Burning fossil fuels create greenhouse gases that continue to aid in global warming which reek havoc on the planet’s climate.
The production of the world’s oil fields is most likely on the decline.
The ongoing violence and war in major oil producing countries creates fear that cause disruption in supply and unjustified gas price increases.
Radical leaders in oil producing countries have publicly stated their disfavor toward the U.S. and our western ways.
China and India’s exploding economies hunger for fossil fuel take action to secure their supplies outside their country.
Oil producing countries threaten to switch from trading oil for U.S. dollars to trading oil for the Euro or Gold causing a continued free fall in the value of the dollar. All spelling large increases in the cost of oil and gas for the U.S. Some predict the cost of oil doubling or tripling in just a few years.
Some energy experts believe the U.S. is on the verge of an energy crisis, our utility grid runs at near capacity during peak demand barely meeting the needs of consumers and industry.
What can we do!?!?
We are OK with the idea of our current fuel cost, but what happens when our source for fossil fuel is depleted and the cost doubles or triples within a few months? What will we do?!?! We must start turning away from the dependence on foreign fossil fuel by developing our own energy sources. This is a critical time to start moving away from our addiction to foreign fossil fuel and face up to possible change in our life style if needed. “Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail”! We must look outside the box and get ready for a possible energy crisis. It is not “if” we are going to have an energy crisis, it is “when”.
We are dedicated to providing information on optional and alternative energy sources allowing you to be “energy independent” before this coming energy crisis.
Beyondfossilfuel.com will be providing information on the benefits using blended bio fuels like biodiesel, as well as providing information on other energy/fuel sources such as hydrogen, solar, wind, natural gas and more. We want to help you find the energy resources we have here in the U.S., so we can become FREE and Independent. We also need to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced from burning coal and oil. Global warming is only going to get worse if we do not start the process to reverse it.
Renewable Biofuels and Alternative Fuels
Beyond Fossil Fuel is dedicated to providing the best information about all sorts of alternative fuels and energy sources. Educating the public about the benefits of clean burning, cheap renewable and alternative fuel sources will be the first step to improving the environment and protecting our freedoms.
What is Biodiesel?
Biodiesel is produced from vegetable oils and animal fats. The most popular oils used for Biodiesel include soybean oil and restaurant grease. Soybeans are one of the least expensive livestock feeds on the market, making soy oil one of the least expensive vegetable oils available. 7.3 pounds of soybean oil will produce one gallon of biodiesel. Costing 20 cents per pound, one gallon of biodiesel would cost $1.50 using soybeans. If cold pressing is used when extracting the oil, a co-product called soy bean cake is produced. This soybean cake can be used as livestock feed leaving nothing to waste. Selling the soybean cake for livestock feed reduces the cost of the soy oil used for Biodiesel. Recycled restaurant grease is a low cost form of biodiesel. Some industry suppliers claim they can produce B100 fuel as low as .46 cents per gallon.
There are different forms of Biodiesel from simple filtered vegetable oil to Biodiesel that is produced from oil that is chemically reacted with alcohol or methanol. This type of processing produces a co-product called Glycerol. In either case the oil or fats must be thoroughly filtered to remove any water or contaminants.
The most popular and widely tested use of Biodiesel is blend fuel using 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum (B20) diesel. This blend can be used in the majority of diesel engines without any engine modification. Auto manufactures like Dodge have approved the use of (B20) biodiesel in a few of their vehicles.
B100 may require certain engine modifications to prevent gelling which would cause performance problems and maintenance issues. Some conversions warm the oil preventing the oil gelling at colder temperatures. A two fuel tank system is used in many of these conversions. The smaller tank holds petroleum diesel which is used at engine start up. After the engine warms up, the B100 fuel is then warmed. At this point the driver switches to the larger primary tank holding the B100. Before the engine is shut down the driver switches back over to the smaller petroleum diesel tank purging the B100 fuel that may gel in the fuel lines when the engine cools.
Additives are available on the market to prevent low temperature gelling. These companies advertise a gel preventing additive that claims to mix with B100 and prevent low temperature gelling without any modifications to the engine. If this product stands the test of time it could provide a flexible and wider use of B100.
The Biodiesel industry can currently supply 5% of the on road diesel use in the U.S.
What is Ethanol Fuel?
Ethanol is an alternative fuel that is fermented and distilled from forms of sugar and starch crops including corn, barley, and wheat. New special forms of yeast have allowed the introduction of waist agriculture products like corn stalks, trees and switchgrass. Other more specialized forms of yeast have allowed companies to produce ethanol out of “old” candy, newspaper, and grass clippings. Yeast from certain beetles has allowed some to turn certain types of garbage into ethanol. Granddad’s “corn still” is not the only way to produce ethanol anymore.
