We are not talking about gasoline, diesel fuel, or kerosene right now. An alternative fuel is defined as the choice of any fuel other than the traditional selections; gasoline and diesel.
What are the choices?
1. Ethanol. Ethanol is a high-octane, low-emission fuel that has been used in racing for a long time. It is now made from renewable plant materials and can be used in normal vehicles. The bad thing about Ethanol is that it gets lower fuel economy ratings as opposed to gasoline.
2. Methanol. Methanol has a high octane rating and a low emission of pollutants. These characteristics make it a great fuel to use in engines in cars. Since the 1960s, the cars in the Indianapolis 500, which is a big race that is held annually, were powered with methanol.
3. Natural gas. Natural gas is a by-product of oil drilling and also coal mining. You can also harvest natural gas from natural gas fields.
4. Propane is another type of alternative fuel. Another name for this kind of gas is liquefied petroleum gas. Propane is the gas that is made when natural gas and crude oil is refined.
5. There are also blends of fuels. This is how we get fuels known as E-85 where it is a mix of 85% Ethanol and 15% gasoline. These are defined as mixtures between traditional and alternative fuels. Another blend is B20.
6. Hydrogen is one of the more popular alternative fuels. Hydrogen is made commercially by refining it from petroleum. You can also make hydrogen by passing electricity through water. This process is known as electrolysis.
7. Electricity is another alternative fuel. We consider electricity as an alternative fuel choice because it has been used to power the motors in electric vehicles. Electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular nowadays and they will be mass-produced in late 2009. Most people think this is the answer to our economy problem but what most people don't realize is how expensive these electric vehicles are.
8. Biodiesel is another popular alternative fuel source. This is an additive or even a replacement for diesel fuel. biodiesel is made from animal fat and sometimes vegetable oil.
9. Biomass. Biomass is derived from materials that are biological, predominantly vegetation, these include biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.
10. P-series. This is a colorless, clear liquid fuel which have between a 89 and 93 octane rating. P-series fuels are designed to be used in flex-fuel vehicles. This will become more and more popular as we see more flex-fuel vehicles.
This is just one list of the alternative fuels. There are many more out there we just need to discover them. Once a good alternative fuel is discovered that we can mass-produce very cheap which gets better gas mileage than our traditional fuel, the economy should start booming again.