Quoting Copaair737 (Reply 2):
The Nazi's invented the process during World War II when the Odessa Oil Fields were bombed.


Now that you've brought that up...

I know the Allies did bombing raids in central Germany on synthetic
fuel factories in 1944 I think. Do you know from what materials these
fuels were being processed; and more importantly, what happened to
this technology?



fly high, pay low...Germanwings!
User currently offlineLumberton From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 4708 posts, RR: 20
Reply 4, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 3941 times:

Quoting Copaair737 (Reply 2):
Quite the idea really, I'd be in support of it.

Many thanks for the link and info, Copaair737! What are we waiting for???



"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
User currently offlineSjoerd From Belgium, joined Aug 2003, 361 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 3930 times:

As crude oil becomes more and more expensive coal will become the main source for liquid fuel. This fuel is exactly the same as the fuel out of oil, it is just more expensive to produce. It is also estimated that there is about 3 times more coal than there ever was oil. The largest amounts of coal are found in Western Europe.
The proces and chemical reactions to make liquid fuel out of coal are well known it's just the factories that need to be build or adapted. At $70 a barrel for crude oil it is equally expensive to use coal or oil to make fuel. If the price of oil rises further you will see companies investing in coal to fuel factories. It is just a matter of time.
It is also possible to make fuel out of organic material (waste, crops).
Both fuels can then be mixed. In Germany this happens already, they add ethanol (made from sugar cane) to diesel to make bio-diesel.

Possibilities enough to to produce the same kind of fuel we use today for decennia to come... The price will depend on the production cost of course.

Sjoerd

[Edited 2006-05-14 01:18:16]


Flanders + Wallonnia + Brussels = the UNITED STATES of BELGIUM
User currently offlineAtmx2000 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 4576 posts, RR: 37
Reply 6, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 3916 times:

Quoting Lumberton (Reply 4):
Many thanks for the link and info, Copaair737! What are we waiting for???

Too make sure the investments won't suddenly get undercut if OPEC decides to lower oil prices through increased production.

I think to make any alternative fuel strategy work, both minimum oil price levels for domestic consumption as well as an oil content tax on imports of other goods to avoid having domestic producers be under cut by producers in nations who have a minimum price below that of the domestic price.



ConcordeBoy is a twin supremacist!! He supports quadicide!!
User currently offlineLumberton From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 4708 posts, RR: 20
Reply 7, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 3894 times:

Quoting Sjoerd (Reply 5):
The largest amounts of coal are found in Western Europe.

Sorry, Sjoerd. This doesn't jive with what I'm seeing on the web.
http://www.geohive.com/charts/charts.php?xml=en_coalres&xsl=en_res
This says that the U.S. has the largest reserves, followed by:
Russia
China
India
Australia



"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
User currently offlineSjoerd From Belgium, joined Aug 2003, 361 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 3871 times:

Quoting Lumberton (Reply 7):
Sorry, Sjoerd. This doesn't jive with what I'm seeing on the web.
http://www.geohive.com/charts/charts.php?xml=en_coalres&xsl=en_res
This says that the U.S. has the largest reserves, followed by:
Russia
China
India
Australia

Yeah that should be correct. I remembered the inforamtion I gave from what I learned at the university. I got it wrong then, maybe Western Europe has the highest concentration for a certain area.
There are also big differences between the quality and accessibility of coal, maybe it had something to do with that.
Whatever the case the world will not run out of fuel (the one we know today) soon.

Sjoerd

[Edited 2006-05-14 01:42:01]

[Edited 2006-05-14 01:54:26]


Flanders + Wallonnia + Brussels = the UNITED STATES of BELGIUM
User currently offlineZE701 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 3867 times:

Lumberton,

That doesn't take into account accessability. Most of the coal deposits in the U.S are not yet accessable, (No infrastructure, remote areas) ditto Russia, China, (most of it is under mountains), same with India, and all Aus's deposits are in the middle of nowhere. Most of Europes coal fields are shallow draft (relatively easily reached and mined and already easily accesible by road and rail) and are already being mined as we speak, and have been for 30-40 years.
So I think that's where Sjoerd was coming from. Coal isn't cheap when you have to build new mines, roads, railways, etc. to reach it.


