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For decades, since modern transportation had been in existence vehicles engines have required fuel that has always been created with fossil fuels. The use of fossil fuels to create fuel has not been a major problem until recently. Recently the price of fuels created by fossil fuels has sprung and we are now just beginning to notice the effect it has on the environment. In fact, studies have shown that 1/4 of energy- related green house gasses are a direct result of transportation pollution1. In this essay, I will look into alternative fuels, which are not created using fossil fuels.
Our dependence on fossil fuels had caused a global problem. Over the years, our environment had suffered in areas such as global warming, air quality deterioration and acid rain. Over the past 150 years, our use of fossil fuels has resulted in an increase of carbon dioxide of over twenty-five percent2. When combustion takes place, harmful gases are released into the air, which cause our air quality to worsen in condition. Some examples of fuels that are released are carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide. Different types of sulfur oxides and hydrocarbons are released from the combustion of these fossil fuels 2. When these gases are released into the environment, they cause smog and other signs of pollution. These are two major problems that are caused by burning fossil fuels.
I will now look into a few alternative fuels that do not involve the burning of fossil fuels. I will look into each ones advantage and its limitations. Non- fossil fuels are clearly have their advantages to fossil fuels although they are not perfect. Fuels that are not made with fossil fuels are clearly better for the environment although many are not yet produced at a fast enough rate for normal use, are too expensive or do not allow you to get the same performance you get out of petrol, our current fuel of choice3. In this essay, I will look into hydrogen, ethanol and an interesting concept of using compressed air to power motor vehicles.
I will start by outlining some of the positives and negatives aspects of Hydrogen. Hydrogen is a gas, recently it has been discovered to have a second purpose, which is a fuel. However, Hydrogen is not easily available in its uncombined state, it can only be found un- disturbed in our earth’s exosphere. Therefore, hydrogen must be manmade. Hydrogen is a very expensive fuel and is roughly ten times as much as petrol. Although this it is more environmentally friendly as its only byproduct is water, it is more efficient then petrol and over time the price will decrease with feature research4. Studies have been conducted on how it would be easier to transport and one main suggestion was to bond hydrogen with nitrogen to make ammonia, which could simply be transformed into a liquid for easy transport5.
The second fuel that I will look into is ethanol. Ethanol is in the Bio- Fuels family and is made from very common materials such as corn6. Ethanol is the most well known and widely used alternate fuel in today’s market. Many countries have already implemented plans to start introducing ethanol into their cars. Brazil is a leading example where almost all cars and trucks run exclusively on ethanol7. An advantage to ethanol is that cars that have been built within the past five or so years should be compatible with ethanol. This eliminates the need to either buy a new car or retrofit your current existent car. In fact, countries such as Brazil the transformation had lead to gad stations adding separate stations for ethanol as seen in the picture to the right8.
The third and final fuel I will be investigating is a new and in my mind upcoming idea, compressed air. Compressed air is new technolgly, which is still being researched. An air car looks great on paper but is harder to put this type of car into action than it looks, in fact, there are very few air cars that have been released to this date but many are in the late stages of development. An air car offers inexpensive prices and releases zero emissions into the air. In fact, a gallon of gas will likely be more expensive than a complete refill of air for your car as it will cost around $2.50 to refill the car with air9. The air will have to be stored in 300-liter tank that attaches to the bottom of your car. This option is the most eco- friendly alternant fuel that I have looked into in this essay.
The fuels that I have looked into in this essay all look very promising, it is now just a matter of time before we begin to implement these alternative fuels into our various types of transportation. When I look over all these the one that stand out the most to me is hydrogen, when I look at it I am also able to see all the other uses as well and see the very little impact that it has on the environment. How I do believe that any of the three mentioned fuels would be a satisfactory answer to the fuel crisis we are facing today.
1. Chalacuna. “Biofuels and Bio-Additives.” Green Fuel Power. 16 Oct. 2007. 1 Nov. 2007 <http://greenfuelpower.blogspot.com/>.
2. Luhnow, David, and Geraldo Samor. “As Brazil Fills Up on Ethanol, It Weans Off Energy Imports.” WSJ/ Yale. 17 Jan. 2006. Yale Uni./ WSJ. 1 Nov. 2007 <http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=6817>.
3. N/A. Brazil Has Run Cars on Alcohol for Decades. 2005. Somebodys Camara, Brazil. Wikipedia. Fuel Station. 1 Nov. 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Alcohol_fuel_pump_in_Brazil.jpg>.
4. N/a. “Myth: Alternative Fuels Will Come to the Rescue.” PTUA. 28 Sept. 2007. 1 Nov. 2007 <http://www.ptua.org.au/myths/fuels.shtml>.
5. N/a. “The Car That Runs on Air.” BBC News. 24 Oct. 2000. 1 Nov. 2007 <The car that runs on air>.
6. N/a. “The Hiden Cost of Fossil Fuels.” UCS. 10 Aug. 2005. 1 Nov. 2007 <http://greenfuelpower.blogspot.com/>.
7. N/a. “They Hydrogen Economy.” E. Jan.-Feb. 2003. 1 Nov. 2007 <http://www.emagazine.com/view/?171>.
8. Various. “Ethanol Fuel.” Wikipedia. 1 Nov. 2007. 1 Nov. 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel>.