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Alternative Fuel


Alternative fuel is getting more attention due the high fuel prices. Alternative fuel means non fossil fuel. In the future finding of fossil fuel will end. Alternative fuel like biofuel, biodiesel, vegoil, methanol, hydrogen, can be produced. Also the need to find environmental more friendly ways of transport is getting more important.

Biofuels
European agriculture has, in many ways, been a victim of its own success, and the problem of overproduction of food within the EC has led to a change in the payment system to farmers. Area payments are now made to tillage farmers who agree to 'setaside' a proportion of their land, i.e. they must not grow food on it in order to avail of subsidies. The growing of so-called 'energy crops' is, however, permitted on setaside land subject to certain conditions. One such crop is Rape, the oil from which can be used as a diesel substitute.

This is hardly a new idea. When Rudolf Diesel first demonstrated his new invention, the compression ignition engine, at the Paris Exposition in 1900, he fuelled his prototype with ground nut oil. Modern diesel engines however have been developed specifically for fossil-based diesel, and although they will run for some time on raw rape seed oil, they eventually suffer problems of coking of the injector tips and degradation of the lubricating oil. There are two possible solutions to this. The first is to modify the engine. The Elsbett engine is such an engine, developed in Germany, which will run successfully on a range of fuels. The difficulty with this solution is in achieving the level of mass production needed to make these engines commercially viable.

The second method is to modify the oil. The relatively simple chemical process of transesterification (Figure below) produces rape methyl ester (rme), which has properties almost identical to those of fossil based diesel. The by-products of this processing are oil-seed cake, a high protein animal feed, and glycerol. A third possible approach is to simply remove the impurities from the raw oil and use it as a blend with diesel at a rate of 20% or more.

Methanol
Methanol is manufactured from natural gas, Methanol is a basic building block of the petrochemical industry. Methanol is is it used for to produce formaldehyde, acetic acid, chloromethane, methyl methacrylate, methylamines, dimethyl terephthalate and fuel for fuel cells. It is also used to produce MTBE, a gasoline additive.

Traditionally Methanol is used in a variety of industrial applications. Methanol is primarily used as an industrial solvent for inks, resins, adhesives to wood items, and dyes. It is used as a solvent in the manufacture of cholesterol, streptomycin, vitamins, hormones, and other pharmaceuticals. Methanol is used as an antifreeze for automotive radiators, an ingredient of gasoline (as an antifreezing agent and octane booster), and as fuel for picnic stoves. Methanol is also an ingredient in paint and varnish removers. We find methanol applied in such everyday items as windshield washer fluid, fertilizers, carpets, clothing and plastics.

Hydrogen
Fuel cells run on hydrogen, the simplest element and most plentiful gas in the universe. Hydrogen is never found alone on earth - it is always combined with other elements such as oxygen and carbon. Hydrogen can be extracted from virtually any hydrogen compound and is the ultimate clean energy carrier. It is safe to manufacture. A pound of hydrogen has three times the energy of a pound of gasoline. And hydrogen's chemical energy can be harnessed in pollutionfree ways.

Hydrogen is the perfect companion to electrons in the clean energy systems of the future. But hydrogen is not perfect - no fuel is.

Safety
Because of its high energy content, hydrogen must be handled properly, just as gasoline and natural gas today require careful handling.

Hydrogen is no more dangerous than other fuels, just different.

Hydrogen-based fuels like "town gas" were used in many communities in the U.S. and are still used around the world.

Hydrogen is made, shipped and used safely today in many industries worldwide. Hydrogen producers and users have generated an impeccable safety record over the last halfcentury.

Liquid hydrogen trucks have carried on the nation's roadways an average 70 million gallons of liquid hydrogen per year without major incident.

Hydrogen has been handled and sent through hundreds of miles of pipelines with relative safety for the oil, chemical, and iron industries.

Storage
Because hydrogen is such a light gas, it is difficult to store a large amount in a small space. That is a challenge for auto engineers who want to match today's 300-mile vehicle range. Researchers are examining an impressive array of storage options, with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) support.

Today's prototype FCVs use compressed hydrogen tanks or liquid hydrogen tanks. New technologies such as metal hydrides and chemical hydrides may become viable in the future. Another option would be to store hydrogen compounds - methanol, gasoline, or other compounds- on board, and extract the hydrogen when the vehicle is operating.

Delivery
Since fuel cells convert hydrogen into electricity, the main question on everybody's mind is "Where and how am I going to get the hydrogen to fuel up my fuel cell car?" If auto engineers choose to store hydrogen compounds on board the vehicle, tomorrow's fuel infrastructure would look a lot like today's. Many other options are being explored to deliver hydrogen to fuel cell vehicles (FCVs).

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