It’s no question that the scarcity of conventional fuels such as coal and petroleum has turned many car manufacturers to performance-guaranteed alternate fuels. While costs do fluctuate up and down, the inherent limited supply will have to be dealt with eventually
And although the cost of production and the feasibility of these fuels are the priority concerns, the environmental impacts of these fuels are equally important.
Taking into account several factors such as availability, emission, cost of production, etc. the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, has approved a number of fuels as the alternate fuels for the future which can be safely used in vehicles. To promote the consumption of alternate fuels, the Federal government has initiated many tax incentives to consumers who purchase vehicles with alternate fuel technology.
Hybrid cars thus have been a choice of many consumers. It works on a technology that uses two sources of energy, by which the fuel consumption and emission can be reduced.
Let’s take a look at the most viable…
Ethanol is an alternative fuel produced by the fermentation of crops such as wheat, corn, sugar cane, and fruits, etc. This fuel offers cleaner combustion with less carbon dioxide emission and can be used mixed with petrol. E85, which stands for 85% ethanol and 15% petrol, is found to be the suitable fuel for hybrid cars.
Other combinations such as E70 are also available in the market. The drawback of this fuel is that it offers less mileage than that offered by petroleum fuels.
Bio-Diesel is produced from vegetable oil and animal fat. Bio-diesel can be used alone (B100) or can be blended with diesel. The available blends are B2, B5, and B20. B2 and B5 can be safely used in diesel engines, whereas the use of higher blends is not encouraged by the auto manufacturers. Though bio-diesel ensures less emission of CO and CO2, it emits more nitrogen oxides compared to other fuels. BioDiesel Made Easy!
All You Need To Know About Biodiesel, Where To Buy, How To Make It And Where To Get More Information
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
The main component of the Compressed Natural Gas is methane, one of the cleanest alternate fuels. There are vehicles that run only on natural gas, and some other vehicles run on two fuels- CNG and diesel/petrol, giving an option to the user to switch to diesel/petrol when the CNG is not available. The U.S. domestic market supplies 87% of the CNG required for the daily demands at present. The only hurdle involved in using CNG is the difficulty in converting a conventional engine to a CNG-compatible one.
Hydrogen is the undoubtedly cleanest and the most efficient alternative fuel there is. There are many sources of hydrogen such as coal, nuclear power and water. Hybrid cars use a technology called fuel cells in which hydrogen is used as the main fuel. The exhaust produced here is water, which of course, is not causing any harm to the environment.
Another technology that produces hydrogen from water works in the opposite way the fuel cell works. Both these technologies are in the embryonic stage; a lot of investment and research have to be made in order to make them popular in the market.
Though these are the main fuels that are considered as the best, many other fuels such as propane, butane are also considered as options for the future cars. A future technology that can utilize the benefits of these fuels would promise a better and greener earth for tomorrow.