The Energy Expert Speaks

Secretary Chu on China, energy and the ideal transport fuel
| December 28, 2010

A luncheon is never just a luncheon when the U.S. DOE Secretary Steven Chu shows up, especially when he delivers a speech on energy. During a recent National Press Club event, Chu gave a presentation titled, “The Energy Race: Our New Sputnik Moment,” and while he spoke on the growing superpower of China and the idea that innovation is the key to prosperity and progress, he also commented on what he believes is the most ideal transport fuel, adding that “this is a complicated economic issue.” For Chu, corn ethanol was a good way of getting the American public to realize driving a vehicle on ag-based fuels is possible, but that we need to focus on developing the new technology that can supersede ethanol made from starches. “Ethanol is not an ideal transportation fuel. Gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene and diesel fuel are much better things to use,” he said, “because they don’t require changing the infrastructure.”

Now, Chu says, we need to focus on producing biofuels that can be directly substituted into any ratio or gas tank. “Wealth creation is created by innovation,” he said during the speech, pointing to three new bioenergy research centers that are working to create a process for drop-in fuels. The hope, he said, is that the U.S. can recognize the economic opportunity in energy, and continue to pump in investments towards research and development.   

—Luke Geiver