Skip to comments.Dirty little secret is out: We can't have alternative fuels and lower mileage
Posted on 04/28/2002 8:00:00 AM PDT by Dog Gone
ONCE upon a time, the picturesque university town of Cambridge, England, decided it had too many cars. To remedy the situation, it placed bicycles all over town, free for anyone to use.
The experiment sounded good, but it failed. The bikes were stolen and vandalized.
Sometimes an idea that seems good for the environment doesn't work in the real world. Take the notion of using alternative fuels to increase fuel economy. For years environmentalists and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have grown increasingly strident in their demands that we must have vehicles that get greater fuel economy. At the same time they have been insisting that we replace gasoline with cleaner-burning alternative fuels. Most frequently mentioned are compressed natural gas, or CNG, and liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG.
But the EPA and environmentalists have known all along a dirty little secret: You can't have both. Unfortunately, it's an either-or situation -- either alternative fuels or higher mileage. This is spelled out very clearly in a joint EPA, Department of Energy publication, "Model Year 2002 Fuel Economy Guide." It lists mileage ratings for nearly all American-made and many foreign cars and light trucks sold in the United States.
The numbers are very revealing. A typical example is the mileage ratings for the Ford F-150, for decades the most popular light truck in the country.
According to the EPA/DOE guide, the gasoline-powered version of the F-150 with a 4-speed automatic transmission and 5.4-liter V-8 engine gets 15 miles per gallon in city driving and 19 mpg on the highway.
Same truck, same engine, same transmission, powered by CNG is rated at just 12 mpg city and 16 mpg highway -- 20 and 16 percent less, respectively.
The same truck in a bi-fuel model that can burn gasoline or CNG performs even worse: 11 mpg city and 14 mpg highway. Those are mileage reductions of 27 and 26 percent from the gasoline-powered model.
Mileage takes a big hit in the bi-fuel model built for gasoline and LPG, too: 12 mpg city and dramatically low 13 mpg highway -- 21 percent below the gasoline-powered version.
Automotive experts, such as Robert Brooks of the prestigious auto-industry publication "Wards Engine and Vehicle Technology Update," point out that the poor mileage of these alternatives is to be expected.
In simple terms, they say that CNG and LPG contain less energy per gallon than gasoline and it is the energy contained in the fuel, not just the fuel itself, that moves you down the road. They point out that a similar, though less severe, reduction in mileage is caused by adding the "alternative fuel" ethanol to gasoline.
Dramatically expanded use of ethanol is advocated by both Republican and Democratic leaders, in an effort to appeal to the farm vote. Ethanol is made from corn. The fact remains, you can't have it both ways: It's higher mileage or alternative fuels.
There is a second little secret about these alternative fuels: They come from wells: in many cases, the same wells from which we get oil. Oil that we use to make gasoline. Wells that environmentalists don't want us to drill.
Could the real secret be that environmentalists just don't want us to drive cars at all? No ... to anyone paying attention, that's not a secret.
Randall is director of the John P. McGovern Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs at the National Center for Public Policy Research, in Washington, D.C.
Do tractor trailers, boats, airplanes and locomotives currently run on fuels we get from Venezuela and the Middle East?
Can we get better mileage from any of those?
I have a VW Jetta TDI that gets 36 to 39mpg in the city and 49'ish on the highway. It goes as fast as just about anything I have driven in its category, and doesnt smoke or belch soot like the big rigs.
If people want them - the alternatives are there... but having the government force us to drive stuff we dont want to drive will seriously damage the economy and put tens of thousands out of work.
Alternative fuels are not going to be with us as long as there is oil in the ground........ The oil companies have spoken.
For the most part, all are also fueled from petroleum. The exception would be those trains that are electricly powered, primarily commuter lines.
There is major opportunity in this area by constructing more electricly-powered, high-speed mass-transportation systems in our nation's most densely populated regions and urban areas. The electricity could be generated utilizing clean-coal and nuclear technology, thus reducing our dependence on imported petroleum.
Are you saying there is an alternative fuel out there that all the physicists and chemists in the world know about but haven't told anyone?
Being from Houston before I moved to Austin, I still frequently go there every few weeks for the weekend..I dread it, slowing down to 55 like an hour out is ridiculous.
It seemed to me that even though 55 is supposed to put out less pollution, it takes me longer to get some where, so I would think because I'm in the area longer I'm putting out more pollutants (don't have any concrete numbers on how that all works, if somebody else does, please post `em)
I would love to have that where I live, because I live downtown and work in the north part of town, and traffic is just horrible. We had a vote on it and it barely failed, and there is an anti-rail contigent that would rather use the money to build more freeways/highways, which would not solve any of our problems, as we are growing too fast and because of our geographical layout are expanding primarily north and south, so you have this congestion. They would rather see neighborhoods and businesses torn down to make way for more highways (which would become congested just as quickly thanks to NAFTA among other things) than really address the problem. Not to mention because of the air guidlines, more highways in this area would force us to go through the hell that Houston is about to.
But the greenies in Austin would probably rebel against more nuclear or coal plants. So with morons on the same side, we can't win.
It is inevitable and unavoidable that it will.
As the rings wear. it will draw oil from the crank case and burn it. As the combustion chamber gets dirty, the carbon will reduce the efficiency of combustion.
It WILL happen. It does to all of them.