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Alternatives to petroleum
The article gives a complete information on the alternatives to petroleum and natural gas. It describes the various environmental consequences of it including the potential of petroleum and natural gas in India. It also states the various alternatives to petroleum like ethanol, methanol, fuel cells, bio-diesel etc. It also states their respective advantages and disadvantages or merits and demerits.
Reasons for rising demand of energy
Development of industries.
Development of the transport sector.
Rising demand for electricity due to our consumerist lifestyle that involve time saving gadgets like refrigerators, air conditioners etc.
Scattered location of material resources which makes it difficult to put a particular industries near a cite.
Transport structures as well as infrastructure is not in good shape.
India's energy production and consumption patterns have undergone substantial change over the last decade. The fast technological growth has played a considerable role in enhancing the production of energy. The growth of the economy is directly related to the demand for energy. Coupled to this is the population explosion that has already crossed 121 crores in the recent census report. All this lead to a serious gap between demand and supply of energy in India. It has also led to pollution as burning of fossil fuels releases toxic gas.
The present energy scenario of India
Coal, petroleum and natural gas are the important components of energy sector in India. The per capita consumption of of energy is still low as compared to other countries. In spite of this, there is a large gap between demand and supply.
Import of oil in India is increasing. India buys crude oil from other countries and refines it in its own area. This reduces cost. Most of the demand for oil is in the transport sector. Oil is in shortage in India and has to be imported. Natural gas has been found in some parts of India. India is considering the option of switching to over to CNG.
Some facts about changing energy trends in India
Before 1950, annual rise in commercial consumption was just 2%.
By 1960, there was a significant or unexpected rise in energy demand. It rose to as much as 5% by 1960.
Rise in oil prices in 1970's caused an environment of uncertainty.
This forced the government to shift from coal to crude oil. Discovery of new oil reserves in parts of Aliabet and Mumbai High served to ensure more consistent supplies of oil for petrochemical purposes.
Gradually, the share of oil in the energy production of India decreased from one half to one third during 1970 to 1990.
Implications of gap in demand and supply
What happens if the demand of energy outstrips the supply of it? Ask yourself this question and the consequences can be shocking and heart-breaking than you have ever imagined.
Unequal distribution: Industries shall be given the priority over agriculture as they have more contribution in the national growth of our country and offer employment to millions of citizens. Not only that, industries brings valuable foreign exchange to our country through exports. Similarly, urban areas will be given priority over rural areas.
Increase in prices: If energy is in short supply, the cost of it goes up. So, petrol and diesel gets expensive. Since these are used to transport goods through vehicles that uses petrol, the prices of other commodities of basic food items and medicines are likely to go up. The result is inflation. Inflation disturbs the entire economy of the country.
Slowing down of development: In case of shortage of power, industries will not to grow. This will reduce the production of goods in industries which in turn will slow down development.
Petroleum Petroleum consists of hydrocarbons mixed with oxygen, sulfur,nitrogen and other elements in varying proportions. It contains nitrogen and sulfur in minute quantities. The composition of petroleum is as under:
Carbon - 82 to 87%
Hydrogen - 11.7 to 14.5%
Oxygen - 0.1 to 4.5%
Nitrogen - 0.1 to 0.5%
From, crude oil, various products are made by fractional distillation and other processes like fuel oil petrol, kerosene, diesel and lubricating oil.
Process of formation of petroleum
Petroleum was formed from the remains of marine plant and animal life that existed millions of years ago. Some of these remains remained deposited under the sea where they were decomposed anaerobically by bacteria. The bacteria changed the fats into the sediments of the body into fatty acids which were then changed into an asphaltic material called kerogen. This was then converted over millions of years ago into petroleum by the combined action of heat and pressure. Petroleum generally occurs trapped between two impermeable layers of rock. Impermeable layers are non-porous.
Fractions obtained during refining of petroleum
Gasoline: It consists of 5 to 10 carbon atoms. it is used as fuel in cars and two wheelers, It is also used as dry cleaning and as solvent. It is separated from other products by boiling it as a temperature of 40-1700C. In common language, it is known as petrol.
Kerosene oil: It consists of 11 to 13 carbon atoms and has a boiling point of 170-2500C. It acts as a fuel for stoves and illuminant for lanterns and petromax lamps. Its special grade is used as fuel in jet aircrafts engine.
