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									   Alternative Fuels

Georgia Agriculture Education
         May 2007
      Why Alternative Fuels?
• As the cost of conventional fuels goes up,
  the interest in other fuel sources increase
• In some cases, alternative fuels are more
  environmentally friendly
• Some alternative fuels are more energy
      Types of Alternative Fuels
•   Ethanol
•   Natural gas
•   Propane
•   Hydrogen
•   Biodiesel
•   Electricity
•   Methanol
• Ethanol is an alcohol-based alternative fuel
  produced by fermenting and distilling starch
  crops or cellulose that have been converted into
  simple sugars
• Ethanol is most commonly used to increase
  octane and improve the emissions quality of
• Ethanol can be blended with gasoline to create
  E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline.
• Ethanol can degrade quickly in water, therefore,
  posing less environmental harm than oil in the
  case of a spill
• Ethanol is an excellent, clean-burning fuel,
  potentially providing more horsepower than
  gasoline. In fact, ethanol has a higher octane
  rating (over 100) and burns cooler than gasoline
• One acre of corn can produce 300 gal. of
  ethanol per growing season. So, in order to
  replace that 200 billion gal. of petroleum
  products, American farmers would need to
  dedicate 675 million acres, or 71 percent of the
  nation's 938 million acres of farmland, to
  growing feedstock.
                  Natural Gas
• Natural gas is produced either from gas wells
• or in conjunction with crude oil production.
• Because of the gaseous nature of this fuel, it must be
  stored onboard a vehicle in either a compressed
  gaseous state or in a liquefied state
• A natural gas vehicle can be less expensive to operate
  than a comparable conventionally fueled vehicle
  depending on natural gas prices.
• The United States has vast natural gas reserves across
  the country
• Vehicles tend to cost $3500 to $6000 more than
  gasoline powered ones
•    Propane or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is a
    popular alternative fuel choice for vehicles because there
    is already an infrastructure of pipelines, processing
    facilities, and storage for its efficient distribution.
•   LPG produces fewer vehicle emissions than gasoline.
•   Propane is produced as a by-product of natural gas
    processing and crude oil refining.
•   Propane vehicles can produce fewer ozone-forming
    emissions than vehicles powered by reformulated
•   The cost of a gasoline-gallon equivalent of propane is
    generally less than that of gasoline, so driving a propane
    vehicle can save money.
• Hydrogen, a gas, will play an important
  role in developing sustainable transportation
  in the United States, because in the future it may be produced in
  virtually unlimited quantities using renewable resources.
• Hydrogen and oxygen from air fed into a proton exchange
  membrane fuel cell produce enough electricity to power an electric
  automobile, without producing harmful emissions. The only
  byproduct of a hydrogen fuel cell is water.
• Currently there are no original equipment manufacturer vehicles
  available for sale to the general public. Experts estimate that in
  approximately 10-20 years hydrogen vehicles, and the infrastructure
  to support them, will start to make an impact.
• Biodiesel is a domestically produced, renewable
  fuel that can be manufactured from vegetable
  oils, animal fats, or recycled restaurant greases.
• Biodiesel is safe, biodegradable, and reduces
  serious air pollutants such as particulates,
  carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and air toxics.
• Biodiesel can also be used in its pure form but it
  may require certain engine modifications to
  avoid maintenance and performance problems
  and may not be suitable for wintertime use.
• Pure biodiesel, B100, costs about $3.50--
  roughly a dollar more per gallon than
• Need to heat storage tanks in colder climates to
  prevent the fuel from gelling
• Like E85, biodiesel began with farm co-ops and
  local entrepreneurs. High fuel prices affect
  farmers, too, and here was an opportunity to
  make money from otherwise fallow farmland.
• Electricity can be used as a transportation fuel to
  power battery electric and fuel cell vehicles.
  When used to power electric vehicles, electricity
  is stored in an energy storage device such as a
• EV batteries have a limited storage capacity and
  their electricity must be replenished by plugging
  the vehicle into an electrical source.
• EVs have lower "fuel" and maintenance costs
  than gasoline-powered vehicles.
• Vehicles that operate only on electricity
  require no warm-up, run almost silently
  and have excellent performance up to the
  limit of their range. Also, electric cars are
  cheap to "refuel." At the average price of
  10 cents per kwh, it costs around 2 cents
  per mile.
• Pure electric cars still have limited range,
  typically no more than 100 to 120 miles.
• Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, can be
  used as an alternative fuel in flexible fuel
  vehicles that run on M85
• It is not a commonly used fuel at this time as
  methanol produces a high amount of
  formaldehyde in emissions.
• The benefits include lower emissions, higher
  performance, and lower risk of flammability than
• Methanol can easily be made into hydrogen for
  hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the future.
• Methanol is extremely corrosive, requiring
  special materials for delivery and storage.
  Methanol, in addition, has only 51 percent of the
  BTU content of gasoline by volume, which
  means its fuel economy is worse than ethanol's.
• Methane also can be produced by processing
  biomass such as grass clippings, sawdust and
  other cellulose sources.

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