Broadly speaking, transport fuels in current use in South Australia include:
- Conventional fuels
- Gaseous fuels
- Biofuels and biofuel blends
There are several variants in each category, with the likelihood of further expansion of the variety of fuels available.
Conventional fuels include the variants of petrol and diesel available on the market. While relatively low cost, use of these fossil fuels results in significant greenhouse and air toxic emissions. Newer vehicles burn conventional fuels cleaner and use them more efficiently, with considerable improvements in recent years.
LPG is a well-established gaseous fuel in South Australia. Natural gas, extensively used for stationary energy purposes, is now also being used as a transport fuel.
LPG is widely available, and can service dedicated and dual-fuel LPG-fuelled vehicles. LPG is cheaper and cleaner burning than petrol. Using LPG in place of petrol can cut greenhouse gas emissions by over 10%.
Natural gas is predominantly used in heavy vehicles, in the form of compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG). It is typically used for depot-based refuelling, where compression or liquefaction facilities can connect to the existing gas distribution network.
Biofuels and biofuel blends
Ethanol and biodiesel are growing in popularity as replacement fuels for petrol and diesel, respectively. Both ethanol and biodiesel are renewable fuels and have very low full fuel cycle greenhouse gas emissions.
Ethanol is blended with petrol and sold in one of three currently available transport fuels; P100 which contains up to 10% ethanol (by volume), E10 that contains 10% ethanol and E85 (85% ethanol and only 15% petrol, by volume).
P100 is a premium fuel (minimum octane rating of 98) that can be used in the majority of vehicles that require premium fuel.
E10 is suitable as a petrol replacement for most vehicles, without any modification. E85 has quite different characteristics to petrol and, as such, is only suitable for a small range of models (at present), without engine modification.
Locate outlets for ethanol fuels here.
Biodiesel is blended with mineral diesel and sold as B5 (5% biodiesel and 95% mineral diesel, by volume) or B20 (20% biodiesel and 80% mineral diesel, by volume). Pure biodiesel (B100) is also sold without any mineral diesel content. B5 must meet the same standards as mineral diesel and, as such, diesel may contain up to 5% biodiesel without labelling.
Mass-produced electric vehicles first entered the South Australian market in 2010. There are now several plug-in electric vehicle variants available. Electric vehicles are quiet, highly efficient, cheap to run and have no drive-time emissions. Electricity can be generated from a variety of primary energy sources.
The main limitation of using electricity in road vehicles relate to batteries. Electric range is limited (although can service at least 90% of your trip requirements), batteries are costly and they can take hours to recharge. Several innovative approaches to deal with battery limitations are emerging, making electric vehicles a significant option.
Locate public electricity recharge points here.
Synthetic fuels are chemically identical to conventional fuels, however the cost and emissions tend to be higher.
Hydrogen is promising, particularly in electrochemical fuel cells for electric vehicles, in place of batteries. Cost, infrastructure and emissions issues exist.
Compressed air engines and energy-capture systems are emerging, though the technology is not yet mature.