Compressed Natural Gas
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is the first alternative fuel introduced by car manufacturers. It is a non-corrosive and odourless fuel that is stored in high-pressure tanks to power an automobile.CNG
is prepared by compression of natural gas at atmospheric pressure and does not contain any kind of air pollutants. The use of this fuel in vehicles records about 40% saving over petrol and diesel in term of running cost and over 80% reduction in emissions. The key reason why the fuel does not lead to pollution is its light weight. The gas is lighter than air and hence when it is released from an automobile it immediately gets diluted into inflammable state. However, it can be flammable under certain pressure and temperature conditions.
Liquefied Petroleum Gas
Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is a domestic fuel that is presently being used as an automotive fuel. The fuel is a byproduct of petroleum refining and consists of hydrocarbons mainly propane that stay in vapour state under normal temperature and pressure.LPG
is comparatively cheaper than petrol and diesel and also emits less toxic gasses without any impact on the car’s performance. It is a clean burning fuel that is stored in high-pressure fuel tanks. To run a car on LPG an authorized tank is fitted into the car’s trunk. In U.S., LPG has become a common automotive fuel but in India it is still making its position as a future fuel. However, some of the Indian cars are equipped with LPG tanks but are fitted along with the petrol engine. Drivers can drive these cars on LPG by switching on a manual switch that converts the power mode from petrol to LPG.
Electricity is one of the recent additions in the list of alternative fuel. Car manufacturers have successfully researched on how electricity can charge vehicles. In India, at present Reva
is the only one electric car that completely runs on electricity. It is known as a plug-in car as it can be charged by plugging the car into normal power points fitted in homes. If electricity can run a vehicle then it’s obvious that there will be no emission or automotive pollutants. The car drive out zero pollutants and due to this, the fuel is gradually carving its own niche in the market.
Hybrid vehicles are also a variant of the electric vehicles. In such vehicles the car is powered by a petrol engine and has an optional electric motor that can be charged by batteries. The driver can use the petrol engine on highways and the electric engine for city driving. However, such vehicles do produce emissions when driven on the petrol mode.
Ethanol is a clean burning fuel produced domestically from corn and other crop. It is much cheaper than petrol and diesel and also produces less greenhouse gas emissions. It is not directly filled in the engine but is mixed with petrol at different concentrations. E10 is a blend of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline and is also known as gasohol. In few countries even E85 is used that is a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. There are possibilities that the concentration of ethanol will increase to 95% so that the amount of emissions can be drastically reduced.
Adding ethanol to gasoline helps to clean and complete combustion that not only improves performance but also reduces emissions. The reduction in emissions is attributed to the presence of oxygen factor that causes clean and complete combustion.
Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel derived from animal fats and vegetable oils. The fuel does not contain any petroleum but can be blended with petroleum-based diesel to use as a fuel for vehicles. It has lower emissions as compared to diesel and is far better for safeguarding the environment. That is the reason why many car manufacturers today are researching more on the usage and significance of biodiesel as future fuel.
One key advantage of using biodiesel is that it is produced using renewable sources such as soybeans. This in turn reduces dependencies on imported oil and majorly contributes to nation’s economy.
Hydrogen can be domestically produced from fossil fuels such as coal. It is one of the most unbelievable but fuel-efficient fuels that will redefine the destiny of future cars. It is believed that hydrogen can easily drive a vehicle without emitting any pollutants.
Any car or other vehicles pull water into the combustion unit where the water molecules form hydroxyl gas. This gas is further pulled into the engine’s carburetor to power the vehicle. The engine then emits water vapour that is completely free of harmful pollutants. It is also tested that the use of hydrogen will also result in smooth and quiet operation delivering more torque and better acceleration.
Hydrogen fuel is yet not available in the market but few car manufacturers including BMW are testing the reliability and credibility of hydrogen to power vehicles.
Compressed air is soon going to become a popular alternative fuel to run cars. The basic principle of running cars purely on air is to feed the stored air under pressure to the engine to generate torque. The future cars powered by air will have huge storage tanks filled with compressed air preferably made of carbon-fibre to reduce weight whilst maintaining strength of the engine.
The use of air will effectively reduce the cost of the car because in such a case there will be no need to build spark plugs and cooling system. It will also result in reduced emissions and lower cost of running. Tata Motors has already started its venture with a French-based technology inventor, MDI to produce the world’s first air car.
The use of solar energy to drive vehicles is a rare concept but is gradually making its position as one of the most significant future fuels. The simple concept is based on the energy received from the sunlight.
Vehicles powered with solar energy are actually electric vehicles that tap solar energy with the help of solar panels fitted on the roof of the vehicles. These solar panels comprise of photovoltaic cells that convert the sun’s energy directly into electrical energy. Though the concept is not practical for day-to-day transportation, it is expected to be a part of the future car industry.