Getting ready for the oil crunch

2011-03-21 07:29

Cow urine, sawdust, liquified rubbish... all these could save the planet, our wallets and power our cars.

Petrol, which is just becoming more and more expensive thanks to trouble in the Middle East and increased worldwide consumption, is also going to run out at some stage.

Fortunately there are mad scientists all around the globe looking at new fuel sources, even though some of those sources seem very unlikely.

There are sufficient oil resources to power fuel-hungry consumers until 2030, but political uncertainty in oil producing countries has hastened the search for alternative fuels, according to the South African Energy Research Institute (Saneri).

So, in anticipation of a possible “Armageddon of oil,” South Africa currently has three main “green” fuel projects under way.

In Langlaagte, Johannesburg, compressed natural gas is provided to industrial customers and filling stations with no access to the natural gas pipeline.

Using this gas, engines stay and run cleaner with less carbon deposits. Saneri esitimates that it can reduce a monthly fuel bill by between 20% and 30%.

The second project is the use of liquified petroleum gas (LPG) which is a low-carbon emitting hydrocarbon. It is non-toxic so it poses no risk to water or soil resources.

LPG is available at the Sasol-LPG station in Isando.

Thirdly, the production of an electric car which is powered by a solar charging carport is being developed in Midrand.

“Electric cars are the most efficient type of vehicles - they are between 70% to 80% efficient, whereas petrol cars are between 15% to 20% and diesel cars can reach up to 25% efficiency,” says Carel Snyman, director at the Green Transport centre in Midrand.

Recently, scientists at the Ohio State University have developed a new technology which converts urine and urea to pure hydrogen that powers cars.

Cows urinate a lot, and the scientists are now looking at collecting this urine from farms and turning it into fuel.

And in California filling up your tank may just become as easy as taking a walk to your rubbish bin.

The state’s waste management company takes the rubbish collected, liquefies and purifies it and then uses it to fuel their trucks.

In a day, this facility produces up to 37 000 litres of fuel.

Experiments done in Russia have shown that fuel does not have to be in liquid form.

Their transport department is looking into using sawdust to power aircraft.

The Japanese Genepax car can travel roughly 80?kilometres an hour on just one litre of water as its fuel source.

The car uses hydrogen electrons from water to produce electricity which powers the motor of the car.

The downside of hydrogen is that it is very expensive to produce, distribute and store.

The nations most prepared to use renewable alternative energy are the USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, India and Spain.

They have made considerable investments into renewable energy technology according to bionomicfuel.com.

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