Biodiesel and Bioethanol
Vegetable oil, commonly soy, can be converted to biodiesel. Starch, (e.g. maize), can be converted to bioethanol. Both have undergone an environmental audit by David Tilman and his team at the University of Minnesota, taking into account the use of fuel to run machinery as well as growing mediums. Biodiesel fuel came out tops, reducing emissions by 41% over diesel, whilst ethanol would only reduce current petrol emissions by 12%. Unfortunately, even if all the soy and maize production in the United States were converted to fuel it would not meet 5% of current needs for petrol or diesel.
It looks like bioethanol costs more environmentally to produce, than the benefits it gives in using it according to USA Today article.
Car Owners At current research levels , if you want to drive with least damage to the environment biodiesel is the way to go. Looking at cheaper options for biodiesel make your own - there is a lot of advice out there - but please, do not go into this lightly - do your research.
Biodiesel Making There is a comprehensive kits available for making biodiesel - I will be adding more to these pages in the future. Home biodiesel making with used vegetable oil could be the way to go for the enthusiast.
Biofuels do have potential disadvantages. Not least that our world does not look as though it can feed the growing numbers of people living on it. George Monbiot highlighted the issue in an article at the end of March 07 - If the agricultural land that we have must compete with a major biofuel industry - it will be poorer people with less access to good food sources that will lose out. However, for the time being, producing biofuel at home would seem to be the best option until technology advances.
If most of your travel consists of short city journeys an electric car could be the answer for you - so long as you can easily recharge the battery over night. Hydrogen is still in the testing phases, and though looking potentially excellent, at early 2007 there are no commercial vehicles widely available.