President Bush’s energy bill that passed in 2005 requires 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol to be part of the nation’s economy by 2012. Bush wants research funding to produce ethanol “not from corn”, but from wood byproducts, stalks, and switchgrass. Alabama alone not only produces a tremendous amount of biomass material from agriculture and timber, it has 2 million tons of poultry litter produced in the state each year which ethanol can be produced from. The Bush administration has mandated the country to get 30% of its transportation fuel from biomass by 2030. This is not nearly enough to ensure our freedom and to help the environment; it is something to improve on. America can produce a billion tons of biomass each year which will reach the 30% target Bush has mandated. We would replace the oil we require from the Middle East and more! Forestry if used with the environment in mind could produce about 368 billion tons and agriculture could produce almost a billion on its own. Together this is 1.3 billion tons.
Most vehicles that are not flexible fuel vehicles can run on a lower blend of ethanol E10 (10% ethanol and 90% gasoline) without any issues. Some areas of the country mandate commercial vehicles to run E10 fuel to improve air quality.
The most widely used blend of ethanol is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline which creates what is known as an E85 blend. Vehicles that are designed to run on the E85 blend are called flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs). These vehicles are offered by several manufactures including Ford, and GM. In 2004 Hoover, Alabama, sixth largest city, purchased flexible fuel Chevrolet Tahoes for its police department. As of December 2005 they were saving 40 cents a gallon with the conversion from 100% unleaded gas to E85. The officers really like the fuel because there is no odor like gas. There have been no maintenance issues in their fleet of Chevy Tahoes. In fact the opposite has been true. The soot and carbon build up normally found from burning fossil fuel has been eliminated with the E85 fuel. With the reduced wear from the soot they expect the engines to last longer.
Ethanol is clear liquid that can have a sweet flavor. It can be produced from sugar or biomaterials that can be converted into sugar. Corn can easily be converted into sugar. Biomass including trees, grasses and agriculture byproducts like stalks can be converted to starch with additional effort. The sugar from the material is dissolved out or the starch is converted to sugar. The sugar is fed to microbes that produce alcohol and carbon dioxide in the process.
Most E85 fuel stations are located in the Midwest, but the amount of E85 fuel stations are growing throughout the nation. Due to the fact Ethanol can be produced from a vast amount of products and waste material, tremendous opportunities await those that plan to take advantage of this market in all areas from production to distribution. The large amount of flexible fuel vehicles being produced also offer a bright future for ethanol as an alternative fuel.
What is Natural Gas Alternative Fuel?
Natural gas is produced from gas wells or through crude oil production. Natural gas is considered an alternative fuel due to its clean burning qualities and domestic availability. It can be stored and transported in a compressed gas state or liquid form.
Natural gas is readily available through an extensive nation wide infrastructure. Natural gas vehicles burn much cleaner than gas or diesel vehicles. A 90% reduction of carbon monoxide can be obtained when using natural gas over gasoline or diesel. The majority of natural gas used by the United States is produced domestically. Some experts believe large deposits of natural gas are available off the east coast of Florida. If these deposits could be safely harvested it could increase the domestic supply of natural gas which could reduce the cost to the consumer. When natural gas is produced from reservoirs, contaminants must be removed to meet standards to move the gas through the pipeline infrastructure. Water and sulfur must be monitored and removed as needed. The extensive pipeline infrastructure gives every continental state access to natural gas allowing natural gas vehicles to be easily refueled at most residence or commercial locations.
As of 2005 there are over 130,000 natural gas vehicles in the U.S. using both gas and liquid forms of natural gas. Vehicles can be 100% natural gas powered or use a combination of natural gas and gasoline or diesel fuel. Separate fuel tanks would be needed in vehicles that use a combination of fuels. The user can switch from natural gas to gasoline or diesel when needed. Better performance and lower emissions can be obtained from using natural gas over gasoline or diesel. One out of five transit buses in the U.S. are fueled with natural gas. These vehicles have fuel tanks that can withstand high impact, making them equivalent to conventional gasoline and diesel fuel tanks. The cost to operate a natural gas vehicle can be less than the cost of operating gasoline or diesel vehicles. The cost to purchase a natural gas vehicle or retrofit a conventional vehicle is higher. Retrofitting could cost up to $4,000.00.
Experts have found that natural gas can be used to make hydrogen used in fuel cells. Fuel cells hold a bright future for alternate fuel source vehicles. One of the greatest benefits of natural gas alone is the reduction of 90% of the carbon monoxide produced over gas or diesel vehicles.
What is Solar Power?
Solar Power currently provides less than 1 percent of the electricity produced in the U.S. Coal provides half of the nations supply followed by nuclear power and natural gas at 20 percent each.
