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Petrol and the alternatives

Choice.com.au - Fuels made from plant and animal matter – biofuels – can reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions by vehicles because burning them releases only the carbon that was absorbed when growing. Biofuels aren’t new – Henry Ford’s first car ran on alcohol and Rudolf Diesel’s engine first fired with peanut oil. Two biofuels, ethanol and biodiesel, can be used in most existing motor vehicles and are relatively easy to handle and use

Can alternative fuels affect my warranty?

Don’t let the fear that switching fuels might invalidate your warranty put you off. Warranties cover workmanship rather than damage caused by fuel – that’s the responsibility of the fuel supplier and fuels have to meet Australian standards to be sold at a service station. Ensure that the fuel type will suit your vehicle – but don’t just assume it won’t – visit www.fcai.com.au to check or ask your manufacturer directly.

What are the sources of biofuels?

Each of the alternative liquid fuels most commonly available in Australia has good and bad points, see below. The broader environmental impacts of ethanol and biodiesel depend very much on how they’re produced. Australia uses mostly residues from food, sugar and fibre crops to produce bioenergy, but there are some canola and cottonseed crops dedicated to biofuel. It would be useful to have independent certification of the environmental performance of the fuels.

In New Zealand, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority is developing a sustainability mark for biofuels so consumers can identify those that are produced sustainably.No single fuel type can provide enough to cover our current demand, so we probably need a combination of solutions, as well as reduced fuel dependence.

Palm oil
Some critics attack biodiesel because it can be sourced from palm oil. Increased production of palm oil is causing deforestation in places such as Indonesia. But independent sustainability analysts Worldwatch Institute says less than 1% of palm oil goes towards biodiesel, and the real demand for palm oil is from food, cosmetics and industrial uses.