Metrol: another way to monetize Alaska's stranded gas?
It's being branded as an alternative way to monetize Alaska's natural gas, and clean the air-- a fuel called Metrol claims to filter out the carbons in gas. So, if you put it in your car, the exhaust would be little more than water.
Chena Hot Springs owner Bernie Karl says he's working with Chinese investors to create a pilot plant for Metrol on Alaska's North Slope.
At his resort outside of Fairbanks, Karl has successfully converted the hot springs into geothermal energy that powers the compound. At the time, Karl says, many told him it was a crazy idea -- but he proved them wrong. Now, he says he ready to be right again.
At Karl's 12th annual Renewable Energy Fair Sunday, inventors from around the world dreamed big about another way to fuel our engines. Roy McAlister, president of the American Hydrogen Association and the inventor of Metrol, has been pondering the alternative fuel for half a century.
"Metrol is a net hydrogen, meaning that when you burn it, it's as if you only had hydrogen present," McAlister said of the substance.
That's scientific speak for a fuel that burns and emits only water vapor.
"I was teaching at the University of Kansas in the 1960s and realized we were burning a million years of fossil accumulations every year, and there's no way that our economy, civilization can continue to burn and expend the atmosphere that was changing at that time," McAlister said of Metrol's origins.
Not only can metrol put out clean emissions, McAllister says it can also clean the air, by filtering out carbons from the atmosphere.
That caught Karl's attention.
"We're going to build a metro plant on the North Slope, carbon fiber plant on the North Slope," Karl said. "We're talking about creating thousands of jobs, and hundreds of thousands of jobs in the world -- all from Alaska, all this material is coming from Alaska."
Alaska has trillions of cubic feet of natural gas that's stranded on the North Slope waiting for a gas pipeline to move it out. In the meantime, Karl says it could be made into Metrol.
"Yeah, you've gotta be just a little bit on the crazy side to do some of these things," Karl said.
Crazy ideas are just what Alaska leaders ordered.
"It's these young people that need to be captivated and inspired to go out and do what everybody says is crazy," Sen. Lisa Murkowski said in keynote speech at the fair. "We should all be part of Bernie's crazy talk."
"Boy, do I wish I’d paid more attention in chemistry when I was in high school in Valdez, but I’m catching up," Gov. Bill Walker said of the invention. "I’m not saying I completely understand it, but I love the passion."
So far, Metrol has only gained traction in the classrooms around the country. McAlister says more and more companies have approached him about the idea.
"There is a growing amount of demand for profits from companies that realize that they can make much more profit by making carbon into durable goods than to burn it," McAlister added.
McAlister says Metrol can be transported at ambient temperature, which could make it easier to transport.