In a speech at the Renewables Fuel Association, Washington DC, April 25, 2006, President George W Bush made some statements about ethanol, hybrids and hydrogen that were promising and confusing. Let’s look at some of the statements Bush made.
"Our dependence on foreign oil is like a foreign tax on the American Dream -- and that tax is growing every year."
Bush is right. According to U.S. Department of Commerce data, as cited by Bloomberg, the January 2006 trade deficit was $68.5 billion, of which $24.6 billion (or 36%) was due to imported oil. Annualized, the U.S. now spends about $800 million per day on imported oil. A way to take some of this dream back is to keep some of that money in the United States. If the United States adds 10 percent ethanol to all of its gasoline we would still be paying the same amount for gasoline at the pump. MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether) is a chemical compound that is manufactured by the chemical reaction of methanol and isobutylene. It is produced by the oil company. Ethanol is produced by farmers. The difference would be that $80 million per day would stay in the United States. That is $80 million per day that isn’t going to a foreign country or to a bulging oil company. Ethanol gives the United States a hedge on their National Energy Security and a better negotiating position with foreign countries and with oil companies. Ethanol does have problems such as clinging to water. Ethanol is not the best solution. Ethanol does put us on the path to energy independence.
"We are also encouraging automakers to produce a new generation of modern, clean-diesel cars and trucks. My administration has issued new rules that will remove more than 90 percent of the sulfur in diesel fuel by 2010. Clean diesel technology will allow consumers to travel much farther on each gallon of fuel -- without the smoke and pollution of past diesel engines. To encourage this promising technology, Congress should extend the tax incentives for the purchase of hybrid vehicles to clean diesel cars and trucks. You see, America leads the world in technology -- and we need to use that technology to lead the world in fuel efficiency. "
There are about 235 million cars on the road today. About 90 percent of them are gasoline. If you use the same engine for ethanol, gasoline and diesel you will get 7.5 mpg,10mpg and 12.5 mpg respectively. Diesel gets 25 percent more fuel efficiency, when combusted, than gasoline and 67 percent more fuel efficiency than ethanol when combusted. If you use a diesel hybrid you will get about another 25 percent more fuel efficiency over a regular diesel. That will give you two things:
continued real world testing of hybrid technology which gives the auto manufacturers real world testing for technologies they plan to use in their hydrogen fuel cell vehicles
100 percent better fuel efficiency over ethanol.
We need a renewable reformulated gasoline for the 235 million cars we have on the road. We also need to switch vehicles to the most fuel efficient engines, which are diesel.
We already have bio-diesel, which is made from soybeans. There is a process that can synthesize coal or biomass into diesel. The United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal. If we can sequester CO2 and process the coal into diesel we can go 25 percent further on diesel and 50 percent further on diesel hybrids.