Category: peak oil

Gas jumps 75 cents with California carbon tax!

Energy groups warned of apocalyptic spikes in the price of gasoline in California when new cap-and-trade rules took effect on New Years Day 2015. These groups representing the interests of the oil industry ran ads on Facebook, YouTube and television; talked to every journalist who would listen; and bought influence from politicians such as Democratic Assemblymember Henry Perea of Fresno in their futile attempts to roll back portions of AB 32, the “Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.”

The new “carbon tax” for California transportation fuels took effect on January 1, 2015. The actual net change in the price of gas was a couple of pennies per gallon. Most consumers responded with a yawn and a shrug.

Gas price charts December 2014 / January 2015


Today in history: An improved method of extracting gasoline from petroleum

William Merriam Burton patent for cracking gasoline from petroleum

On this day in 1913, the US Patent Office awarded patent number 1,049,667 to chemist William Merriam Burton. Burton and his team developed his improved method of extracting gasoline from crude oil at the Standard Oil Refinery in Whiting, Indiana.

In his patent application, Dr. Burton writes, “The great and growing demand during the past ten years for gasolene [sic] has induced a large increase in the supply by improvements in the method of distilling from crude petroleum the naphthas. This leaves the illuminating oils … and the lubricating oils and waxes and, as residue, fuel oil and gas oil.

“The increasing demand for gasolene has induced attempts to obtain it from this residue.”

In 1912, Standard Oil of Indiana opened its first gasoline station in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Henry Ford’s Model T was just beginning to take off in popularity, and Burton’s production forecasts predicted his supply could not possibly meet the new demand. He assembled a team of chemists and engineers to develop a process using steam to “crack” petroleum — that is, breaking the heavy hydrocarbon molecules down to lighter molecules such as the components of gasoline.

Burton’s work was a great improvement over the then extant Shukhov process, and doubled the yield of gasoline from crude. Although catalytic cracking superseded Burton’s steam cracking after World War 2, Patent 1,049,667 today is seen as among the more important developments in petroleum engineering. Five years after this patent was awarded, Burton became president of a post-breakup Standard Oil of Indiana.

In 1984, Burton was inducted into the US Department of Commerce’s National Inventors Hall of Fame. In their biography of William Burton, British Petroleum notes that “Burton may be gone, but his vision still fuels the American economy.”

Tires made with soybean oil

About seven gallons of oil are used in the production of each car tire. To reduce their dependence on the fickle supply of petroleum, Goodyear Tire and Rubber has experimented with soybean oil and discovers it works pretty well.

Goodyear have discovered that their soy tires require less energy to manufacture and last up to 10% longer using feedstock that costs about the same with today’s prices.

Bicycle tires and tubes are manufactured from petroleum-based synthetic rubber. Bicycle tire production costs increased sharply in 2008 along with everything else that depends on petroleum for production when the price of oil shot up.