Synthetic Fuel Could End US Reliance On Crude Oil

December 6, 2012

Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit – Your Universe Online

The United States has been relying on crude oil for more than a century. While it has played a vital role in driving modern innovation—transportation, plastics, detergents and even clothing—crude oil has also contributed to dangerous global warming. With the burgeoning threat of climate change, researchers from Princeton have outlined how the US could end reliance on petroleum and move to synthetic fuels.

The US could use a combination of coal, natural gas and non-food crops to produce synthetic fuel, the Princeton team explained. Besides the economic and national security benefits such a move could herald, the move could also be environmentally advantageous. Because plants absorb carbon dioxide to grow, the US could cut automotive greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 50 percent by the 2080s using non-food crops to create fuel.

The synthetic fuel idea comes from professor Christodoulos Floudas and graduate students Josephine Elia and Richard Baliban. The trio developed a comprehensive system for optimizing the production of synthetic liquid fuels as an economical replacement for petroleum-based fuels. These synthetic fuels would be an easy replacement in the transportation sector because they can replace modern fuel without any special modifications to engines as they are nearly identical to refined crude oil.

Such a development is a smarter option than biofuels, the team said, as these organic fuels still need to be mixed with gas or require specially modified engines to work.

Read more: Synthetic Fuel Could Replace Crude Oil – Science News – redOrbit.

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