liquid fuels revisited: does sustainable mean electric?

Sustainable means electric. Everyone knows that. Liquid fuels mean unsustainable. Historically, that has certainly been the case. Is there a place for liquid fuels in a sustainable world.

Sustainable electricity, for say electric vehicles, require a sustainable source of electricity and a means of storing it.  In today’s world this implies wind or solar and batteries.  We all know this is where we should be headed; or is it?  Recently, The Globe & Mail published “The Darker Side of Solar”; an article that thought about some of the uglier aspects of the paradigm.  Though many of the points were not new, they are still worth considering.  One then comes to the question; is the electric paradigm the best, or even the only sustainable paradigm?

The liquid fuel paradigm is the one that is in place today.  As it stands it is based on fossil fuels and is unsustainable.  On the plus side liquid fuels provide a high energy density, use existing infrastructure and the engines associated therewith are recyclable and largely made from plentiful materials.  These are all important pluses, but where are the sustainable liquid fuels?

I first posted thoughts around liquid fuels in 2009.   I was, in large part, looking at them in association with auto-turbines.  When revisiting the 2009 article it was immediately apparent that the named bio-fuel companies did not progress as hoped.  Iogen and its enzyme based technology lost momentum for a while and Dynamotive’s fast pyrolisis just seems to have faded away.  These are not isolated cases.  There are many liquid fuel (bio-fuel being a subset) ventures that have not made a go of it.

Again, where are the sustainable liquid fuels and why is it so hard to commercialize one?

Part 2 … it all starts with carbon