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Going bio with primary fuels
Natural resources like bitumen or coal have long been used to generate heat and produce mechanical work. These primary fuels store energy that can either be used immediately or refined into a secondary fuel without causing any energy loss in the process.
Making the most of raw resources with artificial fuels
Secondary fuels are produced to maximize their potential for combustion. Their prominent characteristics are derived from primary fuel using a process of distillation and refining.
These so-called artificial fuels are distributed for both industry and domestic use in solid states (e.g. charcoal) liquid (e.g. gasoline), or gas (e.g. methanol). New methods are producing more environmentally-responsible fuels such as ethanol or sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) that reduce the reliance on fossil fuels.
How fuels came of age with the combustion engine
Secondary fuels were developed with the arrival of the combustion engines. In fact, early refineries used to discard petrol as a waste material until technologies became efficient enough.
Today, most industrial applications, from trains to factory generators, rely on diesel compression engines. Concern over the ecological impact of diesel and limited raw resources, however, is encouraging sectors to pivot to sustainable alternatives such as biodiesel.
Revolutionizing power with the fuel cell
The combustion engine has literally propelled the industrial transformations in the last two centuries. The future, however, is looking to rely less on combustion and more on electrochemical reactions. Enter the fuel cell.
Fuel cells are versatile technologies that leverage hydrogen to generate electricity and power. The cells are more efficient and, when green hydrogen is used, they emit no greenhouse gases. The only discharges are heat and water, which can both be harvested for other applications.