I don’t know how anyone in this world lives without a pickup truck. We use ours to carry bikes, dogs, lawn aerators, furniture and firewood. It is really a necessary part of our lives! However, it is NOT good on gas! In an effort to reduce our fuel consumption, my husband takes a van-pool to work every day and I try to limit and consolidate my errands as much as possible. New alternative fuel sources would make budgeting for transportation a lot easier!
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Think about this:
According to the federal government energy website, in 2016, the United States used about 143.37 billion gallons of gasoline. Not only is this amazingly expensive but it really isn’t all that great for our environment. Since I am not the only person who has come up with this observation, there are tons of scientists out there right now looking for a solution.
Types of Alternative Fuels
In general, there are a few ‘types’ of fuels out there. What are they? Keep in mind that I’m no expert, just a curious consumer!
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- Biodiesel: an animal or vegetable fat/oil chemically modified to bond the lipid (fat) molecules to an alcohol molecule.
- Bioalcohols: biological alcohols like ethanol and methanol, usually derived from fermentation of sugar and starch type crops.
- Biogas: comes from the breakdown of biological material…like landfill waste and cow excrement (and this country has plenty of THAT!)
Then you have some assorted things like liquid nitrogen, compressed air, nuclear power and ammonia that I am just not sure where to classify them. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of different ways out there to power up your Honda!
New Alternative Fuel Sources
Basically, anything that contains FAT or can be fermented or that eventually decays is being researched as the next great automotive fuel. What have they tried so far? I was shocked! You can check out the links at the end of this article for more details!
Apparently, in the production of your favorite chocolate bar, there is quite a bit of waste. People at the University of Warwick in Britain have built a Formula 3 race car that runs on 30% biodiesel derived from chocolate waste.
Sawdust, Woodchips, and Nuts:
This isn’t a particularly new idea…during WWII apparently this was done to help alleviate gasoline shortages. Why we didn’t keep up with THAT technology, I just don’t know!
Okay, this I found kindof gross but I guess there isn’t really any reason NOT to use leftover turkey parts…it’s not like the turkey needs them anymore, right? Some people in Missouri are opening a plant that could process turkey waste (including feathers, using up everything but the gobble) into a fuel oil that could be processed into diesel, gasoline or jet fuel. Apparently, the plant is creating a rather bad odor, however, and they are looking to move to a less populated area.
According to the United Nations, the livestock industry is responsible for 18% of global warming emissions. Cows can produce 50 to 130 gallons of methane every day. This wouldn’t be such a major issue if they were eating grass instead of grain but that’s a whole other story!
Leftover fat from liposuction procedures:
I kid you not…gross as it sounds (and it is actually NOT legal!) some cosmetic surgeon actually did this! A gallon of fat can be turned into a gallon of biofuel but he got in serious trouble.
Apparently they are ‘meltable’ and can be added to some biodeisel fuels to replace up to 5% of the fuel right now…any more than that and it doesn’t work so well. They are still working on cutting the emissions from this concoction so it will be a while before you can stop feeling guilty for using disposable cups!
Seaweed and Algea:
Yep, a company in Seattle just got a huge grant from the Department of Energy for more research…this is one they think might have some merit!
A Canadian company is building a pilot plant in Quebec that will process the plastics, resins, fibers, and poop into a mix of gas, oil and char. Mommies everywhere will be thrilled! Maybe they will start offering poopy diaper compensation programs!
Used Coffee Grounds
These actually contain 10% – 15% oil and a company in Europe collects and then ferments them. This produces a natural gas fuel and compost. Considering how much coffee Americans drink, I think we need to hop on board with this!
Apparently researches are trying to refine a type of ‘steam engine’ that runs on saltwater and can be converted into something small enough to run a car. An old concept with a new twist!
The problem with buying vehicles powered by these new alternative fuel sources is that public supply is just not there! If I have a car that runs on biodiesel, I can’t just go to my local BP station and fill up. And there are not a lot of places to ‘plug in’ your electric car. Maybe my truck will last a few more years and someone will master that poopy diaper technology!
Resources you might check out:
Do you have a vehicle that runs on new alternative fuel sources?
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.