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The United States is powered by petroleum. Certainly our transportation system is. The cars, trucks and aircraft we use are all petroleum powered and we now are dealing with some nasty side effects of this.  Things like air pollution and global warming are a direct result of decades of petroleum use.  Plus, the geo-political stability of the world is affected by petroleum use.  Are there alternative fuels available and, if so, what are they?

  1. Ethanol

Ethanol is an alcohol-based fuel that is made by distilling fermented farm crops such as corn, barley or wheat.  Ethanol can be used to power vehicle with specially modified engines or blended with gasoline and used in conventional engines. In some countries, such as Brazil and other Latin American countries, ethanol is already a major transportation fuel and can be found at most filling stations.

  1.  Biodiesel

Biodiesel is another plant-based alternative fuel.  Instead of utilizing a fermentation process, biodiesel is created by extracting oils from certain plants and animal fats.  It’s easy to utilize with existing internal combustion technology also. Present vehicle engines can be converted to burn biodiesel in pure form and biodiesel can also be blended with petroleum diesel and used in unmodified engines. The folks at remind us that biodiesel is being used by many grass-roots enthusiasts right now as an alternative transportation fuel.  They collect the vegetable grease that is discarded for restaurants, purify it and use it in existing diesel-engine cars.

  1.  Natural Gas

Although technically a fossil fuel, natural gas is an alternative fuel that burns clean and is already available to people in many countries.  When used in cars and trucks with specially designed engines, natural gas produces far fewer harmful emissions than gasoline or diesel engines do.

  1.  Electricity

Electricity can be used as a transportation “fuel” for electric vehicles (EVs). Electric vehicles store power in batteries that are recharged by plugging the vehicle into a standard electrical source. A frequent criticism of EVs is that they may not pollute themselves, the electricity generation process may be polluting. If the electricity is generated via solar or wind methods, then the entire system is free from pollution.

  1.  Hydrogen

Hydrogen is used in vehicles that run on electricity produced by the chemical reaction that occurs when hydrogen and oxygen are combined in fuel cells. Today, hydrogen is being tested on a limited scale in Southern California with a series of hydrogen refueling stations.  Critics voice concerns that converting the United States to a hydrogen-based energy infrastructure would be a daunting affair and cost trillions of dollars.

  1.  Methanol

Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, is another plant-based fuel that can be used as an alternative fuel in flexible fuel vehicles designed to run on M85.  M85 is a blend of 85 percent methanol and 15 percent gasoline.

  1. Propane

Propane, also called liquefied petroleum gas or LPG, is a byproduct of natural gas processing and crude oil refining. Already widely used as a fuel for cooking and heating, propane is also a popular alternative fuel for vehicles. Propane powered vehicles produce far fewer emissions than gasoline.

As you can see, there are a large number of alternative transportation fuels that conceivably could be used in place of petroleum based fuels.  Will any of these rise to the forefront and challenge petroleum?  Only time will tell.

Source:  Browns Jeep Chrysler Dodge


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