Using alternative fuels
Types of alternative fuels
Solar power has been used to fuel small experimental vehicles and to provide supplementary power for accessories. This technology is being developed rapidly – evidenced by the fact that vehicles in the Darwin to Adelaide Solar Car Rally have increased their maximum speeds from 40km/hr to 150km/hr over the last ten years.
There are many forms of fuel cells currently being investigated, but those that use hydrogen as a fuel are the most prominent. Hydrogen fuel cells work by a controlled reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, releasing energy in the form of electricity. Research is currently being conducted by major vehicle manufacturers and research institutions around the world.
In Perth, we are currently involved with the trial of three hydrogen fuel cell buses as part of a worldwide project.
Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)
LPG is a by-product of oil refining but can also be extracted from natural gas.
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
Liquefied Natural Gas has potential, but its use is currently limited due to the lack of supporting infrastructure for refuelling.
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
Compressed Natural Gas is currently a more viable option than LNG in the short to medium term. The infrastructure required can be set up relatively cheaply compared with LNG.
Methanol, ethanol and other fuels containing alcohol can be produced from forest raw materials or agricultural products. Australian studies have been carried out on the impact of E10 and E20 (10% and 20% ethanol fuels respectively).
There are other renewable fuels, known as ‘biodiesel’, which are derived from a variety of biological sources such as tallow, canola or soya beans. Biodiesel is usually sold mixed with petro-diesel. Although it is sometimes sold in Europe unmixed, five per cent, 10 per cent or 20 per cent blends are more common. Biodiesel is also used as a lubricant additive in low sulphur diesels. One or two per cent biodiesel improves the fuel's lubricant quality considerably.
What we are doing to promote alternative fuels
There is no single solution to the challenge of sustainable transport energy. We are therefore working to identify and promote long-term, holistic strategies to address the complex problems facing the transport sector. We are also facilitating the take up of cleaner new vehicle technologies and alternative fuels, while also promoting fuel efficiency in the transport sector.
WA Government Fleet Policy and Guidelines have been developed, which require agencies to select passenger vehicles with a CO2 emissions rating of 215 g/km or less. More information on this policy can be found on the Department of Treasury and Finance’s Buyer Publications web page. The Green Vehicle Guide provides examples of vehicles with a 215g/km emission rating.
We encourage the use of environmentally friendly alternative fuels. Our vehicle safety officers can help you with advice on the construction and licensing of environmentally friendly vehicles, such as electric vehicles. Visit our constructing vehicles page for more details about constructing and licensing vehicles.
|Department of Finance: WA Government Fleet Policy and Guidelines|
|Green Vehicle Guide|
Why do we need alternative fuels?
The rising cost of conventional fuels, such as petrol, reflects the finite nature of those fuels. More sustainable options are being sought throughout the world. Within this, it’s important to note that emissions from vehicles using conventional fuels have an increasingly detrimental effect on air quality.
Take a look at our Air quality and noise pollution page for more details about how vehicles and their emissions impact on our health and environment.