Facts about Green Fuels

By: Mervyn Rees

Copyright (c) 2008 Mervyn Rees

Do you know about cars that run on peanut oil? Well when Rudolph Diesel invented his engine  the ones we now run our cars on what has become known as 'diesel' (Named after him) he ran his on peanut oil.

Nowadays all sorts of vegetable oils are being used to replace traditional diesel and, not least, petroleum. In the UK, a few thousand cars are already being run on used chip oil (that's the oil that fries/chips have been made in), which, on such a small scale, is a good thing. The problem is, recycled cooking oils in the UK, can only supply about 100,000 tons of diesel per year, and that's no more than 1/380th of the total fuel used through road transport alone. What, you have to wonder, would happen to the rest?

We'd obviously have to grow oil producing crops in order to run our cars on "environmentally friendly" fuel. Shouldn't be too tough, should it? Just plant some fields with rape, and before you know it, you're turning oil into fuel and our air becomes a lot cleaner.

But is it really as easy as that? Let's look at the specifics around this.

1 hectare of rape will yield an average of 1.5 tonnes of bio-diesel.

In order to run the same number of road transport vehicles as there are today in the UK, rape would need to be grown on almost 26 million hectares of land.

Considering that the UK only has a little less than 6 million hectares of arable land available, where on Earth are we going to grow the rest? That's it, somewhere else on Earth. Once again the 3rd world countries will undoubtedly end up producing the oil we need in order to run our cars in an "environmentally friendly" manner, while those who farm the land can barely afford to eat, let alone run a car. Better for the environment? Maybe, but better for society as a whole: Definitely not.

And while we're growing oil-seed on so much of the land, where will our food be grown? Can we really produce the amount of oil needed to fuel the number of vehicles that are found on the road today, let alone in the future?

Then there's the question of the real production process connected with bio-diesel. Rape seed doesn't become bio-diesel of its own accord, after all. The seed will need to be transported to processing plants where energy is used to transform it into something more environmentally friendly than gasoline or other petroleum based fuels. But how much gas and/or electricity will be used to run the machinery needed to process the oil? And how much energy will be needed in order to heat and light the processing plants? And where will the plants be built?

Whether so-called "green diesel" will really be better for the environment is anybody's guess. We know they won't omit damaging carbon dioxide, but everything has a price. What price can we afford to pay?

P.S. I have some knowledge of another source of Bio-Fuel supplies that could sort it...

But I'm afraid you'll have to wait for another article to read about itScience Articles, and my own ideas are perhaps progressing to. . .

Top Searches on
Mileage and Fuel
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Mileage and Fuel
 



Share this article :
Click to see more related articles