HomeAirWaterEarthTalk For Educators
Fuel For Thought
Part 1
Part 2

For Some, Gas Is Starting to Lose Its Luster.  Bring on the Alternatives!
Alternative Vehicle
The fuel you use to fire up your barbeque grill or the grease left over from that breakfast fry-up is now powering more vehicles than you imagine on freeways. Alternative fuels are gaining popularity, because many are grown by farmers in the U.S., and are often cheaper and cleaner than gasoline.
Mike Lewis
Mike Lewis, Manager, Regional Transportation Center
We talked to Mike Lewis, who runs the Regional Transportation Center in San Diego, and asked him 'What's the catch?'
POV's Borders: What's so unique about the Center and what do people get when they drive up?
Mike: It's the first time in the world anyone has put all these different components together in one place. You can fill up on ethanol, propane, compressed natural gas (CNG). We have six electric charging stations you can use for free. We have people pumping biodiesel made out of used French fry grease.
The average person produces 7 gallons of waste cooking oil a year. We take this out of the waste stream from local restaurants and it's turned into fuel. We also have an education center that will bring in school children on natural gas-powered buses so they can learn about energy sources and pollution problems around the world.
Ethanol Pump
Biodiesel Pump

What's the biggest misconception about alternative fuels?
When it comes to ethanol and biodiesel there are literally tens of thousands of people who don't know their vehicles can run on something other than gasoline. There are many vehicles out there that can switch between ethanol and gasoline, or between regular diesel and biodiesel using the same tank.

What motivates people to come here?
More and more people have come in asking about alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) because they're troubled by our foreign oil dependence. A lot of people feel that our interests in the Middle East are due primarily to our huge dependence on foreign oil. And these people feel they have very few choices to do anything about that. But one option they do have is choosing alternative fuels and weaning themselves off that oil.

Related Links

Regional Transportation Center
The Alternative Fuel Station Locator
Ford's Environmental Vehicles Website

Play Video | Read More in Part Two

Pump It Up Gas station attendant fueling car at Regional Transportation Center, San Diego

Watch & Listen

The Regional Transportation Center in San Diego is the first gas station to offer an array of exotic fuel alternatives, and the vehicles to put them in. Take a trip around the center and see what's on offer. (1:48 minutes)
In Part Two:
Trade your SUV for a soy-burning compact? It can happen! Chad's story.
Useful Alternative Fuel
U.S. Department of Energy: Clean Cities Program Vehicle Buyer's Guide
For a complete guide to the fuel choices mentioned in our stories — what they're made from, where you can buy them — visit this helpful site.
PBS: Frontline World Report
A special Frontline World report on Iceland where people are turning away from oil and looking to hydrogen to power them into the future.
More on the future of hydrogen in this NewsHour report.
The Alternative-fuel Vehicle Directory
A great directory of links to everything you ever wanted to know about alternative transport choices.
H2 Nation
Online and print magazine with updated news coverage of the hydrogen economy.
You'll find Mike Pelly's home recipe for biodiesel, along with a list of more conventional suppliers.
Umbra Fisk
In Border Talk
Grist Magazine's resident expert discusses the downsides of petro-diesel, and other pressing questions of environmental etiquette.
Mike Pelly with his Biodiesel Processor

Mike Pelly with his Biodiesel Processor.
Photo courtesy of JourneyToForever.org