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Introduction:

It seems that every year when the summer travel season comes around, the price of gasoline goes up. Because most Americans depend upon personal vehicles to get from one place to another, this increase in price affects all of us. Gasoline is one of the products of the petroleum refining process. Much of the petroleum used in the United States is imported from overseas. This means that gasoline prices are tied to the prices that oil-exporting countries charge for crude oil.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. For the last thirty years, many researchers and scientists have been experimenting with alternatives to gasoline. Some alternative fuels have been developed that can be added to gasoline to reduce the overall cost. Other alternative fuels can be used directly in present-day engines. Most alternative fuels can be considered renewable resources because they can be replenished easily, and can never run out. Petroleum, on the other hand, is a nonrenewable resource that can be used up. What are alternative fuels? Where do alternative fuels come from? What alternative fuels are in use today? In this WebQuest, you will explore the topic of alternative fuels and find the answers to some of these questions.

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Task:

Your job in this WebQuest is to discover what alternative fuels are, and find out how the use of such fuels can reduce overall air pollution from vehicles. You will explore the different types of alternative fuels, and identify those that appear to be most cost-effective. You will also learn about other energy sources that could be used to power vehicles. You will answer a set of questions about alternative fuels to demonstrate what you have learned. Finally you will put together a presentation to convince others that your chosen alternative is the best replacement for petroleum-based fuels.

Process:

1. Complete the questions on the research guide:

2. Complete the comparison chart:

3. Develop a public awareness campaign to convince others that your selected alternative is the best. Use keynote, prezi.com, make a brochure, make a movie...be creative! View the rubric for this presentation. In essence, you will be making a "persuasive speech"; use this website to help you format your presentation.

Resources:

  • Look at the web sites given here to find the information that will enable you to answer questions about alternative fuels.
    • Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center. Visit this U.S. Department of Energy site to learn all about alternative fuels, alternative fuel vehicles, and refueling sites. Scroll down and click on frequently asked questions to find out the definition of alternative fuels. Explore the site for information on biodiesel fuel, electric fuel, ethanol, methanol, hydrogen, natural gas, propane, and more.
    • **Alternative Fuels.** Go to this Protection Agency (EPA) site to learn more about alternative fuels. Scroll down and click on clean fuels: an overview to find out what clean fuels are and how they can overall vehicular air pollution.
    • **Bio Energy.** Visit this site by the Farm Service Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to learn how this agency seeks to expand the industrial consumption of agricultural products by promoting their use in the production of bioenergy, primarily ethanol and biodiesel fuel.
    • **Biofuels Program Research.** At this site by the National Biofuels Program of the U.S. Department of Energy you can learn more about biofuels. Biofuels can supply the U.S. with alternatives to imported oil. Scroll down and click on bioethanol to learn how biomass is converted to bioethanol fuel.
    • National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Go to this U.S. Department of Energy site to read about this laboratory where scientists evaluate biomass fuels such as ethanol and methanol, as well as other renewable energy resources such as hydropower and wind energy.
    • Ethanol Information Centre. Visit this site to learn more about ethanol as a fuel. Click on fuel ethanol and food supply to see how growing crops to produce ethanol might affect food production in Canada. Try this one if the first link doesn't work: http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/transportation/afvs/ethanol.html