As the world becomes more and more reliant on petroleum products, the search for alternative sources of energy has become increasingly important. Alternative fuels are any materials that can be used as a fuel other than traditional fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas.
There are many potential alternative fuels that are currently being researched and developed. Some of the most promising include biodiesel, hydrogen, and solar power. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel made from plant oils or animal fats. Hydrogen is the lightest element in the universe and can be used to power fuel cells. Solar power is generated by harnessing the energy of the sun.
Alternative fuels offer a number of advantages over traditional fossil fuels. They are often renewable, meaning they can be replenished relatively quickly. They also tend to produce fewer emissions than fossil fuels, making them better for the environment. Alternative fuels are an important part of the effort to reduce our dependence on petroleum and other fossil fuels.
As the world becomes more populous and developed, the demand for energy will only continue to grow. Alternative sources of energy will play an increasingly important role in meeting this demand. Research into alternative fuels is essential to ensure that we have a sustainable supply of energy in the future.
Demand for gasoline has been the driving force behind both usage and depletion of crude petroleum, which is a non-renewable resource. Trends have only just started to, at times, favor alternative fuels over gasoline in recent years. There are many different alternatives available; not all of them are without drawbacks. Various batteries combined with solar power, ethanol, gasohol, and liquefied and gaseous natural gas are some examples of potential alternatives. The main drawbacks include cost of adaptation and installation as well as engineering and fuel procurement costs.
The cost of adaptation is the main reason that autos using alternative fuels have not become more popular, as it would be very expensive to re-tool factories to produce such vehicles. Additionally, designing a new engine to burn these fuels presents many engineering challenges.
Gasoline has been used in automobiles for over one hundred years and its efficiency has been well-established; any replacement fuel will have to meet or exceed gasoline’s performance. Alternative fuels also tend to be more expensive than gasoline, which acts as a deterrent to their use. However, with the recent rise in gasoline prices, alternative fuels are becoming increasingly attractive.
Solar power is perhaps the most environmentally friendly of all the alternative energy sources, but it is also the least practical. A solar-powered car would have to be covered in photovoltaic cells in order to work, making it very large and expensive. Batteries are also an alternative energy source that has been explored for automotive use. Electric cars do exist, but they suffer from the same drawback as solar cars: they are too expensive and impractical for most people.
Alcohols can be used as fuels, but they have some serious drawbacks. First, alcohols are less energy-dense than gasoline, meaning that a vehicle using alcohol would have to carry more fuel to travel the same distance as a gasoline-powered car. Second, alcohols are more corrosive than gasoline and can damage engine parts over time.
Alternative fuels have a limited use and many economic drawbacks, according to numerous chairmen of oil firms. (Derr, 30) “Although alternatives to gasoline may have some very specialized niche applications in efforts to reduce air pollution, they lack the environmental benefits and economic advantages required by certain regulators,” said Chevron’s chairman and CEO in 1994.
Alternative fuels are not a new concept and have been considered since the oil embargo in 1973. (Nunes, 6) The idea took off in the early 1990s when the Clean Air Act Amendments were passed. (Nunes, 6) The amendments required that oxygenated fuels be used in areas with high levels of carbon monoxide pollution. (Nunes, 6) Ethanol was chosen as the oxygenate of choice and was blended with gasoline at levels between 2.7 and 5 percent by volume. (Nunes, 6)
In addition to this federal requirement, many states adopted their own programs to reduce air pollution. California’s program, which was known as the Low-Emission Vehicle program, required that 2 percent of all vehicles sold in the state in 1998 be alternative-fueled. (Nunes, 6) This program helped to create a market for alternative-fueled vehicles, which in turn led to the production of more alternative-fueled vehicles.
The use of alternative fuels has grown in recent years as the price of petroleum has increased and the availability of Alternative sources has decreased. In 2008, Alternative fueled vehicles made up 3.4 percent of new light-duty vehicle sales in the United States. (Fisher, 1)
This is up from just 0.6 percent in 2000. (Fisher, 1) The vast majority of Alternative fueled vehicles are Alternative fuel Flexible-Fuel Vehicles (FFVs). (Fisher, 1) FFVs can run on either gasoline or Alternative fuel, such as ethanol or biodiesel. (Fisher, 1) There are also a small number of dedicated Alternative fuel vehicles, which can only run on Alternative fuel. (Fisher, 1)
The use of Alternative fuels has grown in recent years for a number of reasons. The most important reason is the increasing price of petroleum. (Fisher, 1) Alternative fuels are typically less expensive than gasoline, so they offer a way to save money on fuel costs. (Fisher, 1) In addition, the use of Alternative fuels can help reduce dependence on imported oil. (Fisher, 1) Finally, the use of Alternative fuels can help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. (Fisher, 1)
While the use of Alternative fuels has grown in recent years, there are still many challenges to their widespread use. One challenge is the lack of infrastructure for Alternative fuels. (Fisher, 1) For example, there are very few Alternative fuel stations in the United States. (Fisher, 1) This makes it difficult for people to find Alternative fuel when they need it.
Another challenge is the cost of Alternative fuel vehicles. (Fisher, 1) Alternative fuel vehicles typically cost more than gasoline-powered vehicles. (Fisher, 1) This makes them less affordable for many consumers. Finally, Alternative fuels have not been proven to be as effective as gasoline in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. (Fisher, 1)
Despite the challenges, Alternative fuels offer a number of potential benefits. They are typically less expensive than gasoline, so they offer a way to save money on fuel costs. In addition, the use of Alternative fuels can help reduce dependence on imported oil. Finally, the use of Alternative fuels can help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. With continued research and development, Alternative fuels may one day play a major role in transportation.
However, because engineers in the United States and Europe are constantly coming up with low-cost replacements, these two sectors are not in the majority. Because these big businesses have done so in Brazil, they may soon have no choice but to investigate and diversify into additional eco-friendly options. (Grammer, 10) Emissions rules are becoming more stringent across the country, especially in California, where a percentage of vehicles sold must be zero emission vehicles.
Alternative fuel sources are necessary to meet these environmental regulations while continuing to power the economy. The two most commonly used liquid fuels are petroleum and natural gas. Petroleum comes from crude oil and is refined into gasoline, kerosene, and other products. It contains many harmful chemicals including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter. These emissions lead to smog, acid rain, and health problems such as respiratory illnesses.