As a fossil fuel its combustion contributes CO2 to the atmosphere, and so contributes to climate change. The particulates it emits on combustion contribute to inner-city pollution. Its extraction around the world is a dirty process, despite some half-hearted efforts to convince us otherwise. And the global appetite for oil-based fuels makes the environment, or indigenous people, only a secondary consideration in the oil business. To cap it all, most oil production is from politically unstable regions of the world so that our foreign policy cannot help but be warped by a need to secure our fuel supply. `q1Qq
Put in that light, our willingness to be completely dependent upon it for transport seems quite unfathomable. Absurd, even.
But petrol is just so very, very convenient. Here are six reasons why petrol is a difficult fuel to replace.
1. Oil is relatively abundant. Compared to other sources of energy that are easy to tap, oil is abundant. Oil extraction is artificially restricted to keep the price up (if there was too much in the market at any one time, the price would go down). As reserves seem harder to find, new technology develops way to access oil we previously thought was not accessible. And even though demand increases this simply drives up prices, making extraction from traditionally more inaccessible places most cost effective. There is an issue to do with the rapid rise in car usage, especially in Asia, but we still manage to find more oil.
2. Petrol is relatively cheap. See (1).
3. Petrol has a fantastically high energy density so that it is a really efficient energy to transport. Great for vehicles because a vehicle needs to carry its own fuel, so the greater energy you can get per kg, the better.
4. Another reason petrol is easy to transport is because it is relatively easy to store. It doesn’t require cooling or pressurisation. It can be stored at room temperature and atmospheric pressure without being unstable. You can transfer...
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