Finally, Alternative Fuel Engines Are Gaining Respect
In order for all of us to understand what is going on in the world about the high price of gasoline. Let us look at one mans quest to make the engine a better and cheaper running machine, a quick history lesson if you will.
A lot of people think of the diesel engine with the black soot soaring upwards from large semi-trucks on the highways and byways of America. We have all smelled the odor when they idle in a parking lot. If you have ever been in the Army you can remember the deuce and half trucks and their smell.
This is how the diesel engine has developed but was this the way its inventor imaged it, as an engine running on petroleum? The diesel engine was invented by Rudolf Diesel and ran with success on its fuel of choice – PEANUT OIL !
Diesel also tried out successfully with using whale oil but neither fuel was as prevailing or as easily available as petroleum. At this time petroleum based oils were the most economically obtainable.
So the engine took the route of easy oil and you now know the rest of the story.
Rudolf Diesel had stated “The diesel engine can be fed with vegetable oils and would help considerably in the development of agriculture of the countries which use it”
And later predicted that “The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today. But such oils may become in course of time as important as petroleum and the coal tar products of the present time.”
You might be asking why hasn’t someone done something about this in the past 100 years? Well, it has come full circle and we are now doing something.
Keeping the above mentioned history in mind and looking to our future, our affiliation with the oil industries and our addiction on foreign oil, hopefully, will motivate us to explore options with a more open mind. The many experiments that have lately come alive attest to what is possible if we are willing to change in a positive direction or maybe to go back to the primary vision of Rudolph Diesel and his engine.
Here a several of new advances moving full steam ahead:
1. From fat or vegetable oil through a chemical process called transesterification comes biodiesel an alternative fuel. This process breaks apart the glycerin from the fat or vegetable oil, creating two new products, glycerin and biodiesel. The most popular source for biodiesel is soybean oil, but poultry fats can also be used.
2. Ethanol, another clean-burning fuel has sparked interest in biodiesel which is being helped by new government standards and rising gas prices. A number of ethanol projects developing from corn, soft wood and other sources also are under way.
3. Also, today May 20, 2006 in the news, there is research being done in an early 1900s red brick armory at the Kossuth County fairgrounds in Iowa. The engine can run on a number of fuels including hydrogen, ethanol, natural gas, propane or digester gas from landfills. The company is initially focusing on making more efficient, environmentally friendlier engines to replace those used in generators and in forklift trucks, airline ground equipment, irrigation pumps, tractors and buses.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 commands an increase in renewable fuel usage to 7.5 billion gallons in 2012 from 4 billion gallons in 2006. The bill also supports the alternative fuel industry with production incentives such as tax credits.