Biofuel or Electric?

As gas prices continue to jump up and down, alternative fuel sources continue to gain momentum. Biofuel and electric cars are starting to wage a war to see who will become more accepted in mainstream society.

Consumer Reports recently did a study by converting a 2002 Volkswagen Jetta TDI to operate on biodiesel (B5 and B100) and fryer grease to see how they matched up in price and convenience. Biodiesel is developed from vegetable or animal fats and is sold in blends with normal diesel.

During their study, Consumer Reports found B5, comprised of 5 percent biodiesel and 95 percent petroleum diesel, has the best fuel-economy results. It also out preformed the others in convenience, emissions, and overall performance. It runs in any diesel engine without modifications primarily due to its similarity to traditional fossil fuels.

Battery cars, on the other hand, also have some drawbacks. To create batteries for cars, mining is required to gather lithium or other minerals. However, they have the advantage of being able to be recharged at home. Also, public charging stations are becoming more and more prevalent, costing only   around $3,000 to build. That’s quite a bit cheaper than the $150,000 it can take to build an ethanol tank and pump.

As another convenience, biofuel cars only take a few minutes to refill and get back on the road. Electric cars however, often need hours to charge, unless high-powered charging stations are utilized.

Many electric cars have a limited range and some models aren’t yet freeway legal. Biodiesel and biofuels are already popping up at the pumps, and although the price per gallon is a bit pricey now, it is expected to go down in a few years. Most electric cars are also coming in at a rather hefty price, with some, like the Tesla Roadster, being over $100,000.

Only time will tell which alternative fuel source will take over, but each type is continuing to make advances in technology.