There are three ways to harvest the sun’s energy. Solar cells called, photovoltaic, or photoelectric cells convert sun light directly into electricity. On a sunny day one square meter of a solar panel can power a 100W light bulb. Solar panels were originally developed to power satellites. Most photovoltaic cells sold today are made of silicon which is the same material found in computer chips. Photovoltaic cells made from silicon are bulky and expensive to manufacture. New photovoltaic cells made from organic chemicals using nanotechnology should dramatically lower the cost of the production of solar energy. This nanotechnology comes from a mixture of titania (an organic chemical used in sunscreen and toothpaste). This new technology can be placed on thin film or sprayed on like paint. Clothing coated with the composite could be used to recharge batteries or power small electronic devices. Hydrogen powered cars painted with the material could be used to recharge the car’s battery. Plastic material coated with the composite could be rolled across large areas of desert creating solar farms which have no moving parts, and are environmentally safe and clean. Current silicon technology can only harvest the sun’s visible light. The other half of the sunlight is in the infrared spectrum. The new nanotechnology is able to harvest this infrared portion in the form of heat. The heat is detected by nano particles called quantum dots. Theorists predict nanotechnology could become five times more efficient than the current silicon technology.
Solar water heating from the sun normally supplements the heat produced by gas or electric water heating systems. Water or other liquids are pumped through black pipes that are enclosed in panels that have direct sunlight.
Solar Furnaces use an enormous array of mirrors to concentrate the sunlight to a small location which produces very high temperatures that can be as high as 33,000 degrees Celsius. The multiple mirrors used on a Solar Furnace tracks the sun as it moves across the sky and concentrates this energy into one spot. This concentrated energy is then directed to an oil furnace which would create steam to turn a turbine. The turbine would then generate electricity. Today’s best solar cells only convert 20 to 30 percent of the sun’s energy into electricity. Multiple mirrors can also be directed to a solar cell increasing the efficiency of the panel by the number of mirrors directed to the solar cell. This could cut the cost of solar power by half.
Solar towers are built above a large greenhouse which is warmed by the sun. The middle of the greenhouse is a very tall tower. Hot air rises and moves quickly through the tower where the air turns turbines.
Solar energy is free and clean.
Energy can be produced from remote places.
After installation the system is low maintenance.
It is not available at night and cloud cover reduces efficiency.
Solar cells are currently very expensive compared to the electricity the current technology produces.
A very sunny climate is required.
What is Wind Power?
Wind power is the fastest growing alternative energy source in the United States. The capacity has grown 32% annually for the past five years. The industry had a record breaking year in 2005 installing over 2,400 megawatts, or 3 billion dollars worth of generating equipment in 22 states. This jump in megawatts generated equated to a 35% increase in the wind power fleet. This brought the total generating capacity to 9,149 megawatts which is enough to provide electricity to power 2.3 million homes. President Bush has stated, “Areas with good wind resources have the potential to supply up to 20% of the electric consumption of the U.S.” The wind power industry has proven it has the capabilities to contribute to the nations power needs at a level conventional power sources offer
Large players including General Electric and MidAmerican Energy which Warren Buffett owns 80%, are scrambling for a piece of the market. Buffett plans to build the largest wind farm in Iowa. Starting in 1999 MidAmerican began purchasing 60% of the energy generated at a northwest Iowa wind farm. The wind farm produces enough electricity to power 72,000 homes. MidAmerican also owns and operates a second wind farm in north central Iowa. Both wind farms have the capacity to produce 360.5 megawatts which can provide electricity to over 100,000 homes. Wind turbines have provided a new cash crop for landowners who agree to install the units on their land. The landowners receive an annual payment from the utility.
New wind turbines that have recently come on the market are only 45 feet high (compared with 100 feet for a conventional model). These new units are designed for properties as small as a half acre and can provide power for homes or businesses. New low friction alternator technology and new blade designs can produce electricity in winds as low as five miles per hour. These new units are also very quiet.
Wind energy is safe, clean, domestic, and we have an abundant source of wind. Wind energy is one of the best options we have for alternative sources of energy.
What are Hydrogen Fuel Cells?
Hydrogen Fuel Cells produce electricity from a reaction of oxygen from the air and water. A conventional combustion engine using oxygen and fossil fuel is burned or oxidized which produces heat and mechanical motion. A fuel cell also uses oxidization to produce electricity. When powered by hydrogen the only by-product is heat and water. A fuel cell is made up of many thin flat cells layered together each producing electricity. Electricity is produced when hydrogen and oxygen from the air are fed into the proton exchange membrane fuel cell stack. Enough electricity can be produced to power electric vehicles.
