What do you think is the best alternative fuel?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by quagmire, Apr 23, 2006.

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What do you think is the best fuel alternative?

  1. Hydrogen

    28 vote(s)
    41.8%
  2. E85

    9 vote(s)
    13.4%
  3. BioDiesel

    13 vote(s)
    19.4%
  4. Other

    17 vote(s)
    25.4%
  1. quagmire macrumors 603

    quagmire

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    #1
    With gas prices on the rise and with so many talks about development of new fuel sources, what will be the best solution? We all know that GM, Honda, etc is in development of Hydrogen fuel cells. But, is Hydrogen the best alternative? Couldn't E85 or BioDiesel be a better source for fuel? My opinion is that BioDiesel is the best replacement for gasoline. It can be put into a Diesel engine with little to no mods and can produce close if not the same power if it was filled with Diesel. But, Hydrogen is the only fuel source that doesn't add pollution to the air since it just produces water vapor for its exhaust. So what fo you think is the best fuel alternative?
     
  2. rockthecasbah macrumors 68020

    rockthecasbah

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2005
    Location:
    Moorestown, NJ
    #2
    it depends what you mean by "best". You could perceive "best" as most realistically applicable or you could say it means what is overall the best, regardless of technological barriers. One could then argue that solar power would be best, since no energy would have to be used creating the matter into a usable form ;)

    I don't really know much about E85 or biodiesel, so shows how much i know, but i voted other in favor of solar :p
     
  3. j26 macrumors 65832

    j26

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    Location:
    Paddyland
    #3
    They all have issues.
    Hydrogen is expensive to produce and volatile. Storage and distriution would be a problem.
    Ethanol is better than petrol, but the costs of harvesting and the distillation process are expensive in energy terms.
    Biodiesel is better again, and as you said most diesel engines can use it with little or no modification.

    The best alternative fuel is human power - buy a bike if you live within range. Ultimately the only way to protect the environment is to look at reducing demand, both through changing our use patterns and getting rid of gas guzzling vehicles. Really that's the only long term viable alternative fuel.
     
  4. quagmire thread starter macrumors 603

    quagmire

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    #4
    Realistic really. As Hydrogen is the ideal fuel as it only produces Water vapor as the exhaust, but costs a lot and Fossil Fuel needs to be used to separate the Hydrogen from the H20 molecule. E85 is 85% Ethanol and 15% gas. BioDiesel is pretty much vegetable oil. So Fast Food would fuel our vehicles since the used vegetable oil can be recycled to make BioDiesel.
     
  5. j26 macrumors 65832

    j26

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    #5
    Not necessarily, if solar or wind generated power was used, hydrogen production would be quite cheap, but the installation costs and distributions costs are what would kill hydrogen. Using fossil fuels to provide the energy to seperate the molecules would completely defeat the purpose of using hydrogen.
     
  6. Ashapalan macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2005
    Location:
    England
    #6
    Fuel Cell technology really seems to be coming along nicely, so i'm going to say hydrogen.

    There is the slight problem of obtaining/extracting the hydrogen in the first place, but it can be done by electrolysis, (which requires electricity). Electricity can come from many sources, renewable or finite...

    to be honest though, i think the one which will take over will be the one which accomodates the highest tax on the citizen. Especially here in the UK, the government would lose out otherwise...

    It's all politics, sigh.
     
  7. ejb190 macrumors 65816

    ejb190

    #7
    Here in Indiana, there are a bunch of new ethanol or biodiesel plants being built or in the works. While being a big fan of both of these fuels, I would love to see more solar and wind usage.

    There are a lot of arguments over the energy cost to produce biofuels. From the agriculture prespective, I wonder what ethanol is going to do to corn supplies and prices in both the short and long term. If corn supplies go short (demand, drought, disasters [Katrina did a number on corn prices because of the lack of barge traffic down the Mississippi River]), prices go up, and the cost of not only ethanol, but some foods will go up as well.
     
  8. Chundles macrumors G4

    Chundles

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    Jul 4, 2005
    #8
    We need to get fossil fuels out of the grid before looking at transport. Big-arsed wind farms, solar stations and as many people as possible getting solar panels on their roof to generate their own electricity would do wonders for the environment.

