Alternative Fuels Provide Clean, Green Energy Options

11.12.2007 General, News Release, School News

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The price of crude oil continues to set record highs thanks in part to increased demand from China and other developing countries. And at its current rate of consumption, the U.S. will run out of domestic oil supplies within about 12 years, according to Ramsbottom. As a result, the future of our nation’s energy security lies in domestically derived synthetic fuels rather than on dependence on foreign oil.

That’s according to Hunt Ramsbottom, the chief executive officer, president and director of Rentech Inc., a California-based company leading the charge to develop clean alternative energy from traditional sources, such as coal, and non-traditional sources, such as garbage from landfills.

Ramsbottom talked about these and other ways to help help the world’s current energy crisis on Nov. 7 as he presented the second lecture of the 2007-2008 Babcock Leadership Series at the Babcock Graduate School of Management. The event attracted current students, alumni, faculty, staff and investors who wanted to learn more about alternative fuels.

The carbon footprint of fuels from the Rentech Process has the potential to be significantly below that of petroleum-derived fuels. Last year, Ramsbottom testified before the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources about Rentech's progress and the future of its technology.

Not convinced people are worried about their carbon emissions or footprint? According to an article in this week’s BusinessWeek, “Never before has the term 'carbon neutral' — the New Oxford American Dictionary's Word of the Year in 2006 — been so trendy on business-school campuses.”

Rentech's clean diesel will reduce particulate emissions from diesel vehicles that can cause short-term health effects and can worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease over longer-term exposures.

Not only are alternative fuels cleaner and as a result more environmentally friendly than their petroleum-based cousins, they are also significantly less expensive to produce. The cash cost to produce a barrel of synthetic fuel is about $44 dollars per barrel, Ramsbottom said. Compare that with the average price of crude oil that shoots up to nearly $100 a barrel after it has been put through the process to create diesel fuel with ultra-low sulfur emissions.

One of Rentech’s most promising products, a clean diesel fuel, is produced by liquefying coal. It has almost no particulates – the compounds that form the belching cloud visible when a diesel truck or bus starts to accelerate – and that means eliminating short-term health effects that can worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease over long-term exposures. The fuel is also extremely low in sulfur, an element that contributes to smog and acid rainfall, and it can be used in any standard diesel engine with no engine modifications. That also means no expensive modifications at the local gas station, either.

Related Articles and Information