Running Unconventionally: Alternative Energy Sources for Cars

It can be about the money. People are looking for alternative energy sources or alternative fuel for their cars nowadays. A few months ago, increasing prices of petroleum products were experienced almost throughout the world. With the increasing money spent on the pump, we are trying to look for alternative fuels for vehicles that can eventually lead us to bigger savings.

Cars or vehicles running on alternative fuel are generally running on fuel other than gasoline or diesel. Over the years, we have become witnesses on car running on electricity, a hybrid of gasoline and electric car, or even solar powered. There are even cars using water to supplement their gas through the water-to-gas technology.

There are several factors contributing to the rise and initiative of governments and manufacturers to produce alternative fuel vehicles. Heavy taxes on fuel, particularly in Europe and tightening environmental laws are several of the contributing factors. There is a possibility of further restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.

Since cars are mostly running on fossil fuels which produce carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gas, the number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is increasing. It leads to temperature rise which results to global warming and climate change.

There are cars that are capable in running on LPG, solar power, ethanol, fuel cells, hydrogen, and compressed cars. There are also what we call hybrid cars. Cars running on liquefied petroleum gas or LPG runs on a mix of propane and butane. Its hydrocarbon gases turn to liquid when compressed. Cars running on LPG can cut the fuel expense into half compared to petrol and diesel. It is also said to reduce the carbon monoxide emission.

Cars using solar power convert sunlight into electricity. It can be used to power electric motors or produce fuels such as hydrogen. Solar panels are put on the surface, more often on the roof, of the vehicle. These solar panels then convert the sun’s energy into electrical energy.

Ethanol is an alcohol produced by the fermentation of plant juice with high levels of sugar or from crops with high levels of carbohydrates such as wheat. Brazil began converting sugar cane into ethanol in 1975. Since then, Brazil has saved $1.8 billion by replacing their 200,000 barrels of oil daily consumption.

Brazil has already created 5.4 million ethanol- powered cars that are being exported to Sweden and Japan. Because of this industry they were able to provide 900,000 jobs to their people. Using ethanol as fuel were also able to reduce the toxic emissions by 30 % compared with other fuel charged vehicles.

Fuel cell cars covert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity and heat. The electricity can be used to power and electric motor and the only emissions are heat and water. Cars running on hydrogen are considered to be the ultimate clean cars. Since hydrogen vehicles only produce heat and water vapour as its by-product, its emissions are considered environmental friendly.

Hybrid cars use two different energy source or motors. An example of a hybrid car is the Toyota Prius. It uses advanced technology to combine a small gas engine with an electric motor. At slow speed, the car runs on electric motor while on the freeway, both the gasoline and electric motor is being used. The battery is also being recharged during the process.

Exploring alternative energy sources for cars is a way of adapting to the increasing fuel costs and taking active steps in resolving environmental concerns.