“Simply stated, an alternative fuel is one that is not entirely derived from petroleum,” says Lonergan. “That means the product, distribution and, ultimately, the cost that is passed on to the consumers is not controlled by foreign oil producers or domestic oil companies. Alternative fuels generally cost less than regular gasoline and are better for the environment.”
Biodiesel and ethanol may be two alternative fuels you’ve already heard about. Biodiesel is largely used in commercial applications, while ethanol is most often used in passenger vehicles. Both fuels can only be used in vehicles with engines specifically designed to run on them. Ethanol-gasoline blends, however, are more versatile. More gas stations across the country are beginning to offer ethanol blends, like E85 and E10.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, E85 is a blend of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent ethanol. While E85 can’t be used in conventional gas-only engines, Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) can run on ethanol, gasoline or any blend of the two. There are more than 6 million FFVs already on the road, and many automakers have announced plans to increase production and the variety of FFVs, according to the EPA. If you’re unsure whether you’re driving an FFV, look inside your gas tank door for an identification sticker.
E10 is a blend of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol and virtually every car built after 1980 can run on it. If you haven’t already seen it offered at gas stations in your area, chances are you’ll be seeing it soon.
Using alternative fuels not only makes sense for your wallet, it can help the economy as well, Lonergan says. “Alternative fuels are made from renewable resources grown on farms, so farmers have an immediate benefit. The second major economic benefit is reduced dependency on foreign oil.”
Regardless of gas prices, alternative fuels – and the vehicles that can run on them – are here to stay, experts agree. “New developments are taking place on a continual basis,” Lonergan says. “New alternative fuel plants are being constructed across the nation, and new additives that improve performance of alternatives are just now being introduced.”
EMTA markets the XenTx line of fuel treatments, largely used in commercial applications that reduce fuel consumption by increasing fuel economy. “It adds up to cleaner air because when you increase fuel economy, you also reduce harmful exhaust emissions,” Lonergan says.
The hottest trend in alternative fuels is the conversion of different crops into fuels, he adds, with new additive technology a close second. Domestically grown crops like soy, corn, palm and sugar cane are now being converted into fuel that may soon be sold at a fueling station near you.