Sunday, August 05, 2007


It's been about thirty-four years since the energy crisis rocked this country in the early seventies. I'm not really sure if we are any closer to a solution than we were then. Our country used to be known for brilliant inventions and discoveries. It's hard to understand why some lone genius hasn't emerged from his basement or garage with a cheap and plentiful substitute fuel for the internal combustion engine, or for that matter, some major corporation with all the resources in the world at their fingertips. If we don't get a handle on this energy dependence problem we now have, pretty soon we are going to be facing economic disaster, and no one seems to be really talking about it that much.
Why aren't we doing more with alcohol and vegetable oil fuels? They are totally renewable and burn much cleaner than hydrocarbon based fuels.
Personally, I have no problem with the idea of driving a clean burning vegetable oil fired diesel vehicle. They are very fuel efficient. I have no problem with an alcohol fueled engine. Anything that reduces our dependency on foreign oil is OK with me. We certainly do not see people rushing to buy electric cars or scooters that are still limited to about a sixty mile range, and carry totally off the wall prices! We hear a lot of talk about better batteries etc.,but they are very expensive, and not that much better. Replacement costs an any type of battery powered systems are counter productive to developing a high volume sales product.
After sixty years of personally working on every type of internal combustion engine ever developed I find that it seems that they are still the winners and still the relative champions of efficiency. This is because of their convenience to fuel, their ever increasing range between refueling, and their lower cost to produce, although that last point is arguable in my minds eye, but with electrics, it still comes down to batteries and range.
We need to develop a renewable, clean burning, inexpensive fuel.
The thought of growing fuel as a crop is very appealing to me. It would certainly put a lot more farmers to work. The thought of adding solar and wind power into the processing loop is even more appealing.
My observation is that we already have the technology and the resources, but we just aren't utilizing them properly.
We are constantly hearing about the various invasive species of plants that are unstoppable, and clogging our ponds, swamps, rivers ,streams and dry land. We could be taking advantage of their prolific nature by harvesting them for fuel conversion, and their numerous valuable by products.
Is it political red tape, stupidity, no guts, apathy, or poor patent protection that is holding back the invention process? Let's make a cheap and clean fuel that will run the cars we are already building, and quit trying to reinvent our wheels! I just want to fill up at a fair price and drive 400 miles between fuel stops.
Where are the new George Washington Carver's, Glen Curtis's Thomas Edison's,Henry Ford's, Nicola Tesla's, and the Wright Brothers of this world? Did imagination die with them?
Walt Barrett

No comments: