That’s why we’re working with several states where the landscape is most favorable to make this transformation happen. We’re meeting with regulators, elected officials and industry leaders to help create the market conditions necessary for fuel choice to take hold.
One state where the need is great is Utah. The Beehive State is uniquely suited to be a testing ground for fuel competition: It has vast underground reserves of natural gas, which can be processed into liquid ethanol to run in flex-fuel vehicles that already are on the road. Ethanol not only is cheaper than gasoline, it burns much cleaner and more efficiently in engines. That means there’s less tailpipe pollution that creates smog and harms people’s health.
Citizens, public-health officials and lawmakers in Utah are keenly aware of the importance of this issue: Every winter, Salt Lake City endures what is known as an “inversion.” Normally, warmer air stays close to the surface of urban areas, while colder air stays above. In an inversion, which typically follows a snowfall, warmer air stays on top, trapping the colder air below. The nearby Wasatch Mountain Range acts like a bowl, with vehicle emissions filling it to the brim and staying there until the next storm blows through. Particulate matter from tailpipe emissions can worsen asthma and other respiratory conditions, as well as increase the risk of heart disease.
Displacing gasoline with alcohol fuels like ethanol and methanol could make a significant contribution toward improving Salt Lake’s air quality.
As in Utah, natural gas-to-alcohol fuels has great potential in Pennsylvania. The Marcellus Shale formation, which runs under parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Maryland and West Virginia, is mostly natural gas (as opposed to oil). Converting more of that inexpensive, abundant resource into liquid alcohol fuels for transportation would benefit the consumer and create thousands of jobs. In addition to working with state and industry leaders in Pennsylvania, Fuel Freedom is sponsoring research at Carnegie Mellon University to evaluate the potential for Marcellus gas to provide a ready supply of alcohol fuels for the region.