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Engineering Materials

Report: 2013 Will Make or Break Alternative Fuels

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Excellent coverage
Ann R. Thryft   4/8/2013 11:56:23 AM
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Cabe, I agree with the ultimate goal of non-burning fuels. But I don't think that will be a reality for some time to come. Meanwhile, it would be better to be burning these fuels than the alternative.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: We have viable options now
Rob Spiegel   4/8/2013 10:09:26 AM
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I agree, Laura, those fuels are on their way. But there are significant bumps along the road. For one, once alternative fuels get some traction in the market -- beyond their current single diget share -- the price of oil will come down, again making it attractive. Oil will look particularly attractive is there continues to be virtually no environmental restraint on its use.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Excellent coverage
Elizabeth M   4/8/2013 7:43:11 AM
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I like your attitude, Cabe, to wait for a better option to any fuel-burning vehicle. I wish there were more people who shared it, particularly among the people in the industry making the decisions about what people drive.

William K.
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The various alternative fuels, who will win?
William K.   4/5/2013 4:37:18 PM
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All of the alternative fuels are based on solar power, either more directly or less. Using vegatable oils takes a bit of fuel to plant and harvest the feedstock, although it takes less if the feedstock is waste from other products. The various bio-diesel products using processed animal oils also depend on solar to raise the feed for those animals. And electric power to charge battery vehicles may come from some sort of fuel driven generation, although it may also come from hydro-electric sources, which ultimately are solar powered. So most vehicle movers already consume fuel in one way or another. 

My preference would be to use liquid propane as a fuel, since the technology for those engines is well developed and the needed infrastructure for distribution is well understood. But widespread LP use would also have quite a few challenges, including the fact that at least half of the drivers in the US would have not a clue about how to dispense fuel into an LP powered vehicle. So safety and avoiding spillage would probably be show-stopping issues there. 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Research for alternate Energy
Ann R. Thryft   4/5/2013 12:00:23 PM
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Mydesign, interesting question about solar energy for vehicles. I remember hearing something about that back in the 60s, meaning people were looking in to it. My guess is there are two problems: 1) the same old problem of energy storage, but more important 2) the energy density isn't high enough to power a car, and doing so would require enormous collectors as well as enormous batteries. But that's just a guess. Does anybody know?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Excellent coverage
Ann R. Thryft   4/5/2013 11:59:34 AM
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I had the same reaction as oldguywithtoys: the fuels are essentially the same chemically--which is why diesels, anyhow, can be drop-in replacements--so a pipeline break isn't going to produce anything worse with petro-fuel than with biofuel.

oldguywithtoys
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Re: Excellent coverage
oldguywithtoys   4/5/2013 10:30:43 AM
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Biofuels are manufactured substitutes for fossil fuels.  They're still oils and gasses that have to be moved from the point of manufacture or refinement to the point of use.  It doesn't matter whether the liquid flowing through a pipeline is pulled out of the ground or manufactured: it's still oil and a pipeline break is still a problem.  The Arkansas leak, in and of itself, is not a reason to demand a switch to biofuels.

Mydesign
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Research for alternate Energy
Mydesign   4/5/2013 5:01:52 AM
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Ann, there are lots of R&D is going for alternate fuels. As of now only electrical vehicles are in market using alternate energy sources. Why researchers are not looking for solar energy for automobiles, any particular reason?

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Excellent coverage
Cabe Atwell   4/5/2013 2:08:26 AM
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I like the analysis here. I would love to see more biofuels used...

But, ultimately, zero fuel is reason behind the make or break case here. I have no intention of buying another fuel burning vehicle. I wait for the next best option...

C

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