    Adopting a more "collective" form of energy production where each house generates it's own electricity and sells the excess onto the grid would be a great way to both decarbonise the energy industry and get us thinking more about energy conservation.

    Once that is done we can really put the effort into transport. I think hydrogen, electric and even the compressed air cars being tinkered with in Europe have the best outlook. Really need to get away from combustion as a source of energy as all it creates is more methane and CO2. Ethanol and biodiesel are only really stop-gap measures. We need to look at real alternates, not just different versions of the same sort of thing.
     
  9. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    Apr 27, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
  10. CompUser Guest

    #10
    Diesel of course ;)

    I would say bio diesel and hydrogen.
     
  11. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #11
    Yeah, corn oil, which is why I think bio diesel is the best. It's easy to implement, and it runs on stuff we think is "garbage." Vegetable oil is also easy to acquire and cleaner than petrol or ethanol. I can't even figure out why we don't just start going with bio diesel right now. Can someone explain? :confused:
     
  12. njmac macrumors 68000

    njmac

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #12
    warning: this may be a really stupid question

    Why can't the motion of the wheels of a car be producing energy - kind of like a wind mill does? I know you would need fuel to accellerate, but then couldn't it be used for power once in motion?
     
  13. rockthecasbah macrumors 68020

    rockthecasbah

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    Location:
    Moorestown, NJ
    #13
    it is already isn't it? I though that's how gas-electric cars charge their batteries...maybe im wrong but for some reason i think they already use that energy.. can someone please clarify? :eek:
     
  14. quagmire thread starter macrumors 603

    quagmire

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    #14
    Hybrids use the brakes to recharge the battery. What he means is for the actual motion of the car propels the car foward. Which as of now is close to impossible as a lot would have to go into making it possible. The money would be better suited to further develop Hydrogen.
     
  15. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #15
    That's impossible. In fact, those are 2 very different situations, the source of the energy spinning the "wheel" being the difference.
     
  16. macEfan macrumors 65816

    macEfan

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2005
    Location:
    Forbidden, you do not have access to that server
    #16
    hydrogen if possible, but if we invent some type of super long lasting battery, we could have solar cars :p
     
  17. dogbone macrumors 68020

    dogbone

    Joined:
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    #17
    I'd have to go with Uranium 235. We've got it now lets use it. Ever since I found out in primary school that a nuclear submarine can run for a year on a lump of U 235 the size of a container of Perkin's paste, I was impressed.

    Hell I'd prolly just need a pinhead's worth to run my nuclear powered bike for the rest of my life and it would be quite zippy too. (pun intended)
     
  18. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #18
    You can't get out more than you put in. Generating energy from a moving object slows it down. Then you'd have to spend more energy to keep it going.

    But you are half right - you can generate energy from wheels that are *intentionally* slowing down, and that's just what Hybrid and electric vehicles do - it's called regenerative braking. When you start stepping on the brakes, the electric motors start operating in reverse, and become generators, charging the batteries with the energy of slowing the card down, which would otherwise be wasted as heat and wear on the brake pads.
     
  19. quagmire thread starter macrumors 603

    quagmire

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    #19
    I sure hope car makers find a good protection shield for the Nuclear reactor! Not just for the occupants sake, but if you get into an accident, you might here about this on the news........

    [​IMG]
     
  20. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #20
    There are three big problems,

    1) Generating the energy source

    2) Transmitting or transporting it to the end user

    3) Efficiently turning it into work, while not generating any more pollution than necessary.


    Re #2 - the transport media is the key to adoption. Gasoline and diesel are relatively easy because they are stable, they pack a fairly big power load per kg, they are reasonably safely transportable, and we have already invested in the distribution network. Biodiesel and Ethanol based fuels are easiest to implement because they can piggyback on much of the existing infrastructure.

    Propane and natural gas are cleaner than oil and gasoline, but are a notch up the scale in transport and distribution problems. Hydrogen burns clean, but transport and distribution are real challenges.


