Future Fuel Tech: What Will Power Tomorrow’s Cars?
Photo Credit To Daniel Fung, Jessica Slater, Google images

Future Fuel Tech: What Will Power Tomorrow’s Cars?

Governments and organizations around the world are worried about the state of the planet. The use of automobiles for transport is rising, and cars mainly rely on fossil fuel to run.

To reduce the greenhouse effect caused by emissions from vehicles, car manufacturers are carrying out research on alternative sources of energy to power cars. Next is a look at some of the most probable sources of power for future vehicles.

Electricity

Electric cars are currently being produced, although the technology has not yet been perfected. The Dutch government has even considered outlawing non-electric vehicles in the country by 2025.

The biggest challenge with electric vehicles is the size of the batteries and the distance that can be covered with a single charge. Currently, most electric vehicles need to have a combustion engine as a backup just in case you need to go beyond the maximum distance. Recharge time is also lengthy.


Ethanol

Ethanol can be produced from any plant. It only needs to contain sugar and starch. For this reason, the use of ethanol as a car fuel is sustainable. Besides, it will lead to a reduction of carbon dioxide emitted, even though it is usually mixed with gasoline. The amount of carbon dioxide produced by ethanol during combustion is equal to what the plants took in from the environment, and this makes it neutral when considering emission matters.

The main problem with ethanol is that large sizes of land are required to grow the plants for production. This might necessitate the clearing of entire forests. It is also not as efficient as gasoline.

Hydrogen

Hydrogen is another great alternative. It provides a lot more energy per kilogram and is safe for the environment. It only produces water as exhaust, so the greenhouse effect will be eliminated. Because of the richness in energy, hydrogen was the chosen fuel in the Apollo missions to the moon.

Hydrogen is very similar to electricity in its operation. It uses fuel cells, although you will require little fuel to cover a given distance. Also, recharging hydrogen fuel cells takes a short time.

Of course, there are some challenges with hydrogen as a fuel for cars. First, it does not occur naturally in large amounts like fossil fuels and therefore, has to be manufactured in labs.

Producing enough hydrogen to power cars is very expensive. Hydrogen also needs to be compressed at high pressure as it is a gas. That makes it harder to store or transport the fuel.

Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering; Photo by Jessica Slater

Biodiesel

Biodiesels are different from fossil fuels in some major ways. Both are derived from organic matter. However, fossil fuels are made from matter that died a long time ago, while biodiesels are made from fresh plants. This means the carbon dioxide released from biodiesels is merely a recirculation of recently consumed carbon dioxide. That lessens the negative impact of the fuel on the environment. Also, this source of energy is renewable as it is derived from freshly grown plants.

With cars, biodiesels will be advantageous as they do not require new infrastructure. They can simply be used with the existing combustion engines.

Biodiesels have been hailed as the most promising fuel for cars in the future. However, they have challenges as the production of enough biodiesel to power cars will require industries to either use high amounts of normal foods or cut down entire forests.

Vegetable Oil

Straight vegetable oil can be used as car fuel even without being converted to biodiesel. However, there are concerns about the compatibility of this fuel with internal combustion engines. The fuel can easily damage the engine. To use this fuel, you will find it important to mix the oil with kerosene or gasoline. Otherwise, it may be too viscous. You may also need to convert your engine.

Vegetable oil is energy efficient, and a lot cheaper. However, with increased demand, the cost of using vegetable oil to power vehicles is likely to rise. Also, you need to be cautious as this fuel may nullify the warranty on your car.

Conclusion

Gasoline cannot be used to power cars in the future as it is dangerous to the planet. It is also a non-renewable resource, meaning it will get depleted sometime in the future. Some predictions suggest that, at the current rate, we will run out of fossil fuels by the year 2052. Fortunately, cars in the future can be powered by the energy sources listed above.

Sources:
Most promising fuel for cars in the future
Grass Makes Better Ethanol than Corn Does
I’ll have one with wings please

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Daily Rubber

Down to earth coverage of automotive news, culture and events.

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