The Ethanol Papers - Paperturn manuscript - Flipbook - Page 14
While this experimentation increased our knowledge and gave us some practical experience, we were still pretty much on the outside looking in. We could
answer lots of questions, provide somewhat intelligent arguments to the haters
of alt fuels and vehicles, but we were at another roadblock: our knowledge and
experience at that time could only take us so far.
Ten years ago, when the petroleum oil industry still treated natural gas and
propane as ugly step-children, they circulated many of the same lies about CNG
and propane as they did about ethanol. They claimed that CNG/propane damaged engines, provided less power and mileage, caused greater pollution, and
so on. We were constantly fending off emails from the haters. And many of the
negative claims were completely nonsensical. One of my favorite stupid claims
was that it took thirty minutes or more to fill the CNG tanks of a passenger car.
In 2008, I wrote my first long paper on alternative fuels. It was a two-parter,
titled respectively, "NO NEW GASOLINE-POWERED VEHICLES IN THE U.S.
BY 2014...Can It Be Done?" and "NO NEW GASOLINE-POWERED VEHICLES
IN THE U.S. BY 2014...How It Can Be Done!"
This story was published before the 2008 elections, and about two months prior
to Barack Obama's erstwhile energy speech when he was competing for the
Democrat nomination to run for president. As we all know, none of the items
presented by Mr. Obama in his energy speech ever came to pass during his
two terms as president, but that's something to discuss at another time.
Two alternative fuels rose to the top of our list: Compressed Natural Gas
(CNG) and ethanol.
I started shopping for a CNG-powered vehicle. I wanted to put the pedal to the
metal, and really get a taste of the pudding, so to speak, for what CNG is all
about. Unfortunately, by 2008 the only automobile company still making CNG
cars for America was Honda (a CNG version of their Civic compact car), and
Honda's extremely limited production capacity of the CNG Civic meant that I
couldn't buy a new CNG car. I had to resort to looking for a used vehicle.
I finally located a used factory converted CNG Dodge Ram Van at a dealership
in the Los Angeles area. I flew into L.A., rented a car and drove to the dealership. As it turned out, I needed a van for business reasons (to use as a video
production vehicle), so I felt that getting a full-size van would come in very
handy, in addition to allowing me to experiment with CNG.