Underground Ethanol Pipes for the US?
Leonard Boswell wants alternative fuels to be far more easily available to the American public. The Iowa Congressmen has introduced bipartisan legislation, calling for research into underground pipelines for ethanol and bio-diesel.
If the bill becomes law, it will force the Department of Energy to conduct a technological, economic, regulatory and financial study into the viability of transporting the fuels underground, and distributing them to fuel stations around the country.
However, many believe that creating a large and expensive infrastructure for these fuels is rash. There are huge problems with their production, which need to be solved before they are a sustainable solution. Production of bio-fuels has been shown to push up food crop prices, and is often the cause of deforestation due to the large demand for more planting space. New and better techniques for production are emerging all the time, but it still has some way to go.
Even if they were a viable solution today, would it be worth investing money and energy in creating a permanent infrastructure for something that many see as a short-term solution? Ideally we won’t still be using this technology in 20 years, but instead relying on electric cars powered, ideally, by clean power stations. Who knows what technology will emerge before a huge undertaking like this provided enough benefit to offset its production, both financially and ecologically?
The bill also calls for an investigation into using existing pipelines for transportation of alternative fuels, which has up till now proven problematic. This would, if possible, be a good solution as the infrastructure already exists. In any case, projects like this require a lot of fore-thought, as that pipe network, if built, will remain with us for a long time. :: The Energy Blog