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What is Alternative Fuel?


Well, let’s start with what it isn’t: It’s not gasoline, diesel or kerosene.

Now let’s define alternative: It’s an adjective that means a choice between two or more things. And fuel? It’s a substance consumed to produce energy or power.

Putting it together, the definition of alternative fuel is the choice of any fuel other than the traditional selections, gasoline and diesel.

What are the Choices?

  • Ethanol: Ethanol is an alcohol fuel that's derived mainly from grain.

  • Methanol: Methanol is an alcohol fuel that's derived primarily from coal.

  • Blends: A transitional fuel, blends are mixtures of traditional and alternative fuels, such as E85 and B20.

  • Natural Gas: A by-product of oil drilling and coal mining, natural gas can also be harvested from natural gas fields.

  • Propane: Also known as liquefied petroleum gas, propane is a by-product of natural gas and crude oil refining.

  • Hydrogen: Most commercial hydrogen is refined from petroleum, but can also be made by passing electricity through water (electrolysis).

  • Electricity: Electricity is considered an alternative since it is used to power the motors in electric vehicles.

  • Biodiesel: A diesel fuel replacement or additive, biodiesel is made from vegetable oil or animal fat.

  • Biomass: Derived from biological material, predominantly vegetation, biomass includes biofuels such as biodiesel and ethanol.

  • P-series: Colorless, clear liquid fuels between 89-93 octane, P-series fuels are designed to be used in flex-fuel vehicles.

See the official list , according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Act of 1992.

Why Go Alternative?

The use of alternative fuels greatly reduces harmful exhaust emissions—think carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. Another calling card for alternative fuels is that they can often be produced domestically using a country’s resources—and that in turn strengthens the economy. Learn more about the advantages of using alternative fuels.

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