With the energy crisis looming, scientists are looking at alternative ways to replace our dwindling fuel supplies. Pretty much anything that can be burned will release energy but in order for something to become a legitimate fuel alternative it needs to provide more net energy for less money and also produce minimal pollution.
This is a list of some of the crazier alternatives that have been thought up, some of which are more than hard to believe:
1. Garbage – Yes, garbage has the potential to provide plentiful supplies of fuel. When our garbage starts to break down it produces gases such as bio methane which, when compressed, can be used as a fuel source. Apple is currently developing a bio gas plant based on this to power one of its data centers in North Carolina.
2. Compressed Air – This is a technology that has been around for a while, although there have only been limited successes in getting it to work with vehicles. There are only a few companies attempting to develop compressed air as a viable fuel source for cars. One of the major ones is an Indian company called Tata Motors who own Jaguar and Land Rover. Although compressed air has massive potential, due to the lack of emissions or dependence on fossil fuels, it has suffered numerous setbacks. Currently the power and torque of cars developed to run on compressed air are extremely lacking and often fail to outpace a human being – means few crashes though and fewer car accident claims.
3. Wheat – Powering a car on wheat may sound completely and utterly ridiculous but this is actually a very viable option and is actually mixed with gasoline in some parts of the world already. Britain opened its first ethanol plant in 2010 which will require 1.2 million tons of wheat per year. The main disadvantage to using wheat is the effect it may have on food production. If wheat is being used to develop ethanol, then there is less available for food stocks and food prices will inevitably rise.
4. Sunflowers – Sunflower seeds are a very popular part of a healthy diet. Sunflower seeds are also rich in oil which means they are an excellent crop to convert into biofuel. It is possible to turn 5 acres of sunflowers into over 3000 pounds of oil. This oil can then be converted into fuel pellets which can then be converted into a viable fuel source for engines.
5. Soybeans – Soybeans are another excellent source of oil for fuel. Only 20% of the content of a soybean is oil so the effect of using soybeans on food supplies is minimal when compared to wheat. Due to the massive reduction in emissions from soybean biofuel, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 86% when compared to regular diesel.
6. Solar Paint – Weve all heard of solar panels but have you heard of solar paint? Being developed at Swansea University, solar paint is designed to capture the energy of the sun and convert this into electricity. So while solar panelling has a lot of space considerations when being positioned on a vehicle or a house, solar paint can be used to cover the entire service thereby massively improving the surface area that can capture the suns rays.