We Know: All About Alternatives to Gas

What are gasoline alternatives?

Alternative fuels, include ethanol, natural gas, propane, hydrogen, biodiesel, electricity, and more. These fuels are being used worldwide in a variety of vehicle applications. Using these alternative fuels in vehicles can generally reduce harmful pollutants and exhaust emissions. In addition, most of these fuels can be domestically produced and derived from renewable sources.

(For information on hybrid cars, see our related article on this site.)

What is Ethanol?

Ethanol is made up of a group of chemical compounds whose molecules contain a hydroxyl group. Ethanol is the answer to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which mandated the sale of oxygenated fuels in areas with unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide.

How is natural gas used to replace gasoline?

Natural gas is one of the cleanest burning alternative fuels available and offers a number of advantages over gasoline. Air exhaust emissions from natural gas vehicles are much lower than those from gasoline-powered vehicles.

How is propane used a gasoline alternative?

Propane vehicles can produce fewer ozone-forming emissions than vehicles powered by reformulated gasoline. In addition, propane is the most accessible of all alternative fuels.

How can hydrogen replace gasoline?

Widespread use of hydrogen as an energy source could help address concerns about energy security, global climate change, and air quality. Fuel cells are an important enabling technology for the hydrogen future and have the potential to revolutionize the way we power our nation, offering cleaner, more efficient alternatives to the combustion of gasoline and other fossil fuels. Hydrogen offers stronger national energy security, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved air quality, and increased energy efficiency.

What is Biodiesel and how can it replace gasoline?

Biodiesel, a cleaner burning diesel replacement fuel made from natural, renewable sources such as new and used vegetable oils and animal fats can provide the same payload capacity as diesel. Higher blends, even pure biodiesel may be able to be used in some engines with little or no modification, although long-term impact on the engine is still unknown. The biggest barrier to using biodiesel is handling and storage.

How are the benefits of using electricity as a gasoline replacement?

Vehicles that run on electricity have no tailpipe emissions. They have lower "fuel" and maintenance costs than gasoline-powered vehicles. Furthermore, some federal and state dollars help provide incentives for fleets and private individuals to purchase these vehicles.

Will any of these gasoline alternatives eventually replace gasoline?

It is more likely that one or more of these alternatives will lower our demand for gasoline. With the exception of electric vehicles, which are available to the public, most alternative fuels and compatible vehicles are still in development. Second in demand to electricity is ethanol, with several compatible vehicles on the market. However, there is not enough demand for ethanol to justify the cost of gas stations to add ethanol additional pumps. Other options are still under development and currently being used and tested on fleet vehicles such as airport trucks, school buses, transit buses, shuttle buses, refuse haulers, and heavy-duty trucks.

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