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dsmith421
08-25-2005, 05:45 PM
While his colleagues around the country are busy mooching off lobbyists, firing their political opponents from merit-based jobs, playing free golf, and getting indicted, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer is excited about something that actually could help taxpayers. He believes an eighty-year-old process producing fuel from coal developed by the Nazis, of all people, could help solve America's fuel crisis.

Read on...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050825/pl_nm/energy_montana_dc


HELENA, Montana (Reuters) - Montana's governor wants to solve America's rising energy costs using a technology discovered in Germany 80 years ago that converts coal into gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel.

The Fischer-Tropsch technology, discovered by German researchers in 1923 and later used by the Nazis to convert coal into wartime fuels, was not economical as long as oil cost less than $30 a barrel.

But with U.S. crude oil now hitting more than double that price, Gov. Brian Schweitzer's plan is getting more attention across the country and some analysts are taking him very seriously.

Montana is "sitting on more energy than they have in the Middle East," Schweitzer told Reuters in an interview this week.

"I am leading this country in this desire and demand to convert coal into gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel. We can do it in Montana for $1 per gallon," he said.

"We can do it cheaper than importing oil from the sheiks, dictators, rats and crooks that we're bringing it from right now."

The governor estimated the cost of producing a barrel of oil through the Fischer-Tropsch method at $32, and said that with its 120 billion tons of coal -- a little less than a third of the U.S total -- Montana could supply the entire United States with its aviation, gas and diesel fuel for 40 years without creating environmental damage.

An entry level Fischer-Tropsch plant producing 22,000 barrels a day would cost about $1.5 billion, he said.

The Democratic governor of this Republican state said he had met with Shell president John Hofmeister, General Electric's CEO Jeff Immelt, as well as officials from the Department of Defense, and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad to discuss his proposals.

Schweitzer added that the recently passed federal energy bill includes an 80 percent loan guarantee for a Fischer- Tropsch plant.

A former cattle rancher who lived for seven years in Saudi Arabia working on irrigation projects, Schweitzer is also seeking energy deals with other states, especially California.

California "says they need 25,000 megawatts of electricity during the next ten years," he said. "We'll give you a delivered price and we'll forward contract that for the next 20 years.

"Transmission companies from England, from Canada, from all over America are coming to my office and saying 'we'll build these transmission lines as soon as you have the contracts to build the generation."'

This sounds great, and I've heard from other sources that it burns cleaner than the current energy source. If Montana's coal can provide decades of clean fuel, then what about Ohio's? West Virginia's? Is this a viable solution?

Rojo
08-25-2005, 06:28 PM
If true, this is good news with a downside. While it could cut our dependence on foreign oil, it is still not renewable (and not all that clean). I support this but I hope we can still push through renewable energy legislation.

KronoRed
08-25-2005, 06:32 PM
Go for it, we need something till Hydrogen arrives

RedsBaron
08-25-2005, 06:33 PM
While his colleagues around the country are busy mooching off lobbyists, firing their political opponents from merit-based jobs, playing free golf, and getting indicted, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer is excited about something that actually could help taxpayers. He believes an eighty-year-old process producing fuel from coal developed by the Nazis, of all people, could help solve America's fuel crisis.

Read on...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050825/pl_nm/energy_montana_dc



This sounds great, and I've heard from other sources that it burns cleaner than the current energy source. If Montana's coal can provide decades of clean fuel, then what about Ohio's? West Virginia's? Is this a viable solution?
For some reason I want to say the coal in the western US burns cleaner than coal in the east, lower sulphur maybe, but I'm really not sure.
The article does raise hopes, and also illustrates the possibility as the cost of oil rises many other forms of energy may become more economically viable.

Rojo
08-25-2005, 06:45 PM
This should be part of a "man on the moon" strategy for energy independence. Let's put everything on the table. Go big or go home.

Heath
08-25-2005, 06:48 PM
If this gets off the ground and works wonders - then China can have all the OPEC oil they want.

Whatever happened to ethanol??

paintmered
08-25-2005, 07:05 PM
If this gets off the ground and works wonders - then China can have all the OPEC oil they want.

Whatever happened to ethanol??


It requires more energy to produce than it saves.

remdog
08-26-2005, 08:31 AM
According to a radio report I heard the other day, tar sands (also referred to as oil sands) becomes commercially viable at around gasoline prices of $3.00/gallon. Reserves in Alberta Providence, Canada alone exceed the total reserves of Saudi Arabia.

Rem

GAC
08-26-2005, 09:43 AM
What about environmental issues when it comes to excavating this coal? I could see that being a HUGE issue with certain environmental groups. But maybe not.

RBA
08-26-2005, 09:58 AM
I guess Ted Turner wasn't such a kook afterall. He bought up half the state of Montana in the 1980's. Maybe Ted is just that much ahead of the game. Than again, he probably doesn't own the coal.

