Bio-Fuels Myth Or Reality

The United States is currently in an uproar over the price of automotive fuel. Industry insiders are projecting the average cost of fuel to go above $3.00 per/gal. in the coming months. Many people are starting to reconsider summer vacation plans. So what solution do we have on the horizon to fight the ever increasing cost of Gasoline.

Today's latest term of indearment is Bio-Fuel. What could this actually be, are we going to place corn-cobs in our fuel tanks. Do we simply pull up to the local Fast Food restaurant and order a #3 and 10 gals of grease. Well not exactly, let's discuss each of the alternatives currently in the mass media vernacular:

First up the french fry grease myth. Yes with the properly equipped fast food restaurant we could drive up and fill up our diesel car. However one big issue with this fast food fad, their isn't enough grease generated to supply the nations thirst for fuel. If we are going to convert over then we must have the supply to meet the demand or the price of the fuel will not be reduced to a usable level. While the technology is available the fuel supply opportunity is not readily available. This technology is commonly referred to Bio-Diesel.

So let's take a step back tot he farmers who generate the oil that we are discussing. Can we generate enough Bio-Diesel to feed the nations thirst? This question is hotly debated in academic circles as well as farming circles. Current estimates are that if we convert over at the fuel consumption rate we are currently utilizing that we will have to have 75% of all of our US farm capacity to meet demand. While this will put many of the farmers currently out of work back to work, we would then be dependent on other nations for our food supplies. This may or may not be palatable to most involved.

What other options are currently on the blocks. E85 and M85 are both standard unleaded alternatives. The E in E85 stands for Ethanol, it is a product of corn and can easily be manufactured by todays farmers. The M in M85 stands for Methanol, which is a product of landfills and biodegradables (grass clippings, and other items). The 85 in the title is representative of the % of Methane or Ethanol present in the fuel. Are these options viable, again we have the debate of supply versus demand. To convert over enough farm land to make these a reality will probably cause food supply issues. The final issue against E85 and M85 is that they have a 25% reduction in fuel mileage adding to the cost of operation of your vehicle if you use them.

Current replacement fuels do not make the cut for long term viability. The auto industry is hard after alternatives to middle eastern automotive fuels. They are listening to their customers and will create a solution. So don't run out and buy that Bio fuel vehicle just yet the industry is still maturing.

Charles Cater

About the Author:

Charles has a Problem Solving BlackBelt from Daimler Chrysler. He has spend 11 years in the automotive industry. This article may be reprinted freely as long as all links remain active.


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