28 October 2007

Biofuel, a solution or a new problem?

Recently I’ve read an article in National Geographic and it was about developing and using biofuel to replace the fossil fuel. It is actually quite interesting knowing that instead of using gasoline we can use ethanol to power automobiles. In Brazil for example car manufacturers install a flex machine where a same car can use either regular gasoline or ethanol. Not to mention that ethanol produces less pollution than gasoline, so it’s a cleaner and more efficient fuel.

Of course biofules also come with their own problems, one of the major one is that crops that would be better use to fight world’s hunger should not be used to create fuel. Since what is the point if in one country people use an efficient fuel while in another people are dying of hunger. Other problem is that the way biofuel is produced now is still not very efficient.

If we take a look back in history it is not the first time ethanol is used to fuel a car. Many car engine creators actually used ethanol to fuel the engine at the first place, however since fossil fuel was simply cheaper to use they all turn to it. I remember when I was still a kid seeing a news on TV where a car in Germany was using cooking oil to power the engine, back then it seemed very impressive to me. So why didn’t we switch to biofuels earlier?

It’s simple at the end of the day the rule of basic economics prevails, a simple law of supply and demand. So as long as the biofuel prices are higher than fossil fuel nobody would buy it. That’s the reason scientists are trying hard to create more efficient process in making biofuel so the prices can be more competitive.

All of this is interesting and looks promising, with cleaner and more efficient fuel we can also reduce pollution that is one the causes of global warming. However somehow I have a feeling that this solution is in fact coming from focusing on the problem.

Why do I think so? Well we are trying to find another substance that we can ‘burn’ in our engines instead of thinking on how to develop an engine that runs on another source of energy, for example electricity.

I’m no expert and I don’t know what kind of problems does electrical engine face. I do know that one of the problems is the power storage and the time it takes to recharge the batteries. But look around us there are so many inexpensive ways to harvest electricity from the resources we have an abundance and are free. There is wind, sun, rivers, tides you name it.

Imagine if every house hold or small community would produce their own electricity for home use and to power their vehicles we would not even need to depend on the power plants any more. Of course we would have to invest in the equipment to generate power but think that after that we would not have to pay for the electricity and also reduce the fuel cost that we spend now. At the same time also cutting down on pollution.

So if you ask me, instead focusing on how to develop a more efficient way to produce biofuels we should focus on developing a better electrical engine. What do you think?


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cara-blog said...

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