As a finite resource, oil, and in turn gas and diesel, is eventually going to run out. The impacts from using, refining and also finding oil and other fossil fuels are vast and have a significant negative impact on the environment. All kinds of hazards and pollution stem from fossil fuels, including immediate dangers to the planet, such as, most significantly, the dramatic increase of greenhouse gas emissions. The only way to counter these issues is to find alternatives that allow us to produce clean and also plentiful energy – so, here are some of the alternatives:
Electric and Hybrid
Please see: Hybrids, Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Vehicles
Crops such as corn, sugarcane and soybean can be processed and then used to create more efficient, greener alternative transportation fuels. By blending ethanol with traditional gas, it is possible to increase octane levels and also the quality of emissions discharged from all forms of transit. However, the production of ethanol involves the use of crops as fuel, which some consider a waste of food and it is still carbon-based. Much ethanol used in transportation also still uses gasoline, making it a less than perfect answer. However, ethanol remains an alternative to fossil fuels.
Made mostly from animal and plant fats, biodiesel (another type of biofuel, in addition to ethanol) can be in the form of oil ( mostly taken from restaurant kitchens) and then used in modified engines. It is also possible, with some engines, to mix the converted oil after it has been processed with traditional diesel and use it in modified engines. Biodiesel is a safe, effective alternative for buses and cars that causes a significant decrease in air pollutants relative to traditional gasoline. The most promising new source for the production of biodiesel is algae. Algae might just be the future of biofuel.
Of course, we currently use on the road, whether in the form of tram (or other light rail), pure EV or hybrid. Electric vehicles and hybrids work on battery power and are charged through an external electric source (see Hybrids, Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Vehicles). These batteries can produce energy without combustion or pollution, however they do require the creation of electricity from a third party. Mass transit based on electricity (trolleys, street cars, other light rail, or electric buses etc...) have proven to be a great alternative. It remains important that the sources for the electrical generation used to power these alternative transit options comes from renewable energy, as well.
PV panels are quite a common sight on homes these days and can produce enough power to heat homes. However, though using solar for cars has been well demonstrated, there are still many issues with using solar power to fuel transportation. Solar isn't produced efficiently in a cost-effective, compatible application to power a significant amount of transit options as of yet. However, especially with nanotechnology, solar is becoming increasingly efficient and also falling in price, meaning someday soon, it could be a feasible option.
The 5th option, like solar, is in the R&D phase - hydrogen, and . The biggest hydrogen fuel cell project is Clean Hydrogen in European Cities (CHIC) , operating in several countries throughout Europe.
Whatever the future of motoring, viable innovations have to continue to be researched, developed and brought to the mass marketplace. Solutions to fossil fuels must continue to be explored and offered to the public sooner rather than later, for the good of humanity and the planet.