Throughout history, mankind has toiled over schematics, countless swaths of analytical data and research to revolutionize fuel usage. We’ve made large-scale leaps towards developing sustainable, efficient, and thoroughly green fuels through continued experimentation and industrial redevelopment. As science continues to unravel the secrets of our planet’s natural resources, our fuel usage adapts accordingly.
Wood was one of the first solid fuels to be utilized by mankind nearly two million years ago, and to this day it remains a primary source of energy throughout much of the world due to its natural abundance and affordability. Coal was the next big leap, first used in 1000BCE China. The chemical gaseous energies present in coal’s solidified form made it an extremely lucrative and effective power source. While the steam-powered age has long since passed and we’ve mostly moved on to cleaner forms of energy creation, coal is still utilized in poorer countries or those with less infrastructure. Otherwise, peat is one of the most commonly utilized sources of fuel generation. Compromised of partially decayed vegetation and organic matter from wetland environments, it is a less naturally intrusive combustible material as opposed to coal.
Liquid fuels vary in composition. Most types comprise of the fossilized remnants of dead animals and plants that have been exposed to the pressure and heat of the Earth’s crust, but there are some exceptions such as hydrogen and ethanol. Gasoline and diesel are the obvious juggernauts of the liquid fuel family, and they are closely related due to sharing a similar mixture of aliphatic hydrocarbons stemming from petroleum. Great advances have been made with petroleum, gasoline, and diesel fuels (such as biodiesel creation), namely continued scientific research and development aimed at finding ways of burning them more cleanly and minimizing consumption requirements of vehicles. This is where hybrid technology comes into play, particularly with energy efficient equipment and road vehicles.
Most gas-based fuels contain hydrocarbons. While some, such as hydrogen, can be utilized in a liquid or gas-based state, others such as carbon monoxide cannot. While coal gas was hugely popular in the early 20th century (most notably for gas-powered street lamps), today we rely on propane, butane, and petroleum gas as fuel sources. Biogases are a renewable energy source that is more commonly used today, which comprise primarily of methane and carbon dioxide, and is produced through the breakdown of organic matter and waste.
As we continue to develop and readjust our reliance on various fuels throughout time, we learn more about how we can lower our carbon footprint and still be able to produce an adequate amount of electricity. By opting to research and implement alternative fuels such as propane, natural gases, hydrogen, methanol, and ethanol as opposed to more polluting and toxic standards, we’ll be able to move closer towards a green future. By merging green technologies with green fuels, we have a winning combination in our hands.