What happens when gasoline or other petroleum fuel is burned in an Engine?
Gasoline (or any petroleum fuel) is mostly carbon that when burned releases energy in the form of heat. This heat energy makes the engine run and allows it to do work.
The bad part of this process is that the carbon when burned is converted into Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Imagine that a gallon of gasoline weighs between 5.93 to 6.42 lbs (depending on type, temperature, blend and other factors) and as it is burned most of it is converted into CO2 weighing between 5 and 6 lbs per gallon.
If this CO2 was a visible solid, you would have to constantly plow the roads as it would build up like snow in a blizzard. But as it is an invisible gas that floats away, nobody pays any attention to it.
Now imagine that worldwide we burn 80,000,000+ barrels (3,486,000,000+ gallons) (Note: The US uses approximately 25,000,000+ barrels or 1,050,000,000+ gallons) of oil per day and 90% - 95% of that becomes CO2.
That’s 20,916,000,000+ lbs. (Twenty Billion, Nine Hundred Sixteen Million Pounds per Day) of CO2 per day, an incredible amount of carbon that we expect the atmosphere to magically absorb. Again if this was a visible solid, we would be buried in a matter of weeks.
Now, I am a proponent of diesel engines, if for no other reason that they are far more efficient than gasoline engines (30+%). If the portion of this fuel that is refined into gasoline was instead refined into diesel you would reduce that consumption by 30+%.
If you capture CO2 from the atmosphere or better yet from the source and use it to grow algae or other plants, you are using photosynthesis to sequester this carbon. If that biomass is then converted into a biofuel and burned in efficient manner you have formed a closed loop where you can nearly stop the increase of carbon released into the environment.
I believe that short of someone developing cold fusion, the development of algae oil biofuels is our best choice for continued use of liquid fuels. This technology could be made commercially viable in just a few years and produce a high quality oil that could be converted into diesel and other fuels for about $20.00 per barrel. Even if I am wrong by 100%, the cost would still be where the cost of crude is today (02/25/2009).
These are things we need to be thinking about. What’s your opinion?
Copyright 2009©- William Richards