Can synthetic fuel save the planet?

Synthetic fuel in laboratory
James Scott
Sun, 19/12/2021 - 17:17

The answer is "no", because saving the planet will require the combined use of a number of different technologies, one of which is synthetic fuel.

An article by James Morris in Forbes Magazine is questioning whether synthetic fuel can save the planet by doing a better job of replacing fossil fueled vehicles than battery electric vehicles.  His thesis is that synthetic fuel is not up to the job because of the inefficiency inherent in its production, and he gives a number of arguments to support this position.

Read the original article at:

James Morris is an avid supporter of battery electric vehicles, but he does not appear to give credence to the problems that exist with the production of batteries using current technology.  While it may be true that synthetic fuel will not save the planet, the same can be said of battery electric vehicles. The planet will be saved however by a mixture of new technologies that provide energy storage using batteries, hydrogen/ammonia, and liquid fuels, particularly hydrocarbons.

One of the reasons that fossil fuels have been so successful, apart from the fact that they are cheap as a consequence on not having to pay the true cost of removing the pollutants (including CO2 that are emitted), is that the energy density of liquid hydrocarbon fuels is greater than anything else available (including the best battery technology available today).

The world is entering a period of transition now so there will be a period during which there is an opportunity to speed up the process of reduction of carbon emissions by replacing fossil fuel with synthetic fuel at a minimum cost to affected users of internal combustion engine vehicles. It is also possible to imagine that with synthetic fuel readily available, advances in the development of internal combustion engines will continue allowing them to be viable alternatives to vehicles powered by other technologies for some considerable time.

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