Shortly after our June “Green Issue” dropped, an enthusiast reader wrote to us to say we missed a key alternative fuel technology from Houston-based Nacero: green gasoline constructed from renewable natural gas using renewable energy. He’s counting on this miracle fuel to feed his beloved pony car well into the forecast electric future. Sure enough, Nacero’s “green gasoline” products appear quite promising.
These fuels aren’t carbon-free, but their carbon footprint is claimed to be at least half that of petroleum-refined gasoline. And they’re naturally free of sulfur, which degrades catalytic converter effectiveness and contributes to ground-level ozone.
Nacero’s process builds the complex hydrocarbon chains that constitute its gasoline (typically comprising five to 12 carbon atoms) by assembling smaller CH4 methane molecules from natural gas. By contrast, crude oil is composed of long, complicated hydrocarbon chains and myriad impurities like sulfur that must be deconstructed and “refined” to make gasoline. And although gasoline is the high-value output, refiners must do something with all the heavier, dirtier hydrocarbons, which end up getting burned as bunker oil for shipping and power generation, etc. The refining process itself involves a significant carbon footprint, as do drilling, pumping, and transporting the crude oil.
By locating its first plant in Penwell, Texas, in the heart of oil country, Nacero plans to tap the methane that might otherwise be flared at nearby oil fields and refineries as its feedstock. If it would have been flared anyway, burning it as gasoline creates no new CO2. By tapping the methane emissions from municipal landfills, decomposing animal waste, etc., the natural gas can be considered renewable. For the full story, check out this article from Motor Trend.