Fuel for the Environment

By Isabella Longo and Jake Mawhinney
MAR 5, 2019

Almost every large city highway is flooded with traffic. While car horns have become a familiar sound and car travel a necessary convenience, the fumes of gasoline and diesel emissions have become a serious threat to our environment. The abundance of fossil fuel vehicles has seemingly overridden concerns for the damage they inflict on the environment. The emissions these fuels give off have had an immense impact on the world around us. Common fuel alternatives include, but are not limited to, ethanol, biodiesel, and methanol. Each of these alternatives could significantly lessen the amounts of toxic emissions released into the environment each day.

Solar Panels in use. Photo: Pixabay

According to Alternative Fuels Data Center.com, each of the following fuel alternatives are beneficial to the environment in some way. Methanol is considered a fuel alternative under the Energy Policy Act of 1992. The benefits of methanol use include “lowered production costs, increased energy security, and improved safety.” Ethanol is another fuel alternative, but it must be blended properly. Some blends include only 10% of the plant based source of renewable energy, so in that case the fuel is no longer as helpful to the environment. The main reason purer forms of ethanol are not widely used is simply due to the fact that the fuel has a lower fuel economy. Yet, the carbon dioxide emissions of ethanol are almost equally offset by the crops grown to create more ethanol. Biodiesel, the third fuel discussed by the Alternative Fuels Data Center.com, is made of “vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled restaurant grease.” Biodiesel is a diesel fuel, therefore it can only be used in diesel vehicles. The use of biodiesel reduces emissions of nitrogen oxide which make the engines using biodiesel some of the cleanest engines on the road.               

Aside from liquid fuel alternatives, wind turbines and ocean wave energy are clean ways of obtaining natural, renewable energy. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.com site elaborates on the different kinds of ocean wave energy. The first device is a terminator device which is located “perpendicular to the direction of the wave and capture[s] or reflect[s] the power of the wave.” Another device, known as the point absorber, “utilize[s] the rise and fall of the wave height at a single point for energy conversion.”  Wind turbines are described by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.com as converting “energy in the wind into electricity using the aerodynamic force created by the rotor blades.” Solar panels are another form of renewable energy which can be installed in many areas including homes and offices. These panels obtain sunlight from the sun and convert it into electricity.  

Wind turbines, a form of renewable energy, in use. Photo: Sam Forson

In the eye of the public, sustainability and concern for the environment has become one of the larger problems regarding modern society. Yet, concern means very little when action is not taken. Making the choices for fuel alternatives and clean energy can allow society to slowly enact a change from fossil fuels to clean energy and fuel alternatives.

Feature Photo: Pixabay