Powering cars with coal might seem like a recipe for ecological disaster. But if fuel experts are right, a liquefied form of the notoriously dirty mineral will be providing much of the world with its transport fuel within the next two decades. The coal miner's equivalent of turning straw into gold, liquid coal enables cars, trains and even jets designed to burn oil to run on coal instead. And, says its cheering squad, it does so in a way that's green, economical and widely available.Now, this all sounds terrific. A plentiful supply of a widely available resource that can be used in a more environmentally friendly manner than the oil-based product it replaces, while also reducing energy dependency on unstable Middle East governments. Hmmm... too good to be true?
With the world's largest coal reserves, the United States has enough coal to power the country for another century at least. Russia, China and India follow close behind. Advocates say coal blows away biofuels, the current darling of energy venture capitalists, in head-to-head comparisons of availability and efficiency. In the United States, for example, ethanol producers are already using up 14 percent of the country's annual corn crops but generating less than 2 percent of the country's fuel needs.
Liquid coal's environmental credentials stand up to questioning, too. Although old CTL plants (like existing ones in South Africa) are chronic polluters, nearly all the newest ones are models of eco-correctness. Underground carbon capture and sequestration (separation) technology can trap and bury the CO2 waste emissions, protecting the atmosphere from harm. With sequestration, powering a car with liquid coal is approximately 30 percent cleaner than using gasoline. Old King Coal is starting to look pretty new.
Of course it is too good to be true. Do you realize that this will do nothing to reduce CO2 going into the atmosphere when this fuel is burned? The only way we can save the earth from becoming an inferno is to immediately stop production of anything that remotely produces CO2.
We need an immediate 10% reduction in CO2 production. According to my calculations, if each of us simply stops breathing for 2.4 hours each day, we can individually make an immediate impact on man-made global warming.
Forget eco-friendly. Forget good economics. Forget security. That doesn't matter anymore!
CO2 is all that matters. Stop breathing... do it now! Before we all die... Floods, storms and droughts. Melting Arctic ice, shrinking glaciers, oceans turning to acid. The world's top scientists warned last week that dangerous climate change is taking place today, not the day after tomorrow.
Where is Dr. Kevorkian when we really need him?
Oh, sorry. Maybe I might have overstated the problem. You know how reading all of those warnings can get to a person after awhile.