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Alternative Fuels for a Better Future by City-Tech Blogger Benny Lui

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / UCSUSA

Natural gas is created deep beneath the Earth’s surface. Natural gas consists mainly of methane and a small amount of hydrocarbon gas liquids and nonhydrocarbon liquids. Natural gases are used as a fuel for powerplants, heating, cooking, and even cars. Even though most natural things can be a huge benefit, using them the wrong way can entail heavy consequences.

Natural gas is a fossil fuel which releases CO2 after combustion. The CO2 then enters the atmosphere and contributes to our climate nemesis, global warming. Although CO2 emissions from natural gas can be up to 50-60% lower than coal and oil, it is still a major source CO2 contributing to climate change. Natural gas can also be the source of powerful greenhouse gas inputs: “The drilling and extraction of natural gas from wells and its transportation in pipelines results in the leakage of methane, primary component of natural gas that is 34 times stronger than CO2 at trapping heat over a 100-year period and 86 times stronger over 20 years”.

An alternative people invented to replace natural gas involve electricity based products like electric cars, hybrid cars, and also a vegetable-derived fuel known as ethanol. Electric cars, as stated in their name, are fully electric powered vehicles that will produce less CO2 through hardware modification and enhancement. Hybrid cars are cars which use both natural gas or conventional fuels but also electric batteries. Electric vehicles are not completely CO2 free but still environmentally perform better than cars that rely solely on fossil fuels and produce more CO2. Some NYC MTA buses are now hybrid and use partly electric power. Vegetable oil based fuels are not as common yet, also called straight vegetable oil or pure plant oil. The downside of vegetable oil fuel is that it may cause damage to the vehicle hardware if not used properly, but I believe with time and technology improvement a better formula for the oil fuel can be found. Maybe a more robust fuel tank can be invented specifically for the vegetable oil. Humans are actively trying to improve the atmosphere to prevent any more future climate changes and alternative fuels is part of the solution.

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