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What are our Petrol Alternatives ?

What are our Petrol Alternatives ?

As dust blew in from the Sahara and smog pollution levels rose in the UK last week it got us all thinking about how we can go green.  The car industry has been finding ways to decrease emissions more and more lately, but it can be a confusing world, so we take a look at what’s available, what’s being worked on and the downright bizarre in the quest to reduce emissions.

What’s Available ?

Hybrid cars

A Hybrid car is any car is any car that combines the petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor. Sounds simple but maufacturers have found many ways of combining the engines.  A car can be driven by the electric or petrol/diesel motor separately using the electric engine when driving at low speeds then using the petrol/diesel engine when more power is needed.  Others use the electric engine as the main driving force, relying on the petrol engine as a generator to charge the battery.  There are also ‘plug-in’ Hybrid cars that can be plugged in to recharge the battery as well as the battery being charged when on the move.

Well with greater fuel efficiency leading to less CO2 emissions and less fuel expenditure it seems the Hybrid is a winner, it can save you money and is kinder to the environment.  As of December 2013, 7.3 million hybrid cars have been sold worldwide with the Toyota Prius proving the most popular Hybrid.

Find a list of Hybrid cars available on the market here

Electric Cars

As the name suggests the electric car runs solely on an electric motor good news for those of us who are environmentally conscious as the CO2 emissions are zero and you can avoid congestion charges in London !

Electric cars are gaining in popularity since the Nissan Leaf was launched in 2011 it has achieved over 100,000 sales and can travel 200km on a single charge making it the most popular electric car.  Boris is launching an electric  car version of the ‘Boris Bikes’ scheme in London, there are cars on trial in the capital already with numbers set to rise to 100 by the end of the year.  At just £10 per hour to hire they seem like an economical and green way to get around.

Is it all good news for the electric car ?  It seems not, as they are so silent they are deadly.  European Parliament voted last week to make an ‘acoustic vehicle alerting system’ mandatory in all electric vehicles and Hybrids so the car will emit a noise similar to that of a conventional engine.  This came after the silent nature of the vehicles made them invisible to blind and partially sighted pedestrians increasing the risk of injury to these groups.

Find a list of Electric cars available on the market here

Hydrogen cars

Hydrogen cars use hydrogen as a fuel source and so this can be either burning the hydrogen in a combustion engine just as petrol and diesel are, or by creating a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen in a fuel cell producing energy to power an electric motor.

Definitely a good choice for those concerned about emissions because there are none from a Hydrogen powered vehicle, just a release of water vapour.  Long journeys are no worry either as a Hydrogen powered car could travel 400 miles before it needs re-fuelling.

Hydrogen cars are less popular than electric or hybrid vehicles but that may be about to change as an agreement has been signed by car makers, infrastructure suppliers and energy consultancies to make Hydrogen powered cars an everyday sight on our roads.  110 hydrogen powered vehicles will be deployed across Europe along with many more re-fuelling stations  built.  London is amongst the intended targets for the Hydrogen invasion with Mayor Boris Johnson saying “ To sell this technology we need to show Londoners and the wider world that it is not science fiction”

What’s Coming ?

Ford have created a solar-powered hybrid car the Ford C-Max Solar Energi Concept.  The clever solar panel on the roof can track the sun for maximum charging making the maximum distance on one charge an impressive 621 miles.  What would we do in the UK when we hardly see the sun I hear you ask ?  Ford have thought of that and have provided a plug in option for all those grey days.  It’s feasibility on the road has yet to be decided so it may be a while before we can take a sun powered trip.

Peugeot have invented air technology whereby a normal combustion engine runs alongside one that runs using compressed air meaning the car can run on air, petrol or a combination of both.  Air power would be used when travelling under 43mph with the petrol engine kicking in when need above those speeds.  Excellent news for the environment and excellent news for our purses as it is estimated the air car could reduce petrol costs by 80%.  Peugeot believe they will have the car ready for the market by 2016.

…….Now the downright bizarre……….

…….We all want to save a few pennies and help the environment but really some ideas just seem way off the mark…….

A cosmetic surgeon in California found a good use for all that excess fat he removed for his patients when he used it to power his SUV.  When discovered he was soon stopped, as using human matter in this way is illegal ……..  I suppose that’s one way of burning off excess fat ……

Engineers at the University of Warwick designed a formula 3 racing car that ran on 30% biodiesel made from chocolate……so clear out all those chocolate treats….. an idea that could help our waistlines and our wallets !   

…….You could also choose to run your car on wine (what a waste !) …..dirty nappies…….oil from algae cells or even the methane gas from poo ….eww !

The comments above do not necessarily reflect Rivervale's views unless clearly stated.

Car related news
8 April 2014
Written by Rivervale
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