'Blood Drive' Presents A New Alternative Fuel

by Alaina Urquhart-White

There there is just something to be said for entertainment, be it television or movies, that offers legitimate escapism. Syfy's newest foray into the world of suspended reality comes in the form of a new Syfy series, Blood Drive. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic 1999 setting, the world has become a slightly (I mean only slightly) different place, ravaged by climate change and corporate greed. As a result, cars now run on human blood as opposed to gasoline. Of course, this seems like a pretty far-fetched idea but it did make me wonder, can cars really run on blood?

Now, first let me say that I realize Blood Drive is intentionally campy and outrageous. The entire premise of anything Grindhouse is that it presents a world filled with gore, grime, and absurdity. I just had to ask myself whether this seemingly ridiculous scenario could actually ever come to fruition. I myself am not a huge car aficionado but my love of science affords me enough molecular knowledge to reason out how this might work. And, basically, at this point, it doesn't seem very possible for a car to run solely on blood.

At their very core, cars tend to use combustion as a method of propelling themselves forward. Petroleum, which we use to fuel cars, is made from hydrocarbons. Energy can be extracted from these hydrocarbons by burning them. This process allows the hydrogen and carbon atoms to split apart and combine with the oxygen in the air to make carbon dioxide and water. Now that those molecules have gone their separate ways, the energy that was once holding them together is then released into the environment as heat and voila, we have straight up combustion. The molecular makeup of blood is not at all conducive to combustion. So, in the trailer for Blood Drive where we see one of the main characters stick some poor sap's head into her car's engine to fuel it, his death would likely be in vain. As effective as that may be cinematically, that would only cause a mess.

Things get a little more complicated when you discuss vehicles powered by batteries. There have been numerous studies in recent years that have found success in converting glucose into energy specifically to power batteries. Since blood contains glucose, presumably it could fuel batteries and possibly work in cars sometime in the future. I am assuming Blood Drive uses unwilling, living victims for fuel because upon death, blood coagulates and its molecular structure starts breaking down. This would seemingly negate the idea of using donated corpses as fuel sources. Of course, this kind of fuel development would be pretty awful and ethically wrong on so many levels. Let's stick to using straight up sugar for this research instead of blood-borne glucose, please.