If you’re serious about prepping, you know that fuel (be it gasoline or diesel) is an incredibly valuable asset. In case of emergency, fuel powers our generators, not to mention our vehicles, so knowing how to store fuel is very important. The question is – what happens if we run out of stored fuel?
Aside from the societal collapse that would inevitably follow, how would you power engines and generators?
Many people want to know how to store fuel for this exact purpose, but is that really possible? If so, how long will fuel last?
Let’s find an answer.
Gasoline and Diesel Don’t Last Long
Bad news first – neither gasoline nor diesel lasts long. Both of these fuels will go bad after about six months in a regular plastic container.
If you store your fuel at a temperature above 70°F, it’ll go bad even quicker!
There are three major reasons for this.
- First of all, the fuel will break down over time because of oxidation. This is something that you can’t avoid, but you can slow it down by treating your fuel with antioxidants.
- Then, we have moisture. Moisture is a big enemy of fuel, as both gasoline and diesel break down if they come into contact with water. You can expect moisture as a result of condensation.
- Finally, that very same moisture creates a perfect environment for the development of bacteria, so you’ll have to treat your fuel with biocides if you want it to last longer.
On top of all that, you have to keep it at a low temperature (ideally 20°F) and in a metal, stainless container.
If you do all that – antioxidation treatment, biocides, low-temperature storage – your fuel won’t last more than three years!
Gasoline usually lasts longer than diesel, with diesel usually naturally deteriorating after about 18 months.
The only way to exceed those periods is by buying industry-grade storage equipment. However, it costs a fortune, and it’s difficult to maintain.
So, since this is a fight we lose before it even starts, what are the alternatives for when you run out of stored fuel?
Biogas for when you run out of stored fuel
As Jose Martinez has already explained in this article, biogas is a great alternative to diesel and gasoline.
Now, before I go any further, know that biodiesel is difficult to produce. It’s made from organic waste, animal manure, human waste, and crops. You need a lot, and I really mean a lot of ingredients to make biogas.
It would take weeks or months (depending on the size of your group and how many cattle you have) to produce enough biogas to fill up a tank of a single pickup truck. And we all know those things are thirsty!
However, you could use biogas to fuel a motorcycle, for example, or a generator.
Other than the fact it’s difficult to produce, one problem I have with biogas is just how dangerous it is to produce.
A lot of things can go wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing, and the risk doesn’t pay off unless you could really use the biogas.
So, if you’re an engineer who has a lot of animal manure and you want to power your house with a generator – great! If not, then this alternative energy won’t be easy for you.
Solar for when you run out of stored fuel
Solar energy is, for me, the perfect alternative, although I must admit it has two big catches.
Catch 1 – solar panels don’t charge their generators quickly. In fact, solar panels are only about 22-28% effective (depending on the manufacturer), so you’re actually getting less than a third of the sun’s energy.
Catch 2 – solar generators can rarely power entire homes.
Sure, there are some generators that can power homes, but only for limited time periods. You would need about fifteen 400-watt panels collecting energy in absolutely ideal conditions to power an average American home solely on solar energy.
Let’s say you also have an electric car you bought to avoid the fuel crisis (which also isn’t an ideal solution, as those batteries expire, but it’s certainly more sustainable than a traditional, gas-powered vehicle for this scenario.)
Chances are, you won’t be able to get enough electricity turned to solar to power all that. If you have enough panels and you live in a sunny area, count yourself lucky, but most people aren’t as lucky.
What you can do is install a few solar panels and use them to power the essentials. Not your TV or your dishwasher, but tools, vehicles (to an extent – don’t spend all the electricity on your electric car), lights, etc.
There are also a few solar-powered items, such as lanterns, stoves, and even showers that can make all the difference in the right situations. These things come with their own collectors, so you won’t need to hook them up to the main solar network.
If you don’t feel like installing a massive generator and a dozen solar panels in your yard, think about getting smaller, portable generators, which are still powerful enough to power tools and smaller appliances.
What will you do when you run out of stored fuel?
Do you know how to store fuel? What’s your plan in case the fuel supply gets cut off? Do you have any experience with biogas or solar energy? What is your alternative plan for when you run out of stored fuel?
Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Tom is a former military reconnaissance scout with three years of extensive training and first-hand experience in navigation, first aid, firearms maintenance, combat, and wilderness survival. He is also an avid hiker and all-around outdoorsman with a lifetime of experience in the wild. Aside from writing and sports, emergency preparedness is one of his biggest interests, and he’s a big believer in being ready for anything the world may throw at you. You may contact him at tomislavlovricwriting@gmail.