High gas prices create booming markets

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 05/04/2005 - 10:12

What you will rarely see in the mainstream media when they report on high gas prices is the booming new markets that are already emerging. This Wired article reports on the potential of ethanol as a fossil fuel replacement.

You can buy cars and trucks now that run on E85 fuel, which is 85% ethanol. In Illinois, where a lot of the corn that is used to produce ethanol is grown, the state is already buying E85 vehicles, and is about to start a statewide program to get more gas stations to install an E85 pump.

But the most interesting thing in the Wired article is the research already well under way to convert ethanol to hydrogen. Scientists have a process that is nearly 80% efficient, or almost as good as natural gas processing. An ethanol to hydrogen conversion process neatly solves one of the big conundrums of using hydrogen widely, which is transporting it long distances. If ethanol was used as a feedstock for hydrogen, the long haul transport issue may be solved by moving the conversion closer to users. What would be interesting is having gas stations able to convert ethanol to hydrogen on site, just before a hydrogen vehicle gets a fill up.

Does your region have an economic development strategy for the hydrogen economy? What about ethanol? Do you have business or other strategic assets in your region that could be leveraged into an energy business cluster? The communities that recognize the hidden opportunities in high gas prices could become economic development powerhouses as the Energy Economy heats up.

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