Diesel oil: It has a chain of 13 to 15 carbon atoms. it serves as fuel for high speed diesel engines like buses, trucks, tractors, water pumps etc. it has a boiling point of 250-3500C.
Fuel oil: It has a chain of about 15 to 17 carbon atoms having boiling point of 350-4500C. It is used in heat furnaces and boilers. it is considered as a better alternative to coal as it does not leave any residue on burning.
Lubricating oil: A compound of about 17 to 20 carbon atoms used in lubricants and cosmetics.
Paraffin wax: Having a boiling point of 20 to 300C, it is used in candles, paper wax, ointments and vaseline.
Asphalt: It has has more than 30 carbon atoms. It is left as a black residue and used in black paints and road surfacing.
Potential of oil in India As of January 2005, oil reserves are estimated to be about 5 billion barrels that is only 4.5% of world's total reserves. It is estimated that it may be as much as 11 billion barrels in Assam and Mumbai. India is ranked as the twenty-fifth largest producer of crude oil and accounts for 1% of total world's production. One-third of the energy needs of the country is met by oil and more than 60% of oil requirement is imported. Thus, India has to spend a considerable part of its foreign earnings for importing oil. Though we have 5 billion barrels of oil, only 1257 billion i recoverable out of which we have already extracted 483 metric tons. Transport sector consumes more than 50% of oil and other 20% is consumed by industries. At the present rate, oil reserves in India shall last for only 30 to 40 years.
Natural gas potential in India As of January 2005, reserves were estimated to be about 29-31 trillion cubic feet which accounts for 0.5% of the world's total. About 70% of this reserve is located in the associated and non-associated fields of Gujarat. Natural gas today, accounts for 10% of the total installed capacity of electricity generation. Demand for natural gas is expected to rise from current levels of 1.8 billion cubic feet per day to 11.5 billion cubic feet per day by 2010. Out of the total reserves, only 888 billion cubic meter is recoverable out of which we have already extracted 175 billion cubic meter of gas.
Applications of natural gas
natural gas has many applications in various fields. It exists in two major forms today that are used in transport and household sector. Following are the major forms of natural gas:
Liquefied natural gas: It is better known as LPG in Indian households. It is mostly used for cooking purposes and stored in metallic cylinders at high pressure. Some people also use it as a source of fuel for their vehicles. As this forms a major part of our household budget and expenditure, government provides heavy subsidy on it.
Compressed natural gas: It is better known as CNG and I think you are all aware of the uses of CNG. It is mostly used as fuel for vehicles in major cities like New Delhi. As the name suggests, it is formed by compressing the natural gas under high pressure so that it become easy tom store it.
Environmental consequences of natural gas and petroleum
You may think that all the details posted by me are not related to the current topic of the contest. But, you are wrong as a few moments later, you shall know the significance of all that I have posted. Let me tell you some of the limitations of petroleum and natural gas:
Both the fossil fuels are non-renewable sources of energy. It is estimated that we shall have nothing to feed our stomach as well as our vehicles a few decades later. The current reserves of natural gas and petrol shall last for only for 20 to 30 years if we continue to use then so carelessly.
Dangerous and inflammable: LPG and CNG are highly dangerous as both are inflammable. Leakage of LPG forms explosive mixture with air on catching fire.
Pollute the environment: Both are responsible for causing a high degree of pollution to the environment. When the fuels burn in the internal combustion engine of a vehicle incompletely, carbon monoxide is formed that reacts with the haemoglobin of our blood to form carboxyhaemoglobin that reduce the oxygen intake of our body. Moreover, the intense heat that is produced die to internal combustion causes nitrogen and oxygen in the air to react in the presence to form nitrogen monoxide. Nitrogen monoxide is responsible for causing irritation to eyes, and lung congestion. Leaded petrol emits lead compounds that affect our nervous system and impair our intelligence. If today millions of people are suffering form asthma and other critical lung diseases, blame it no the petrol.
Oil spill: You are already familiar of this harsh reality that any leakage in the oil station causes oil spill and heavy destruction of the marine ecosystem. Oil stick the body of the migratory birds and animals like polar bears, reducing their camouflaging capacity which makes them more vulnerable to predators. Oil has smothering and suffocating capacity. It also reduces the amount of sunshine reaching the ocean and seas, thus reducing the photosynthesis of phytoplanktons. This cause shortage of food in the marine ecosystem.
