Thursday, October 05, 2006

Israel's newest attempt to save the planet

I've talked about this before - how alternative energy sources are not only an ecological issue but a national defense issue. This article from Arutz-7/Israel21c mentions this explicitly, which is a good thing.

Personally, I think that similar research should be funded in the US by the massive defense budget, where a billion dollars can easily be found.
Israel is taking the lead in the effort to attain energy alternatives to oil. A new research initiative was launched at Israel’s Weizmann Institute and new cooperation with the US is in the works.

At Rehovot’s Weizmann Institute of Science, a new multidisciplinary research initiative into alternative, sustainable energy resources was recently launched. The goal is to significantly advance the search for solutions to the world's most pressing energy problems.

"Developing alternative means of producing energy is a necessary step for dealing with the continuing energy crisis," Institute President Prof. Ilan Chet told Israel21c. "Creating fresh, sustainable methods of producing energy in the required amounts will only be possible if we can gain the knowledge to invent completely new technologies.”

Finding true sustainable and affordable alternatives to oil would strip powerful Arab oil states of their ability to use oil as a tool of diplomatic pressure. “We believe we can help shape the planet's future," Chen said.

Institute scientists have already come up with several original approaches to producing alternative energy, such as the production of methanol, which is now extracted from fossil fuels, from the sun’s energy instead. If that method proves successful, it could provide a relatively clean, renewable, and environmentally friendly fuel, researchers say.

Physics and chemistry research groups are focusing on energy conversion, storage, and conservation. One research team, in the Institute’s life sciences department, plans to investigate ways of utilizing plants and biomass as energy sources.

A new bill, called the United States-Israel Energy Cooperation Act, was submitted to the U.S. Congress in July. The bill was sponsored by 100 congressmen, both Democrats and Republicans.

The bill passed in the House of Representatives and has moved to the Senate for ratification.

"There is nothing we can do that is more important than weaning the United States and the world off its dependence of petroleum,” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) told Israel21c. “And the first step is research, and an important part of that research is cooperative research with other countries similarly dedicated to finding alternative energy. There is perhaps no better partner than Israel."