What is happening with the prices of oil? That is the question we ask ourselves here at Suzzanne Uhland’s blog every week, so today we want to take a look at new technologies and alternative fuel sources to analyze how and why, they influence oil prices, to what extent and what that means for the future of the industry.

The truth of the matter is; fossil fuel reserves are depleting and it is becoming harder each year to meet the demands of a global economy that requires more and more energy. In addition to that, we have the environmental concerns that come from a public that is more aware and conscious of what they are doing to the environment, as well as the technology that allows us to measure how strong the impact of man-made technologies is. It is only natural that in a time of need and questions, alternatives are born and makes us question if the way we have been doing things for so many years, is indeed the best way to progress. Curiosity becomes responsibility when we realize that we have the technology and the desire to change a paradigm that can ease the strain we put into our planet and somewhat equalize the powers when it comes to globally trading fossil fuel and everything that comes along with a product that has so much social, political and economic baggage that comes along with its consumption.

Natural gas is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture. Other countries have been using it for years now and it does provide an excellent alternative to gasoline, although it is still considered a fossil fuel and therefore, there is a limited supply of it. It is a lot cheaper and it can compete with oil in most of the ways it can be used.

Fermenting sugars in petrochemical processes can produce ethanol and it can be used as a fuel additive or as engine fuel. In countries like Brazil, it is widely used, to the point that around 90% of new vehicles sold in the country can run on ethanol. The alternative is cheap and relatively clean, but there are some logistic problems with pipe transportation due to its miscibility with water.

Hydrogen is another great contender when it comes to alternative fuels. It doesn’t produce any emissions and it power electronic devices as well as vehicles. One of the main concerns with hydrogen is the amount of energy that it takes to produce since is not naturally occurring and cannot be extracted like fossil fuels. In addition to that, storing it in vehicles can be dangerous as it is too volatile when pressurized.

Biodiesel has been adopted in many countries as an alternative and the United States has seen it grow since the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Since it can be produced from vegetable or animal fat, it does present an interesting alternative to current methods.

Electricity as an alternative energy source is one of the most promising methods available to make the change. AS of lately, one of its most attractive forms of employment has to do with the transportation industry. Tesla has changed everything we know about electricity being used for transportation with their top of the line passenger vehicles and even cargo options that make it possible for us to start thinking that the use of electricity is more than just a trend, and it can instead become the real future of transportation in the next few years.

Image courtesy of ARUNODHAI VINOD at Pexels.com

On top of all these, we have an interesting concept being discussed by experts who like to set aside for a moment the environmental problem with burning fossil fuels, global warming, and pollution. Think just for a minute that our issues with fossil fuel had nothing to do with its “dirty” nature and instead focus on its limited supply. Every year we come closer to a tipping point and we can no longer ignore the fact that oil is eventually going to run out. Extracting it is becoming harder and more expensive and it is forcing us to use methods that put pressure in the market to manipulate prices, but that ignores the simple fact that eventually we are simply not going to find any more crude oil, or that finding it is going to consume resource in such way, that it will no longer be a viable option. These experts look at nuclear fusion as the option that we need in the world of tomorrow. They believe that nuclear fusion has never been given the proper amount of funding that it deserves and that a general fear we have of nuclear disasters has worked as a deterrent from investing in what could be the answer to all of our energy woes. The physics behind the idea work beautiful and implementing it should be considered seriously by government agencies all over the world.

 

* Featured Image courtesy of Irina Kostenich at Pexels.com