Alternative Fuels - Pros and Cons
This day in age, one of the world’s main concerns is energy. Currently, we rely on petroleum to run our cars, and household central heat, and electricity in our homes. Petroleum is not only limited, but it is also dirtying up the world’s air, and depleting the ozone layer as it is burned. Alternative fuels are one of the worlds most talked about issues, and many solutions have been brought forth, yet none of them have been sophisticatedly acted upon. Through the list of pros and cons, one shall determine the importance of alternative fuels, and how bad the pros outweigh the cons, thus forcing the reality of the matter that we need to start moving towards these alternate forms of energy, and fuel. Despite the minor faults in using alternative fuels, the pros are very evident, and exploration of this matter should definitely be a factor in the studies of scientists.
Solar energy is described as harnessing the sun’s rays in a number of different ways. Solar energy is said to be very clean, quite safe and obviously free. The main method of capturing the sun’s energy is through cells in solar panels, or pads. This energy is then converted to a direct current type of energy, the same as what is used in batteries. Solar power may be found on certain cars, some homes, and on RV’s. (Richard P. Turco, Carl Sagan, 2002)
Most people use it on their cars, as a trickle charger for their batteries, so that if they leave a small accessory on in their car, they will not return to a dead battery, and no way home. Solar energy lacks the need for waste disposal, as it does not produce any harmful by products, or emit dangerous fumes, or liquids. The problem with these solar energy panels is that they often break down, and they do not function properly many times. They are also very high in cost, and require much maintenance. When used in a residential setting, in order to receive high output by these panels, there needs to be a large amount of panels. These panels are normally sold in eight by four rectangles, and to have enough to power your house, the average household would need ten thousand square feet of panels. This would be quite a chunk out of one’s pocket book, ranging in very high prices. (De Romana, Carlos, 2004).
Another non-depleting energy vein that we are able to tap into is wind. Wind power is generated when large, slow moving wind turbines are spun with the wind, thus causing a coil inside to generate electricity. These are seen throughout the Great Plains, and many other flats. These are generally not powerful enough, unless they are built in large numbers. Many times, around two hundred are built in one area, to produce for the nearest city or town.
Although these do produce some good, usable energy, as with all things, they have some problems. Wind does not always blow, and when the wind stops, so does the energy. Sun is not always shining, for solar energy, but they have cells to store energy for nightfall. Wind Turbines are also a big concern for birds. Migrating or locals, flying birds of all kinds are in danger from a twenty-food diameter of spinning death. This has been a concern of PETA and other animal protection agencies.
Another type of fuel is Biofuel. This type of energy is produced through different types of wastes. Potato peels, whey, turkey guts, and frying oil are all types of wastes that can be converted into biofuel. This is a relatively new scientific breakthrough in the hunt for a more efficient energy source. The good thing about using biofuel is that it is clean, and can get rid of our wastes, while benefiting us. Acid rain, caused by modern petroleum engines, would be non existent when biofuels are burned. The burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of acid rain. (Robert Q. Riley, Wroshik Chee, 2003)
Many people have already started doing this and have found a source of pre-biofuel. They buy converters for their diesel engines for about one thousand dollars, and run it off of used grease from restaurants. This serves as a benefit for both the customer, and the restaurant owner, in that the customer gets free biofuel, while the restaurant owner gets free disposal of the grease.
Many restaurants pay annually for this service, and continue to pay it through the years. Now, with the future of petroleum engines, the restaurants won’t have to pay for this service. They now may be able to charge for it if the demand gets to a high enough level, which does not seem unfeasible if a city of sixteen thousand is looking for the fuel when their city only has thirty restaurants. This method seems perfect, but there is a major flaw. When burning biofuel instead of petroleum, the driving distances are greatly reduced. (De Romana, Carlos, 2004)
Dams are another major source of power. The Hoover Dam is a big source of energy for surrounding areas. Hydroelectric power is produced by very large turbines, which are spun by the immense water pressure leaving the blockaded portion of the river. This invention is ingenious, in that the rivers are a virtually never-ending source. These dams also produce another complaint by animal rights activists, because migratory fish are unable to swim up-river. This causes many deaths in the salmon family. (Yvonne Jeffery, Liz Barclay, Michael Grosvenor, 2008)
There are very many opportunities to put Mother Nature to work for us, in order to replace our current harmful technologies of energy. The human race was not put on Earth to destroy it, but merely to exist and prosper. This we will find is not as easy as it sounds, but we could start on it by pursuing the alternate energy forms. We already have the outline and the rough draft, all we need is the final copy. If we could get these pros and cons out to the public, there may be a good chance that we will be seeing more of these alternate fuel sources in the near future.