Sunday, February 3, 2008

My Vote

Ahhh, democracy is in the air with primaries sweeping the nation. I am not however going to debate the best party or candidate but instead cast my vote on fuel, specifically that which we guzzle by the gallons each day.

There are finally expanding options for today's eco-conscious driver. With hybrid technology being relatively new, the downside of battery life and disposal hasn't really presented itself as an issue yet but soon will. No battery lasts forever, recharchable or not. One major problem presented by these batteries is lead.

"According to a 2003 report entitled, "Getting the Lead Out," by Environmental Defense and the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, Mich., an estimated 2.6 million metric tons of lead can be found in the batteries of vehicles on the road today (and) More than 40,000 metric tons of lead are lost to landfills every year".
Hybridcars.com. 4/8/06. Hybrid Battery Toxicity. 3 Feb. 2008. <
http://www.hybridcars.com/battery-toxicity.html>

There is no doubt that batteries are being developed which use an alternative to lead such as nickel or lithium but in the meantime people who are deciding to trade out their old petro powered mobile should seriously consider a renewable fuel source.

Alternative fuel sources include:
Ethanol
Biodiesel
Natural Gas
Propane
Hydrogen

Let's just cross off hydrogen considering the first hydrogen vehicle isn't available to the masses yet (see December's post). Next let us get rid of ethanol since it can only be used in flex-fuel vehicles
and has a comparitively low energy content. Natural gas and propane are both clean burning but are fossil fuels...enough said.

The only alternative fuel to have fully completed the health effects testing requirements of the Clean Air Act is biodiesal.

This very flexible and renewable fuel source can be produced from vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled restaurant greases and can be used alone or blended with petroleum diesel. Although there is concern with how it will affect an engine's life cycle, it can be used in most petroleum diesel engines and it is only a matter of time before engines are manipulated to suite this fuel source.

Biodiesal is the most versatile and promising renewable source at this point, in my humble opinion. It does not leave behind lead to recycle or dispose of, it's not a fossil fuel and best of all, we can produce this domestically thus eliminating our dependance on foreign sources.

My vote: biodiesal. My plan? Trade in my current Subaru for the Subaru Boxer Turbo Diesel, just released in Europe. Of course, that is if it indeed is released in America within the next few years. I am predicting, that its popularity in Europe will drive the growth of biodiesal availablity here in the US. In the meantime, ridesharing and offsetting will be way I reduce my emissions and environmental impact.

Oh, one more fact concenring biodiesal, both Barack and Hillary support 60 billion gallons of homegrown biofuels to be produced and used in vehicles by 2030.

2 comments:

christina said...

Guess what was featured on NPR today...mmmm hmmmm. Listen or read the article "Carmakers Revamp Diesels as Green Machines" online...

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18556286

I'd also like to mention that my blog entry was focused on BIOdeisel, not regular so the pros/cons do differ.

marsholio said...

stina, what about the deep cell 12V batteries that power every ignition starter before the alternator kicks in? Also, there isn't enough bio product on the planet to fully supply biodiesel to power even a small percentage of vehicles out there - it is only an small-scale alternative - production of biodiesel or ethanol for that matter equates to annual clearcutting of fast-growing bio matter, which if done improperly can lead to erosion problems and loss of topsoil.
Check out the on-board hydrogen producing technology being developed by companies like Nuvera - they are using propane and natural gas to extract hydrogen from in order to power electric motors -no batteries - my two cents