Sunday, February 03, 2008

Writer calls for ethanol-fired locomotives, reserve

One of the main problems with ethanol is that it can't be shipped in pipelines. That's why the nation needs a strategic reserve of the fuel and a new kind of locomotive that runs on it, and can deliver it, Michael Bugeja writes in The Des Moines Register.

Bugeja is director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University, and an academic partner of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues. He writes, "In the 1970s, I worked in Nebraska for United Press International, covering ethanol and debates about storage, pipelines and train transportation. We're still discussing the same things."

Bugeja refers to an Aug. 3 article by Dien Judge in the Iowa Independent, reporting that "Alternative Hybrid Locomotive Technologies, or AHL-Tech for short, is working on perfecting a 2,000 horsepower ethanol-electric locomotive. And the company would like to build them in Iowa." Bugeja writes that Tom Mack, CEO of the Ohio-based company, told him that "He hopes to sell two engines this year in Iowa and will announce that when the deal closes."

Bugeja says Iowa and federal lawmakers should support the idea. "Our U.S. senators should request Homeland Security funds to found a national reserve in Iowa with a fleet of engines running on and delivering ethanol to all points in a crisis.," he writes. "In the past, America was known for that kind of self-reliance. The future depends on it again." (Read more)

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