Cellulosic ethanol for the military still not feasible

by Rolf Westgard, Daily reader

In response to âÄúRep. Kahn on alternative fuels,âÄù in the Sept. 29 Daily, Rep. Phyllis Kahn states that her opposition to military jet fuel made from cellulosic ethanol is misguided because we donâÄôt have enough domestic conventional supply. Kahn is one of the few legislators who is technically qualified to discuss this subject. However, although the process to produce alcohol from cellulose was invented in 1819, we still donâÄôt know how to produce it in large quantities.

We can produce all of the jet fuel our military needs from North American oil in North American refineries. Our ignorant Congress has required 250 million gallons of cellulose ethanol in 2011. We will struggle to make 5 million gallons in our tax-funded pilot plants.

The program, which makes the Department of Defense spend $510 million on production plants when we donâÄôt have a production process, is another energy boondoggle.

University of Minnesota professor David Tillman runs perhaps the worldâÄôs leading research facility on grasses for ethanol, but hasnâÄôt actually manufactured any large quantity of it. 

My only son-in-law, Lt. Col. Adam Nyenhuis, has been flying C-5s to Baghdad from the Dover Air Force Base. His four children and I would like him to stay on the militaryâÄôs current fuel, called JP-8.

Regarding KahnâÄôs point about needing to factor in the cost of wars in the Middle East to the cost of our domestic oil products, China and others can buy all the oil they need without a single soldier stationed in the Middle East.

Iraq is one big sedimentary basin with lots of oil, but we invaded because of a misguided President who wanted to âÄútake out SaddamâÄù and find mythical weapons of mass destruction. If we invaded for oil, it didnâÄôt work because we arenâÄôt getting any. Most of IraqâÄôs oil deals are with foreign companies.

All you need for oil is money, not troops, and least of all âÄúshock and awe.âÄù