Fuel Economies Explained

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- A fuel economy incluedes the main fuel(s) used, how they are made, and how they are distributed etc

- They each have their own benifits, and difficulties

- The world is currently in a transition period from fossil fuels to whatever comes next

- We transitioned from a wood based economy to a fossil fuel based fuel economy during the industrial revolutions (to coal primarily during the first, then to hydrocarbons during the seccond)

- In all honesty a mixed economy is best; only one is not a requirement, it is just what happened with the fossil fuel economy.

Commonly Existing Types

Wood and/or other Biomass

- The most basic

- The most common in the developing world

- Consists of a fuel economy where wood and other burnable biomass are the main fuels

- Is usually usustainable due to improper foret management + logging practices (Deforestation)

- With improvements it could be a good system

- Only works with external combustion engines, or syngas

Fossil Fuel

- Consists of Coal, Oil, and Natural Gas as the primary fuels

- The most refined+researched+optimized

- The most common in the developed world

- Unsustainable + Highly Polluting

Semi-Commonly Existing Types

Ethanol Economy

- Consists of Ethanol as the primary fuel

- Is somewhat refined+researched+optimized

- Is common in areas with high ammounts of sugary feedstocks (such as Brazil with sugarcane)

- Is widely used in blends, and less frequently by itself

- Is less energy dense than gasoline

- Can easily run into food vs fuel conflicts (such as the USA with corn based ethanol)

Biodiesel Economy

- Consists of Diesel Fuel made from waste oil, or pure feedstock oil, as the primary fuel

- Is refined+researched+optimized

- Is quite common

- Is equal in energy density to standard diesel fuel

- Can also easiy be made small scale

- Can run into food vs fuel conflicts (such as when soybean oil is used), but this can be avoided by using waste oil

Near Future Economies

Methane Economy

- Has Methane, Methanol, Dimethyl-Ether, and Synthetic Fuels (hydrocarbons made from methane synthetically), as the primary fuels

- Is researched, and proven, but not commercialized/optimized (yet)

- Can directly replace all current fuels

- May have issues with small scale production of the more advanced fuels, but Compressed/Liquified Methane and Methanol/Dimethyl-Ether, should be easy enough at small scale

- Shouldn't really have fuel vs food conflicts

- Can use a variety of feedstocks (electrolysed hydrogen, syngas, bioloically sourced methane, biologically sourced methanol)

Hydrogen Economy

- Pure Hydrogen is the primary fuel

- Is still in need of some research+commercal scaling (especially in storage)

- Can easily be used in fuel cells, and can be burned in modified engines/burners

- It is hard to store efficiently (except for cryogenic storage as of now)

- This may become etter as technology grows

- May also work well in stationary applications (such as energy storage)

See Also


Useful Links