Problems Associated With Alternative Fuels
Ethanol is considered one of the most promising of alternative fuels because it requires almost no change in the engines that will use it as fuel. It will reduce the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere, but with the world's rapidly expanding economy and the fact that more and more cars are coming into use, the carbon footprint of vehicles overall is not likely to reduce substantially and will continue to be a huge source of concern to environmentalists. The production of ethanol at present is from agricultural products and this is conflicting with the food requirements of the world's population. Unless some solution or balance is found for this, the use of ethanol will continue to generate debates all over the world. The solution is to look to produce alternative fuels from waste products which can also give the added advantage of reducing our dependence on disposal of waste. But here the homogeneity of the waste products is a huge barrier and unless more technologies which are all encompassing are developed the production of ethanol will continue to be a problem.
The transport, processing and growing of crops required to produce ethanol requires a lot of use of gasoline and other environmentally unfriendly items till the ethanol finally reaches the consumer. The impact of this has still to be studied and may negate a lot of the so called good effects of using ethanol as an alternative fuel.
There have also been fears expressed that bacterial action in alternative fuels produced from plant sources is possible. This has shown up as change in color and appearance when the fuel is stored for a long time. What effect such bacteria can have in the long run on engines, the environment and the product qualities themselves is right now in the realm of the unknown.
Sulfur in gasoline does help to lubricate the oil seals and rings in an internal combustion engine. If this has to be added to the ethanol or other alternative fuel, the environmental friendliness of the fuel will reduce by that extent.
Hydrogen powered cars are supposed to produce almost no pollutants and with the technology continuing to be developed, looks to replace ethanol and gasoline vehicles in the future. But is it really environmentally safe. The hydrogen car produces only water vapor which fact has thrilled those concerned with the ecology. But water vapor traps heat just as effectively as CO2. In fact its efficiency in trapping heat is fourfold compared to CO2 and even though less of water vapor is produced compared to CO2 by any vehicle, it is estimated that the heat trapped by water vapor may be double of what is trapped by CO2 emitted by gasoline vehicles. So ultimately this could lead to more global warming and its other deleterious effects on the world around us.
Gasoline stations are at the moment very conveniently located so that all consumers are easily served. If alternative fuels are to be used, setting up such facilities so that the alternative fuels are easily available will take a lot of time and money. And unless this is done it is highly unlikely that alternative fuels will become popular. After all you do not want to buy a vehicle using alternative fuel and find you have to go miles out of your way to get refueled. It will cost you more and who has the time in today's world, anyway.