Exploring Alternative Automotive Fuels

Film Recommendation

Pump (2014)

Questioning the automotive status quo.

Where is the Choice?

Pump attempts to remind viewers that people like having the power to choose. Not a particularly stunning revelation to be sure!😂 We all love having options. That appears especially true in the US, where choice is also often equated with freedom. Framed in that way, it can serve as a powerful motivator. So why then, is there so little choice when it comes to car fuel.

Drake Meme - enough with fossil fuels already.

Beyond Fossil Fuels

For the vast majority of vehicles out on the road, fossil fuels remain dominant, if not the sole option. As we go about our lives and navigate the daily commute, petroleum still has a monopoly at the local pump. Well, according to the documentary (and dare I say common sense), this lack of choice is no accident. Rather, it is the direct result of the fossil fuel industry.

Money and influence were leveraged to keep citizens driving on fossil fuels. This dependency was further propagated through the weakening of public transportation, and the manipulations of political lobby groups (see The Truth About Lobbying). Despite the petroleum dominance however, the film reminds us that there are in fact alternative fuels for powering your car.

The Doc, from Back To The Future, fuels the DeLorean with garbage...
Marty, we have to go back!

There’s Been a Mistake!

Electrically powered vehicles (EVs) exist and have been around since the very beginning of automobile manufacturing. So too, have other alternatives. These include biofuels like ethanol, biodiesel, and biogas. In addition, there are now even more potential fuel sources such as methanol and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

The documentary explains the process behind some of these alternatives, as well as their availability. For instance, in Brazil where they made the switch over to ethanol, their environment and economy are better off for it.

The film also makes it a point to dispel the myth that ethanol is bad for the planet, as it takes away food from the mouths of people. Ethanol (which is essentially alcohol), can be made from pretty much any organic crop.

In Brazil, the source of ethanol is predominantly sugarcane. When it’s made from corn (as it is in the US), it can be even additionally beneficial. In fact, ethanol is already a byproduct when converting corn for livestock feed. So not only does it not deprive humans, but also helps make it fit for animal consumption.

Electric charging represents just one of the alternative fuels.
Electrical charging points are becoming increasingly common.

Fuels of the Future

Go ahead and watch Pump to find out more about these, and other fuel options. It’s a solid doc, with plenty of fascinating insights. Not only will you learn more about alternative fuels, but you’ll also get a glimpse of some of the forces influencing the market. The film also provides viewers with some useful information on what individual action you can take to address it.

We know that we are experiencing a climate crisis. We know that fossil fuels are directly contributing to global warming. Clearly, things need to change. This includes having the power to choose from alternative fuels. Watch on if you’re intrigued!


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