Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sandia Technical Talent Misused In Ethanol Push

Engineers are practical. That’s the indication from Dawn Manley, an engineer and “transportation fuels expert,” according to a Sandia National Laboratories new release issued today.

Manley works at Sandia’s Livermore, California, branch. In October she spoke to California’s Senate Transportation and Housing Committee about what the news release headline called “practical ways to reach new energy goals,” in particular use of ethanol. My objective here is neither to criticize Ms. Manley, or to make fun of her. Rather, the issue is the yoking of Sandia’s world-class technical staff to discredited policy goals such as using ethanol as a fuel.

A higher truth or, perhaps, practicality exists regarding ethanol as a fuel. Ethanol is a terrible fuel because it is short on carbon atoms. That means it is inefficient. Expanding ethanol production, which is made from corn, brings collateral effects. Two are displacement of forest land for new corn fields and higher tortilla prices in Mexico.

In allowing the presentation, Ms Manley’s bosses may have been being practical. Sandia gets lots money research various energy topics. Another player worth consideration as a practical matter is Sandia’s ultimate boss, Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu, former director of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab which is general neighborhood of Livermore.

A proper, practical use of Sandia’s technical prowess would be to stop consideration of ethanol as a fuel.

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