Everyone can agree that gas prices are too high. Yet, despite our best efforts to keep the arrow at Full, many of us need to drive our cars. Alternative fuel is nothing new. Most of us are familiar with electric cars, biodiesel engines, and ethanol-infused gasoline. However, these are not the only alternative fuel sources available on the market. Exploring a few other fuel options will not only help the environment, but will also save you money.
Hydrogen is found abundantly in water, hydrocarbons (such as methane), and other organic material. This potentially emissions-free fuel source is already widely used as a transportation fuel and, researchers are working hard to create a completely clean and economic hydrogen fuel cell for hybrid vehicles.
In addition to its ecological advantages, hydrogen can also be used more efficiently than traditional gasoline. Hydrogen fuel cells are nearly three times as efficient as internal combustion engines. Also,1 kilogram of hydrogen can produce roughly the same amount of energy as 1 gallon of gas.
And because of its low-density nature, researchers are planning to create a hydrogen gas tank that can withstand 10,000 pounds per square inch, or nearly 22,000 kilograms of hydrogen per tank!
State and federal government also enact laws that provide incentives for hydrogen-fueled vehicles, making hydrogen a very appealing (and cost-effective) alternative.
2. Natural Gas
Natural gas is a clean-burning alternative that is in wide abundance and produced domestically. It has been used in both gaseous and liquid forms as an alternative fuel. It is odorless, nontoxic, and accounts for about one-fourth of the nation’s energy use. However, currently only one-tenth of 1% is used to fuel vehicles.
Compressed natural gas (CNG) provides about the same level of fuel economy as conventional gas; however, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a little more efficient than traditional gasoline because it is so much denser than gas. LNG is a great alternative for larger vehicles with long routes, and can actually increase their range.
We all know that propane is most commonly used to heat our homes and grill our steaks. However, this liquefied petroleum gas also has the potential to meet our transportation needs. In fact, propane has been an alternative fuel source for decades! It is an ideal candidate for internal combustion engines, and, because it is nontoxic, it poses no threat to soil, surface water, or ground water.
Propane possesses nearly 270 times the energy density of gasoline; it also has a much higher octane rating than traditional gas, which, when combined with its clean-burning qualities, makes it an ideal candidate for internal combustion. Furthermore, it can lengthen the engine’s service life because it leaves no residue like gasoline does.
We are a long way from fully utilizing all of the alternative fuel sources that are available to us. Researchers continue to work on many emerging fuels that we don’t even know about yet!
In any case, adopting an alternative source of fuel for your car will not only reduce emissions, but it can improve vehicle performance, stimulate the economy, and increase our nation’s energy security (not to mention, going green with your vehicle can save you a little green in return).
Connor Adkins is a mechanic and loves working on classic cars. He also occasionally writes for El Monte Honda dealerships. Connor helps people stay healthy and fit, and enjoys spending time with his wife and three children.