Friday, December 02, 2011

Peak Oil: Meet Virtually Unlimited Jet Fuel for the Future

One of the primary concerns of peak oil doomers is that there will soon be no more fuels for aircraft, ships, trains, trucks, and other supports for modern civilisation.  But if one looks at the huge sources for non-oil based liquid fuels -- from diesel to gasoline to jet fuel -- it becomes clear that there is very little reason for concern, for the next century or so, at least.

Follow the various pathways in the images below, to get a basic idea of processes which are already state-of-the art, and competitive at oil prices which already exist across many parts of the globe. A host of other ways of producing liquid hydrocarbons from feedstocks other than crude oil, are on the way. But these few that are pictured will do for now.

LanzaTech’s proprietary gas fermentation technology enables low cost production of sustainable alcohols and chemicals from waste gas resources that are completely outside the food value chain. These alcohols are then converted, using technology from LanzaTech’s partner Swedish Biofuels, to jet fuel that is fully equivalent to petroleum jet fuel, or that can be blended with petroleum. (Earlier post.)

In October, Virgin Atlantic, in partnership with LanzaTech and Swedish Biofuels, announced the development of a low-carbon, synthetic jet fuel kerosene produced from industrial waste gases with half the carbon footprint of the standard fossil fuel alternative.
The pathway to jet fuel with alcohol as an intermediate is proving to be a versatile way of producing advanced hydrocarbon fuels.
— Angelica Hull, Managing Director of Swedish Biofuels
Virgin Atlantic said it would be the first airline to use this fuel and plans to work with LanzaTech, Boeing and Swedish Biofuels towards achieving the technical approval required for using new fuel types in commercial aircraft. A demo flight with the new fuel is planned in 12-18 months, with commercialization targeted for 2014. _GCC

Readers of Al Fin Energy are already familiar with the Fischer Tropsch method of creating diesel from gas, coal, or biomass. They should also be acquainted with the Exxon Mobil "methanol to gasoline (MTG)" process, which is likely to see increasing use in North America.

The alcohol-to-jet fuel approach described in the GCC article above, is a new approach to Al Fin readers. But it is quite important, since it completes the fuel triad necessary to support modern civilisation transportation modes -- air, land, and sea. This capacity to supply aircraft, ships, and land transport with abundant fuels, even in the absence of crude oil supplies, should be reassuring to persons such as Ruppert, Kuntsler, and others who had been losing sleep from concern over the impending collapse of world civilisation.

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