Alternate Fuels Will Be In Your Future And Cure You of Your Oil Addiction

To talk meaningfully about alternate fuels we need to cover a little history...

Long ago, man found that he could harness fire and get useful work from it. Fire and the invention of the wheel, rank as the two greatest discoveries in the history of mankind. Both are integral parts of everyone's life. When we are talking about energy, for the most part what we are really discussing is fire working for us in a harnessed form.

We use controlled fire both for heat and to operate all sorts of machines and tools. The wheel is integrated in some way to most of those machines and tools. Withut either, civilzation, as we know it, would grind to a sudden halt. Fire is created by burning a fuel to sustain it. Up until the last century, the most common fuel has always been wood. It is renewable and easy to locate in most parts of the world.

The Movement To Alternate Fuels

As the Industrial Revolution expanded, many machines started to burn coal as their fuel of choice. This was useful for stationary units operating factories and was rather abundant in most of the places where the factories were built - especially in England.

As time moved on, fire became the driving force of transportation as well. As the horse drawn buggy and carts gave way to the automobile, the need for an easily transportable high energy fuel became important. The first vehicles usually ran on alcohol, distilled from plant sources. Early vehicles also sidestepped the need for fuel or fire by implementing electricity as the power source. Battery technology was primitive and these cars were not as popular as fuel driven units.

The first quarter of the 20th century saw the rapid acceptance of the automobile as a suitable replacement for the horse, and powered by alcohol and electricity. However, a third alternate fuel emerged as a low-priced competitor – gasoline. The T-Model Ford actually was a flexible-fuel vehicle, able to transit from alcohol to gasoline depending on the fuel available.

With the advent of Prohibition, which John D. Rockefeller (Snr.) certainly helped to engineer, the production of his competitor, alcohol, became illegal. Henry Ford, using hemp to produce the alcohol, planned to set up a network of stations to provide for public use. This was in addition to the business he was building through the farming communities, teaching them how to make alcohol for their vehicles. Rockefeller wanted his competitor gone and used very questionable tactics to make it happen.

Overnight, gasoline emerged as the only real option for most vehicles. Battery technology was primitive and alcohol went from a renewably created fuel on almost every farm to illegal to own the distilling equipment. The gasoline independent farm industry was forced to adopt gas as its fuel for all vehicles and became heavily addicted in its farm machinery as well.

Gasoline emerged triumphant and Rockefeller built a dynasty by turning a very dirty waste product of cracking oil into a cheap and government subsidized energy source for transportation. No matter the fact that there is a limited supply of it, it pollutes the air, water and soil with its toxic exhaust. It has created what amounts to a worldwide addiction to an illusionary cheap energy source.

In less than a century we have used so much of it, our air and water systems are polluted by its by-products. The price is now exploding through the roof as we reach peak oil. This is the place in time where there are less reserves than our requirements demand. Shortages are right around the corner.

Oil exploration and delivery is completely controlled by a small group of companies that is holding the world hostage. Obviously it is time to wean ourselves from the ecologically and economically punishing addiction we suffer by relying on MegaOilRon (coined by David Blume in his book Alcohol Is a Gas) as our pusher.

The time for alternate fuels is well and truly with us.

There are quite a number of alternative renewable fuels that can be used in differing ways to overcome this addiction. However, weaning us from oil will be quite painful since we have left it so late. Creating the appropriate infrastructure will not be easy or cheap. But waiting for the oil to run out is not an option for any forward thinking government or civilization.

Alternate Fuels Now In Use

The following material will lead you into our pages on the various alternate fuels.

The first group of alternate fuels, growing in importance, are known as biofuels and these are primarily ethanol and biodiesel

Then there are Biogas fuels - there are a few gases that are derived from decay processes acting on organic material. The most prominent of these gasses are carbon dioxide and methane. While carbon dioxide itself cannot be considered a fuel, it is a major component and the most recognized of the greenhouse gases.

Methane is a volatile gas that will burn surprisingly clean consider its source is most often the garbage dump and the decaying organic material found within it.

Biodiesel - created from vegetable oils. Most often the oil has been previously used for other purposes, such as frying in restaurant situations. Biodiesel alternative energy has also been made from animal fats. It is created when animal or vegetable oils are carefully combined against alcohol. The resulting liquid can be added to standard petro-diesel without any significant adjustment to standard diesel engines.

Biomass - this category includes a wide range of burnable organic materials such as wood, grasses and other combustable plant materials. Although wood is part of this group, because it is so important and pervasive it will be treated as a category on its own.

Brown's Gas - Browns gas is the result of using electrolysis to break the bond between hydrogen and oxygen in the water molecule. Brown's gas is at the center of a number of debates on creating a water powered car. ALthough that may be a dream that may never come to pass, there is quite a bit of activity using Brown's gas to supplement the gas burned in today's automobiles.

Electricity - Probably the ultimate goal of the coming fuel replacement will end up moving almost every machine and energy user to electricity for its power. Electricity "per se" is not a true fuel since it does not usually feed an open flame. Rather it is often the result of a generator or other energy source like wind, water or solar energy conversion and uses battery storage.

Hydrogen - the most abundant element in the universe. Many people beleive that ultimately hydrogen will replace oil and coal as the main alternate fuel of the world. (Roy McAllister - The Solar Hydrogen Economy) It burns very clean and hot and its exhaust is just pure water.

Many proponents of hydrogen have written about the ultimate position hydrogen must assume. It seems logical if we are to create a society where the energy does not add anything to the carbon load or greenhouse gasses on the planet. Hydrogen burns fiercely and can be kept in a number of states - as room temperature gas, highly pressurized for greater storage, it can even be kept as a liquid at very low temperatures.

The creation of hydrogen gas in huge quantities has been well understood for well over a century. One of the classic books on hydrogen production was written by P. Litherland Teed, The Chemistry and Manufacture of Hydrogen whose book was published in 1903.

Wind - like water, it is not strictly a fuel by our definition. But at the same time, it can drive some machines directly or be used to generate electricity as a replacement alternative source to gas driven machines.

Wood - Wood is actually clasified as part of the biomass list, but it is so pervasive that it really needs to discussed in its own section. Although it can take quite a long time for tree to grow, wood is one of the most classic renewable resources our world offers as a source of energy. By careful husbandry, wood can sustain a small population for a foreseable future.

Gas generators were derived from wood fired biomass gasifiers and used in both world wars for trucks and vehicles that could afford to drag an external burner that created generator gas as a by-product of burning wood.

Our article on alternate fuels would not be complete unless we pointed you to where many of these alternate fuels will be used - hybrid cars.

In addition there is the fascinating device that can run on almost any fuel with great efficiency - the Stirling Engine.

Return From Alternate Fuels To Home Page

Have A Question About Alternate Fuels?

It's simple - go directly to our Energy Questions page

Sign up for our FREE E-Course on alternative energy sources for your home and receive our Alternative Energy Primer - a great resource for the whole family.