The Saudi Arabia of the west could lie right in the bluegrass of Kentucky, at least, that's what some scientists and politicians are now saying.
House majority leader, Rocky Adkins, says America is in a crisis, importing more than 62 percent of our oil from foreign, unstable countries but researchers say Kentucky could supply relief for the entire nation with none other than coal.
You may not know it, but there's a big chance that you eat coal everyday.
Well, sort of...the coating on apples, oranges and other fruits and veggies comes from a wax that's converted from coal. The black, dusty rocks that have driven the economy of southeastern Kentucky coats one of our basic food groups.
And for chewing gum addicts... it's in those bubbles you pop too.
"It's clean enough to be rated edible by the F.D.A." says Dr. Burtron Davis, Associate Director of Applied Energy Research at the University of Kentucky.
Of course there's quite a big process between converting coal into this F.D.A approved wax but politicians are even more interested in what *more* can be made from this seemingly versatile product.
"Kentucky has enough coal that if converted to transportation fuel, we could become equivalent to Saudi Arabia." says Davis.
It's in Dr. Davis' Lexington labs at UK, that researchers do just that...convert coal to transportation fuel...or "syn" gas.
"The diesel is of exceptionally high quality." says Davis. "About 50 percent of South African Airlines fuel is made from coal."
Davis says the fuel from coal can be made at almost zero emissions; the cleanliness is one of the things that attracted Representative Rocky Adkins to get legislation started so the diesel, engineered by Fischer-Tropsch, can be commercially made for American vehicles...and once again, that wax offers another benefit.
"This could also be stored as a strategic fuel reserve like we do oil today in this form," says Adkins. "Then taken and turned into this very clean transportation fuel that's made from coal everyday."
Not only is the fuel made from coal very clean...researchers say consumers could save about one fifth of the cost...at the pump...we'll explain how tomorrow night at six.