Sunday, May 6, 2007

RV Alternative Fuels - How Dangerous?

70 years ago today, a vehicle using an alternative fuel crashed taking the lives of 36 people. At the time, it's cutting edge technology included metal framing and fabric cover. It covered thousands of miles safely before it exploded into flames and crashed at Lakehurst, NJ.

The airship Hindenburg crash should remind us about the dangers of making changes, and the need for careful forward thinking. While Hydrogen in the Hindenburg was used as a lifting source rather than a fuel source, the results are obvious. A few years ago, MTBE was a required fuel additive to help reduce engine emissions, then it was found to be a very dangerous chemical additive easily invading ground water, and outlawed nationwide.

The Hindenburg crashed in part because the US had an embargo against less explosive Helium, so the highly explosive Hydrogen was used instead. The problem is that even though the use of Hydrogen as an alternative fuel source sounds great, there are potential problems to overcome. The same is true for Ethanol that is being touted as a great fuel source, but we just read the other day that extremely hazardous chemicals are byproducts that may cause serious environmental issues.

The US seems to take a "knee jerk" approach to energy and political issues trying for the quick fix. Unfortunately, without careful forward thinking, we end up with MTBE type problems or worse. With the cost of fuels skyrocketing, it's easy to view any reduction in our dependence on foreign fuels as positive.

RV alternative fuels are just around the corner. We hope the decision makers keep past disastrous lessons in mind as they make energy policy decisions that may effect our RV camping experiences in a negative way.

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