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October 25, 2012

Human nature ... consistently inconsistent

(Continued)

Likewise, we were equally puzzled about an email which referenced an article “Holy Grail of Fuel? Scientists Make Synthetic Gas from Air and Water” which appeared on the website News.360.com.

In the body of the email, the tease for the article read:

“Engineers and scientists at a small company in the U.K. claim to be able to produce gasoline and other liquid hydrocarbon fuels from carbon dioxide and water vapor, which could be a huge boost in the production of renewable fuels.

“The team at Air Fuel Synthesis (AFS) has created a system for using renewable energy to power the capture of CO2 and water, which is then transformed into liquid hydrocarbon fuels that can be used directly in gasoline engines. The water is first electrolyzed to produce hydrogen, and then the CO2 and hydrogen are combined in a fuel reactor to produce gas using the company’s process.”

However, only by reading the accompanying article does one learn that an integral part of the process requires the use of sodium hydroxide, better known as lye. And while lye is probably not the most toxic chemical known to man, it also would not seem to be the most benign either. Thus, while the concept of making fuel out of air and water is without doubt intriguing, it would seem to make sense to look at the entire process before declaring it the best things since sliced bread. In addition it should also be noted that the process also requires electricity which means that some sort of existing energy source must be used in the process of making the fuel. It rather reminds us of the W.S. Gilbert lyric “Things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream.”

And while we have found these examples of seemingly inconsistent thinking interesting, we must admit that they are most interesting in that they point out that we all, in our own way, have our very own foibles.

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer St., Cooperstown, N.Y. 13326, by telephone at 547-8124 or by email at cellsworth1@stny.rr.com

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