Need for substitutes of petroleum
I think that this is the topic that we have to base our article on but it is very difficult to understand this unless you read my whole article that states that reasons in detail that I am going to mention now.
Non-renewable: Petroleum is non-renewable and will not last for long. What on the earth are we going to try then to drive our vehicles. Hence, it becomes of utmost priority to find some alternatives to petroleum. These alternatives shall be such that can be replenished quickly within a short period of time so that we do not face ever the situation when the entire world stops.
Environmentally unsuitable: As stated above, petrol and related fuels are potentially dangerous and harmful for the environment as well as for human being. They cause air pollution and damage our respiratory systems. It results in vast climatic change in the country.
Saving foreign exchange: India is a developing nation that still do not have a favorable balance of trade and favorable balance of payments due to inequality between our exports and imports. As a developing nation, we need to import a high amount of capital and technological know-how to make advancement. This needs foreign currencies that we acquire by exporting our agricultural bases products. On the top of that, we spend a huge amount of money in importing oil for our country which also makes us dependent on other nations that may utilize our position for their benefits by charging high prices. Hence, it becomes necessary to develop substitutes for petroleum so that we can become self-dependent. It shall also save our valuable foreign exchange.
War in future: In future, we are definitely going to face a severe oil crisis. Environmentalists predict that the third world war is either going to be due to shortage of drinking water or oil crisis. we can prevent this only by developing some substitutes so that the advanced nations cannot exploit the weaker nations for their selfish interests.
Alternatives to petroleum
It is high time when we think of some alternatives to petroleum so that we avoid any crisis in future. I have tried to mention some of the alternatives or substitutes for petroleum.
Ethanol as the best alternative to petroleum
Ethanol is also called Ethyl alcohol. it is a volatile, flammable and colorless liquid. Ethanol is a liquid fuel made form maize or corn, sugar cane, bagasse, miscanthus, sugar beet, sorghum, grain sorghum, switchgrass, barley etc. The sugar in sugarcane or corn is fermented by microbes like yeast. Fermentation of sugar involves decomposition of sugar into ethanol and carbon dioxide. Fermentation occurs in a sequence of reactions. At first, the complex sugar is broken into simpler ones like fructose and then the simpler sugar is broken into ethanol and carbon dioxide. In fermentation, ethanol, retains much of the energy that was originally in sugar, and this explains why ethanol is an excellent fuel. Fermentation if followed by distillation and dehydration to remove extra water and impurities.
Ethanol is mixed with gasoline or petrol creating a mixture called gasohol. It burns very efficiently and reduces air pollution. It has been very successful in Brazil. The largest national fuel ethanol industries is in Brazil. Ethanol gets produced easily in Brazil as it has the huge sugarcane plantations.
Henry Ford designed the first mass produced automobile, called the Model T Ford, to run on pure anhydrous ethanol. He said that it was the "fuel of future". Anhydrous ethanol is produced with azeotrophic removal of water by distillation using benzene.
Today, however, 100% pure ethanol is not approved as a motor vehicle fuel. it is added to gasoline. Today, more than 20% of Brazil cars run on this new fuel.
Reaction in fermentation process
Glucose (a simple sugar) is created in the plant by photosynthesis.
6 CO2 + 6 H2O + light = C6H12O6 + 6 O2
C6H12O6 = 2 C2H5OH+ 2 CO2 + heat
C2H5OH + 3 O2 = 2 CO2 + 3 H2O + heat
Advantages of ethanol as a substitute for petrol
It is non-polluting.
It is renewable and hence it promises to show us a better future.
It reduces our burden on imported fuel and thus, saves our valuable foreign exchange like Brazil.
The biggest advantage of this fuel is that it can be used for all types of vehicles. No modification is required for the usage of this fuel.
Its maintenance cost is very low as compared to other fuels.
Disadvantages or limitations of ethanol
It is much more expensive than methanol or other conventional fuels.
The brewing matter for ethanol is not so readily available.
There are very limited ways of producing ethanol. Not only that, there are various technical and mechanical problems that arise in its production. For example, its raw materials are sticky and causes problems in the free movement of the machines.
Methanol Methanol as an alternative to petroleum is a liquid fuel produced from wood wastes, agricultural wastes and sewage sludge. Like ethanol, it is also produced from fermentation by anaerobic microbes. Methanol is also used as a combination with gasoline. Sources of methanol are almost endless: grass clippings, raked leaves in the autumn, wood chips and everyday kitchen wastes. It is essentially a child of the new technology which is called the biotechnology.
