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Alternative fuel is the preference of a particular fuel other than traditional choices, gasoline and diesel. According to Elvers (2008), the goals of attempting to use alternative fuel are;
- To increase national security
- To alleviate environmental problems
- To assist a nation become energy independent.
- To increase the use of fuel that greatly minimizes harmful exhaust emissions.
- To diversify in other forms of energy other than gasoline and diesel.
- To use a type of fuel that is less costly.
- To assist consumers learn more on how crude oil usage impacts their lives and the benefits of advancing and utilizing alternative fuels.
Miller and McBrewster (2009) note that significant amounts of oil are used to run all cars, tracks, buses, trains, boats, and planes. They are also used in powering devices and stationery engines that are portable. Oil has involved in people's lives for many years. As a fuel, it was initially used as kerosene for lighting thus replacing vegetable, animal and coal oils. Oil also came to be utilized in furnaces. However, its biggest application came with the enhancement of automobile.
Currently almost every form of locomotion such as trucks, cars, ships, planes, buses and trains are fueled by oil, diesel or gasoline. Of late, fuel oil is being burned to generate electricity, even though this has often been purely coal's job. Miller and McBrewster (2009) say that there are other forms of fuel that are normally used as an alternative to oil. The main alternative fuels that are usually used are ethanol, solar power, natural gas, wind power and diesel. The use of alternative fuels provides various ecological benefits over other energy's sources, specifically other fossil fuels. Though several alternative fuels have been introduced, it is good to maintain oil use since oil is the planet's most versatile fuel that produces a large quantity of other products if further processing is applied. Oil is also relatively simple to store and transport between source and end-user. Oil use need to be maintained since oil is always cleaner and easier to burn as compared to coal (Elvers, 2008).
Alternative fuel and why it cannot be used as a main fuel
Ethanol fuel is an energy resource that is sustainable. It is planned to offer a more economically and environmentally friendly option to fossil fuels, that is, diesel and gasoline. It is also an alternative to petroleum based fuels and is considered to be better for the surroundings. Not all vehicles can operate on 100 percent ethanol, but most of them can operate on small ethanol percentage blends that are common at many gas stations. Ethanol, an alcohol-based fuel, is made by fermenting and distilling crops such as corn that have starch. It can also be manufactured from cellulosic biomass such as grasses and trees. Ethanol fuel can be mixed with gasoline at various rates or can be utilized in its pure form as E100.Therefore, as an alternative to gasoline, ethanol fuel is produced from conversion of carbon based feed stocks sugar beets, switch grass, sugar cane, corn and barley. Ethanol use can minimize foreign oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions. Ethanol fuel is very common since it is being employed as an oxygenate additive for gasoline.
The use of ethanol is not 100% friendly with the environment since it is a particulate-free burning fuel source that combusts well with oxygen to form water and carbon dioxide. It always releases similar quantity of carbon dioxide as gasoline but less carbon monoxide. Ethanol is not economically good since it is extremely expensive fuel. By considering all the energy from fossil fuels that are required to operate farm equipment, fertilize, harvest and transport corn to ethanol plants and then distilling the corn into ethanol, it takes as much energy to produce ethanol as it offers. It is therefore factual that it is more costly to produce a gallon of ethanol than gasoline's gallon, even if tax incentives are available. Ethanol has almost seventy percent of gasoline's energy content. This therefore implies that flexible-fuel cars that utilize E-85 percent ethanol and fifteen percent gasoline normally make several stops at filling stations since this type of cars consume fuel with fewer miles per gallon than gasoline (Miller & McBrewster, 2009).
Ethanol does not give much energy as gasoline. It has lower energy content than gasoline. Almost one-third more ethanol is needed to move the same distance as when using gasoline. Other ethanol characteristic incorporates a high octane rating, resulting into enhanced engine effectiveness and performance. In low-percentage mix with gasoline, ethanol results in enhanced vapor pressure that can be adjusted for formulation process and managed with on-board motor vehicle systems. Flexible fuel vehicles are motor vehicles that utilize up to 85 percent level of ethanol. The vehicles are built with special fuel system components that are designed to be compatible with advanced ethanol concentrations. Ethanol cannot be used as a main fuel because it is expensive to produce and does not provide much energy as gasoline.
Diesel fuel is a heavy oil mineral that is utilized as fuel in diesel engines. It refers to fuel oils that are planned for compression ignition engines. Diesel is made from crude oil or petroleum fuel. Crude oil is found naturally in the earth. The moment crude oil is refined at refineries it can be differentiated into various types of fuels, incorporating jet fuel, gasoline, kerosene and finally diesel. Therefore diesel is made by refining crude oil. Diesel and gasoline are not similar. Diesel fuel is normally heavier and oiler. It evaporates at a lower rate than gasoline.
