Alternative fuels: An introduction

Research has been concerned with the development of alternative fuels for years. One of the reasons for this is that there are only limited oil stocks on earth. The dependence on oil can thus be reduced.

The goal of biofuels is also to reduce environmentally harmful CO2 emissions. So far, many of the alternative energy sources are mainly used as additives to fuels such as diesel and gasoline or are still in the development stage. Alternative fuel can be used for the best fishing kayaks but it’s important to know that not all alternative fuels are the same.

Some of the alternative fuels


Biodiesel is made from esterified vegetable oils, such as rapeseed oil or sunflower oil, and methanol. Esterification is a chemical process in which alcohol is added to the fatty acids in the oil. Today, seven percent biodiesel is already added to conventional diesel fuel. The use of biodiesel can reduce harmful emissions. It also promotes regional agriculture and energy security and diversity.

Natural gas

Natural gas is a non-toxic and odorless gas mixture that consists of around 97 percent methane. The alternative fuel is considered environmentally friendly and is tax-favored. Because driving with natural gas produces fewer emissions than with petrol or diesel.


The alternative fuel bioethanol is made from crops containing sugar or starch, such as sugar cane, sugar beet, but also grain, corn, and potatoes. This happens through a fermentation process of the food. Fermentation is a natural process in which food changes over time due to chemical processes.

Vegetable oil

Vegetable oil is also generally suitable as a fuel for vehicles. It is obtained by pressing or extraction from oil seeds, for example from rapeseed or sunflower seeds. Greenhouse gas emissions are similar to those of biodiesel. Vegetable oil is therefore very environmentally friendly.


Hydrogen can be an alternative fuel for cars. This allows fuel cell vehicles and vehicles with a hydrogen combustion engine to run. The energy stored in methanol or in hydrogen is converted into electrical energy in the fuel cell without emissions. This happens through a reaction with oxygen.

The problem so far is that there are hardly any filling stations that offer hydrogen for refueling.

Electricity And Natural Gas As Alternative Fuels

The oil reserves are dwindling, the environmental pollution is increasing steadily. Fossil fuels will not remain an option forever. Experts vie to find alternatives that are both economical and environmentally friendly. There have been numerous alternative fuels introduced to the market. So far, the most popular is the use of electricity and natural gas.


Electricity is currently the most popular alternative to petrol and diesel. Every year the proportion of electric vehicles compared to diesel and gasoline vehicles is increasing. The infrastructure is also constantly improving. There are now almost twice as many e-filling stations as petroleum filling stations in Austria.

After all, electric motors do not emit a single gram of CO2 when in operation. There are environmental concerns only in the manufacture of the battery.

In addition, mineral oil (oils from petroleum, such as diesel and gasoline ) is a lot more expensive than electricity. A range of 100 kilometers with an electric car costs a total of 4.44 euros at an electricity price of 29.6 cents. 100 kilometers with a diesel vehicle at 1.25 euros per liter, on the other hand, costs 8.75 euros – almost twice as much.

However, electric cars also have their problems. The range is shorter and the charging times longer than that of a diesel or gasoline car. These may now be completely sufficient for everyday use, but not everyone is convinced. And as already indicated, the production is not entirely harmless.

But even these problems are getting smaller and smaller. Car manufacturers see the trend and are working on making electric cars more efficient and future-proof. And additional innovations are driving the advance of electric mobility.

An example: Researchers in Glasgow recently presented a new storage system for electric cars that can be used to charge the car with liquid electricity. This shortens the charging time so that it takes no longer than filling up with gasoline or diesel. And this liquid is also recyclable – so it’s great for the environment.

Natural Gas

Historically, vehicles powered by natural gas existed before gasoline or diesel vehicles. At times they were also very popular, especially at times when oil was scarce.

Like electric cars, natural gas was eventually rediscovered for environmental reasons. Compared to diesel, CO2 emissions can be reduced by around 10% and gasoline by 20%. Other emissions are also only emitted to a much smaller extent.

In addition, natural gas is particularly inexpensive. A kilo of natural gas costs just one euro, while diesel prices are 1.25 euros per liter and gasoline prices even 1.3 euros per liter. According to the manufacturer, consumption is also lower than that of diesel and gasoline engines. So you can drive 250 kilometers for just 10 euros. And, unlike electric cars, refueling is just as quick as with mineral oil.

However, the supply of natural gas cars is comparatively small and the purchase is slightly more expensive than a car with gasoline or diesel drive. Natural gas cars are also relatively maintenance-intensive. Leaks in the gas system or inexplicable jerking are quite possible in poorly made natural gas cars. (However, natural gas is not poisonous and leaks are harmless to health.) Problems such as rust can also often arise with the exhaust. However, you don’t have to worry about explosions. According to safety experts, natural gas cars are no more questionable than petroleum-powered cars.

Overall, natural gas is a very interesting and promising alternative. It is cost-saving in operation and very environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, there is currently a lack of infrastructure and public interest in this type of drive. In addition, it is also a fossil resource that will not last forever. Nevertheless, alongside electricity, natural gas is probably one of the most promising approaches for alternative fuels.

Learn more about other alternative fuels from documentary videos and movies which you can easily access at ​​ You can also get find these documentaries from YouTube. Documentary videos and other educational videos are great tools to help you learn more facts about fuel, energy, and general science.