The Alternative Fuel Race: Which One Will Go the Distance?

Since the discovery of fire a million years ago, man has gone a long way in developing sources of energy to support his way of living. Of the world’s current energy sources, about 95% come from fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and petroleum. (Cunningham & Saigo, 1997). With issues such as pollution, global warming, and energy conservation, alternative fuel sources emerged, with the competitive vision of erasing the need for fossil fuels in cars.

Implementing an alternative for petroleum in vehicles entails many concerns, such as availability, cost of production, energy output, and level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Farrell et al. , 2006; Hill et al. , 2006). At present, ethanol, battery power, and hybrids are available as alternative fuel sources for passenger vehicles. The question now is: which of these three has what it takes to replace fossil fuels? This research paper aims to give an overview of three alternative fuel options for passenger vehicles existing today: ethanol, battery power, and hybrid cars.

The data and issues presented in this paper should provide information to the general public about the pros and cons of each, and hopefully will aid in the decision as to which alternative fuel is the best option for possibly replacing fossil fuels in passenger cars. To examine each alternative fuel option, the researcher uses information gathered from peer-reviewed journals and news articles published within the past decade. Each of the three topics for investigation is first defined before data is presented and interpreted.

The data covers a brief explanation of each fuel option, including statistics and results from studies conducted on them. Also included in this report are economic and environmental pros and cons of the three presented options for passenger cars. This paper does not give mention to the implications of ethanol, battery power, and hybrids on industries other than passenger vehicles. Furthermore, this research does not cover political and cultural issues affecting the implementation of alternative fuels.

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