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Alternatives To Oil Essay

1937 words - 8 pages


Peak oil is a huge problem that is facing the United States in the near future. Gas prices will skyrocket forcing most people to become self-sufficient. In other words, people are not going to be able to depend on the supermarket to get food. No more dining out, or going to the movies or traveling for vacation. The United States alone consumes nearly 7.5 billion barrels of oil each year. It would practically be a miracle for an alternative to be found and compensate for the forty percent of energy that oil accounts for in this country, and similarly the world. Oil is an amazingly efficient resource. It is transportable, and diverse, but most importantly the profit from selling oil far exceeds the price of retaining and refining it. It is very unlikely that a similar alternative will be found in time.

The most obvious of questions peak oil is going to create is the problem of transportation. Automobiles are the primary source of transportation in the United States. In fact, Americans alone drive over 2 trillion miles every year. If the price of oil gets too high, how will Americans get around? Of course there are the hydrogen powered cars, and the hybrid cars, or even the electric cars, but these are still far from being perfected, and will need oil in one way or another.

The hydrogen powered car uses fuel cells to create power. A fuel cell is a device that creates energy by converting hydrogen and oxygen into water. A car powered by fuel cells would create almost no pollution, and have nearly 80% efficiency. The only problem with hydrogen is that it is very hard to store, and store safely. One can imagine the effects an accident could have on a car with a full tank of hydrogen in the back. There are other options for creating hydrogen though. A reformer takes other fuels such a methanol, and turns them into hydrogen. The problems with reformers come from the emissions. Changing methanol into hydrogen creates impure hydrogen, as well as heat and other gases, changing the overall efficiency from 80% to around 35%. A car with that amount of efficiency is not economical and would not gain a profit from the sales of the fuel.

The hybrid or “hyper” car uses a combination of two or more supplies of energy to power itself. The typical hybrid car is a cross between a normal gasoline powered car, and an electric car. The gasoline engine in a hybrid is much like the engine found in most cars, except it is smaller and it uses the latest technologies to create better efficiency and fewer pollutants. The hybrid can work in two different ways: Either both the gasoline engine and the electric batteries power the car at the same time, or the gasoline engine turns a generator which either charges the batteries or powers the car itself. In this case the gasoline engine does not directly power the car. In fact the hybrid can sometimes turn off its gasoline engine completely, to conserve energy. The average hybrid car will get 20 to 30 miles...

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