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Fuels of the Future

With a rise in the number of cars on the road in the UK alongside the depletion of fossil fuels, we’re going to have to start thinking outside the box of how to power our vehicles. We trawled the web to find some of the more eccentric fuel options out there – some of which are already available!

1 Chip fat

Most diesel cars on our roads can be powered by chip fat without the need for it to be converted. The fuel is cheaper than diesel, performs similarly and produces less CO2 emissions. There are a number of companies in the UK which run their cars on vegetable oils including bus companies, car rental companies and many garages now also stock the fuel.

2 Chocolate

Sweet success was made by scientists at the University of Warwick who created a Formula 3 race car which runs on biodiesel derived from chocolate waste. The project head, James Meredith, quoted “anything with fat can be turned into diesel, and that’s what we’ve managed to do”. Their fuel came from the Cadbury’s chocolate plant in Birmingham. Nothing better than a Ferrari running on chocolate!

3 Alligators

Alligators, and other crocodilians, are farmed mainly for food and their skins, leaving a lot of reptile blubber to go to waste. In Louisiana alone alligator farming is a $70 million industry! A study at the University of Louisiana suggested converting the discarded alligator fat into fuel by re-acting it with methanol at high temperatures to produce biofuel. Researchers claim this process could be done within minutes – a marketable proposal.

FOTF Alligator

[Photo credit: Carmen Quesy]

4 Pooh

Combustible methane can be made out of pretty much any waste product. In 1974, Harold Bate, a Devonshire chicken farmer and inventor, famously used chicken and pig manure to power his 1953 Hillman. Following on from this, the UK’s first bus powered by human wastebegan running last year and AMEC, a Canadian company, have even built a plant in Quebec to process dirty nappies into a source of fuel. What’s great about this option is that there is never going to be a shortage!

5 Beers and Spirits

The ends of beer and other alcohol can be processed to create ethanol, a competent fuel for motor vehicles. Ethanol is used to power all of the cars involved in the Indy Racing League. Whiskey distilleries in Scotland have also been recognised for producing the “next generation biofuel”, acknowledged as a starting point for a possible fuel revolution using waste from malt and the residue left after distillation to create bio-butanol. Furthermore, alcohol can be used to power turbines. Turbines can run on anything that burns, and during the period of Chrysler’s turbine motor cars, the president of Mexico tested this theory by running one of the cars on Tequila! [Source: Special Interest Autos]


 [Photo credit: Gemma Amor]

6 Onions

Who knew it was possible to power cars off onion juice? Fermenting onions create methane gas which can be used to create electricity to charge electric cars. Even better is that there is little waste from this process as any remaining pulp from the crops can be turned into cattle feed. [Source: Eco4TheWorld]

7 Cows

As many are aware, cows emit an astonishing amount of methane; as a direct consequence of being fed grains rather than their natural diet of grass, a single cow can produce 250-500 litres of methane daily! United Nations reports claim that the livestock industry is accountable for 18% of global warming emissions. Imagine if all that methane could be converted to energy or fuel, holy cow!


[Photo credit: JelleS]

8 Algae

Although algae fuel development is still in its early stages, there has been heavy global investment in research, from both government and private sources, with scientists claiming that it is a truly viable renewable energy source. Algae can be used to create biofuels by mixing the oil harvested from algae cellswith other chemicals. The end result is a biodiesel. Good news is algae can also be easily grown in a tank and is far superior to corn (a competitive fuel source option) in terms of fuel production and it doesn’t threaten our food supply. [Source: Keune]

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