Apparently, we all know the bad effects of gasoline and various types of fossil fuels. The most notable impact, fuel for transportation is responsible for 30% of world gas emissions. So, using alternative fuels becomes a must.
Alternative fuels utilize other materials than fossils with the same function. Simply put, the materials used are taken from renewable energy.
Several types of alternative fuels are widely known along with their advantages and disadvantages. Though, what are the alternative fuels to replace gasoline that are available?
Electricity, hydrogen, ethanol and biodiesel are among the alternative fuels that are becoming popular. Future technology allows the discovery of new types of fuel, so it is possible that there will be more options in the future.
Biofuel fuels are made from plant or animal body parts, and are not really a new product. Henry Ford ran his first car on alcohol and Rudolf Diesel started his first engine with peanut oil.
Besides alcohol, ethanol is a type of biofuel that has been widely adopted in vehicles today. In theory, biofuels could reduce carbon emissions because they only release carbon that was once absorbed as the plants grew. Biofuels produce less emissions into the air than fossil fuels.
Hydrogen fuel combines the elements oxygen and hydrogen to trigger a chemical reaction that produces electricity. Though hydrogen is not considered a sustainable material, its use is sometimes debatable.
As an alternative, hydrogen is sometimes replaced by electrolytes, fermentation, and even biodiesel. As an alternative fuel to gasoline, the biggest benefit is not producing any smoke except water vapor.
Hydrogen is considered a long-term solution as a car fuel because it does not trigger emissions and is able to overcome the problem of electric cars powered by batteries. However, hydrogen technology is quite expensive so its adoption will not be as massive as other alternative fuels.
Biodiesel is a fuel made from vegetable or animal oils, including fats. The majority of biodiesel is a mixture of 20% biodiesel and 80% mineral diesel. The plus point is that biodiesel uses renewable materials which can reduce non-renewable raw materials usage.
However, biodiesel still produces emissions and pollution even on a small scale. Biodiesel fuel is superior because it is non-toxic and biodegradable. Besides being made from organic materials, waste cooking oil can be used as raw material for biodiesel.
Ethanol is the main element that makes up alcohol, so it is often classified as a biofuel. It is one of the earliest renewable fuels discovered because it is made from fruit and vegetables such as corn, sugar cane, and others.
Technological developments make ethanol production easier. The raw material for making ethanol can be taken from solid waste, manure, agricultural and plantation waste. Basically, any waste can be used as raw material for ethanol.
The latest example is almond and walnut waste which is converted into ethanol through fermentation and gasification processes. Research is being developed to produce ethanol from grass and algae, two organic materials that are easily found.
LPG is extracted from natural gas, and is actually a 'waste product' in the oil industry. For fuel, the elements in LPG are slightly different.
LPG fuel is made from a mixture of butane and propane, different from LPG that is used for cooking. Compared to gasoline, LPG is lower in pollution and price. Because it is a liquefied gas, the adoption of LPG in the future is likely to happen. For now, less than 1% of the newest cars are powered by LPG.
Electric fuels power cars via batteries, and are now gaining popularity for being eco-friendly. This car does not trigger emissions. The problem is, electric car batteries are still available in limited quantities because the raw materials are difficult to obtain.
That's why, the covered distance of electric cars is currently limited, less than 500 km for a single charge. Electric car batteries are very expensive, even reaching 50% of the price of the car itself.
Compressed air can replace the role of gasoline to move the piston and produce power in combustion engine models. Stored in a 4500 psi pressure tank, air fuel is inferior in producing power compared to other types of fuel.
The main advantages of air fuel are not causing pollution at all. New ideas are still being developed regarding the use of air as car fuel. For now, there is only one concept car that uses air as fuel.
Formula One fans may be familiar with kinetic energy because it was adopted several years ago, even not as the main fuel. When the car accelerates and brakes, there is wasted energy because the car should be able to go without consuming fuel. The wasted energy is stored and converted into electrical energy.
The application of kinetic energy is expected to increase in the future due to its positive impact on the environment. Besides kinetic energy, braking also produces heat energy which can be converted into electricity using a thermoelectric device.