Annotation: They will learn the different types of alternative fuels and their uses. The students will also discuss the pros and cons of using alternative fuels. Grade(s)

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Electricity- Runs on a power grid to power plug-in hybrid vehicles. The car has no emissions while running. Electricity is a good option for short-range driving. Hybrid cars also fall into this category.
Hydrogen- On the periodic table hydrogen is the lightest of all elements and has been looked at for many years as a fuel-source. Most hydrogen is made of natural gas but can also be produced through electrolysis using water (H20). Hydrogen in gas form can be compressed and stored in cylinders. One problem with hydrogen is the size of the fuel tanks. Hydrogen in equal sized tanks contains less energy than gasoline and ethanol. Hydrogen in liquid form is very expensive. Hydrogen is also used in fuel cells. Fuel cell vehicles turn hydrogen fuel and oxygen into electricity. The electricity then powers an electric motor. Spacecrafts for many years have used hydrogen fuel cells to power equipment. A fuel cell is an electrochemical cell that derives its energy from combustible substances such as hydrogen, methane, propane, methanol, diesel fuel or even gasoline.
Methanol- is methane with one hydrogen molecule replaced by a hydroxyl radical (OH).A synthesis gas is formed from steam. The gas is then fed into a reactor vessel in the presence of a catalyst. This process then produces methanol and water vapor. A variety of feedstock can be used to create methanol. The most common seen is use of natural gas. Methanol can be made into hydrogen. This would be beneficial for future work with hydrogen cells.

Natural Gas- is a mostly methane gas, but may contain ethane, propane, and mixture of other gases. It has a very high octane rating and works well in spark-ignited internal combustion engines. It is non-toxic, non-corrosive, and non-carcinogenic. In the United States 25% of the energy used is from natural gas. The United States uses less than one percent of natural gas for transportation needs.

Propane- liquefied petroleum gas (LPG or LP-gas). Propane is stored in a pressurized tank. It is a colorless, odorless liquid. As pressure is released, the liquid propane vaporizes and turns into gas that is used for combustion. It is non-toxic and has a high octane ratings. Propane is a by-product of crude oil and natural gas. Propane is called bottled gas because it is portable in small tanks, such as those used on BBQ grills. Propane is widely used in indoor forklifts because of the lack of emissions. It has been used for lawn equipment and other small motorized vehicles.

Attachments for Learning Experiences:

Notes & Reflections:

Culminating Performance Task (Optional)

Culminating Unit Performance Task Title:

Culminating Unit Performance Task Description/Directions/Differentiated Instruction:

With this performance task, students should choose a form of alternative fuels to research and create a report. In the report they should include what is used to make the fuel, the history of this alternative fuel, and the environmental and economic benefits. The student should then place all this information into a power point presentation. Each student should make a short presentation to the class on their alternative fuel. After all presentations have been made a discussion should be held on what the students feels is the future of alternative fuels. In the discussion they should also talk about which alternative fuels would have the best economic and environmental impact on our society.

Fuels defined as alternative fuels by the Energy Policy Act 1992.

  • Biodiesel

  • Electricity

  • Ethanol

  • Hydrogen

  • Methanol

  • Natural Gas

  • Propane

Alternative Fuels that are still under development

  • Biobutanol

  • Biogass

  • Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel

  • Biomass to liquids

  • Coal to liquids

  • Fischer-Tropsch Diesel

  • Gas to liquids

  • Hydrogenation- Derived Renewable Diesel

  • P Series

  • Fuel Cell

Rubric for Performance Task: Attach rubric used in the assessment of this Unit Performance Task or submit as separate file.

Scoring Rubric for Alternative Fuels Project







Accuracy of Information






Clarity, Quality, and Accuracy of Power Point






Presentation to class






Participation in Discussion






Overall Effort






Attachments for Culminating Performance Task:

Alternative Fuels Exam

  1. What alternative fuel is store in pressurized portable tanks?

  2. An alternative fuel that derives from biomass is known as what?

  3. List three pros to using bioethanol and biodiesel as an alternative fuel.

  4. List three cons to using bioethanol and biodiesel as an alternative fuel.

  5. 25% of what alternative fuel is used as an energy source in America?

  6. Which alternative fuel uses a synthesis gas formed from steam?

  7. The hybrid car runs on which type of alternative fuel?

  8. What is 2nd generation fuels?

  9. What is a fuel cell?

  10. What is the lightest element on the periodic table?

Unit Resources

Web Resources:

Materials & Equipment:

What 21st Century Technology was used in this unit:

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Slide Show Software

Graphing Software

Audio File(s)

Interactive Whiteboard


Graphic Organizer

Student Response System

Desktop Publishing


Image File(s)

Web Design Software




Animation Software


Electronic Game or Puzzle Maker




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Georgia CTAE Resource Network Unit Plan Resource Unit 17 Alternative Fuels • Page of

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