We all know that gas is going to get more and more expensive and, because of that, many people are looking for alternative ways to power their cars.Â Two of those alternatives are ethanol and biodiesel. Both are made from natural products and are thus renewable and, in the case of biodiesel, are much cheaper than gasoline.
Letâ€™s start with biodiesel.Â This alternative to diesel fuel is made from a variety of natural sources including plant oils and animal oils. They have to go through some processing to be sure but oils like peanut and vegetable oil and even grease thatâ€™s left over from restaurants from their fryers are usable. The processing can even be done at home if youâ€™re so inclined to do it although youâ€™d need to be mechanically Â inclined and not averse to smelling like French fries.
If you have access to large amounts of grease or cooking oil at little or no cost you can make your own biodiesel.Â The kits to do the processing are already available on the market but it will take a lot of time and energy. The up-side is that these fuels are renewable since theyâ€™re plant based. The downside is that they donâ€™t have as much energy as regular gas or diesel so youâ€™ll get lower mileage and, if you donâ€™t want to make it yourself, the infrastructure to get it isnâ€™t very bigâ€¦yet.
Ethanol, made from plants like corn or even wood pulp, is a bit more practical as a fuel alternative.Â Ethanol is, at its most basic, just a mix of alcohol and a little bit of gasoline.Â It is being offered at more and more service stations which makes it easier to find than biodiesel and there are a number of cars that can run on both regular gas and ethanol. It is also plant based and so renewable.
The downside to ethanol however is a bit worse than biodiesel. First, fewer cars can run on it.Â 2nd it takes a lot of energy to produce and to transport, especially since it has to be transported by truck as piping it leads to problems due to the fact that ethanol picks up impurities from pipelines. Lastly it has caused world food prices to increase as more and more farmers are selling their crops to make ethanol instead of as food.
As with most alternatives there are always good sides and bad sides.Â Ethanol and biodiesel certainly have both but, in the long run, are probably better than gasoline.