Fossil Fuels Vs Ethanol As A Source Of Fuel

Fuel is basically a substance that can be used to generate heat or work, materials most commonly used are gas, oil, and coal. Fuels that are made from fossil fuels generally include fuel oils, natural gasses, and coal that are formed from the leftovers of dead animals and plants. Fossil fuels can also consist of hydrocarbons that are not from dead animals and plants, rather they are from mineral fuels. Fossil fuels are used in large scale industrial development and a lot of water mills. One thing to be noted is that fossil fuels are the largest source of carbon dioxide when being burned by humans which is a greenhouse gas that can contribute to global warming and do other harmful things. Fossil fuels are causing great harm to our environment and health. Pollution is a big impact of burning fossil fuels, it can cause sea levels to rise, and it is degrading our land. For our personal health fossil fuels have been found to cause cancer and breathing issues such as asthma. Transporting and the burning of fossil fuels can cause air pollution and can be very harmful to towns outside of these plants. Air pollutants that should be noticed are sulfur dioxide which is a result of burning coal. Sulfur dioxide can cause acid rain. Another one is particle matter such as soot, which can cause bronchitis, asthma, and even death to some. The issue that absolutely bothers me the most is how fossil fuels are obtained from the water! Oil drilling in the ocean not only causes a lot of death for humans but it is also affecting our wildlife. In 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico there was an oil spill. The spill went over 68,000 square miles of the sea surface and killed up to 5,000 marine animals and around 1 million coastal and offshore sea birds! Also, power plants being near lakes, rivers, and the ocean can cause harm to the wildlife which is known as “thermal pollution.” There is also so much wasted fossil fuels that really does not have a place to go so it just sits there harming our environment. With all this being said now I’m going to explain why fuels with ethanol are being used way more.

Fuels with ethanol are being used because they have been proven to be a lot more efficient in many ways. Ethanol is a renewable fuel that is made from plant materials known as biomass. In the U.S 95% of ethanol is actually produced from starch in corn grain. Energy will turn any raw feedstock into ethanol which is fascinating. The production of ethanol fuel only contains the amount of energy that it already has in the fuel so this means there is no more energy required, this is called positive energy balance. Ethanol fuel can be used as an alternative to gasoline and it can also be combined with gasoline. Although ethanol can be better there are still negatives when it comes to using it.

Since American farmers are using their land to produce fuel crops they are replacing their normal crops that are used for food. This is driving agriculture to happen in other places in the world. When agriculture has to move it means that forests are being burnt down and fields are being plowed up. This process releases carbon dioxide on its own. Studies found that in a 30 to 40-year span, carbon dioxide will be released twice as much to our environment than fossils fuels such as gasoline due to biofuels. Fuels are noted as being anything but friendly to our environment. The biofuel industry needs to stop using cropland and find other sources of material to save our planet. But on the other side ethanol still has its benefits that can’t be forgotten. Ethanol reduces our dependence on foreign oil and will actually end up helping foreign nations. Ethanol decreases the use of petroleum consumption per mile driven and can really decrease greenhouse gasses and will help to move away from gasoline. Ethanol that is obtained from cellulosic materials can also be produced at low costs and large volume which is good for the economy. Cellulosic ethanol is made from sugar contained in plant cell walls. Ethanol being made this way can cut greenhouse gasses by 90 percent. This type of ethanol is said to replace gas completely in the future. For pricing differences Ethanol made from corn is at $4 dollars a bushel while gasoline from a barrel of oil is at about $100. Low costing biofuels can help keep food prices at a good price by reducing transportation costs. Ethanol production is also creating jobs in rural areas where jobs are actually really needed. Ethanol fueled vehicles are found to produce lower carbon monoxide emissions which are good for the environment. Ethanol crops are also helping to stop drilling in sensitive places such as the Gulf of Mexico which I talked about earlier. The downside to the economic side of ethanol is that biofuel use is resulting in higher crop prices and higher crop prices lead to higher food prices.

To sum this up I believe that there should be a completely new alternative to getting fuel. A way that won’t affect our environment and keep our economy in a safe place. Although there are more pros to using ethanol than fossil fuels there are still cons that are not safe in any way. I hope that there will be an alternative in the near future or the production of ethanol will become safer so that we don’t need to worry about our planet being ruined.    

16 December 2021
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