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Synthetic Fuel

Recently, an article on Jalopnik outlined how McLaren is looking at synthetic fuels as an alternative to fully electric propulsion. The article was met with the typical array of negative comments, calling the idea “stupid” and “moronic.” I didn’t bother to post because there were already too many comments (mine would have been lost in the noise); and anytime something is posted touting alternatives to battery powered electric cars, the author is berated.

Image copied from “The Law of Algae.”
Image copied from “The Law of Algae.”

In the early 2000s, I frequently used biodiesel in my Golf TDI. It was sold at a small gas station just down the street for slightly more than regular diesel. Biodiesel is renewable and clean burning, with no noticeable difference in vehicle performance. Most biodiesel is produced from vegetable oil and some people used the waste oil from fast food restaurants as a source.

Biodiesel does have some issues. The most common complaint is that food crops are used to produce the fuel, and that food crops use petroleum products in the fertilizer. This is absolutely true. It does not, however, need to be the case in the future. There is currently a lot of research directed towards using algae (or other plant-based materials) as a source. The algae would not be harvested from the ocean, rather, it would be farmed.


I am not opposed to battery powered vehicles, but that is not the only path forward. There is promising research into the use of biodiesel and other viable synthetic fuels.

Original Jalopnik post:

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