There are many factors that might have caused climate change to escalate into a much serious problem each country has to deal with in their own regions. Some point out that the greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions came from carbon-based and fossil-based fuels used mainly by vehicles, industries and even at small homes as a source for energy. Experts believe that there are other possible sources for fuel that can be used as an alternative to the commonly used fuel available today. This paper would discuss three of the most known alternative fuel sources and explain the benefits and disadvantages of using the source. This paper would also the reasons why these sources are preferred alternatives and why there are still rare samples of vehicles using these alternative fuel sources at present time.
Keywords: alternative fuel, fuel sources, climate change, energy source
Alternative Fuel Source
One of the biggest contributors to climate change is smoke coming from automobiles, factories and in some homes that use fossil and coal fuels. These fuels have been used since the Industrial Revolution in the early 1900s to give power and energy in some of the important machinery for production and transportation. Scientists have stressed that the ozone layer has gradually been reduced and radiation has slowly penetrated in certain parts of the globe since then. At present, fossil fuel is still widely used by automobiles despite its role in reducing the ozone layer’s capability to prevent radiation from penetrating in the atmosphere. Due to the ongoing threat of climate change, scientists and researchers have introduced alternative sources that can help automobiles both run efficiently and reduce their contributions to greenhouse gas emissions for their country.
One of the most noted alternative fuel source used by developing countries is the liquefied petroleum gas or LPG which is commonly used in powering stoves in most homes in Asia and in certain parts of the American and European regions. In the analysis made by the US National Academy of Sciences (1973), several tests have analyzed the capability of LPG in reducing emissions from different automobiles. In one test, it showed that there is an 8% loss in engine power when LPG is used with a regular 350 cubic inch engine. The test also showed that there is a loss in economy and the maneuverability of the car is affected. The second test used a 6-cylinder engine used in buses and other big cars. They cited that for the engine to run smoothly there is a need for a catalytic afterburner that would reduce the effects of LPG in the engine. They also compared it with regular engines as the LPG tank and noted that it has a 15% higher fuel consumption. However, the emissions are odorless once the engine only ran on LPG alone. Considering if the LPG is checked for additional chemical components, it is a great alternative.
The LPG concept has already been updated and is now being used as one of the alternative fuel sources for public transport for some developed countries and developing countries. Usually, taxi cabs and buses benefit from this technology and the prices for LPG are 70% lower compared to regular gasoline. Aside from the noted disadvantages of using LPG in automobiles as noted by the analysis of the NAS, converting fuel tanks to LPG tanks are quite costly and is not readily available. It also has few mileage on one tank so one still need to refuel a lot of times which can be as costly as regular gasoline. Should these disadvantages be fixed and resolved, I would purchase one since I am assured that it would be completely safe. At the moment, the LPG system is quite unstable so I do not like to risk refitting my car to use this fuel alternative .
Another promising alternative fuel source for automobiles is hydrogen. From the United States Department of Agriculture, Departmental Management sector (2011), they noted hydrogen as one of the most recent and currently explored alternative fuel for automobiles and for other machines that uses fuel. According to research, hydrogen is much compatible for passenger vehicles and it has the potential to reduce consumption on foreign oil which is normally imported from Arab Nations. Hydrogen, according to the department, can be produced domestically thus the availability of the item can easily be remedied without importing. It also does not produce air pollutants especially when it is used in fuel cells that convert it into energy. But even if this can be produced domestically in developing countries, it is only available in some nations. Fuel cells are also quite expensive as well and they can be quite bulky when installed in a car. The last setback in using hydrogen for automobiles is it contains only less energy and may not last for long travel. According to the department, hydrogen powered vehicles can only travel up to 200 miles. There is a slight chance that I would personally buy a car run in hydrogen due to the expensive costs of the vehicle and maintenance. This fuel source is also unstable like LPG however, if given more study, this may be a very dependable fuel alternative for vehicles and machines alike .
Electricity is also considered another alternative fuel source and is especially being considered today as one of the best alternatives to fuel today due to its availability. According to the US Department of Energy (2003), electricity-run automobiles can be recharged continuously to continue running as long as there is an electric plug or refilling station nearby to have the car refuel. The energy is converted by power grids attached to the machine and then the power is stored in batteries. Depending on the vehicle, electric power cars can save a user a lot of money as charging the batteries would only require electricity plugs to have it done. The charging time would also vary depending on the car and the battery type installed to the system . Purchasing this type of car can be very efficient and in my opinion, a great alternative for diesel powered cars since refueling can be done anywhere. The only setbacks regarding this alternative source is the increasing electricity bill, the construction of recharging stations in key points around the country and the capability of the car batteries to use normal household voltage capacity in recharging the power cells.
Considering the advantages of using alternative fuel sources like the ones mentioned above, one still cannot help but wonder why these cars are not readily available and of use. There are many reasons why it is currently unavailable. From the article written by Millikin (2011), the issue of demand for these alternative fuel sources for automobiles would have to be answered by car manufacturers and governments as more people are already pressed for cash just because of high oil costs. Policies regarding alternative fuel sources are also needed to allow mass production of these cars and the certain specifications these cars would have to follow to maintain their eco-friendly purpose. There is also a problem on which type of car and sector would use this type of alternative fuel and fit these vehicles. According to the findings, each car would need an alternative fuel that fits their capacity and its usage. The transport sector would require fuels with higher energy density and capable in long distance and time usage. The change should be done gradually and in time, alternative fuel sources would be available for all. One should also consider that these fuel sources are still being tested so it would take a couple of years for it to be perfected and introduced fully to the public thus the reason why vehicles with alternative fuel sources are not that common. Today, hybrid cars and test vehicles are only available in selected developed nations .
The technology of alternative fuel sources is a promising development in the time where climate change is considered a great threat to humanity. Until it is fully tested and analyzed by experts, trying it without basis would only cause danger to everyone who will attempt to create their own alternative solution to fuel. This breakthrough is also a big step into fighting the side-effects of climate change and helping the planet recover from all the pollution it has to endure for us.
Milliken, M. (2011, January 31). Expert group report finds alternative fuels could replace fossil fuels in Europe by 2050 [Blog entry]. Retrieved from http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/01/fuels-20110131.html
US Department of Agriculture. (2011, April 21). Alternative Fuels and Alternative Fuel Vehicles. Retrieved from http://www.dm.usda.gov/pmd/AlternativeFuelVehicles.pdf
US Department of Energy. (2003). Alternative Fuel Vehicles. Washington D.C: US Department of Energy.
US National Academy of Science. (1973). An evaluation of alternative power sources for low-emission automobiles. Springfield: National Academies.