What’s Going to Replace Gasoline?

I think by now everyone is well aware of the fact that we’re past due to begin serious research into finding which of the new alternative fuels will be the best option to replace gasoline as the major source of energy for our vehicles.

Whether it’s due to environmental factors like pollution and global warming or due to the fact gasoline is a finite resource that for all intents and purposes is shrinking with each passing day, the time has come for us to begin taking the slow and arduous steps towards finding a cheap and renewable fuel source.

Unfortunately, because all of these alternative fuels are relatively untested and still in concept phase, it seems it’s going to be pretty hard to choose which one to go with. And if you go by the results of a recent poll on GasBuddy.com, it appears that we’re pretty evenly divided between the alternative fuels we believe will ultimately power our vehicles.

When asked, “what will be the next best automobile alternative to petroleum?” here’s how nearly 16,000 people responded:

  • 33% chose hydrogen fuel cells
  • 21% chose biofuels
  • 21% chose electric (battery)
  • 17% chose unknown/no opinion
  • 2% chose compressed natural gas
  • 2% chose liquefied natural gas
  • 1% chose liquefied petroleum gas

As you can see, not are there a lot of possible options, but we’re pretty well divided between those options. Each alternative fuel has its pros and cons, but it unfortunately it appears that it’s the lack of definitive information that’s making it difficult for us to settle on “the next” fuel.

The results from the GasBuddy.com poll were pretty much in line with a similar poll I ran back in April, which asked, “which type of vehicle do you think will best help solve our environmental problems?” Not coincidentally, hydrogen fuel cell cars came in number one in my poll as well, with 41% of the responses. Plug-in hybrids (27%), electric cars (25%) and ethanol vehicles (7%) were the other responses.

Hopefully over the next couple of years, the world’s major oil companies will reduce their dividends and share buyback programs and start pumping money into alternative fuels. Maybe that way we’ll know which direction we’re going before it’s too late.

Comments

  1. What about salt water?

  2. I think nuclear fission would be best, feeding electric vehicles.

  3. Check out
    http://www.volvocars.com/corporation/environment/Alternativefuels/_challenge.htm

    Biodiesel is a really good alternative. Biofuels is kind of vague. Ethanol is a biofuel but it sucks. Not much better than regular gasoline.

  4. Diesel Fuel makes sense for transportation until ultracapcitor engines become available. Diesel has the advantage of better fuel economy than gasoline while avoiding the government’s lobby encouragement ethanol subsidies. Diesel from coal is already a reality: http;//www.a2dvoices.com/realitycheck/Energy/

  5. This post is great. It discusses public opinion from a survey, no moralizing, no semi-science. It can be hard to understand when someone from a corn state discusses the great value of ethanol (Sen Chuck Grassley of Iowa) or a gasoline producer shows pictures of the Hindenberg blimp disaster.

    alternative power

    The post above mentioned salt water–I like the idea of using the solar collecting power of the world’s oceans to produce hydrogen gas, biofuels, other combustibles.

    It is an economic decision that the world will make.

  6. I liked this video when I saw it… it’s kinda old, but very cool. http://www.gear6.net/2006/06/man_invents_wat.html

    My opinion is that plug-in cars with those new capicitors I think are going to be the ticket.

  7. http://ranthonysteele.blogspot.com/2007/10/whats-going-to-replace-gasoline.html

    Why bother to ask the average Joe what he thinks about it, it’s like asking him to decide whether we need to irradiate food (oh, wait, we did that. Turned out well, didn’t it?) or stem cell research needs to be pursued (ditto on that one) perhaps we should leave it up to the experts.

    Aside from which, saying they are all untested is not factually precise. Biodiesel is currently in use in several areas around the world, and there are even vehicles produced now that can burn it. You can just pour straight vegetable oil into most diesel engines and they will run just fine.

    Personally, my next vehicle will probably be a diesel, one that is set up to run a variety of fuels right from the manufacturer (Mercedes Benz already offers one) would be preferred.

    There’s also the distinct possibility that we’ll invest in an electric car for day to day commuting. There are several places in town that either offer or retrofit vehicles themselves to run on electricity.

    I’m also not counting out the introduction of compressed air technology, two versions of which were featured on Beyond Tomorrow recently. These options aren’t even mentioned in the poll.

    So, which direction should we take? All of them. The only way to test which fuel is best is to subject them all to market forces and see which fuel system is successful in a open market place.

    …and that means getting the government and it’s associated popularity contests completely out of the picture.

  8. Bob Johnson says:

    After a number of years working with the physics of global heat engines the one thing that is apparent, and that everyone has to come to grips with, is whatever fuel we use it will be related to solar radiation in some form, either directly or indirectly, with the possible exception of nuclear; itself a mini solar event.

    With 90% of the incident solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth(insolation) – the question becomes with what efficiency do we convert the insolation to usable forms of energy/fuels.

    If you accept this arguement, it is known as to how many watts of energy reach the earth per sq km, assuming some conversion efficiency to human usable form, for a given population we could calculate how many watts were available to each person.

    If persons are using energy at a rate greater than this there is no way any source can be considered renewable or there is an inequality in availability. The equation has to balance.

    I have never seen this calculation done, although I have to believe that it has. And if I were forced to guess I expect that we would not like the answer because intuitively I believe it would forecast some serious consequences for populations. Particularly since lifestyle seems to be directly related to energy consumption.

    If anyone has seen data on this or predictive models I would be interested in hearing about it.

  9. Last time I checked salt water is not a fuel…

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