What’s The Best Alternative Fuel For Your Buck?

Will you be fueling your car on used french fry oils in a few years? Will you plunk a bushel of corn into your auto’s Mr. Fusion? Or will you simply urinate into the tank — the trucker’s dream technology?

All ideas are fairly viable in a hippy Shangri-La where money doesn’t matter. But Popular Mechanics actually crunched the math to come up with the most economoically viable gasoline alternatives.

Their conclusions? Right now, electricity’s the big winner, followed closely by compressed natural gas and then… unbelievably… used french fry oil. Hey! Soon enough, you may be to fill up more than your bloated indiscriminate belly at the local McDonald’s… but your car’s as well!

How far can you drive on a bushel of corn? [Popular Mechanics]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. airship says:

    Uh… correct, if all you consider is the money. But as they point out, electric cars will only take you about 100 miles before coasting to a stop and requiring a mulit-hour charge before you can move on. Compressed natural gas requires a – you guessed it – compressor hanging on your garage wall, and you can’t fuel up hardly anywhere else. As for french fry oil? Where do you get that? And it has to be converted to biodiesel before you can actually burn it in a vehicle.
    And that’s not even counting the environmental impact. As PS points out, traveling across country in your supposedly eco-friendly electric car results in the burning of a ton of coal to generate said electricity, in the process also generating enough CO2 to fizz up a lake full of Coke.
    And I’m not just saying that because their article basically says the only viable alternative fuel for the future is ethanol, which is, of course, made by fermenting sweet, sweet Iowa corn. From Iowa. My home state. Where I live.

  2. ValkRaider says:

    Actually, the article gives as much credit to Biodiesel as it does to Ethanol.

    Biodiesel can be made from recycled cooking oil OR any vegitable oil source, like Soybeans, Canola, and Algae.

    Biodiesel has a much higher net energy yeild than ethanol, and you can burn biodiesel in any percentage blend in any modern diesel engine with no modifications.

    I have 60,000 miles on biodiesel in a Volkswagen New Beetle TDI, and 12,000 miles on biodiesel in a Jeep Liberty CRD.

  3. GenXCub says:

    you KNOW someone from San Francisco will come up with a car powered by pot smoke… the world is waiting…

  4. Nick says:

    The ultimate problem with any biodiesil crop is that it’s simply not possible to grow enough of them to take over from current diesil usage, let alone replace petrol. You’d have to replace most of the world’s crops with biodiesil crops, and then you’d have the little matter of having nothing to eat…

  5. katedahl says:

    A visit to Iowa a couple of years ago sparked my interest in ethanol. I read up on the subject and found out that there are some bad effects of ethanol — including the harm of grown only corn (no crop rotation), the use of pestacides, increase of corn allergies near processing plants, decrease fish numbers in the Gulf of Mexico, coastal erosion in the Mississippi delta. Plus, one of the reasons ethanol is cheaper than petrol is high government subsidies of the corn industry.

  6. Witty Username says:

    love

  7. ValkRaider says:

    Nick: “The ultimate problem with any biodiesil crop is that it’s simply not possible to grow enough of them to take over from current diesil usage, let alone replace petrol. You’d have to replace most of the world’s crops with biodiesil crops, and then you’d have the little matter of having nothing to eat…”

    That is one of the most common and most bunk argument against biodiesel ever used.

    1. No one ever said displacing all diesel usage or petrol usage. Biodiesel and Ethanol and the other sources should only be one piece of the solution. Reliance on a single source of fuel (petroleum) is what got us into this mess to begin with. The solution needs to be a broad range of varius fuels and sources so that we are not too dependant on any one technology. Even displacing 10% of diesel usage is a great thing.

    2. You do know that the oil of the crop is only a small piece of the crop, don’t you? The fiber and protein are still left. Which is what they make much of the food from. In addition the leftovers can be used to feed livestock, and then the leftovers from that – the cellulosic waste – can be used to make Ethanol.

    3. Arguments like “You’d have to replace most of the world’s crops with biodiesil crops,” assume current feedstocks, technologies, and efficiencies. For instance canola has a higher oil yeild than soy. We have a lot of soy based biodiesel because of the strength of the soy industry lobby. But in Oregon and Washington they are focusing on Canola. It grows better here and is a higher yeild. On top of that algae has 10x the yeild of seeds. There is great progress being made in the process to make biodiesel from algae. And algae can be grown in the waste streams of powerplants and factories – cleaning those streams as well… And our efficiency at growing and refining will improve as technology does, further enabling more production from the same amount of land. As well, many farmers in the Northwest are looking to biodiesel crops as great rotation crops for the food they already grow – thus displacing no food production.

    4. Diesel vehicles are more efficient than gasoline vehicles, due to the higher BTU value of diesel fuel and the operating properties of diesel engines. Burning biodiesel and with modern particulate filtering, they are cleaner than todays cleanest gasoline cars. Higher efficiency means less fuel consumed overall, combined with the use of biofuels, makes more sense than petroleum.

    But don’t take my word for it. There are tons and tons and tons of resources with information and details available. Don’t just take the word of mouth water-cooler discussion science as 100% fact.