Advantages of methanol
It is non-polluting in nature.
It possess low ozone forming potential as compared to other fuels. Ozone in the troposphere is a pollutant and not a protector.
It is one of the renewable sources of energy and has endless sources of raw materials as compared to any other fuel.
It is not as expensive as ethanol.
Disadvantages of methanol
It has a very low calorific value and yields much less energy than ethanol. It means that a large amount of methanol will be required to yield same amount of energy.
There are various technical and practical problems in the processing of methanol.
It cannot be used for every kind of vehicle. Technical modifications are required.
Fuel cells This is a very recent and hot source of energy instead of petroleum. However, this is still under research and experimental stage. It is still very difficult to install it in vehicles and there are many other issues to it.
A fuel cell is generally a electrochemical device that is capable of converting chemical energy of the fuel directly and efficiently to electricity doing away with the internal combustion of the fuel in the vehicle's engine.
In 2005, a British firm named Intelligent Energy produced the first motorcycle that worked on these fuel cell. It was named as EMV. Raimler Chrysler, Ford and General Motors have developed their own fuel cells. Fuel cell is considered to be the future fuel to replace petroleum
Working of a fuel cell A fuel cell consists of two electrodes separated by an electrolyte. The positive electrode is called the anode while the negative electrode is called the cathode. The anode side has fuel while cathode side has an oxidant. In the anode, the fuel is broken into protons and electrons. The oxidant absorbs the protons. In the process, fuel is consumed producing water and carbon dioxide with a high amount of energy that can be used to power mechanical devices. The anode is generally made up of platinum while the cathode is made up of nickel. These two metals are used as both of them are chemically inert and will not react with the fuel itself. The fuels that are used to produce hydrogen perpetually with the help of an specific machine are called the reformers.
Scientists have also developed a new technology for the production of hydrogen on spot. They have developed an alloy of aluminium and gallium (Ga Al28) which can replace petrol. Hydrogen is produced by the reaction between the alloy and water.
Types of fuel cells
There are different kinds of fuel cells based ion the application they are put to. However, some of the basic fuel cells are:
Alkaline fuel cell: They have an operating temperature of 70-2000C. They are mostly used in the field of remote generation and space applications.
Polymer electrolyte membrane: They have an operating temperature of about 80-1100C. They are used for on-site cogeneration and automobiles.
Phosphoric acid fuel cells: They have a working temperature of 150-2100C. They are used for electricity generation and on-site co-generation.
Proton exchange membrane fuel cells: This is the current concept that is fast evolving as these fuel cells have a very high operating temperature and are far more efficient than the other. In this kind of fuel cell, the cathode and the anode is separated by an electrolyte. Hydrogen is used as the basic fuel that decomposes into protons and electrons. Protons travel to the cathode side but the electrons are unable to due to insulation. They are forced to travel in the direction of the external circuit to which a load has been connected. Thus, it results in the flow of electricity.
Other types of fuel cells are molten carbonate fuel cell and solid oxide fuel cell(SOFC) that work under more than 10000C.
Advantages of fuel cells
Fuel cells have a great future in the upcoming years if we are successful in making it compatible with the current scenario. Here are some of the advantages and merits of using fuel cells:
Fuel cells are modular and can be given any shape depending upon the need.
There is very less loss of energy as there is a direct conversion of electricity from fuel. The electrons directly flow into the load and there is no loss by way of transmission.
Fuel cells are two to three times more efficient than the traditional fuels or internal combustion engine. Hydrogen fuel cells have 75% efficiency as compared to the petrol engines.
They are cleaner and environment friendly. Only water vapor is emitted that does no harm to our environment.
It is definitely a renewable source of energy as hydrogen is used.
fuel cells can be installed near the use points that saves energy.
It does not produce any noise pollution like the traditional engines. It burns quietly and efficiently.
It is not affected by corrosion and if one is using high temperature fuel cell, there is no need of a radiator or a coolant.
Disadvantages of a fuel cell
However, there is a lot of research work that is required in this field. Today, we have been not able to find solutions to some of the problems that make it difficult to implement it practically. Some of the disadvantages of fuel cells are:
Basically, the most important issue in the implementation of fuel cells is the cost factor.It costs thousands of dollars to manufacture even a kilowatt of energy. Moreover, as hydrogen is not present in our atmosphere it has to be manufactured that involves considerable expense of time and money.