Unassisted
08-26-2005, 10:06 AM
Whatever happened to ethanol??Congress pulled the big $$$ ethanol subsidies out of the budget a few years ago. Even subsidized, ethanol was little more than an expensive additive to stretch gasoline. Using it in quantities greater than 10 percent requires retuning engines. Perhaps a modern computerized engine could be retuned at the flick of a few computer "switches?"

Heath
08-26-2005, 10:13 AM
i'd feel better paying $2.50 a gallon knowing it came from Montana than it did OPEC.

I think OPEC will feel a sting...but China supposively would take all of that.

Heath
08-26-2005, 10:15 AM
What about environmental issues when it comes to excavating this coal? I could see that being a HUGE issue with certain environmental groups. But maybe not.

Those people are going to be there no matter what...whether its excavating coal or waiting for oil spills in barrier reefs.......

gonelong
08-26-2005, 02:41 PM
I guess Ted Turner wasn't such a kook afterall. He bought up half the state of Montana in the 1980's. Maybe Ted is just that much ahead of the game. Than again, he probably doesn't own the coal.

The people/land ratio is ever increasing. Anybody who is buying land for the long-haul is one smart cookie IMO.

KronoRed
08-26-2005, 03:03 PM
What about environmental issues when it comes to excavating this coal? I could see that being a HUGE issue with certain environmental groups. But maybe not.

Could it be worse then Oil drilling?

M2
08-26-2005, 03:33 PM
I'd like to know how clean it is to produce and whether Montana would turn into a giant hole in order to get the coal. If it can be produced as cleanly (or cleaner than) oil-based gas and it doesn't require a large footprint of land to extract the coal (and that you don't have to go into a federally-protected wilderness to get it), then I think it would be a viable interim solution between oil and clean fuels.

Rojo, I agree wholeheartedly about the "man in the moon" energy policy. IMO that should have been the main focus of our 9/11 reaction.

M2
08-26-2005, 03:40 PM
Could it be worse then Oil drilling?

One problem you have with any natural resource extraction is what you have to trample to get to and from the place where it resides. You've also got the air pollution created by the machinery needed to do the work. That's probably even with oil and coal.

Oil, being a liquid and all, tends to spill, leak and run. It creates a water problem, both in bodies of water and in the water table.

Yet oil extraction allows you punch a hole in the earth and keep your footprint small. Coal often involves strip mining and that means cleaving huge chunks out of the earth.

GAC
08-26-2005, 03:56 PM
Could it be worse then Oil drilling?

Yeah. We're talking about excavating huge tracts of land, tunneling, etc. I can see where it would do more harm to the environment then drilling. And that is not even considering the impact the process to convert it to gas MIGHT have.

And what about the safety/hazards to those who are excavating this stuff? Talk to any WV coal miner about black lung and various other health risks. ;)

RBA
08-26-2005, 04:00 PM
Non-sense GAC. When will you liberals learn. The wind blows west to east. So the only areas will be affected would be Ohio and the rest of the liberal states.

Rojo
08-26-2005, 05:08 PM
then I think it would be a viable interim solution between oil and clean fuels.

That, however, might be wishful thinking. The combination of high gas prices, the war and 9/11 has resulted in a lot of people -- economic nationalists, clean air advocates, and just people concerned with maintaining their way of life -- advocating renewable energy sources.

But with $3/gallon gas, a whole slate of non-renewable energy sources becomes viable: coal, tar sands, ethanol, other petroleum sources, etc... If people become used to high gas prices, and we can cut our energy imports, I fear that we will get lazy again, draw down our fossil fuels once again and continue polluting the environment.

Red Heeler
08-26-2005, 07:13 PM
Congress pulled the big $$$ ethanol subsidies out of the budget a few years ago. Even subsidized, ethanol was little more than an expensive additive to stretch gasoline. Using it in quantities greater than 10 percent requires retuning engines. Perhaps a modern computerized engine could be retuned at the flick of a few computer "switches?"

Nearly all of the major auto manufacturers offer flex fuel engines in some of their vehicles. Most people don't know about them because they are only available to fleet buyers. Flex fuel engines can run on anything from pure gasoline to 80% ethanol.


It requires more energy to produce than it saves.

There is one paper supporting this idea done quite a while ago which was authored by an economist (IIRC) who recieved major funding by the oil industry. In a nutshell, the paper is full faulty assumptions.

On the other hand, the ethanol industry has quite a number of studies that show that it is a viable fuel source. Obviously, these studies are subject to bias as well. The truth most likely lies somewhere in the middle.

Biodiesel is another alternative fuel that holds a lot of promise. It is made through the chemical alteration of vegitable oils. A standard diesel engine can run on anything from pure fossil diesel to pure biodiesel. While the current focus is on grain crop oils, there is research into oil producing algae which can produce a very large volume of oil in a small amount of land.

M2
08-26-2005, 08:06 PM
Economics aside, ethanol has been used as a gas additive alternative to MTBE, a substance so toxic and pernicious it should be banned from the planet.