Tired Of High Gas Prices? Try An Alternative Fuel Vehicle
As temperatures soar past 100 degrees, and gas is considered cheap at $3.50 a gallon many people are considering alternative fuel vehicles. There are a number of alternative fuels available and these vehicles offer many advantages over traditional cars. One of the primary advantages of these vehicles is that they produce lower emissions, which can lead to a reduction in smog, pollution and global warming.
An alternative fuel vehicle is simply a car that runs on a substance other than traditional fuel such as gasoline. Each alterative fuel will offer different benefits as well as certain drawbacks. While these fuels will offer lower emission levels, performance and availability can be drawbacks. Here is a quick rundown of the variety of alternative fuels available:
Ethanol – This is an alcohol-based fuel that is produced by fermenting and distilling wheat, barley and corn. Ethanol is often blended with gasoline to up the octane levels. Ethanol is widely used and most automakers have numerous models that will run on ethanol. There have been questions about the cost of the crops being used and if the gain in octane levels are worth the cost.
Electricity – The number of electric vehicles (EVs) hitting the marketplace grows every year. There were over 10 plug-in models being offered in the 2012 model line-up. Fuel cell vehicles store power in the batteries which are recharged when the vehicle is plugged in. There is no combustion or pollution produced by these cars. The big issue is the cost and range; most can only go around 75 miles on a full charge.
Hydrogen – There are a couple of methods to run a vehicle on hydrogen. Mixing it with natural gas allows it to power certain retrofitted internal combustion engines. Hydrogen can also be used in fuel cell vehicles that mix hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity, driving the vehicle. Range and cost are big factors with these cars and they are not widely used at this point.
Natural Gas – This gas burns clean and is used in specifically designed vehicles. While not widely used in the United States they are quite common in other countries. Some cities and towns have converted buses and city vehicles to natural gas. This gas produces far fewer emissions than fossil fuels and is cheaper than gasoline but natural gas vehicles get fewer miles to the gallon and is not widely available.
Propane – Liquefied petroleum gas as it is also called is a by-product of natural gas and crude oil processing. Propane is widely used in grills and camp stoves but there is a limited market for vehicles. This gas produces fewer emissions than gasoline but currently only a few trucks and vans can be ordered with an engine prep which requires a further conversion to run on propane. The propane is stored in pressurized tanks.
Biodiesel – This fuel is based on animal and vegetable fats. Recycled cooking oil can even be used to produce biodiesel. It is biodegradable, produces fewer emissions and is safe to handle. It can be used in its pure form or as a blend with diesel fuel. In order to run on pure biodiesel an engine must be converted but most diesel vehicles can run on a blend. Check your owner’s manual for details about your specific vehicle.