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Carbon neutral fuel sources for vehicles worth a look

A biodiesel plant in Sarasota. (Image via Facebook)

As electrification in the automotive industry becomes a mainstream standard for most manufacturers, alternative fuel sources for internal combustion engines has received little attention. Carbon neutral fuel, commonly referred to as biofuel, is a fuel source that produces lower emissions versus fossil fuels that are a pollutant to the environment. Carbon neutral fuel can be created through vegetation, forestry, wheat, corn, sugar, carbon dioxide and hydrogen. The different fuels that can be used include green hydrogen, bioethanol, biodiesel, methanol and e-fuels.

These alternative fuel sources for combustion engines can help alleviate the stress of the societal push for mainstream electric vehicle (EV) adoption, as it is at this time unrealistic due to several factors. According to the Internal Energy Agency (IEA), the world could face lithium shortages by 2025. California Gov. Gavin Newsome signed an executive order in 2020 requiring sales of all new passenger vehicles to be zero emission by 2035.

Lithium mining can be harmful to the environment if it contaminates local water supplies. The World Economic Forum stated “lithium extraction requires very high volumes of water, and this is leading to problems around water stress – a situation where a region’s water resources are not enough to meet its needs.” This greatly affects drought-stricken areas such as South America and Australia. The IEA said more of half of today’s lithium production is in areas with high water stress. The IEA also added that areas such as Australia, China, and Africa are also subject to extreme heat or flooding which will pose a threat to having a stable supply chain of raw lithium materials that are needed.

Porsche is among the early automotive manufactures to become heavily involved with carbon neutral fuel technology aside from creating EVs for its customers. Porsche said in a December 2022 article on CNBC “that a pilot plant in Chile started production of the alternative fuel, as it aims to produce millions of gallons by mid-decade.” Porsche has a goal to sell this biofuel to major oil companies that would trickle down to the general consumer.

Recycling lithium batteries eventually could significantly help reduce lithium supply chain shortages. Recycling lithium batteries can help supply requirements by about a tenth by 2040, according to the IEA.

In 2020, Porsche invested $24 million in a Chilean plant for biofuel development. Porsche stated that e- fuels will act like gasoline in a combustion engine and can use the same existing fueling infrastructure that is currently in place at this time versus creating more charging stations for EVs.

Michael Steiner, Porsche’s director of research and development, claimed that e-fuels have great potential or the future, and that e-fuels offer the owners of current gas powered vehicles an easy transition to a cleaner technology by switching the fuel source.

Not everyone agrees that the transition would be easy.

According to the Department of Energy, “Entirely replacing traditional fossil fuels with e-fuels would be difficult and extremely costly. In 2021, about 134.83 billion gallons of finished motor gasoline were consumed in the U.S., an average of about 369 million gallons per day.”

If the production of these different fuel sources that are cleaner than ever before gets into the mainstream market, consumers would have a wide range of vehicles with different power sources to choose from besides EVs.

Tribal member Calvin Tiger is in the Education Department’s Emerging Leaders Program. He specializes in writing about the automotive industry and anything vehicle related. Contact him at or (954) 966-6300, ext. 10739.

Calvin Tiger
Calvin Tiger is an intern/reporter for the Seminole Tribune. He has worked with the Seminole Tribe of Florida since 2013. He has a passion for automotive journalism. Send him an email at or call him at (954) 985-5701, ext. 10739.