Water management is a huge problem in these kinds of fuel cells. The membranes need a continuous supply of water t high temperature. But, water at that temperature evaporated quickly than it is produced. If water supply is less, membranes can crack and if it is more, it shall obstruct the path of the electrons. Moreover, the heated water discharged in the water bodies may cause thermal pollution.
Just as water management, temperature management is also a huge problem as same temperature is required is be maintained throughout which is very difficult.
More the current drawn, greater is the resistant and lower is the efficiency..
Bio-diesel Oil derived from Jatropha Curcas, Pongamia and Jojoba plants seeds can be used as diesel for vehicles without modification.Bio-diesel is an alternative to petrol based fuels.It is a renewable source and one of the possible candidates to replace fossil fuels. India has tremendous potential as a producer of bio-diesel plants. Large portions of wasteland can be used for growing this plant. today, 100% bio-diesel is not used rather it is blended with gasoline to give better results.
Advantages of bio-diesel
There is no danger of explosion as it is non-inflammable unlike petrol and diesel.
If you do not like the stinky smell of petrol, switch to bio-diesel as it does not emits odorous sulfur compounds.
It is usable with every kind of vehicle and hence your vehicles does not require any modification.
It is the cleanest and safest source on fuel that is currently available on earth.
Disadvantages of bio-diesel
A huge tract of land is required to grow such plants that can cause deforestation if the commercial use proves to be beneficial.
It has a very less calorific value, almost ten times less than petrol.
It is likely to decrease the efficiency of your vehicle if the engine is not modified accordingly.
It is generally expensive. The government may give a heavy subsidy to encourage its use but it may cause the government to go for deficit financing which is undesirable for the economy.
Moreover, it is not compatible with the fuel indicators and is likely to give false results regarding the level of fuel in the tank.
Fischer-Tropsch process in one of the oldest process for bio-fuel conversion. it involves gasification and processing of biomass like cow dung etc, subsequent cleaning of gas that is produced and then the conversion of the gas into a liquid that is miscible with traditional fuels. Hydrogen and carbon monoxide are produced during the synthesis of the fuel that can later be treated with water gas to obtain the desired Co and Hydrogen ratio. It is also known as syngas and consists of straight chain hydrocarbons.
Advantages of Fischer-Tropsch diesel
It can easily be blended with traditional fuel once syngas is converted into liquid form.
The use of syngas does not require any modification in the vehicle.
It is nearly the same energy yield as the petrol. Thus, it is very economical.
It is a very clean source of energy. The only emissions are nitrogen oxides in minute quantities. It has also has a low aromatic contents.
Disadvantages of syngas
The main technical challenges are the sticking of the biomass particles along the penstock and other feeding lines.
The temperature required for the synthesis of syngas is very high that itself results in the emission of harmful gases.
Lastly, the ash accumulation and particulate matters are important considerations.
Methods to obtain energy efficiency in transportation
Transport sector alone uses 70% of the total petroleum produced in the country. Hence, it is essential to maintain certain rules for the conservation of this "black gold".
Enhancing mass transportation through automobiles can be a possible solution. We can try and improve the basic designs of the vehicles like internal combustion engine must be improved and weight of the vehicle must also be reduced by using new materials so that the vehicle consumes less fuel.
Hybrid vehicles must be used that allow that vehicles to run more efficiently by regaining energy from braking and turning off the engine when idle in the traffic. We must improve the mileage for ceramic and diesel engines.
If possible, use the Maglev and electric bus.
New fuels like ethanol, methanol, fuel cells, Fischer-tropsch must be used.
we must drive the vehicle at the speed of 40-50 Km per hour that reduce the petrol consumption by at least 25%.
Timely maintenance and repair of the engine is required to ensure proper and efficient use of the fuel. Government must also ensure rules like removing all vehicle form the road that are older than 15 years.
We must try to use public transport as far as possible. We can even walk for short distances instead of using the motor vehicles or use cycles and rickshaws.
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|Author: Naresh Kumar Behera 14 Apr 2011||Member Level: Gold Points : 1|
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|Author: Vivek chowdhury 14 Apr 2011||Member Level: Gold Points : 1|
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|Author: T Syed Rizwan 14 Apr 2011||Member Level: Gold Points : 1|
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