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Synthetic Fuels Could Replace Entire U.S. Need for Crude Oil

Scientists at Princeton University found that a combination of coal, natural gas and non-food crops could form a synthetic replacement for today's gasoline. The scientists said that it could replace virtually our entire need for crude oil and make the United States independent for oil imports. They also said that synthetic fuels "could be used directly in automobile engines and are almost identical to fuels refined from crude oil."

The news gets even better as synthetic fuels are less harmful to the environment and would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent, the researchers estimate. Of course, there are downsides as well. One of them is the time frame of implementation: The time required to create a synthetic fuel supply and distribution infrastructure would be about 30 to 40 years, Christodoulos Floudas, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Princeton, estimated.

And then there is cost. The adoption of synthetic fuel would cost about $1.1 trillion. According to the EIA, the United States is currently importing about 317 million barrels of crude oil per month at a cost of about $28.5 billion per month. At this level, the synthetic fuel cost represents the cost of crude oil imports of about 39 months.

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  • bak0n
    The time required to create a synthetic fuel supply and distribution infrastructure would be about 30 to 40 years.

    Talk to me in 60 years when I'm dead and its still not out.
    Reply
  • A Bad Day
    The news gets even better as synthetic fuels are less harmful to the environment and would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent, the researchers estimate.

    combination of coal, natural gas and non-food crops

    Coal: Need this be explained?

    Natural gas: Although it's a cleaner fuel than oil or coal, the issue is the gas extraction using hydraulic fracturing. There had been many reports of wells leaking toxic liquid waste (often times contaminated with heavy metals), or leaking so much methane into the watertable that it blows out the water pumps in the surrounding area. Methane is also a much stronger heat trapper than carbon dioxide.
    Reply
  • aaron88_7
    As long as my future car can fly I really don't care what kind of fuel it uses.
    Reply
  • A Bad Day
    EDIT: And what non-food crops are going to be used? Will fertilizers, pesticides and diesel-powered farming equipments be used from seed-planting to harvesting? Will it encourage farmers living next to or in rain forests to cut more trees to make more farming land?
    Reply
  • livebriand
    I'd rather we spend the money on renewables, rather than unsustainable and still polluting synthetics like this.
    Reply
  • RealityClash
    Or if the government wasn't full of corrupt/uninformed idiots then hemp would still be legal and today's cars would run on sustainable and environmentally friendly biofuels made from hemp which is what Henry Ford's first cars were originally designed to run on and we'd have never been in this mess where we're both running out of fossil fuels and killing the planet.

    Either way I guess this would still be a step in the right direction :)
    Reply
  • freggo
    " are almost identical to fuels refined from crude oil."
    vs.
    " synthetic fuels are less harmful to the environment" and "cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent"

    If they are virtually identical then how can one be less harmful and cut emissions by 50%

    No matter what you put into a combustion engine, it is never going to be as efficient as an electric motor nor can even the most powerful V8 product the low end torque that an electric motor produces.

    You want great 0-60 times... go electric.
    And if you absolutely need a combustion engine, then feed it Hydrogen.
    BMW has shown that it can be done, and talk about a clean exhaust; no more suicides in the garage !

    Reply
  • everygamer
    Setting up the manufacturing/distribution for this is 1.1 Trillion. What would the cost per gallon of the synthetic fuel be. Just because it can be used, does not mean that it is cheaper to produce. If it is more expensive per gallon, then there would be no economic drive to use it.

    This is the same reason that other fuel sources have not replaced gas up to this point, because the energy to cost ratio of gas is just that much more than the other solutions. Example, Ethonol costs more to make, and we get less energy from it, so you need more ethonol to get the same work at a much higher cost.
    Reply
  • azraa
    livebriandI'd rather we spend the money on renewables, rather than unsustainable and still polluting synthetics like this.
    Totally agree with this guy.
    And this applies to the power grid AND vehicle usage.
    Synth fuels will have a drawback from the biological point of view and they will produce pollution anyway. (IE: id rather consume electricity than chopping down entire forests for crops to be sown, the soil weakens and industrial giants dont give a shit)

    Electrical cars need to be focus no. 1 to the energetic research of USA.
    Larger scale solar plants needs to be a priority
    On the other hand, I do not oppose thermonuclear power.
    Sure it is dangerous, but we live in the 21st century and there are many proofs that it is safer than ever, any scientist could say that. Physics and the engineering behind it are well known by now.

    We need anything but oil and coal generating our power.
    Reply
  • waikano
    If it makes a synthetic gas that wouldn't replace the need for diesel, this country runs on Diesel not gas. The only real thing that runs on gas are our cars (well except mine which run on diesel) Everything else is diesel. As far as a clean renewable energy that can replace the need for diesel made from crude oil look no further than Bio Diesel made from Algae...it will be here before the 30-40 year timeline for this synthetic gas.
    Reply