More alternative fuel experimentation needed, say researchers

Thursday, March 6th 2008, 6:41 pm
By: News 9

By Jacqueline Sit, NEWS 9

Soaring oil prices are reflective at the pumps this week.

On average, gas is $3.05 gallon in Oklahoma City. National experts say we could see $4 a gallon for gas by May.

Oklahoma researchers say more research and developement is needed for alternative fuels sources if America is ever to become energy independent.

"We really are in desperate need for renewable energy sources to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Dr. Raymond Huhnke said.

Researchers are using biomass like plant materials and crop residues that eventually convert into ethanol or biodiesel. Experts said a bail of hay equals a barrel or 42 gallons of fuel. If they can produce ethanol at less than $1 a gallon, it could save consumers a bundle of money down the road.

"If that's the case we can greatly reduce the cost of transportation fuel," Huhnke said.

And the alternative fuel sources could help the local economy. A recent OSU study predicted a biomass-to-ethanol conversion facility could mean millions of dollars for local farmers and more jobs in our economy.

However, researchers said it could take several more years before access to ethanol becomes mainstream.

"I'm thinking that it'll be about four years before we'll see ethanol really available to consumers around the country," Huhnke said.