Saturday, February 04, 2006

Moving Beyond a Petroleum-Based Economy

I was listening to Science Friday on NPR, and they had a great program about alternative forms of fuel for our vehicles. The hot topic was how much petroleum America is consuming, and alternative forms of energy we can use to replace it.

It was discussed that the U.S. consumes about a thousand barrels of oil a second. At this rate, we are not going to have enough petroleum for current and future generations. Our country is very dependent on oil from other countries, and these countries are starting to use it as a political weapon against us.

We need to start changing our energy dependency on petroleum now, and not later. Although any significant changes can take a decade or more for it to happen. If we wait until the last minute, we will be in real trouble.

Two things need to happen for us to begin moving to a non-petroleum based economy. First there has to be a lifestyle change where we reduce our fuel/power consumption, commute more or use public transportation, buy more smaller and more fuel efficient cars and energy saving appliances. Second, we have to invest in the science and technologies required to create the new fuels, and to make the current technologies cleaner and more efficient.

There have already been big advancements in the types of alternative forms of energy and technologies that are available. Below is a brief list covering the most popular of these technologies:
  • Ethanol: made from biomass (made from waste saw mills, farm product residue, switchgrass, etc).
  • Biodiesel: made from soybean or vegetable oils (include wasted vegetable oils).
  • Hybrid Cars (electric/fuel): cars engines that run on electricity from batteries or from fuel.
Future technologies:
  • Hydrogen: creates energy by breaking down a fuel (such as gasoline, or water) into some type of energy.
By removing our dependency on petroleum, a lot of great things can happen to help our economy to flourish if we do it right. We can create new jobs, economic prosperity, and lead the rest of the world in the advancement of these technologies. We can also reduce our dependency on foreign countries for a major resource that we rely on to keep our country going. Finally we can make these technologies cleaner and more efficient to sustain ourselves.
Post a Comment