User currently offlineSjoerd From Belgium, joined Aug 2003, 361 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 3861 times:

This link is interesting as well, it gives a pretty different picture. Must have been Eastern Europe I wanted to refer to. It also shows how much more coal there is left.

http://www.rudrumholdings.co.uk/second_level_pages/ff2.htm

Sjoerd



Flanders + Wallonnia + Brussels = the UNITED STATES of BELGIUM
User currently offlineLumberton From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 4708 posts, RR: 20
Reply 11, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 3837 times:

Quoting ZE701 (Reply 9):
That doesn't take into account accessability. Most of the coal deposits in the U.S are not yet accessable, (No infrastructure, remote areas) ditto Russia, China, (most of it is under mountains), same with India, and all Aus's deposits are in the middle of nowhere. Most of Europes coal fields are shallow draft (relatively easily reached and mined and already easily accesible by road and rail) and are already being mined as we speak, and have been for 30-40 years.

Not to belabor this, but strip mining, i.e., surface mining, is a huge industry in the U.S. I grew up in western Pennsylvanis (eastern U.S.) and strip mining was quite
common, as well as deep coal mining. Much, and I mean quite a bit, of the U.S. coal is accessable by either surface or deep mining. And most of it is bituminous coal.

Here is another link that addresses accessability:
http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energyfa...ts/sources/non-renewable/coal.html

Quote:
Coal miners use giant machines to remove coal from the ground. They use two methods: surface or underground mining. Many U.S. coal beds are very near the ground's surface, and about two-thirds of coal production comes from surface mines. Modern mining methods allow us to easily reach most of our coal reserves. Due to growth in surface mining and improved mining technology, the amount of coal produced by one miner in one hour has more than tripled since 1978.


[Edited 2006-05-14 02:07:42]


"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
User currently offlineZE701 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 3825 times:

Fair enough Lumberton. You know more than me about US matters, I'm just going by what I learn from press sources. Hopefully I'm more accurate with the other countries, it's just that I don't see any big figures for coal production for anything above and beyond Europe so I was just backing up my Belgian friend. Thank you for correcting me.

User currently offlineLumberton From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 4708 posts, RR: 20
Reply 13, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 3814 times:

Quoting Sjoerd (Reply 10):
This link is interesting as well, it gives a pretty different picture. Must have been Eastern Europe I wanted to refer to. It also shows how much more coal there is left.

Well it combines Eastern Europe and FSU (Former Soviet Union?). The previous link showed Russia with world's second largest coal reserves, so it is another way of presenting essentially the same data.



"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
User currently offlineLumberton From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 4708 posts, RR: 20
Reply 14, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 3810 times:

Quoting ZE701 (Reply 12):
Fair enough Lumberton.

Not a problem at all! I am simply amazed that we can't get any momentum in the U.S. (and elsewhere) to start developing this resource. If there was ever an issue that begs for government backing, it's this one IMO! But then again, we can't even get another refinery built here.  scared  If the USAF can get something rolling over here then I'm all for it.



"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
User currently offlineSjoerd From Belgium, joined Aug 2003, 361 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 3780 times:

Quoting Lumberton (Reply 14):
Not a problem at all! I am simply amazed that we can't get any momentum in the U.S. (and elsewhere) to start developing this resource. If there was ever an issue that begs for government backing, it's this one IMO! But then again, we can't even get another refinery built here. If the USAF can get something rolling over here then I'm all for it.

This is because it's still cheaper to use oil (with the existing refineries), even with the high oil prices. When the price of oil rises more the investment in new factories and development becomes worth it. The process of making fuel out of coal is well established.

Sjoerd



Flanders + Wallonnia + Brussels = the UNITED STATES of BELGIUM
User currently offlineSjoerd From Belgium, joined Aug 2003, 361 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 3760 times:

Quoting Lumberton (Reply 13):
Well it combines Eastern Europe and FSU (Former Soviet Union?). The previous link showed Russia with world's second largest coal reserves, so it is another way of presenting essentially the same data.

