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There are significant myths concerning the various alternative transportation fuels that have been developed.  That’s too bad because the type of transportation fuel we will be using in the future is a very important topic. Some of these alternative-fuel myths are just rooted in misunderstandings and in this article, with the help from Commerce Automotive in Commerce, GA, a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, RAM dealer, we do a little investigative reporting.

The Diesel Myth – Diesel fuel emits far dirtier emissions than gasoline does.

Diesel certainly used to be a foul fuel, but a series of federal clean fuel rules in the late 1990s have made the diesel producers clean up their act. The main issue was sulfur in diesel fuel, hence the nasty smell.  Today’s diesel is made with low sulfur and doesn’t smell bad anymore.  In fact, the general rule for diesel is that it can cause no more tailpipe emissions than gasoline does.

One issue with diesel that many bring up is that diesel is too expensive, though. That’s because the federal tax on diesel is 24 cents per gallon, which is 32 percent steeper than the government’s 18 cents-per-gallon tax on gasoline.  It’s an artificial price increase. On the plus side, though, diesel might be more expensive than gasoline but it contains more energy.

The Hydrogen Myth – Hydrogen is much more dangerous than gasoline.

Hydrogen is a gas that is lighter than air. This means that when it’s burning, it tends to vent straight up, like the flame from a bunsen burner. Burning gasoline, on the other hand, is heavier than air, remains liquid and when it catches fire, it spreads out. The truth is that gasoline is far more dangerous when it burns than hydrogen is.

The Natural Gas Myth – Natural gas is all over America. Let’s convert all our vehicles to natural gas and we will eliminate air pollution.

Well, the U.S. does have enormous reserves of natural gas but gas is still a carbon-based fuel.  It does burn cleaner than gasoline but it still emits greenhouse gases.

The Cheap Ethanol Myth – Ethanol is cheaper than gasoline and is plant-based.

Yes, ethanol is cheaper than gasoline per gallon. The problem is that it contains 33 percent less energy than gasoline, so a gallon of ethanol won’t take you as far. Numerous studies have shown that it actually costs the consumer more to use a high ethanol blend than to burn “standard” gasoline.

The Grid Capacity Myth – Plug-in cars might be good for the environment, but if everybody has one, the country’s power grid won’t be able to handle it.

On an around-the-clock basis, utilities in the U.S. actually can produce far more electricity than we consume.  And most plug-in vehicle charging takes place at night, when power use is down and there’s a surplus of capacity. This myth is busted.

The Poisonous Batteries Myth – A crisis will develop when all those hybrid and electric vehicle batteries wear out and get dumped into the world’s trash heaps.

It won’t happen. Unlike the old, toxic lead-acid batteries, the batteries used in conventional hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles are nontoxic and safe for landfill disposal. Plus, today’s EV batteries are all recycled. The materials they contain are far too valuable to discard.


Despite our “myth-busting,” there are some truths to absorb. First, most are more expensive than the petroleum fuels they would replace and that’s a real problem. Second, they all lack a useful, widespread retail distribution system like gasoline has and to establish a system like our 30,000 gas stations would be a huge effort.

Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet.