Alternatives to Oil/Petroleum
Petroleum and its by-products manufactured from crude oil are major sources of energy used as fuels for different forms of transportation, industry, and domestic electricity. Petroleum has also been used to manufacture several products, such as cosmetics, tyres, pesticides, and plastics, which are important components of daily life. Countries that have historically depended on the production and exportation of oil and petroleum have made a massive economic gain. However, in the recent past, there have been increased calls to reduce the over-reliance and usage of petroleum due to its negative economic impacts. Consequently, the campaign has been centred on adopting an alternative to oil/petroleum, such as renewable energy, natural gas, biodiesel, electricity, and bio-alcohol. In this essay, the alternative sources of oil/petroleum are discussed, including their costs and effectiveness.
For many decades, issues have been raised about harmful effects of the petroleum on the environment. Oil and petroleum products have significantly contributed to the causes of climate change that is a serious threat to the environment today. Research has established that burning oil is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emission and therefore it is the major force behind climate change (Mitchell et al. 24). The consequences of climate change on the environment pose a massive threats to human activities as well as animal and plants existence.
Biodiesel is a renewable alternative fuel manufactured from vegetable oils, animal fats, and recycled restaurant grease. Biodiesel can be used as alternative energy in diesel vehicles are since it bears the same physical similarities to petroleum diesel, but burns cleaner (Mutlu, Esra, et al. 516). Although it produces the same amount of carbon dioxide and hydrocarbonates to the atmosphere, the amount produced is significantly smaller than that of conventional diesel. Biodiesel burns clean, more efficient, and is also considered much safer (Lawrence 81). Biodiesel is also considered cost-friendly than petroleum because vegetable oil is relatively cheaper thus the use of renewable cooking oil is cost-effective. Biofuels prices have been reducing and have the potential to be significantly less expensive than gasoline and other fossil fuels (Mutlu, Esra, et al. 512).
Bioalcohol, such as ethanol is also becoming an increasingly common alternative to oil/petroleum. Ethanol is an alcohol-based alternative source manufactured by fermenting and distilling crops like corns, barley, and wheat (Lawrence 79). Bioalcohol is a primary source of energy, which provides convenient fuels for storing and transporting energy since it can be used in internal combustion engine as alternative fuels. Ethanol has been associated with a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emission (Kopp para 7). Ethanol materials are cheap, with the already existing infrastructure to deal with it thus making it a cost-effective alternative. With the increased government subsidy in the United States, corn bases ethanol price is becoming competitive while the cost is relatively becoming cheaper (Lawrence 79). However, ethanol is an ineffective alternative because it has less energy than petrol, which implies that one requires more ethanol than petrol.
Natural gas can also be an effective alternative to oil and petroleum because it burns clean and is readily accessible to many people in different countries. Although natural gas is considered a fossil fuel, the existence of renewable natural gas makes it suitable to be used as an alternative fuel (Greenemeier para 4). Vehicles with specially designed gas and diesel engines have the capability of using compressed natural gas, which is clean, odourless, and non-corrosive gas (Lawrence 78). Natural gas also produces low greenhouse gas emission and is therefore friendly to the environment compared gasoline and diesel. From the cost-benefit analysis perspective, a person using natural gas as an alternative to diesel and gasoline is likely to save $382 and $210 per year, respectively (Greenemeier para 5). Although its reserves are in plenty and gives a lot of energy, natural gas is not effective because it is a non-renewable source.
Electricity can also be used as an alternative to transportation fuel for battery powered vehicle and fuel-cell vehicle. As a result of advancement in battery technology, it has become increasingly feasible to use electricity as fuel (Greenemeier para 7). In the recent past, the introduction and usage of electric vehicles have been in the rise around the world despite the slow acceptance. Various governments, including the U.S have taken initiative and introduced incentives and subsidies to encourage people to purchase electric vehicles as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emission resulting from combustion of diesel empowered engine (Lawrence 79). It is also evident that many hybrid vehicles have adopted the use of electricity to lower consumption as well as the cost of fuel. Using electricity for transportation is considered highly effective and efficient since the electricity network is already in existence.
Despite the fact that oil/petroleum products are useful to the human being, they have been associated with negative environmental impacts that are detrimental to human health and also a threat to the existence of plant and animals. Research on the best alternative to oil and petroleum has not been successfully concluded amidst urgent need to develop cost-effective alternatives. However, there is universal concurrent that biodiesel, ethanol, natural gas, and electricity can be the most suitable alternative to oil/petroleum.