Correct.

Sjoerd



Flanders + Wallonnia + Brussels = the UNITED STATES of BELGIUM
User currently offlineDtw9 From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 1175 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 3749 times:

Quoting Lumberton (Reply 14):
Not a problem at all! I am simply amazed that we can't get any momentum in the U.S. (and elsewhere) to start developing this resource. If there was ever an issue that begs for government backing, it's this one IMO! But then again, we can't even get another refinery built here. If the USAF can get something rolling over here then I'm all for it.

The biggest problem is, that to equal the daily consumption of oil that the U.S. uses today( 20 million barrels a day),we would need to build 140 such plants. At 7.5 Billion apiece,you do the math.


User currently offlineAirFrnt From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 2829 posts, RR: 42
Reply 18, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 3694 times:

Quoting Copaair737 (Reply 2):

They may have. The Nazi's invented the process during World War II when the Odessa Oil Fields were bombed. The name of it is the Fischer-Tropsch method. Currently, Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana is proposing gasifying coal in that state. Here's the link to the story:
http://www.billingsgazette.com/newde...08/02/build/state/25-coal-fuel.inc
Quite the idea really, I'd be in support of it.

The Nazi's actually used both coal and oil shale to good effect during WWII. Given that the US has the largest reserves of both forms of energy, we are in good shape long run.

Quoting Sjoerd (Reply 5):
As crude oil becomes more and more expensive coal will become the main source for liquid fuel. This fuel is exactly the same as the fuel out of oil, it is just more expensive to produce. It is also estimated that there is about 3 times more coal than there ever was oil. The largest amounts of coal are found in Western Europe.

Try the United States, followed by eastern europe. In the US is in Colorado, Wyoming, and then some of the mid eastern states. Hardly inaccessible.

Quoting Lumberton (Reply 14):
Not a problem at all! I am simply amazed that we can't get any momentum in the U.S. (and elsewhere) to start developing this resource. If there was ever an issue that begs for government backing, it's this one IMO! But then again, we can't even get another refinery built here. scared If the USAF can get something rolling over here then I'm all for it.

I keep hoping that the USAF or some other millitary unit says "we garuntee 50BB at $50 a barrel to kickstart liquefied coal or oil shale. Oil shale is more likely since that can be refined to Jet A.


User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21583 posts, RR: 59
Reply 19, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 3675 times:

Quoting Sjoerd (Reply 5):
The price will depend on the production cost of course.



Quoting Sjoerd (Reply 15):
This is because it's still cheaper to use oil (with the existing refineries), even with the high oil prices. When the price of oil rises more the investment in new factories and development becomes worth it. The process of making fuel out of coal is well established.

This is exactly right.

The fallacy that the USA itself can't be energy independent is promoted by two groups at opposite ends of the spectrum: energy companies and environmental groups.

Enviro groups try to stop any exploitation of new sources while energy companies perpetuate the current import model because it allows them to be less careful about environmental impact.

The thing is, there is a certain price point where the oil in various areas of the USA becomes viable, where oil shale and oil sand are viable, where coal fuels are viable.

The oil companies don't want to invest in the infrastructure to get to it, because the return would not be worth it (getting oil from the mid-east is WAY cheaper). And the Arabs know this too, so whenever the oil price reaches a point that the investment WOULD be worth it, the price of oil magically drops to below the point where it makes sense to use something besides crude.

The record oil company profits shown recently should be used to invest in non-mid-east based sources of fuel around the world, in stable places, but it won't be unless they feel assurances that the new world order is constant, that oil will remain at $70 or higher for the foreseeable future.

And frankly, the best long term energy policy the west could have is to perpetuate hostility in the middle east, because once the infrastructure is built to become independent of oil, that region loses it's grip on the world stage.