The boiling point of diesel fuel is much higher than that of water. Diesel fuel is too oily thus being referred as diesel oil. Diesel fuel has a higher boiling point since it is heavier. It has a lot of carbon atoms in longer chain as compared to gasoline. It is cheaper than gasoline since little refining is required to produce it. Diesel fuel has more energy density than gasoline thus providing more energy. On average, one gallon of diesel fuel has about 155 x 106 joules, while one gallon of gasoline has 132 x 106 joules. Combination of this with enhanced effectiveness of diesel engines, describes why diesel engines obtain better mileage than similar gasoline engines.
Diesel fuel is normally utilized to power a broad variety of motor vehicles and operations. Due to its high energy content, diesel is normally applied in fueling heavy trucks, boats, city buses, school buses, cranes, farming equipment, trains and different emergency response generators and vehicles. Diesel is not good for the economy. It is highly applicable in heavy machines, but not light machines thus its application is not spread equally across the economy (Miller 2009).
In terms of environment, diesel fuel is not 100% friendly with the environment. It has some pros and cons. The pros, that is, diesel normally releases very small quantity of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons that result to global warming. The cons, that is, high quantities of nitrogen compounds and particulate substance are normally emitted from burning diesel fuel thus leading to acid rain, smog and health conditions that are not good. Diesel cannot be used as a main fuel because it greatly pollute environment thus resulting into poor health conditions through global warming.
Natural gas is one of the main sources of energy that are normally applied in the daily requirements and activities. It is a crucial component of the globe's supply of energy. Natural gas is the cleanest, safest and most effective among all other sources of energy. It is capable of producing significantly fewer dangerous emissions than diesel. The formation of natural gas can be explained by various theories. The theory that is broadly accepted states that fossils fuels are made when organic matter such as plants and animals remains, are compressed beneath the earth at high pressure for along period of time. This is known as thermogenic methane. Similar to how oil is formed, thermogenic methane is produced from organic elements that are below the mud and other sediment. With time, several sediment and mud can pile above the organic matter. The sediment and debris exerts a great deal of pressure upon the organic matter thus compressing it.
The compression, together with high temperatures that are found underneath the earth, weakens the carbon bonds within the organic matter. The temperature becomes higher and higher as one enters deeper and deeper into the earth's crust. A lot of oil relative to natural can be produced at low temperatures. However, at higher temperatures, a lot of natural gas is produced as opposed to oil. Due to this, naturally gas is normally linked with oil deposits that are about one to two miles beneath the earth's crust. Deeper deposits that are very far below the earth surface normally have primarily natural gas and in several instances, pure methane. Natural gas is not 100% friendly with the environment (Fitzgerald & Voege, 2010).
Burning of natural gas normally results in fewer emissions of about all forms of air pollutants and carbon dioxide per unit of heat released than coal or refined products from petroleum. Approximately one hundred and seventeen pounds of carbon dioxide are usually emitted per million Btu equivalent of natural gas relative to over two hundred pounds of carbon dioxide per million Btu of coal and over one hundred and sixty pounds per million Btu of fuel oil. The clean burning features have lead to enhance in natural gas use for electricity production and as transportation fuel for many motor vehicles. Naturally gas mostly contains methane that is very strong green house gas (Chandra 2006).
A number of methane normally links from oil and gas wells, coal mines, natural gas tanks, processing plants and pipelines into the atmosphere. The leaks contribute to approximately 25% of total methane emissions and approximately 3% of total greenhouse gas emissions thus natural gas is not 100% good for environment. Naturally gas is not good for the economy. The gas is very expensive to generate and it cannot be applied in gas form in all machines. Natural gas, for instance, must be converted into liquid gas before it is used in motor vehicles. Natural gas cannot be effectively applied in commercial, residential, industrial and transportation sector. It does not provide as much energy as gasoline since it has little concentration of energy than gasoline. Natural gas cannot be used as the main alternative fuel because its leak can easily cause a serious explosion. It therefore requires some strict regulations and industry standards for it to be safely transported, stored, usage and distribution (Mokhatab 2006).
