Wednesday, September 10, 2008

DOD Synth Fuel Brain Teaser

In the recent post "Synthetic Says What?" Robert Bateman does a good job of succinctly outlining the sticky wicket of the synth fuel approach to fueling DOD.

If you don't put any credence in man's impact on climate change, then beyond questions of process efficiency, there's nothing thorny about the pursuit and production of synth fuels. But if you think (or suspect) human activity-based CO2 is a factor, then it's a classic trade-off of values:
  1. One one hand, synth fuels help get our military off of foreign oil, which everyone thinks is a great thing (except maybe foreigners with oil)
  2. On the other hand, if synth fuel production produces boat loads of green house gases (and so far, it does), and if accelerated climate change leads to increased global conflict (as he seems pretty sure it does), then we might creating as many problems for our soldiers and airman as we solve.
Anyway, it's worth considering both sides. I will seek to get the official and un-official USAF positions on this in the near future.  In the meantime, look for a post on a company I just met yesterday at MIT, LS9, that has an entirely different approach to creating petroleum.

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