What Is Happening With Alternative Fuels?

24 05 2012

Dale BertramEthanol Production Is On The Rise
Ethanol seems to be in and out of the news.  For those of you who may have forgotten just what Ethanol is, it is an alcohol based fuel created by fermenting and distilling corn or other starchy crops and other cellulosic biomass plants.  The production of Ethanol was up in October mostly due to the abundant corn harvest.

E85 which is 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol is used in flex fuel vehicles.  Many manufacturers make these vehicles and you often see this signage on them as you are driving down the highway.  There are approximately 6 million E85 compatible vehicles on the roads in the USA today and there are filling stations that sell E85. If you are considering a flex fuel vehicle, visit http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/fuels/stations.html to find a station near you.

Ethanol is “home grown” so it does reduce our dependence on foreign petroleum and it produces less pollutants.  You can’t use it if you don’t have a flex fuel vehicle, you do get fewer miles per gallon, it is expensive to produce at this time and you won’t find it available at every gas station.

There is, at this time, a concern that with the tax benefits and other subsidy programs set to expire the future of ethanol is uncertain.

Natural Gas
Natural gas is another alternative fuel. We have a plentiful supply of natural gas in the USA. The air-polluting emissions are almost non-existent, greenhouse gases are low, it costs $1 to $2.50 per gallon currently, and it is clean burning.

Like the E85, there are limited filling stations available unless you use natural gas at home in which case you can install a pump in your garage, attach the pump to the car at night and it will be filled by morning. It does have a limited range of about 200 miles per full tank.

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next ten years. Will we be all electric, hybrid, bio fuel or a combination?

I’ll keep you posted!






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