Saturday, December 22, 2012

Alternative Energy 2-Alcohol

Background: While it's probably not the the alcohol you're thinking of, it is a type of alcohol called Methanol. It comes from trees and is made from a variety of sources.

Pros: Because it can be made from natural gas (and it often is) it shares the pros of the land owning that comes with natural gas (for more on the pros and cons of natural gas: Click here). Methanol is very available, recently, some companies came together and aim to inject over 100,000 barrels into the U.S market by next year. The other advantage of that is that bigger oil companies will be able to see it's market value without investing. So, they will be able to make a smoother and better educated transition. Methanol is currently the official fuel of Indycar, for a few positive reasons. Firstly  because it is made of less components, it doesn't vary so much from batch to batch like in gasoline. That can potentially increase fuel mileage. The next advantage is that it is not flammable like gasoline so it is safer for transporting and in military situations. The final is one is shares with its sister fuel, Ethanol, ans that is because it is natural, it is not that dangerous if spilled.  

Cons: Another possible way to get ethanol is through wood fermentation, hence trees would have to be chopped down, which is already an issue just for paper. It is also seriously toxic to the human touch, and if it does burn, it is hard to detect through a regular human eye. The mileage could also be lessened possibly, because it has never been tested thoroughly for road cars, but for Indycar, the range was decreased.

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