Currently in the U.S. there are no hydrogen fuel cell vehicles being produced for the public, only a few demonstration vehicles can be found. Passenger buses and long-haul trucks are primarily being used to test and demonstrate fuel cells. Japan has developed a hybrid fuel cell train which uses diesel engines for two thirds of its power, and the other third is provided by two electric engines powered by fuel cells. The industry is just starting to test and develop these vehicles, so there is no reliability data available. It is also too early to know what the cost of the first production vehicles will be. Due to the current technical and cost barriers as well as the need for an infrastructure to support the vehicles, it may take 10 to 20 years before hydrogen vehicles will be in production. There are a few hydrogen fuel stations being built mainly for the purpose of demonstration. Much needs to be tested and developed before fuel cells can be used for everyday purposes. Some of the challenges the industry is facing include reducing cost, increasing the durability in extreme conditions, and increasing the reliability to produce consistent energy.
Hydrogen is a renewable resource that can be produced from unlimited resources making the fuel cell very important to the United States transportation system. Hydrogen can be extracted from natural gas or other fossil fuels, or from methane gas produced from landfills or animal waste. Hydrogen can be produced using domestic resources which include natural gas, coal, biomass, nuclear as well as solar, hydro-electric, and wind.
The benefits from using pure hydrogen to power fuel cell vehicles include zero emissions which will provide for cleaner air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Using pure hydrogen produces only water vapor. Fuel cells are expected to be twice as efficient as domestic gasoline combustion engines. Energy independence from imported oil could be achieved by the nation by the use of fuel cell technology. When fuel cell technology is developed where it is cost effective and efficient to use, it will revolutionize the way the nation is powered.
What is Hydroelectric Power?
Hydroelectric power supplies about 19% of the world’s electricity. It produces no carbon dioxide or other harmful emissions compared to fossil fuels and/or gas. Hydroelectric power can be less expensive than electricity generated by fossil fuel. The Tennessee Valley Authority or (TVA) is America’s leading provider of hydroelectric energy. TVA maintains 29 hydroelectric dams throughout the Tennessee River system.
Small scale hydro power or micro-hydro power is increasingly used as an alternative energy source. It is becoming popular in remote areas where other power sources are not available. Small scale hydro power systems can be installed on small streams or rivers without the use of a dam which makes the system environmentally friendly, and legal issues with water rights would be reduced. The U.S. government supports the use of small scale hydro systems with grants, tax benefits, and loans.
The micro-hydro turbine system is the most environmentally friendly system to make electricity. The turbine can be as small as 10 centimeters in diameter and consists of spoon shaped cups arranged around the center wheel. Jets of high pressure water causes the wheel to spin a shaft at high speeds which can be used to power electrical generators, pumps, fans, and more. The high pressure water required for a micro-hydro system can be supplied by water that flows down into a pipe above the micro-hydro turbine. The lower pipe then directs the water to nozzles aimed at the micro-turbine. The greater the distance from where the water enters and exits the pipe the greater the water pressure coming from the lower pipe will be.
Micro-hydro systems are simple to install, plus pipes and generators are inexpensive and easy to find. They are small enough to be installed without heavy equipment. The system requires only a small amount of water flow that can be provided by a small stream. Landowners with small streams can take advantage of this clean inexpensive alternative fuel source reducing their dependency on local utilities.
Beyondfossilfuel.com was created from people with a tremendous interest in alternative fuels. Through years of complacency we have been dependent on foreign oil for a large amount of our energy needs. By reducing our dependence on foreign oil through the development of alternative energy sources, we can declare our “ENERGY INDEPENCENCE”. Our web site is dedicated to provide information and resources for everyone who has an interest in being “energy independent” and to better the future for our children by protecting our environment.
Our energy needs are increasing every year while the United States domestic production of energy has not been able to keep up the pace. Government environmental regulations and global warming concerns are making it not cost effective or ethical to build new nuclear plans or harvest fossil fuel domestically. Complaining does not help the energy problem, but charging forward with the development of alternative sources will move us toward our goal of “energy independence”. The United States is the most technology advanced nation in the world. We must place our resources toward the research and development of hydrogen fuel cells, bio-diesel, ethanol and other alternative energy sources. We must develop these alternative fuels where they cost less to produce, and be efficient to fulfill our nation’s energy needs for the next 200 years.
With the supply of fossil fuels in limited supply, the demand will be increasing the cost for this energy to historically high levels within the next few years. These levels will not only affect the individual at the pump, but it will increase the cost of everything, slowing our economy and making the future for our children grim. We can not wait until gas is $8.00 a gallon, we must explore every other energy source we can find.
The most important reason for lessing our dependance on fossil fuel is to reduce the carbon emissions put in the air from our vechiles and power plants. If our planet keeps warming there will be more and more climate change that could hinder our future safety.
Beyondfossilfuel.com is your resource for the latest alternative fuel technology available. You can now take advantage of these resources making you “energy independent”.