To liberate ourselves from the threat of foreign economic domination, undercut the financiers of terror, and give ourselves the free hand necessary to deal with Middle Eastern extremists, we must devalue their resources and increase the value of our own. We can do this by taking the world off the petroleum standard and putting it on an alcohol standard.Zubrin later argues for Methanol, basically because we can't make enough ethanol to fuel everyone. This is true. However, we totally ignores the potential for plug-in hybrids to displace the majority of our gasoline use. He's right that this is inevitably going to be a slow process, but will it be any slower than replacing our gasoline-fired cars with ethanol/methanol ones?
This may sound like a huge and impossible task, but with gasoline prices well over $2 per gallon, the means to accomplish it are now at hand. Congress could make an enormous step toward American energy independence within a decade or so if it would simply pass a law stating that all new cars sold in the U.S.A. must be flexible-fuel vehicles capable of burning any combination of gasoline and alcohol. The alcohols so employed could be either methanol or ethanol....
Methanol is cheaper than ethanol. It can also be made from a broader variety of biomass material, as well as from coal and natural gas. And methanol is the safest motor fuel, because it is much less flammable than gasoline (a fact that has led to its adoption by car racing leagues).
On the other hand, ethanol is less chemically toxic than methanol, and it carries more energy per gallon. Ethanol contains about 75 percent of the energy of gasoline per gallon, compared to 67 percent for methanol. Both thus achieve fewer miles per gallon than gasoline, but about as many miles per dollar at current prices, and probably many more miles per dollar at future prices....
Ethanol is actually edible, whereas methanol is toxic when drunk. This difference, though, should not be overdrawn, since in an FFV economy, both would be mixed with gasoline.
Oh, and Zubrin's probably dead wrong when he says the alcohol economy would benefit the third world. In theory it could, of course, but it's already possible to import cheap ethanol from Brazil and other third-world countries. What stops it in the US? Massive sugar and ethanol tariffs.
Thanks, Florida. For so much.