Exploring alternative fuels to save energy
More and more consumers are interested in finding ways to minimise their impact on the environment. This includes finding ways to cut down on carbon emissions when driving. As conventional petrol is becoming increasingly scarce and costly, it’s important to find alternatives. There are numerous forms of alternative fuel available, from biodiesel to electricity. The following are a few of the most promising forms of fuel, which could help reduce the impact of cars on climate change.
One of the primary forms of alternative fuel is electricity, which has become an important segment of the automobile market. Electricity is now used as an alternative to petrol in both the best SUVs and luxury brands like Lexus and BMW. Electric cars don’t produce any tail pipe emissions, and cost far less to run. Bestselling hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius are capable of running on both fossil fuels and electricity. Although fully electric cars have yet to capture the attention of mainstream consumers, this technology is on the rise. Tesla has just released a car that can run for up to 160 miles without any need to charge its batteries, and other long-distance electric vehicles are in the works.
Another popular alternative fuel is natural gas, which can be found in both compressed and liquefied states. Natural gas offers a smog reduction rate of up to 90%, and reduces carbon emissions up to 40% in comparison to fossil fuels. Most vehicles require some form of modification in order to accept this type of fuel. Propane is also used as a liquefied fuel, produced from processed natural gas combined with refined petroleum. This is a popular alternative in Europe, where it comprises over 10% of the fuel used in countries like the Netherlands.
Drivers who are looking for an alternative fuel that is safe for a car normally run on petrol may wish to look at ethanol. This biofuel produces fewer carbon emissions, and can be used in Flexible Fuel Vehicles. Brazil is one of the leaders in the use of ethanol, producing this fuel from native sugarcane. The Brazilian Fiat 147 was the first automobile to run solely on pure ethanol, but there are now multiple models that are capable of using this biofuel.
You may have seen cars on listings websites like www.motoring.com.au described as “Fuel Cell Vehicles.” These are able to run on hydrogen, which is mixed with oxygen to create electricity within the engine. Hydrogen can also be used in vehicles with internal combustion engines, producing water vapour and heat to power the vehicle. At the moment, these types of cars are prohibitively expensive for most consumers but there is a high interest in hydrogen due to its clean energy potential.
Similar to ethanol, biodiesel is another biofuel made from plants. However, it’s created without any need for fermentation and is generated using pure vegetable fat. Many diesel engines are able to run on biodiesel, but there is some concern about the fuel’s long-term impact on the car.
Although none of these methods are perfect for widespread use, scientists are hard at work to refine these alternative fuels to make them more viable options. You can expect to choose from a wide range of environmentally-friendly fuels in the cars of the future.