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engr101 - Alternative Fuels By Marco A Rodriguez Jose Luna...

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Alternative Fuels By: Marco A. Rodriguez, Jose Luna, Jose Maldonado Engineering 101: Engineering Ethics Professor Danielle Swiontek March 07, 2007
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President Bush once stated “America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.” 1 It is a fact that about half of the oil that America consumes comes from abroad, much coming from unstable countries with unstable governments. It is estimated that our current consumption of fossil fuels is about 100,000 times faster than it is being produced. 2 Clearly at this rate we will consume all the worlds’ oil reserves within the next couple of decades or make oil a commodity only available to the rich. This alarming consumption has led to much of the world's pollution and degradation of the environment. Given that we have a finite amount of non-renewable fossil fuel it is clear that it cannot be used to sustain our society in the future. To alleviate dependence on oil, alternative forms of fuel such as hydrogen fuel cell technology, along with solar and wind power needs to be employed extensively. Conversion to alternative fuel sources has positive and negative social, economic and ethical implications that need to be examined. 1 Various Authors, “ Alternative Energy,” Wikipedia.org, March 6, 2007 , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_energy 2 Various Authors, “ Alternative Energy,” Wikipedia.org, March 6, 2007 , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_energy 2
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Figure 1: Power Production Alternative fuels aim at cutting down pollution while at the same time decreasing dependence on fossil fuels. This will lead to a healthier and clean environment that will in turn reduce conflict overseas. To accomplish this, society as a whole needs to fully employ existing alternative fuel forms including solar cell technology, hydroelectric technology and solar/wind power. Current alternative fuel forms provide clean renewable energy, though with some drawback. For example a photovoltaic power station is expensive to build and is about 10% efficient. 3 In today's society the need to reduce oil dependence means to target the modern automobile specifically. American's drive more than 2.5 trillion miles per year which would equate to 14,000 round trips to the sun. 4 Eliminating gasoline use in modern cars would substantially reduce and close to eliminate the use of oil as a fuel source altogether. We propose 3 Various Authors, “ Alternative Energy,” Wikipedia.org, March 6, 2007 , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_energy 4 Bonsor, Kevin, “Gas Price,” How Stuff Works, March 2007, http://auto.howstuffworks.com/gas-price.htm 3
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that in order to eliminate dependence on petroleum products such as gasoline, we need to adapt vehicles to hydrogen fuel cell technology. Hydrogen fuel cells are an attractive alternative to gasoline since the major by product of this using this fuel is water. Using this technology would drastically cut pollution, especially in big cities and metropolitan areas where it is of major concern. The health and well being of people in general would thus be improved.
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