Wind power is an energy produced from wind turbines and wind mills. Wind power illustrates the process by which wind is utilized to produce mechanical power or electricity. In the process of creating wind power, wind turbines normally converts kinetic energy into mechanical power. The mechanical energy can be utilized for particular tasks such as pumping water and grinding grain. A generator can then convert the mechanical energy into electricity. Generation of wind power largely depends on wind. Winds are brought about by the uneven heating of the environment, the abnormalities of the surface of earth and earth's rotation. Wind flow patterns can be modified by terrain of the earth, vegetation and water bodies.
Human beings normally utilize the wind flow or energy in motion for sailing, flying a kit and electricity production. A wind turbine works differently from a fan. Unlike fan, it does not use electricity to produce wind instead it utilizes wind to generate electricity. The blades are turned by wind which then connects to a generator that finally generates electricity. Wind power is normally converted to electricity by magnets that move past motionless coils of wire. The stationary coils of wire are known as stator. As the magnetic move past the stator, AC electricity is released. The AC is then converted to DC electricity that can be utilized to charge batteries that store electrical energy (Benduhn 2008).
Wind power is 100% friendly with the environment. It is a clean energy source that human beings can rely on for along period of time. A wind turbine normally develops dependable, cost-effective and pollution free energy. Wind energy is inexpensive, clean and sustainable. A single wind turbine is enough to produce energy for household. Since wind power is a source of energy that does not pollute environment and are renewable, it normally produce power without employing fossil fuels thus it does not emit green house gases or toxic waste. This therefore implies that wind power minimizes global warming.
Wind energy is not good for the economy since generation of wind power depends entirely on the amount of wind produced in a given area. This therefore implies that without wind an economy may be stagnant due to lack of energy from wind power. Wind power does not produce as much energy as gasoline. The amount of energy produced by wind power depends entirely on the strength of wind. Wind power cannot be used as a main fuel since wind energy cannot be generated every where. The energy can only be harnessed well in areas with heavy wind (Fitzgerald 2010).
Solar power refers to conversion of sunlight into electricity. The conversion can be done openly using photovoltaic or indirectly using concentrated solar power. Concentrated solar power systems normally utilize tracking systems and lenses or mirrors to focus a wide area of sunlight into small beam.
Photovoltaic changes light into electric current by employing photoelectric effect. Energy generation by the use of solar energy is the future of energy requirement of the world. The free energy from the sun can be converted easily into electrical energy to minimize the costs of energy and provide electricity in rural areas where infrastructure is scarce. Solar power is made by gathering sunlight and changing it into electricity. The conversion is done by utilizing solar panels that are large and flat. The panels are made up of several individual solar cells. Solar energy is mostly used in remote areas though it is becoming even more common in urban areas (Morris 2006).
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Solar energy is not hundred percent friendly with the environment. The generation of solar cells entails the use of toxic heavy metals that are harmful to the environment. The cells have such material and batteries that stores solar energy that has toxic lead acid. The technology needs a huge deal of space to work. Solar energy is not good for the economy since it is completely applicable in areas with sunlight. Its production does not produce any air pollution and can be done purely without assistance of auxiliary fuels. Solar power does not produce as much energy as gasoline since it purely uses sunlight to produce energy. It cannot be used as a main alternative fuel because it is cannot be effectively applied in areas with little sunlight (Benduhn 2008).
From the discussion, it is clear that staying with oil is the best solution for many reasons. The alternatives fuels such as solar power, wind power, natural gas, diesel and ethanol cannot be used as main fuel. Oil can be used as main fuel as long as more researches can be done to minimize the emission of toxic waste. Alternative fuels do not produce as much energy as oil or gasoline. Apart from diesel, they have little energy concentration thus making them to have energy that is not as much as that of gasoline. Ethanol, an alternative fuel, does not provide much energy as oil. It has lower energy content as compared to gasoline. About one-third more ethanol is needed to move equal distance as when using gasoline. Alternative fuels are not a hundred percent friendly with the environment. The production of alternative fuels such as ethanol and diesel normally results to emission of carbon dioxide thus causing global warming.
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Solar energy on the other hand is also not 100% friendly with the environment since its generation normally entails the use of heavy toxic metals that are dangerous to the environment. Solar energy generation needs a lot of space. Burning of natural gas normally results in fewer emissions of about all forms of air pollutants and carbon dioxide per unit of heat released than coal or refined products from petroleum.
Alternative fuels are not good for the economy. Alternative fuels such as ethanol are very expensive. It is more expensive to generate a gallon of ethanol than a gallon of gasoline, even if tax incentives prevail. Though Wind power might appear to be cost effective it is not also good for the economy since its generation depends entirely on wind. This therefore implies that in areas that lack wind, the technology cannot be applied. This can greatly affect the economy. Alternative fuels therefore cannot be used as main fuel.