Which is why OPEC won't let it happen, or at least hasn't let it happen in the past. They've exerted pressure to remind the rest of the world why they are important in the past, then pulled back prices as a reward. Which is why no airline truly believes that $70+ oil is here to stay, because historically, it's just not sustainable, at least for OPEC. We'll see if it's really a new world or not.



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently onlinePyrex From Portugal, joined Aug 2005, 4064 posts, RR: 30
Reply 20, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 3553 times:

Boy, you know something is expensive when even the United States Air Force is looking for ways not to pay for it...

Quoting Sjoerd (Reply 5):
In Germany this happens already, they add ethanol (made from sugar cane) to diesel to make bio-diesel.

Actually, no. Ethanol (whatever the source) is mixed with gasoline (it has the same type of combustion). To make bio-diesel you need to use fuels processed from vegetable oils (sunflower, soy, etc.)



Read this very carefully, I shall write this only once!
User currently offlineAtmx2000 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 4576 posts, RR: 37
Reply 21, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 3538 times:

Quoting Pyrex (Reply 20):
Boy, you know something is expensive when even the United States Air Force is looking for ways not to pay for it...

Not exactly. They are looking at ways to guarantee availability.

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 19):
The oil companies don't want to invest in the infrastructure to get to it, because the return would not be worth it (getting oil from the mid-east is WAY cheaper). And the Arabs know this too, so whenever the oil price reaches a point that the investment WOULD be worth it, the price of oil magically drops to below the point where it makes sense to use something besides crude.

I would argue a bigger problem is the end users of more expensive fuel products than oil would be put out of business if their competitors, foreign or domestic, use significantly cheaper energy sources and gain an advantage from it. So you can't mandate the use of some more expensive synthetic fuel throughout the economy without experiencing users experiencing consequences.

But the Air Force can use synthetic fuel as they don't compete for business since the US government pays their bills. And the expense of using some syn fuel will only have a marginal impact on the USAF operating budget, so the cost to the tax payers won't be that much. But whatever they do, they should make sure that the systems they use are compatible with fuel derived from "natural" fuels for maxium flexibility.

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 19):
The record oil company profits shown recently should be used to invest in non-mid-east based sources of fuel around the world, in stable places, but it won't be unless they feel assurances that the new world order is constant, that oil will remain at $70 or higher for the foreseeable future.

The only stable places are in and around the US, Canada, UK, Norway and Australia.



ConcordeBoy is a twin supremacist!! He supports quadicide!!
User currently offlineAFHokie From United States of America, joined May 2004, 224 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 3462 times:

Please all forgive me, but I want to derail this thread for a moment regarding a trend I have noticed in the Mil Av & Space forum lately.

Quoting ZE701 (Reply 9):
That doesn't take into account accessability. Most of the coal deposits in the U.S are not yet accessable



Quoting Lumberton (Reply 11):
Not to belabor this, but strip mining, i.e., surface mining, is a huge industry in the U.S. I grew up in western Pennsylvanis (eastern U.S.) and strip mining was quite
common, as well as deep coal mining. Much, and I mean quite a bit, of the U.S. coal is accessable by either surface or deep mining. And most of it is bituminous coal.

Lumberton, thank you for pointing this out, you beat me to it. I would like additionally point out though that this is a perfect example for everyone to please take a moment and check your facts before posting. I've noticed lately in some of the other threads that fact checking before posting is at an all time low. Even worse, to me it sees that opinions lately are being passed as fact. While there is nothing wrong with posting your opinion, it is just that, YOUR opinion. PLEASE do not try to pass it off as a hard fact.

Now not to pick on him, and I'm not saying what ZE701 posted was an opinion, but less than five minutes of his time on google.com or any other search engine would've shown him the error.

Thanks for your time; I'm off my soap box and back to lurking

Truck


User currently offlineBoeing7E7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 3420 times:

Quoting PSA727 (Reply 3):
I know the Allies did bombing raids in central Germany on synthetic
fuel factories in 1944 I think. Do you know from what materials these
fuels were being processed; and more importantly, what happened to
this technology?

