Fossil Fuels

In the weekly bulletin inserts during August there was emphasis on the fact that the world
as well as Minnesota and Kanabec County are at a crossroads as it related to our energy
supply. It was pointed out that the world supply of fossil fuels is slowly dwindling and that
oil drilling companies have to go deeper and deeper to find oil and that the economic and
environmental issues are becoming more difficult to deal with. Note: the Gulf oil spill.

It was also pointed out that there has been and continues to be more and more
development of alternative fuels. Societies everywhere should consider adopting these fuels.
There are many alternative fuels, some can readily be adopted by people all over the
world and there are other fuels that are much more difficult to develop and use, and that is
where incentives need to come into play. Some of these fuels are wind energy, solar energy,
ethanol and bio-diesel fuels. The first two, wind and solar can offset electric supplies, where
the ethanol and bio-diesel fuels, which are also renewable and be used readily. This article
will put emphasis on automobiles and the use of ethanol and bio-diesel fuels.

Transportation, whether it be the car, small trucks, or the large over the road transport
vehicles use a large amount of fuel, largely fossil fuels. This is changing gradually.
Let us look at two different types of vehicles and see how they are different and how they
can fit into your future plans. At the present time most cars and trucks use gasoline or diesel
fuel (both fossil fuels). Most of the gasoline in Minnesota and many other states use a 10%
ethanol/gasoline mix. There are some large diesel trucks that use bio-diesel. Bio-diesel is a
mixture of diesel fuel and a renewable fuel such as soybean oil. This very likely will
increase greatly as time goes by. It should also be stated that all fossil fuels are shipped into
Minnesota at a great energy cost.

There is one form or type of vehicle that is called a Flex Fuel car, meaning it can operate
effectively on two different fuels, gasoline and ethanol, but at a much greater percentage of
ethanol than the 10% presently used. These cars are called Flex Fuel or E-85 cars and
trucks. As you plan your next or future vehicle it may be a good idea to include this into
your planning.

Another type of propulsion for a vehicle is the Hybrid concept. This method uses
electrical motors to move the vehicle. These vehicles use a battery pack as a part or all of the
its energy source. This battery can be charged by an on-board engine or a plugged into an
electrical supply to charge the batteries. You, as an Earth Keeper need to study this concept
to see how it can fit into your families situation.

By making some of these changes, two things can happen, first, it will reduce our use
of fossil fuels which will reduce greenhouse gases such as CO2. The second issue is, it will
reduce our use of oil from overseas and use more locally grown ethanol and bio-diesel
products produced here in Minnesota by Minnesota farmers and farmers nationwide.