[Gasification] Range Fuels Closing Plant

jim mason jim at allpowerlabs.org
Mon Jan 24 16:41:50 CST 2011

On Mon, Jan 24, 2011 at 1:47 PM, Jim Leach <jleach at danatech.net> wrote:

>  It is a sad story to be sure.  I don't know anything about the details
> but one must not condemn the use of government sponsored research and
> development money just because Range failed.  Many other researchers that
> were able to get government grants succeed and society has been rewarded for
> it.  Keep in mind that is how the U.S. got to the moon.

i agree this is a really hard problem to solve.  clearly an ambitious
funding structure for basic reserach has all sorts of positive effects.
let's remember that all of us have benefited tremendously from srel and nrel
money that produced all the bef books and general science cycles on which we
base much of what we do today

when the govt get involved in choosing end game winners in the deployment of
the tech that results, things often go awry.  but then again most of us only
have anecdotes to assess this.  though admitedly the anecodtes seems to
always tally to a story like what we see here.  dynamotive is the last high
profile flyer that went down, after being the best chance to prove a
proposition held dear to local hearts (in that case flash pyrolysis to
useful bio oil)

again and agin we see that harvesting vc and govt money is a very different
proposition than harvesting energy.  what looks great in a power point
presentation is very different than what works in metal and materials.  this
seems to only get more distorted as the dollar amounts get larger.

if nothing else, the govt money produces some well explored examples of how
not to do it.  that helps the non funded and much more disciplined to try
and find a narrow path through this very difficult mine field.  i think we
all watch and learn a tremendous amount about how not to do things from
these high profile failures.  and even in failure, most of the "failed"
entities regroup some how and try again, often to better results.   it is
still way better than doing nothing i think.  and can we all get our checks
too please?

less cynically, the sbir program seems to do much better in identifying
early stage endeavors with value, and helping them step up in growth.  the
money is much smaller, so it is gets less distorted by the larger scale
financial speculators.

the best thing the govt could do is let fossil fuels slowly rise to actual
market value, and externalize all the various supports and subsidies we
direct towards them.  the price signal will likely do most of the rest of
what is needed.

but that is never going to happen.  so we'll likely continue subsidizing
both sides of the problem, and continue producing more of the messy ends we
currently enjoy.


ps- remember too that the govt amazingly saved gm on a loan that no private
entity would have ever extended.  the tarp balance sheet turned out way
better than anyone would have guessed.  range fuels?  not quite as good it
seems.  at least the feds are still batting above zero . . .

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Jim Mason
Website: http://www.whatiamupto.com
Current Projects:
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