There are many legends related to alternative fuel vehicles. For instance, people say that one inventor created a vehicle that was fueled by water. Or another French inventor devised an engine, which worked almost without fuel using only a little quantity of metal as catalyst. Even if we look through more reliable and mass tries of creating alternative fuel cars, we may come across a great number of different variants.
Overwhelming majority of contemporary cars run with internal combustion engine running on gas/petrol or diesel fuel. Dramatic price rise for oil nowadays along with profound concern of emissions increase, which are produced by cars (especially in big cities), make governments of many developed countries and motor companies look for a substitute of fossil fuel. Due to this tendency the theme of alternative fuel cars became very trendy and there is alot of research being done in this field. But so far their alternative is not so great indeed. In many cases we have the same vehicle that has an internal combustion engine running on the same principle, but the fuel is not gas or other oil product, but ethanol, biodiesel or anything else like that.
The idea of mking alternative fuel engines appeared long ago. First of all those were steam engine vehicles and electric vehicles. What else? It turns out that people can make more variants.
For example, there is a car, which works on air. It is devised by a French inventor. But this car had big limitation as it could work only about 4 hours at the speed of 50-60 km/h with a full tank. Some solar cars can manage a speed of 100km/h, but these usually are much costlier and less reliable than the conventional cars.
Soviet tanks T-80 use gas turbine instead of internal combustion engine. The engine capacity allows a 42-tonne tank to move fast and even jump! One more unusual vehicle is gyrobus. The main idea of this vehicle is to use kinetic energy of spinning flywheel. Though, today these vehicles are not used anymore (they were used in Belgium and Switzerland), the developments are still going on in this sector. A specially created flywheel allows to store enough power today. And it can be stored for months or even years, mostly without losses.
Constantly increasing problem of environmental pollution and increase of fuel costs makes manufacturers develop new power units running on alternative fuel. There are already many options available:
1. Ethanol. This is a usual alcohol, but produced from biological substances. People tried to use this type of fuel in ICE as far as in the XIX century. But those days, ethanol couldn’t compete with oil fuels, because it gives less energy during combustion and lessens engine capacity that way. Nowadays, scientists returned to the idea of using ethanol, due to high oil prices and care of environment. Cars that use ethanol do little harm to the environment but they lack power intensity and the costs for ethanol production is quite high. Today, ethanol is got from corn or sugar beet these are food substances, in manufacturer countries. The United States use 25 percent of grown corn for ethanol. But many people already criticize that due to coming world food crisis. This fuel is used also in Sweden. Saab sold already one hundred thousand of such cars.
2. Bio diesel fuel. This is one more type of biological fuel that was also used at the beginning of the XX century.
3. Natural Gas. This kind of fuel have been using for a long time. And it is the most popular alternative fuel for today. Natural gas is less expensive and there are more reserves of natural gas in the world. Cars that run on natural gas do not pollute environment so much. But it is not practical for usage in small cars, because it should be stored in heavy and solid gas cylinders.
4. Hydrogen has many supporters, because it is supposed to be an alternative to traditional fuel in future. From the one hand the usage of hydrogen as fuel is very attractive – it doesn’t pollute atmosphere during combustion at all. It even does not emit CO2 as some other alternative fuels. Moreover, its power of combustion is rather high. Hydrogen fuel cars are already produced and many corporations plan to produce more of such cars in the near future.
Though, a few issues are present here. First, hydrogen is highly explosive and it is costly and inconvenient to store. Secondly, the production of hydrogen requires high expenditure of energy. So, it makes sense only to use renewable energy sources as solar or wind energy to produce it. Otherwise, it is not useful from the point of view of environmental protection. Thirdly, re-equipment of a car for running on hydrogen would make the construction heavier and more complex.
There are two ways of getting hydrogen energy from the constructive point of view: the usage of so-called fuel cells or the usage of hydrogen as a fuel in usual internal combustion engine. Both these variants have pros and cons and advocates and opponents. The most popular way of using hydrogen in cars is through use of HHO generator to supplement gasoline engine of your car that results in better milage and cost saving.
You may see that various alternative fuels are developed today. But anyone of them is not perfect. People should still pay more attention to the development of renewable energy sources that will certainly reflect on the alternative fuel production. After that we may drive our eco-cars and do not use traditional energy sources anymore. But still, you can buy an alternative fuel car already today.