Alternative Energy: What To Expect

March 4, 2020
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While we are in an age where alternative energy has become an increasing “norm“. Many are searching to save money by using different components to fuel their cars. The two biggest alternative sources for consumer vehicles continue to be either Electric vs Biofuel. We’re going to discuss the differences between the two.

The Green Movement and California Emissions

During the ’70s, California decided that it needed to clean up its act. With stricter emissions rating standards than the rest of the US, the goal was to cut down on the smog and environmental impacts that cars, trucks and semi’s had on cities and towns. At this time, Los Angeles became one of the worst polluted cities to live in. The ’50s saw the largest economic boom in the automotive industry. This lead to a direct increase in the amount of smog. With Los Angeles seated snuggly between the mountains and the coast, the low-laying smog would simply settle in the area with no place to go to. Many citizens were getting sick (and tired) of having to deal with the smog. By the time the ’70s rolled around, many were protesting.

This led to a number of elected officials voting to enforce stricter smog emissions than the rest of the country. California (more specifically LA) had seen some of the worst air pollutions in the country and from then on, became the poster child for greener living.

Alternative Energy: Biofuels

Back in the ’60s to the ’70s, many of the wayward hippie populace were looking for cheaper ways to implement fuel into their cars. While many of them had the VW Bus, the diesel engine could host a multitude of different fuel products. This would cut down on the cost of their trips (namely following around their favorite band from state to state).

This led to many of them utilizing Peanut, Olive, Soy, and Canola Oil to safely get them from show to show. At the time of the alternative embrace, the US was going through a number of changes. The first being the oil embargo of the time. This led to the focus on smaller, more fuels effective vehicles. Gas prices went up and unfortunately, so did diesel. Thus buying a smaller quantity of diesel and then mixing it with fat or oils became the focus for many. The resulting experimentation led to a multitude of positive outcomes.

Why Biofuel Is Useful

Biofuel acts as an alternative to the high cost of fossil fuels. It also burns at a much cleaner rate. Many who own a diesel power engine can easily (and relatively cheaply) convert their engine over to burn biofuels. Obtaining different oils can be a relatively easy task. If your car or truck can utilize these methods, then you can simply go to any fast-food chain and take the oil from the vat located behind their building. Then you can take it home and convert it into fuel by mixing the appropriate ratios of diesel (yes you still need to use some fuel) and oil.

Biofuel Drawbacks

Although this maintains a healthy way to save money and reduce the environmental impact of your surroundings. Studies have shown that it might not be the most optimal way to power your car. Ratings have shown that (if both oil and diesel) are mixed correctly and effectively, that a 5-8% decrease in engine power can occur. That decrease has a direct correlation with the standard gas mileage that your vehicle can get. This also comes out to approximately 5-8% less than conventional gasoline. Still, if gas mileage isn’t an issue (which, heck, if your oil supply is free then send it) then you have a great way to save money and create a lower impact on the environment.

Another issue is the impact on your engine. For places like California, the idea of running a green vehicle works much more effectively than places like Boston. This is due to the fluctuations in temperature. Where northern cities can have such a drastic dip in temperature, southern ones maintain a pretty level playing field. Cold temperatures can often gunk up the alternative energy biofuel which can cause the engine to stall and mess with the fuel injectors. Another issue stems from not fully understanding which components of the engine can handle the fuel. Oil tends to affect engines differently and some engines utilize different compounds to seal lines. Some of these compounds can deteriorate over time if the oil is constantly used as an alternative.

Alternative Energy: Electric

Electric cars have seen a monumental increase in popularity over the past decade. With the introduction of the Tesla line of cars and now “Cybertrucks”, many environmentally friendly consumers are making the switch. Electric cars seem to be the winners in the race for better and effective alternative fuels. Instead of having a combustible engine, the cars utilize a battery in the back. The battery then charges the motor which relays power to a front power converter. This not only saves consumers money on engine repairs but also cuts down the cost of refilling the tank by 100%.

The Benefits Of Electric:

The mileage that a battery can make off of one charge outclasses any biofuel alternative by an astronomical amount. For one full charge, a Tesla Model 3 can get anywhere between 200-350 miles. This is inherently dependant on how effective you drive. This, along with limited engine components (funny: there isn’t one) makes the electric car industry a go-to for many looking to save money on fuel and reduce their impact on the environment.

Electric: Drawbacks.

In the short time that we have seen commercial electric cars, there have not been many drawbacks to consider. The minds behind an independent space rocket seem to understand what is necessary for an effective vehicle that utilized energy-saving components. Add this to a car that doesn’t require a number of components and you have a relatively easy to fix, extremely reliable form of transportation that not only gets you from point a to point b quickly but does so with having an extremely limited impact on your surroundings.

Now, this isn’t to say the vehicle is perfect. One drawback that I can think of is where the battery goes when the car dies or is totaled. The environmental impacts for those batteries could be along the same lines and standard car batteries. The half-life of those is astronomical and will last longer than a person ever would.

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