Alternate Fuels and Clean Air

 

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Despite the many options for alternative transport, it is unlikely that commuters will ever completely eliminate personal transportation. The fact of the matter is, America as a whole is obsessed with automobiles. This is why it is just as important to redevelop cars and trucks, as it is to redesign infrastructure. Currently, America refuses to change, and continues to avidly search for new sources of fossil fuels, a non-reusable energy source which heavily pollutes the earth, in order to support our country (Challoner 54). This, however, is merely a band aid on the real problem, and searching for a new source fossil fuels is only making the situation worse (MacZulak). By ignoring the problem, Americans are simply going to make the inevitable transition to alternate fuels even more difficult than is already going to be. Also, harnessing fossil fuel is not a simple or environmentally friendly process. The extraction alone is extremely detrimental to the environment, as well as the fact that transporting it is “potentially laced with disaster,” and both refining and burning fossil fuels release harmful pollutants into the atmosphere (Zabel). On the positive side, the American government has begun to simultaneously invest in developing alternate fuels for automobiles. According to Argonne, one of the United States Department of Energy funded corporations working on alternate fuels, developing and utilizing alternate fuels will both increase air quality and help break the country’s dependence on foreign oil (Argonne Transportation Technology R&D Center - Alternative and Advanced Fuels - Clean Diesel, Butanol, Ethanol, Hydrogen, Natural Gas, Fischer-Tropsch). This investment is extremely important because it is the first step the US can take to easing away from dependency on foreign oil. By researching alternate fuels, car companies can begin to use new technology to produce eco-friendly vehicles with fewer emissions. One project currently under way at Argonne is a clean diesel fuel. Automobiles which are manufactured to run as clean diesel vehicles will be a large step in Americas’ transition, because these cars and trucks will be oil free, and may reach up to fifty miles per gallon (Argonne). These vehicles will have far fewer emissions than a gasoline powered automobile, and the emissions will be far less dangerous, and thus will help clear airborne smog and reduce the need for fossil fuels. Aside from clean diesel, Argonne is also working on many other forms of alternate fuels, such as the hydrogen fuel cell. Imagine: a car whose only emission is water! Unfortunately, hydrogen technology is far from useable and still requires more development (Zabel). Many alternate fuels are at the same stage as Hydrogen fuel cells, where the potential is there, but the understanding necessary to utilize them is not. One of the most promising fuel sources is solar. Solar power utilizes energy harnessed from the sun by solar panels, and has the most potential for success if Americans can develop the technology (Zabel). Solar power is a huge step for mankind as a whole, because it eliminates the majority of the need to burn coal and oil for electricity. Developing solar technology could singlehandedly undermine the majority of Americas entire dependency on fossil fuels, not just for transportation, but for electricity and heat as well. A solar car would require no fossil fuels, and would have zero emissions, and thus is one of the great hopes for the future of American transportation. As with other forms of alternate transportation, there is not one single answer. In the future, Americans should expect to see multiple forms of alternate fuel mass produced and utilized for transportation. By utilizing alternate fuels such as hydrogen fuel cells, solar power, and clean diesel, America can begin to move away from a dependence on fossil fuels and an environmentally detrimental way of life.


Alternate Transportation and the U.S. | Copyright 2010 | Last Modified Wednesday, January 19, 2011 8:49 AM

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011 8:49 AM