Plenty of gasoline at all times at constantly sinking prices is a common desire, if you have a car. And it appears now that our coveted dream of riding in inexpensive comfort day or night will soon become a reality. Forecasts of this kind have recently appeared in this country's mass media in general and in the leading daily Izvestia in particular in an article entitled "Cars of the Future Will Run on Coal".
The report spoke of a 50-thousanddollar cheque presented to Alexander Rozovsky, Dr. Sc. (Chem.) of the Institute of Petrochemical Synthesis of RAS at its recent Learned Council session. He is the only winner of this caliber who attended the Brussels-Eureka-2000 World Salon of Inventions.
Working in conjunction with experts of the Institute of Organic Chemistry, Dr. Rozovsky developed a unit which can turn natural gas, right at the gas field, into high-octane gasoline and at a low cost. The new invention will help do away with the wasteful gas flares which turn into smoke astronomical sums of money every year. The author of the invention is quoted as saying that: "It will no longer be necessary to transport fuel over thousands of kilometers to oil and gas fields at staggering expenses. It will be produced right next to the well. And there is also another and even more attractive choice. Units have been developed which generate electricity by burning casing-head and natural gases. And we shall also be able to produce from car exhausts - practically from nothing - high-grade gasoline.
"What is more, according to expert assessments, its cost should be below that of the currently available automobile fuel with its ecological characteristics being far better. The new fuel will not contain the harmful benzol compounds used as octane boosters in ordinary gasoline."
Thus Russian experts have solved a problem, which is of truly key and world-wide importance. This is especially so since at the present rate of extraction the oil resources of our planet should last for not more than half a century. But the reserves of natural gas are more plentiful and should last for 200 years at the minimum. Leading Western firms like Mobil, Shell and Exxon have long been trying to turn natural gas into motor fuel, but this fuel turns out to be too expensive and low-grade and is no atch to ordinary gasoline.
"We have a basically new technology", Dr. Rozovsky explains. "The crux of the matter is in the effective chemical catalysts which bring down the cost of the gasoline and boost its quality. Apart from gasoline from natural gas, we also obtain dimethyl ether, which they call diesel fuel of the 21st century."
And one should add to that: the new technology is of universal nature, which means that it turns into low-cost and high-octane gasoline not only natural gas, but also coal, plants, and timber wastes. This should make it possible in both the near and in more distant future to provide low-cost fuel for the steadily growing world population of cars and trucks and prevent a global energy crisis.
The new technology developed by Moscow chemical scientists has been hailed as one of the best achievements of the Russian academic research in recent time.
The development of a pilot plant in this country has been financed by a private investor, and the plant should become operational in the near future.
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