Like everything else on this planet. If you don't need it right now, you don't spend money developing it until you need it and the development costs have gone through the roof. Time to start thinking about a future, not the now. Perhaps the next generation of politicians won't have their heads up their asses and we can make some leaps in this area rather than bitch back and forth about it.


User currently offlineFlying-Tiger From Germany, joined Aug 1999, 4166 posts, RR: 36
Reply 24, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 3343 times:

Quoting Boeing7E7 (Reply 23):
Like everything else on this planet. If you don't need it right now, you don't spend money developing it until you need it and the development costs have gone through the roof. Time to start thinking about a future, not the now. Perhaps the next generation of politicians won't have their heads up their asses and we can make some leaps in this area rather than bitch back and forth about it.

This technology was further developed by South-Africa (SASOL), and is available to the market. China is building at least one CtL plant (coal-to-liquid), IIRC two or three. The technology is there, applications are running, biggest issues are how to reduce costs.



Flown: A319/320/321,A332/3,A380,AT4,AT7,B732/3/4/5/7/8,B742/4,B762/763,B772,CR2,CR7,ER4,E70,E75,F50/70,M11,L15,S20
25 Post contains links Aseem : various experiments have been carried out in India, particularly by the railways to use Bio-Diesel. Its still pretty long before something like this
26 Aseem : a good example would be the timely development of Alberta oil sands in Canada. Till a decade ago, the process was not considered feasible, but skyroc
27 AerospaceFan : I've read that the problem isn't that there aren't physically enough oil or oil-convertible deposits on Earth to last us for another hundred years, bu
28 RayChuang : I think growing oil-laden algae on a huge scale could solve the USAF's problems. Since the primary oil extracted from these algae is biodiesel fuel an
29 AerospaceFan : What we have is a failure of government to force oil companies to diversify into non-oil-based technologies. BP is running a public campaign touting i
30 Atmx2000 : Because for transportation and many industrial purposes, there is no good substitute. And unless your international competitors switch as well, you w
31 Lenbrazil : Brazilian manufacturer Embraer released the World's first all ethanol powered aircraft, a lightweight crop duster, last year. They say they have plans
32 Atmx2000 : I suspect that it is a decent choice for a crop duster simply because the crop duster is being used close to the fuel source, and crop dusters can al
33 Post contains links Baroque : Quoting many of the previous contributors and giving some supplementary information. Germany used two main processes in WWII, the Fischer Tropsch (F-T
34 Post contains links and images Lumberton : Can I pass on the gas, and substitute 3.8 liters of wine from Adelaide? First I heard of this. I certainly have no reason to doubt you on this. BTW,
35 Lenbrazil : I'm not sure but I think the energy density of jet fuel is only about 10% more than aviation gasoline. The difference between normal gasoline and eth
36 Post contains links Baroque : Thank you for your kind words. Asking me about coal and oil is a bit like asking Lightsaber if he has ever heard of a GTF! On the catalysts, you coul
37 Baroque : The RON (Research Octane Number) for ethanol is fixed by its chemistry. The scale is based on the straight chain heptane (7 carbon atoms n-paraffinic
38 DEVILFISH : And for a totally uninformed question, would these alternative fuels help mitigate/defuse charges that aircraft emissions are contributing greatly to
39 Post contains links Baroque : Hmmm. Shell and Anglo American just signed an agreement to examine production of synthetic diesel and electricity from brown coal in Victoria, Austral
40 Atmx2000 : A lot of the world (and the US) is out of range of easy transport for domestic ethanol, due to its corrosive nature making it unsuitable for conventi
41 Baroque : A spot of furious agreement with Atmx2000. The main compounds in natural rubber are not that far away from oil and palm oil is close too. The problem
42 Flying-Tiger : Highly interesting to read what you wrote. Brought you on me RU list... One question: On what generation of biofuel is this based? The first one where
43 Post contains links Baroque : Thank you for the kind comments. You are correct in identifying this as a major problem for biofuels. The fruiting body (palm nuts, or corn seed) is
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