Times have changed. It used to be that gas was plentiful, and cheap. Our design and driving habits demonstrated our interest in power, not economy. The tables have turned, and it looks like high gas prices are here to stay. Even if they open up drilling on U.S. soil, the prices are unlikely to drop. It’s time to look at the alternatives. Here are a few of the readily available alternative fuel sources we have today:
The electric car is far from new, but technologies do change. There’s been a big push, federally mandated, to offer alternative fuel vehicles, such as electric cars. Electric cars are more efficient for city driving and stop and go traffic. Unfortunately the recharge time is several hours up to overnight, there is poor performance, and limited range.
The question still stands as to how long these batteries will last. Batteries for an electric car are expensive, and must be properly disposed of through recycling. The good news is that there are electric cars with well over 100,000 miles still running with the original batteries.
Ethanol or E85 fuel
E85 is the commercial name for the fuel mix that combines 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Here’s the problem: the car must be designed or modified to operate on E85 gas. While there are a few cars and trucks on the market that run E85, and regular gas as well, we’re not likely to see many running to their dealer to buy a new car just to save a little at the pump.
The good news about E85 or ethanol based fuels: they are good for the environment. With less unburned hydrocarbons we have a cleaner environment and less smog. Performance is equal to regular gas.
Along with ethanol, made from vegetable sources, we also have biodiesel. Did you know that the diesel engine was originally designed to run on a vegetable oil? Biodiesel is a little different than “raw” vegetable oil, though that is what it’s made of. The difference between using raw vegetable oil or the modified biodiesel is that biodiesel can be run in your diesel truck without modifications to the engine. You need preheaters and other modifications to run pure raw vegetable oil. This source of fuel is safe and degrades quickly, meaning less toxicity from spills.