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Alt Fuels


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A look at alternative fuels.

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Alt Fuels

  1. 1. SCI 200 November 1, 2007 The Other Options How important is fuel? Well, if one is talking about fossil fuels, they are extremely important, especially in America. However, the fact that fossil fuels are not being replaced quick enough and that they are very polluting is leading more and more people to find other sources of fuel. Ethanol, biodiesel, hydro and solar power are a few that will be examined in the following paragraphs. Nonetheless, to develop a better understanding on the importance of the quest and implementation of alternative fuels, one must know about the problem at hand. Fossil fuels are good and bad, depending on who is asked and/or who is profiting. Crude oil, coal, and natural gas are what constitute fossil fuels, natural gas being the clean-burning one. According to Richard Wright, author of Environmental Science, “The reasons crude oil, coal, and natural gas are called fossil fuels is that all three are derived from the remains of living organisms.” (Wright, 313) It takes a very long time for the remains to get compacted enough to make fossil fuels and America is playing a big part in the depletion of their reserves. Hence, by using many fossil fuels, America is also contributing to a lot of pollution; crude oil and coal is cheap and easy to get which would be why the U.S. is relying so much on them as a main fuel source. As stated by Wright, “Because the United States is the world’s leading producer of green house gases and also far outpaces other countries in per capita consumption, what we do will profoundly affect not only our own security, but that of the entire planet.” (Wright, 324) This is where the investigation starts to find which alternatives are better than others are what might work or not, and whether it is worth it.
  2. 2. An alternative fuel classified as a Biofuel is called Ethanol or ethyl alcohol, which is becoming more popular in America. As Wright explains, “Ethanol is produced by the fermentation of starches or sugars.” (Wright, 370) The main source, at this point, that is being used to supply what is needed to make Ethanol is corn in the U.S. A positive to this alternative fuel is that the corn can be replaced quicker than fossil fuels. However, corn is hard on the soil, so that could potentially lead to some issues if Ethanol became the only source of fuel. More corn will be used and America only has so much room to grow it, that eventually prices will go up. Katherine Peters, author of Fields of Dreams, states, “As more U.S. corn is diverted to domestic ethanol production, less likely will be sold on the world market, driving up prices internationally.” (Peters, 21) In addition, corn has to be transported, so unless the trucks run on a clean-burning fuel, there is still going to be pollution. The other Biodiesel fuel is just Biodiesel fuel or used vegetable oil, which burns cleaner than fossil fuels but does emit some greenhouse gasses. Laura Bies, author of The Biofuels Explosion: Is Green Energy Good for Wildlife, claims, “A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences found that ethanol from corn generates 25% more energy than is required to produce it, whereas soy biodiesel generates 93% more. And, whereas ethanol from corn emits 12% less greenhouse gas than gasoline, biodiesel from soybeans emits only one third as much greenhouse gas as does ethanol.” (Bies, 1204) One can clearly see that Biodiesel fuel would even be better for energy production and the environment compared to Ethanol.
  3. 3. Bibliography Bies, Laura. quot;The Biofuels Explosion: Is Green Energy Good for Wildlife?.quot; Wildlife Society Bulletin 34(2006): 1203-1206. Peters, Katherine. quot;Fields of Dreams.quot; Government Executive 39(2007): 21-23. Wright, Richard. Environmental Science. 10th. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008.