Are Alternative Fuels on the Road to a Solution?

Eleanor Hanson

There are many innovative solutions to the current questions concerning high gasoline prices and greenhouse emissions. Crops grown especially for fuel. Ethanol made from corn has no harmful emissions it is made from a reusable resource, the US government is pushing for 80% bio-fuel mixed with 20% gasoline, they can better than that! Bio-fuels produced from crops such as soybean and corn are at an effective alternative to gasoline both being a renewable resource that helps the farmers have a constant demand for their crops all the better for a continuous cash flow. However, if all the corn currently grown in the US was used to produce ethanol it would only meet only around 12% of the current demand for fuel, more and more land is being bought up for the production of ethanol, and it’s largely dependent upon the weather, a yield of around 18 gallons of oil from corn can be produced per year per acre, more can be possible with genetic alterations, the growing process also requires fertilizes, pesticides and heavy machinery to harvest, effectively adding to soil contamination. It is also estimated the process uses as much energy to produce and transport as regular oil. There are also concerns that the farmland required for producing ethanol from crops will take up valuable space previously used for food crops, as recently food crops have suffered from extreme weather conditions and natural disasters pushing food prices higher, is then using this land, to produce ethanol feasible or even ethical?

Other alternatives being looked at are probably more efficient but less appealing to some, include reusing vegetable oil, a converter with filter, which can be placed in any diesel engine to allow it to take 100% used vegetable oil such as that from restaurants, it is refined slightly after being collected, and then sold at less than half the price of regular gasoline, higher end cars such as Saab and Mercedes are using this technology.

Water powered cars are also a reality by splitting the hydrogen oxygen (H2O) combo, that comprises water, and using the energy that is produced when they are put back together, these cells can be effectively be installed into cars reliant on petroleum, tailpipe emissions? Water.

Bio-gas energy sources have come up with a process of using organic wastes solids or liquids, do you remember in the movie back to the future, when the professor came back from the future at the end of the movie he stuffed garbage into the fuel tank and converting it into a usable gas product. Well at biogas energy sources they take food waste with other degradable organic matter like grass clippings, and by placing them through in holding tanks, they decompose naturally, the gas is siphoned off and the methane is used for powering generators boilers etc, or it can be refined further to make fuel for transportation.

However, the most exciting development of bio-fuel is that of using algae it is a fast growing high-yield product, 50% of it’s body weight is an energy source, it is quickly grown on ponds and requires no pesticides or fertilize to flourish, 20,000 gallons per acre per year can be produced on open surface ponds, Glen Kertz of Vertigro explains that different strains of algae can be used to meet other transportation needs for jet fuel and diesel if produced in contaminate free Vertigro, they grow the algae vertically in plastic bags hung in a green house, enabling more surface area to to exposed to sunlight and enabling an enormous amount of the water to be continually recycled, it also takes up far less space and therefore yield per acre is much more than 20,000 gallons per year.

With all these alternatives, when will it be feasible for these methods to be available the general public?

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