If you are on the internet frequently, as I am, you may have heard something about a new superfuel called Oro Blanco. Mining companies that are involved with Oro Blanco extraction, in such places as the Andes mountains, are pushing hard to get investors for this 'new' fuel. Even the name sounds promising, as Oro Blanco translates into 'white gold'. And, Oro Blanco is being touted as the fuel of the future or the new gasoline.
Some have even made the fantastic claim that Oro Blanco is 1,693 times more powerful by weight than gasoline. This supposedly means that if your vehicle gets around 50 miles per gallon of gasoline, a fill-up of Oro Blanco would be enough fuel (unless you're Ewan McGregor) to let you ride for, well, pretty much forever.
Even at the forecasted price for Oro Blanco of $50 per US gallon this would make for some incredibly economical driving. Pretty exciting stuff, eh? Well, you know what's been said about things sounding too good to be true. Unfortunately, that is exactly the case with Oro Blanco. After doing a little research I found out that Oro Blanco is just another name for a substance called lithium carbonate (Li2CO3). Lithium carbonate is a white, powdery mineral that, if you're that way inclined, looks very much like something you could snort. You may recognise lithium carbonate as the medication that has been used for decades to treat the manic episodes of bipolar disorder. Lithium is also used in the lithium-ion batteries that power our phones, laptops, Priuses, Teslas and Zero motorcycles.
The problem with comparing lithium carbonate with gasoline is that you really can't compare the two; it's an apples to oranges scenario. Gasoline produces power through combustion with air, which is then converted to mechanical energy. Lithium, on the other hand, creates power through a chemical reaction to produce electricity.
Even if you could somehow turn the lithium carbonate into a liquid (it melts at 723C, or 1333F), you could not put it in your gas tank to use as a combustible fuel because lithium carbonate produces little energy when burned. In fact, even lithium-ion batteries produce little or no power until they are charged from an external power source i.e, the A/C outlets in your home. What all this means is that, at least for now, you should forget all the hype about Oro Blanco unless you are an investor. Even though electric motorcycles powered by lithium batteries are becoming more commonplace, gasoline will still remain king for many years to come. So, all you lovers of internal combustion and hydrocarbon emissions, rejoice!