free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 142. U.S. MILITARY KEEN ON COAL LIQUEFACTION

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


In the last few months, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has been promoting the idea of liquefying Montana coal to bolster U.S. liquid fuel supplies. The U.S. Department of Defense is interested in this idea:
The military can help turn a proposal to convert Montana's vast coal supplies into liquid fuel from a dream into a marketable reality, a top U.S. Department of Defense official said Wednesday.
Coal-based synthetic fuels could replace the fuels the military uses to power its tanks and jet engines, Ted Barna of the Department of Defense said.
Not only would they give the armed forces a secure domestic supply of fuel to use, they burn cleaner and would be better for the environment as a result.
"It is hard to build a M1 tank that can pass the same emission (standards) as your Ford Bronco," he said.
Nazi Germany used coal-based synfuel to power its military aircraft during World War II when that country was shut off from oil supplies.
The high price of synfuel has kept it from enjoying wider use. But now that oil has shot up above $60 a barrel, it has suddenly become a cheaper alternative.
The nation's armed forces consume 4 percent of the fuels used in the nation, Barna said. The problem is more than half of the nation's oil comes from foreign nations, and that may rise to as high as 75 percent in 2025. Source: Bozeman Daily Oct. 20, 2005

Roughly estimating from the given figures, it would appear the DOD needs about 800,000 barrels/day, and the facilities to liquefy this amount of coal could likely be built for less than $80 billion. That's a lot of money but then again, the DOD budget for the U.S. in 2003 was about $400 billion.

I think the lesson to be drawn from this is that the U.S. military will be well supplied with fossil fuel for the forseeable future (i.e. at least the next 50 years). Direct involvement by the military/government in building coal liquefaction projects would be standard procedure. That's how all previous liquefaction facilities have been built, in Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa. (As the South African lawyer said: "oil is absolutely vital to enable the army to move, the navy to sail and the air force to fly, it is likely that a South African court would hold that it falls within the definition of munitions of war".) Once the military has a secure coal-based fuel supply, it is difficult to dislodge.

The collapse of the Federal government won't be happening any time soon. If the military is still functioning, so is the government. --by JD


At Wednesday, October 26, 2005 at 3:29:00 PM PDT, Blogger James Shannon said...

I would rather that this mitigation tech not get used in the name of unwarranted military action, but many techs have lept from military use to conventional use, so here's hoping it's used properly...

At Wednesday, October 26, 2005 at 8:17:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, in this area military use would almost positively lead to commercial adoption with $60+ oil (the reason it hasn't happened yet is companies are always afraid to take risks)

At Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 2:22:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great. Energy independence for the US war machine, and reliance on OPEC oil for the citizenry. I guess when peak oil arrives, we'll still be able to fly our stealth bombers. Good to see our priorities are firmly in place, as usual. By the way, if the US military uses 800K barrels of oil a day, if it were a country, where would it rank in terms of oil usage? Anyone know?

At Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 2:45:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

According to BP, Australia consumed about 846,000bpd in 2002. Taiwan was 817,000bpd.

At Saturday, October 29, 2005 at 10:09:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I think what I was trying to say, is that when peak oil comes instead of frantically looking to random far-fetched mitigation technologies, only a blind man wouldn't point to the successful military coal liquefaction program (when and if it gets off the ground)


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