EGEE 439
Alternative Fuels from Biomass Sources

Lesson 2: Existing Fossil Fuel Technologies for Transportation


In the previous lesson, we learned that alternative fuels are a viable replacement for fossil fuels. But to make them viable, the fuels must fit into the current fuel structure and needs. This week's lesson focuses on transportation fuels - we will learn some chemistry about fuels (a short chemistry tutorial is first), how these fuels are currently made, and how these fuels are utilized. This provides a basis for understanding how alternative fuels must be chemically modified so we do not have to make significant changes in utilization. As part of the assignment, we will also have a chance to critically evaluate existing literature on the use of alternative fuels.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • explain the chemistry of gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, and fuel oil;
  • describe the basics of how these fuels are made by converting from crude oil;
  • discuss the utilization of these fuels in cars, trucks, aircraft, and various engine types;
  • evaluate necessary fuel characteristics for various vehicle engines;
  • critically evaluate available literature on alternative fuels.

Lesson 2 Road Map

This lesson will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the Course Syllabus for specific time frames and due dates. Specific directions for the assignment below can be found within this lesson.

Steps for Completing Lesson 2
Step Activity Access/Directions
1 Read Bryce, Robert. Power Hungry: The Myths of "green" Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future. New York, NY: PublicAffairs, 2010. (Chapters 1-3) 2.5
2 Read Laughlin, Robert B. Powering the Future: How We Will (eventually) Solve the Energy Crisis and Fuel the Civilization of Tomorrow. New York: Basic, 2011. Print. (Chapter 7) 2.5
3 Homework #2 2.5
4 Discussion #2 2.5


If you have any questions, please send them to All Course Instructors through ANGEL e-mail. I will check daily to respond. If your question is one that is relevant to the entire class, I may respond to the entire class rather than individually.