America's Energy Future: Alternative Liquid Transportation Fuels: Technology Opportunities, Risks, and Tradeoffs

This panel will examine the technical potential for reducing reliance on petroleum-based fuels for transportation, principally in automobiles and trucks but in other vehicles and transportation modes as well, through the use of alternatives to traditional petroleum sources. The focus of the panel's efforts will be on (1) liquid fuels produced from plant feedstocks; and (2) liquid fuels that can be derived from coal feedstocks. In keeping with the charge to the overall scope of the America's Energy Future Study Committee, the panel will not recommend policy choices, but will assess the state of development of technologies. The panel will evaluate technologies based on their estimated times to initial commercial deployment and will provide the following information for each: " Initial deployment times < 10 years: costs, performance, and impacts " 10 to 25 years: barriers, implications for costs, and R&amp;D challenges/needs " > 25 years: barriers and R&amp;D challenges/needs, especially basic research needs. Relying on existing studies and literature and on the panel's own knowledge and expertise, for each feedstock/technology pathway chosen by the panel, to the extent that existing data and studies allow, the following should be considered. The primary focus of the study will be on the quantitative characterization of technologies with initial deployment times < 10 years. This includes: " for biomass-based liquid fuels, estimate the full fuel cycle input per unit of fuel produced, i.e., energy, water, fertilizer, land, etc., needed to grow the crops, collect and harvest, and process and convert the feedstock into a unit of fuel output. As part of its effort, the panel will also describe the implications for land use, agricultural practices, prices, externalities (e.g., implications for the environment), and other factors it believes are important to address; " for liquid fuels from coal, estimate the full fuel cycle requirements, e.g., for mining, transport, water, etc., per unit of fuel produced; " estimate capital and operating costs per unit of output and total cost per unit of output. Costs per unit of output should be calculated on a consistent and comparable basis; and " estimate full fuel cycle environmental emissions per unit of fuel output, e.g., carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, criteria pollutants, heavy metals, land and water impacts, and other impacts identified by the panel that should be included. It is expected that the panel will need to consider these technologies in the context of, and in competition with, other fuels that may enter the transportation sector during the time frames examined by the panel, such as hydrogen, natural gas, electricity to power hybrid vehicles, reformulated gasoline, and petroleum-derived gasoline and diesel. The Main Study Committee on America's Alternative Energy Futures, by drawing from existing National Academies and other recent comprehensive energy studies, will address the state of technology for hydrogen-fueled and hybrid electric vehicles.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Kavil Foundation


    Department of Energy

    Office of Transportation Systems
    Washington, DC  United States  20585

    Dow Chemical Company


    National Academy of Sciences

    500 5th Street, N.W.
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Project Managers:

    Tang, Evonne

  • Performing Organizations:

    Transportation Research Board

    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Start Date: 20070700
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 19950

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01459731
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Academy of Sciences
  • Contract Numbers: DEPS-L-07-02-D
  • Files: RIP
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 1:11PM