Faculty Advisor

Bergendahl, John A.

Abstract

Since the events of September 11, 2001, the U.S. has been concerned about the security of its petroleum supplies. In addition due to the vast majority of oil produced in OPEC member nations, they have the ability to fix prices above free market standards. Since the Yom Kippur war of 1973, OPEC has used their control of their share of the world's petroleum supply to influence the market and raise the price of oil. These events, as well as the phenomenon of global warming have made consumers look for ways to reduce their reliance on petroleum. This has taken the form of hybrid gas/electric cars and the attempted development of hydrogen fuel cells. However, hybrid cars still run on fuel imported from an oil cartel, and hydrogen fuel cells are at best high-yield batteries. The benefits of biofuels have become increasingly appealing in recent years as the cost for fossil fuels continues to rise and people become aware of the environmental impact of petroleum based fuels. While it is unlikely that biodiesel will completely replace conventional fossil fuels as the primary source of energy for transportation and heating purposes, the presence of a thriving biodiesel industry and other forms of "Green Energy" would give American consumers an option other than OPEC oil thus reducing the control of the oil cartel over energy prices. Currently, biodiesel production is insufficient to provide a complete alternative to petrodiesel, but with Federal grants and continued research and development, the biodiesel industry has potential for growth. This report outlines how the presence of an alternative to foreign oil will upset the balance of power in the energy market and force the OPEC oil cartel to maintain "fair" prices.

Publisher

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date Accepted

January 2006

Project Type

Interactive Qualifying Project

Accessibility

Restricted-WPI community only

Advisor Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

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