“The truth is, as most of us know, that global warming is real and humans are major contributors, mainly because we wastefully burn fossil fuels.”—David Suzuki, world-renowned environmental activist
The fossil fuel model is not only unsustainable—relying on the Earth’s dwindling natural resources to propel our internal combustion engines—but, for the consumer, fluctuating prices can put a serious strain on household budgets.
There’s no doubt about it: fossil fuels are detrimental to our environment, costly, and if we want to ensure a greener future, our reliance on the likes of coal, oil, and natural gas has to stop.
The UK government alone has pledged to cease the sale of new diesel or petrol-powered vehicles by 2040 and in the fight against climate change, other nations are set to follow suit.
Fortunately, we live in a time where viable alternatives to fossil fuel exist to make motoring cleaner, greener, and more sustainable.
Here we explore four potential alternatives to fossil fuels that could change the motoring industry for the better.
A direct alternative to petroleum, biofuels including bioethanol, are comprised of corn and sugarcane. And biodiesels are made from animal fats and vegetable oils.
Biofuel reduces our reliance on non-renewable crude oil-derived petrol and diesel—as such, many people believe this a viable short-term solution while more efficient alternatives are being developed.
The second generation of biofuels is to consist of sustainable sources that aren’t primarily used for food.
Electric-powered cars are on the rise. In fact, the number of plug-in vehicles currently exceeds the five million mark worldwide—and rising.
Battery-powered cars like the popular Nissan Leaf are incredibly green alternatives to fossil fuel-run vehicles and as global charging infrastructures expand, this could well be the key to cleaning up the future of motoring.
A staggering two-thirds of the energy generated by petrol is wasted in the form of heat.
Thermoelectric technology, an innovation that converts heat into electricity, could prove pivotal in helping to reduce heat wastage and is already under development by a host of notable car makers.
Current exhaust-based developments are said to reduce fuel consumption by 5%—and as this process evolves, thermoelectrics could significantly reduce the level of emissions generated by the motoring industry.
An unlikely but potentially sustainable source of fuel, its possible to use liquid nitrogen to propel a piston or rotary engine.
If heated in a pressurised tank, liquid nitrogen transforms into a high-pressured gas—but while this does work, it’s a less efficient carrier than fossil fuels and relies heavily on electricity during the production process.
But, while there are roadblocks surrounding liquid nitrogen, fresh developments could make this a greener, more efficient fossil fuel alternative in the long run.
Fire made us human, fossil fuels made us modern, but now we need a new fire that makes us safe, secure, healthy and durable.”—Amory Lovins
We’re in the midst of a motoring revolution—and as green fossil fuel alternatives continue to emerge (and evolve)—the possibility of eliminating vehicle-based carbon emissions completely is becoming all the more likely.
We may have a long way to go—but the future is bright.
For more on emissions in the transport industry, read our report on France’s forthcoming airfare ‘eco-tax’.