As the cost of a gallon of gasoline tops four dollars, researchers are scrambling to come up with a viable fuel alternative that's cheaper and readily available. The research has mostly focused on three types of fuel: Biodiesel, electricity and ethanol.
Biodiesel is a product derived from certain types of vegetable oil and animal fats. It can be used in a pure form or blended with other products. The beauty of biodiesel is that it is non toxic, biodegradable and it burns clean. It's also not as combustible and it is relatively easy to produce even at home, though home production is not recommended. Unfortunately, it could potentially blow up a diesel engine unless very precise guidelines aren't followed. Its safety in handling, storing and transporting makes it an interesting alternative when we consider security and health issues. Even if so far the US biodiesel industry hasn't grown much, it has great potential for the future and it is steadily increasing in size.
Electricity fuels electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Electric vehicles (EVs) store the electricity in batteries and work with an electric motor. Capacity and storage are quite limited, unfortunately. A number of these cars have chargers on board, while others do require a plug-in. These vehicles are small but quiet and have no tail pipe emissions. They're mostly used for neighborhood commuting, light hauling and delivery with a maximum speed of 35 mph. The batteries of these cars run about 20,000 miles and need replacing on average every four years. No major auto manufacturer has yet begun producing a total electric vehicle saying the demand isn't there. Small, independent manufacturers, however, report that demand in steadily increasing.
Ethanol is a renewable fuel extracted from several plants also known as biomass. While the US prefer to produce ethanol from corn, other countries such as Brazil use sugar cane. Ethanol contains a compound also found in alcohol. Research is still ongoing in regard to Cellulosic Ethanol Feedstock. This fuel is produced from yard and forestry waste, such as wood chips, saw dust, leaves and wheat straw, and household plant derived waste such as paper products. Different types of grass are grown with this purpose in mind. A few of the perks would be: Domestic production, low greenhouse emissions, and growth of employment opportunities.
Compared to gasoline, a gallon of pure ethanol contains 34% less energy and has a lower mileage performance. It can only be used in flex fuel vehicles but is usually priced cheaper in order to compete with higher priced gasoline. The U. S. Department of Energy says these three fuels increase our energy security, improve public health and our environment. Studies estimate that ethanol and other biofuels could reduce more than 30% of gas demand in the United States by the year 2030. Usually, when demand drops, so do prices.
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