Cars are the key to U.S. energy consumption. The dominant automotive platform here, whether you drive a truck, a car, or a motorcycle, relies on gasoline-fueled internal combustion engines. That’s the platform we are unlikely to change quickly. So how do we leave that platform intact and unchanged, ask nobody to significantly sacrifice, yet still achieve the noble (and Nobel) goals of lower fuel consumption, lower greenhouse gas emissions, lower pollution levels, dramatically lower oil consumption, lower cost, and lower geopolitical vulnerability for our country? There’s only one way I know to accomplish this: change the fuel.
This happened to a certain extent in Brazil during the ’70s and ’80s by embracing ethanol. But ethanol has less energy per gallon so fuel consumption goes up and mileage goes down. Ethanol can’t be shipped in pipelines also used for oil. Cars have to be modified to run on it and even then there are issues about internal corrosion. Ethanol is far from perfect. What’s needed is a replacement for gasoline that looks and feels and tastes just like gas to your car but isn’t made from oil. Then the platform could remain completely unchanged yet my 1966 Thunderbird (and the world) could benefit starting with the very next tankful.
There is such a fuel, developed by a husband and wife team of scientists working in Indiana in cooperation with Purdue University. This new fuel, called SwiftFuel, is right now intended for airplanes, not cars, but the lessons are the same.