|What happens when gasoline becomes extinct?|
|Written by Kyle Deg, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Tuesday, 19 April 2011 19:53|
Gasoline prices at the pump are soaring to new highs and people are feeling the pinch in their wallet. But what happens to the world once the fuel source for cars and transportation runs out?
Gasoline is not a renewable fuel source and there will be a time when drillers will not be able to get fuel from the ground. According to David Marx, physics professor, peak production for oil will appear sooner rather than later.
“In 2009, about 84 percent of our energy [came] from fossil fuels, which about 37 percent is from petroleum,” Marx said. “This is our primary fuel for transportation. The concept of peak oil though, which was based off the Hubbert analysis, says that for any natural resource, it follows a pattern of where it is developed, it peaks and then it drops off. Most experts are predicting some time between 2010 and 2020 for the peak production of petroleum.”
With the peak output of gasoline coming rather close, the demand will only continue to increase while the supply will diminish, which will push gasoline prices even higher.
People have been working on other venues for a new fuel source for many years. Marx said there are other options being looked at currently.
“Natural gas is a good source which is used by many countries. For example, if you go to Las Vegas, all of the taxis there are running on natural gas,” Marx said. “Natural gas is about equivalent amount of energy – the question is how do you store the gas in the vehicle? The range will be limited to how much gas you can put in, but the usage of natural gas in the car is much like regular gasoline.”
Electric cars are becoming more popular now as companies have started to bring out all-electric cars.
According to Dan Whyzmuzi, a sales consultant at Extreme Nissan in Bloomington, the new Nissan Leaf is a new option for people who want to turn away from regular gasoline vehicles.
“The demand for the car is pretty high right now and people have tried it hands-on,” Whyzmuzi said. “It won’t be here until around next year because of how the car is shipped out based on how many are pre-sold. But the car can get 85-120-plus miles for a charge.”
While electric cars would be a great way to cut the dependence on oil, the energy output gasoline gives is superior to any electric car.
“If you would plug in an electric car, you are still using coal, natural gas, nuclear or wind power to generate that electricity,” Marx said. “Electric vehicles also have a very limited range and the miles they get can fluctuate between the seasons. Electric vehicles are not the best option for us right now.”
Another way to lower the demand for gasoline is to get fuel from switchgrass. The energy is derived from the cell wall of switchgrass and it is beneficial for us to develop because the grass itself can grow rather big. John Sedbrook, associate biological sciences professor, has done research on switchgrass.
“Right now, 10 percent of gasoline has ethanol from sugars. Our goal is to increase that percentage and displace it. This will not happen overnight and it will take a while. It’s just one piece of the puzzle,” Sedbrook said. “We need to do something different because there is too much demand right now and it will continue to grow and the prices will increase.”
What many people do not realize is gasoline is used in almost every product on the market. According to Marx, petroleum is everywhere and is used in cosmetics, plastics and even medicines.
Replacing gasoline in the production of these products can be done, but right now nothing equals oil in the quality of products.
Scientists have been working on a way to solve the gasoline problem for many years, and research continues to be done. As of right now, it is hard to find a fuel source that rivals oil in efficiency and price.