from the Evolution of Modern Traction Seminar on 5th November 2005
There are three reasons for developing alternative fuels for transport: the imperative to reduce carbon emissions, impending oil and gas exhaustion and common sense. Currently 97% of the power for UK transport comes from mineral oil. Only 0.3% of motor fuel is furnished by recycled vegetable oil. The UK is nowhere near meeting its EU obligations of at least 5% of motor fuels from biofuels by 2010. So how have these problems suddenly arisen? In 1956 the geologist M. King Hubbert of Shell research in Houston predicted that US crude oil production would fall in 1970. It did. However Hubberts contention that there was a similar bell shaped curve for world oil output was not without critics such as Professor Peter Odell  of Erasmus University. Consequently Hubbert went unheeded until the publication of Hubberts Peak  in 2001. This was followed by Richard Heinbergs The Partys Over  in 2003, which spelt out the serious social consequences of oil and gas depletion. Gas is a feedstock for fertilisers. Heinberg showed that many currently touted high tech solutions are impractical. Nuclear power is only virtually limitless when dangerous plutonium is employed. Uranium is not abundant  and its production entails use of hydrocarbon fuels and toxic waste.
Waste is encouraged by flaws within the present neo-
The best alternative fuel is no fuel. Increased prices could reduce motorists fuel consumption by 50% by stimulating the purchase of thrifty cars. Cycling accounts for 30% of the mode split in many Dutch and Danish cities but only a tiny fraction of that in the United Kingdom. Horses are here -
Meantime Indian Railways are forging ahead with oil from the Jatropha Curcas tree being the most promising. This shrub is ideal for semi arid conditions. It can stand a mild frost. Holy cows hate it, hence it makes excellent railway hedging. Details of these developments may be found by typing Indian Railways Biofuels into a search engine. In Britain research should be undertaken on the economical movement and sorting of wagon load freight -