Science & Technology in Action

7th Edition

Smarter Use of Fuels


Biofuels offer an attractive alternative to traditional fossil fuels. This is important as the number of cars on the road will triple by the year 2050. This lesson describes the production of ethanol from sugar cane and its use in flexible-fuel vehicles. It discusses some other ways of conserving fuel usage as promoted by the Shell Smarter Mobility programme.

Contains the full lesson along with a supporting toolkit, including teachers’ notes.

Lesson excerpt

Being Smarter Helps Safeguard the Future
The current debate about future energy needs highlights the need to develop new sources of energy before the world's supplies offossil fuel expire. However, while these alternative sources (wind, solar, hydrogen) are being developed to a scale where they make a significant impact there are many things that can be done to make more efficient use of our current fuels. Shell is at the forefront of this effort as is clearly illustrated by the activities described in this lesson.

What is Smarter Mobility?
Projections indicate that the number of cars on the road will probably triple by the year 2050. This means that the demand for motor fuel will also increase. This, in turn, will produce additional threats to the global environment, as a result of increased emissions. The Shell Smarter Mobility programme is an ongoing effort to meet this demand for fuel while reducing the environmental impact. The programme involves a number of strands, including:

  • developing more energy-efficient f uels and lubricants
  • investing in lower carbon alternatives
  • offering fuel-saving advice to drivers.

Looking at Fuels
A fuel is any material that stores energy that can be extracted to perform work. We are all familiar with the combustion process in which fuel once ignited reacts with the oxygen in the air. The most common fuels in use at present are fossil fuels. These arehydrocarbons and include coal and petroleum.

Quiz questions

  1. Kilometres per litre is a measure of efficiency. true
  2. Sources of fossil fuel are considered to be renewable. false
  3. Sugarcane is a biomass material. true
  4. A flex car is a car that can run on more than one type of fuel. true
  5. The Shell Eco-marathon is restricted to professional drivers. false
  6. Biofuels are produced from fossils. false
  7. Concrete is considered to e a biomass. false
  8. Polyurethane is used to make lighter car parts. true
  9. Ethanol and ethylene are the same thing. false
  10. Lubricants make no difference to fuel consumption in a car. false
  11. Diesel fuel produces no pollutants. false
  12. Ireland is developing a leadership position in biometrics.