    Re: #1 - It's not quite accurate to say that if you burn oil or coal to make hydrogen (or electricity or ethanol or whatever), you are no further ahead than burning that oil or coal in a vehicle or home. A large generating / cracking plant could be quite a bit more efficient and less polluting than 1000 individual homes or vehicles because of efficiencies of scale. A large scale burner or fuel cell plant can benefit from technology too large or too expensive for individual use.

    Re: #3 The end user efficiency and cleanliness have to be taken into account. Pure electric vehicles are not yet practical, partially because the cost and resource/disposal problems of the batteries are not solved. Fuel cell vehicles have to solve the challenges of fuel storage.. Fuel cell 'batteries' have the problem of waste heat disposal.

    Nuclear vehicles are non-sensical for this reason - the powerplant would be large, heavy and unsafe (not to mention the distribution method!) But Fission generation may be practical in large generating stations.
     
  21. Timepass macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2005
    #21
    hydrogen may sound like a great fuel sorce but there are a few things people forget about about it first.

    First you have to get the hydrogen from somewhere first and currently there are 2 sorces for it that we use. One is to speparted the hydrogen from water and the other is take it off hydrocarbens (oil basicly).

    Laws of thermo dymincs state it takes more engery to get that hydrogen out of it then we will get back out of it.

    Hydrogen has a huge reduction is the amount of power per lb compared to gas. So getting a good amount of range out of cars like that is going to be hard when compared to a gas engine.

    2nd as I pointed out earily the power requirment to make hydrogen for fuel is very high and right now almost all of our power needs comes from fuels out of the ground. Currently if you add in all the pollution made to created hydrogen fuel compared to the same thing for gas hydrogen fuel makes MORE polution. Now the car produces less but from start to end it makes more. Before we can consider hydrogen fuel for cars we need to move out power generation off of fossel fuels because the power to my hydrogen fuel has to come from somewhere as right now it is fossel fuels.

    http://www.popsci.com/popsci/science/a7179aa138b84010vgnvcm1000004eecbccdrcrd.html here is a nice link from popsci showing the top 10 myths and explaining them.
     
  22. After G macrumors 68000

    After G

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    #22
    Personally, I would like to see smaller cars. Reduce demand by reducing the amount of weight an engine has to pull. None of this SUV crap. Or spend money on making the highway infrastructure better so nobody needs to buy an SUV to drive comfortably on a crappy road.

    For families, there's minivans.
    For hauling stuff, there's trucks.
    For off-road fun, there's ATVs/rally cars/dirt bikes.

    I see no need for SUVs.

    But if I had to pick a fuel, it'd be electricity. Conversion losses to a usable form can be less than 1% as opposed to internal combustion's 50%. Storage is a problem, but then you could always put a charging rail on the road or something for long trips, etc.
     
  23. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    Location:
    NYC
    #23
    Biodiesel is the most easily integrated biofuel at this point, and is significantly more efficient (energy output in manufacturing -> road) than E85 at this point.

    Baby steps are key. We shouldn't try to jump to hydrogen, even though it is a good alt. fuel.
     
  24. Timepass macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2005
    #24

    What about for familys that need to both haul stuff and move the familys around. Also SUVs offer a mixture of all 3. For hauling, Off roading and moving family (mind you trucks can double up as well for off roading and hauling). SUVs are a mixture bettween mivivans and Trucks. They can haul, tow stuff and still have plenty of room for the family and also good for minor off roading to get to locations.

    Or lets say you need to move a group of people from the road to a site and it requires driving slightly off road. Trucks to small for that and the minivan cannt handle the off road. SUV is your only solution.

    Just figure I would point out why the SUV is good. (also I drive a Sentra so dont try saying that I drive an SUV. I just know there useage and my family does use out SUV like an SUV. It a mix bettween the minivan and a truck. Moves the family and still has hauling power to do both at the same time)
     
  25. Peyton macrumors 68000

    Peyton

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2006
    #25
    I'm actually looking at cars now, and I think the best luxury car with the best gas milage is the Mercedes E class 320 CDI. 27-37 on diesel.

    BTW anyone have this car, know anything good/bad?
     

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