Popular Mechanics has done a great service for those of us interested in the pros and cons of various alternative fuels. The magazine outlines, in detail, the positives and negatives of the following alternative fuels: ethanol, methanol, compressed natural gas, biodiesel, electric batteries, hydrogen, hybrids, and even fast-food cooking oil. (The article can be found on their site. Read it. The whole thing. I highly recommend it, even though it is a bit long…)
My impression from reading the article is this: 100% gasoline-powered cars are going to be with us in large numbers for another decade or two, but they are a dying breed. And although many of the alternative fuels include a small percentage of gasoline in the mix (to ensure start-up on cold days, for instance), it is in a relatively trivial amount that could easily be produced domestically, and would have a limited impact on the environment.
Of course, hydrogen fuel cell-powered automobiles are the ultimate green dream, but we are a ways off from seeing them in most garages. The technology isn’t quite there yet for this particular alternative to be affordable, and the infrastructure for their widespread use hasn’t been built yet (and it will probably take some serious nudging from the federal government before it ever is).
In the meantime, E85 and biodiesel are greatly increasing in popularity, despite some drawbacks. But we should all remember that the “alternative” to alternative fuels is gasoline prices that continue to climb, foreign enemies that use our present addiction to oil as powerful leverage in international disputes, and further damage to the environment.
So, warts and all, I am a strong proponent of alternative fuels. And if it takes decisive action from the federal government to act as a catalyst for the upcoming energy revolution, this libertarian-minded blogger is all for it.Powered by Sidelines