Fuels For The Future Essay

1472 words - 6 pages

IntroductionPetrol is a liquid obtained from petroleum and used mainly as a fuel for motor vehicles. A fuel is petrol that can be burned (to provide heat or power). When the fuel is burned, it emits complex mixtures of compounds that lead to the formation of smog and other potentially toxic pollutants. Of all the petroleum that is extracted from the earth, about 84% is burned as a fuel (1). Concerns over rising pollution have encouraged research to focus on reducing the world's dependence on petroleum and this has consequently driven the shift to alternative fuels such as ethanol, methanol, electricity, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), bio-diesel, hydrogen, compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG). Alternative fuels are those that can be derived from non-crude oil resources or fuels that are combined with petroleum. Alternative fuel vehicles can make an important contribution to helping the world's transportation sector decrease its reliance on petroleum. Driving alternative fueled vehicles could reduce the level of vehicle emissions, and choosing domestically produced alternative fuels, instead of imported oil could help reduce the trade deficit, create jobs, and promote economic activity. This article will focus on two alternatives fuels, ethanol and compressed natural gas.EthanolThe liquid ethanol or ethyl alcohol can be used as a fuel when blended with petroleum or when in its original state. Ethanol is made by fermenting almost any material that contains starch. Grains such as corn, sorghum, potatoes, sugarcane and other farm plants and agricultural wastes are also suitable. As an alternative vehicle fuel, it is usually blended in a mixture of 85% ethanol and 15% unleaded petroleum to form what is called E-85. It can also be used in 10% blends with petroleum to oxygenate the petroleum called E-10 or Gasohol (2).Compressed Natural GasCompressed Natural Gas, commonly referred to as CNG is odorless, colourless, and tasteless. CNG is one of the most widely used forms of energy and is commonly used to cool/heat homes and businesses. It can also be used as an alternative fuel that consists of 95% methane and the other 5% is made up from various gases including butane, propane, ethane, other trace gases and small amounts of water vapour (2). CNG is drawn from gas wells or in conjunction with crude oil production. CNG is natural gas that is stored under high pressure.ProductionThe technology to produce ethanol is well established and all the resources needed to manufacture it are available worldwide. Ethanol is an alcohol-based alternative fuel produced by fermenting and distilling starch crops that have been converted into simple sugars. Feed stocks for this fuel include corn, barley, and wheat. Ethanol can also be produced from "cellulosic biomass" such as trees, wood, paper, agricultural wastes and grasses and is called bio-ethanol (3). Ethanol's fuel cost is its greatest disadvantage when comparing equal amounts of fuel energy...

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