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What are the advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives to gasoline to power automobiles?

Learn about the possible advantages and drawbacks to various alternative fuels.

Alternative fuels will be essential as we move forward, but they each have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Alternative fuels will be essential as we move forward, but they each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Because the emissions of gasoline is a major air pollution problem in most U.S. urban areas, alternatives are being worked on. Currently none of the alternatives deliver as much energy content as gasoline so more of each of these fuels must be consumed to equal the distance that the energy of gasoline propels the automobile. The most viable alternative is flexible fuel, a combination of methanol and gasoline, which would add at least $300.00 to car prices for an expensive fuel sensor and a longer fuel tank.

 

Alternative

Advantages

Disadvantages

Electricity

from batteries

No vehicle emissions,

good for stop and go driving

Short-lived bulky batteries; limited trip range

Ethanol

from corn, biomass, etc.

Relatively clean fuel

Costs, corrosive damage

Hydrogen

from electrolysis; etc.

Plentiful supply; non-toxic emissions

High cost; highly flammable

Methanol

from methanol gas, coal, biomass, wood

Cleaner combustion; less volatile

Corrosive; some irritant emissions

Natural gas

from hydrocarbons and petroleum deposits

Cheaper on energy basis; relatively clean

Cost to adapt vehicle bulky storage; sluggish performance

 

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