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Biofuels

Transportation accounts for 65 percent of U.S. oil consumption and is the predominant source of air pollution. New transportation technologies are intended to improve the efficiency and emissions of vehicles using petroleum-based fuels, provide cleaner-burning alternative fuels, and reduce the quantity of miles individual vehicles travel on our roads and highways.

What are biofuels?

Biofuels are derived from biological feed stocks (corn, soy, sugarcane, etc.) that are available as renewable sources of fuel.

• Biodiesel – a low-polluting diesel alternative made from vegetable oils, animal fats, and even recycled cooking greases.

• Ethanol – an alcohol-based fuel derived from crops such as corn, barley, and wheat. Ethanol can be blended with gasoline in varying concentrations. E85, for example, is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

Many other alternative fuels are being used today in place of gasoline and diesel fuel, including:

• Natural gas – domestically produced and available to end-users through the utility infrastructure. It can either be stored onboard a vehicle as compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG). Natural gas also can be blended with hydrogen.

• Electricity – stored in batteries or produced onboard.

• Propane – produced as a by-product of natural gas processing and crude oil refining.

• Liquids made from coal - gasoline and diesel fuel that doesn't come from petroleum.

Alternative-Fuel Vehicles

Alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) use alternative fuels instead of gasoline or diesel fuel. AFVs range in size and shape, from small commuter cars to large 18-wheeler trucks. A number of automobile manufacturers offer light-duty vehicles for personal transportation.

AFVs are well-suited for fleets in certain "niche" markets. Taxi fleets, for example, with high-mileage vehicles that drive fairly centralized routes, may benefit from using a less expensive alternative fuel such as natural gas or propane. Local delivery fleets-with low mileage, high-use vehicles that frequently idle in traffic or must often start and stop may be good candidates for electric vehicles. Medium- and heavy-duty AFV applications include transit buses, airport shuttles, delivery trucks and vans, school buses, refuse haulers, and street sweepers.

AFV Types

• Flex-Fuel Vehicles can be fueled with gasoline or, depending on the vehicle, with either methanol (M85) or ethanol (E85). The vehicles have one tank and can accept any mixture of gasoline and the alternative fuel.

• Bifuel or Dual-Fuel Vehicles have two tanks—one for gasoline and one for either natural gas or propane, depending on the vehicle. The vehicles can switch between the two fuels.

• Dedicated Vehicles are designed to be fueled only with an alternative fuel. Electric vehicles are a special type of dedicated vehicle.

• Hybrid Vehicles combine the best features of two different energy sources, one of which is electric power. Until alternative fuels really catch on, hybrids can be a good choice. A hybrid gets about twice the fuel economy as a conventional car of the same size and capacity.

  • Plug-in hybrids will be available soon. These get about twice the fuel economy of a hybrid. A plug-in hybrid, running on biofuel (e.g., 85 percent ethanol) could almost entirely eliminate its use of petroleum.

Fueling

Alternative fuel stations are becoming increasingly popular across the country, as more consumers and agencies turn to clean fuels. Find out where these stations are using DOE's Alternative Fueling Station Locator .

Links

Alternative Fuels Data Center
The U.S. Department of Energy's very comprehensive source for information on alternative fuels. The site contains links to many other sites focusing on transportation. They also offer an Alternative Fuels Hotline at (800) 423-1363.

Alternative Fuel Vehicle Group
Provides news and information on the rapid advances in natural gas, biofuel, battery-electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.

Bozeman Biofuels
Looking for biofuels information with a local slant? Try Bozeman Biofuels website! Bozeman Biofuels was formed following the Bioneers conference in fall 2004. The group is committed to using alternative fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol. Its website offers useful information on biofuels, including where to purchase in Bozeman, links to other resources, and more.

Clean Cities
A locally-based government/industry partnership, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy to expand the use of alternatives to gasoline and diesel fuel. Web site provides information on alternative fuels and transportation, a listing of Clean Cities, Clean Cities documents, and other useful information.

Consumer's Guide to Renewable Energy in Arkansas
While intended for Arkansas residents and businesses, much of the information presented in this publication also applies to residents in other states. Includes useful information on solar, wind, and renewable fuels.

EERE: Transportation
Provides links to information on a host of topics related to alternative fuels and alternative-fuel vehicles.

EV Rental Cars
A rental car company that rents the most technologically advanced electric, natural gas and hybrid vehicles to the public from 12 major airports in the United States, to raise awareness of clean-fuel cars.

Green Car Institute
A nonprofit research organization that encourages the development and widespread use of alternative and clean fuel vehicles. Green Car Institute also places emphasis on related areas such as energy efficiency, recycling, and environmentally conscious manufacturing to promote understanding of these important and interconnected issues.

GreenerCars.com
The website for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy's (ACEEE) Green Book, an environmental guide to cars and trucks.

Hybrid Center
A website of the Union of Concerned Scientists that provides consumer and technological information on hybrid vehicles. Features include a hybrid buying guide, hybrid reviews, and hybrid incentives.

National Biodiesel Board
The national trade association representing the biodiesel industry as the coordinating body for research and development in the U.S. Website includes information on biodiesel and related topics.

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
The U.S. Department of Energy provides information on clean transportation technologies and related topics through its FreedomCAR & Vehicle Technologies Program . In addition, the Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Infrastructure Technology Program is helping to develop and introduce new clean technologies.

Renewable Energy Opportunities on the Farm
Renewable energy represents an important option for agricultural producers. This publication from the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service/ATTRA introduces three renewable energy resources that can be attractive and economically feasible for the farm: solar, wind, and renewable fuels. This is not a technical guide for designing or installing renewable energy systems but, instead, an overview that provides information on wind, solar, and renewable fuel technologies, cost and savings, site planning, and financial incentives. A list of resources follows the narrative.

Towards Sustainable Transportation
Makes available conference papers on alternative fuels from an international conference sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Environment Canada. 

Articles and Publications

Alternative Fuels
An Arkansas Energy Office publication that addresses alternative fuels, alternative-fuel vehicles, financial incentives, and fueling.

Biofuels for Your State
A DOE publication that provides a good overview of biofuels and their benefits. It also lists ethanol incentives by state.

Success Stories

Adopt-a-School Bus , Arkansas
A program that encourages members of the community to support the use of alternative fuels in buses to transport children to school. Local support is matched to pay additional costs for use of biodiesel in Arkansas public school buses.

National Clean Bus Leadership Recognition Program
The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) in October 2004 recognized six state and local initiatives for leading the nation in deploying cleaner bus fleets.

Truck in the Park
Profiles the Truck-in-the-Park project, which successfully demonstrates the use of low-emission, biodegradable fuel in Yellowstone National Park.

 


OTHER RENEWABLES
Bioenergy

Truck in the Park
Bioenergy Links

Fuel Cells

Geothermal

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Geothermal Projects

Geothermal Links

Hydropower

Hydropower Projects

Hydropower Links

Bioenergy

Truck in the Park

Bioenergy Links

 

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