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.