The energy challenge we have is not something that can be dealt with at another time. We must face this crisis head on – now. This is especially true when we are talking about petroleum or oil. Oil prices have remained volatile from as far back as we can remember.
Combined with the environmental concerns, the damaging affects of which are ever-rising, oil prices will most likely continue to rise.
-Photo to the left is by R Marinello.-
To commute from one place to another, we do need a vehicle.
However, the above factors have caused us to be trapped inside a maze from where there seems to be no way out. Or perhaps there is one — using alternative fuels for all our vehicles.
Alternative Energy Vehicles / Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles are like blast from the past. In early 1900s, the most common way to run a vehicle was by using electric energy. There were more electric vehicles on the road then gasoline-powered ones. Then, a cheaper way of producing gasoline was created.
This forced electric vehicles to vanish from the streets. And now that gasoline prices and pollution are at an all time high, we have turned back to the alternative of using electricity to power our vehicles. Fortunately, innovators like, Elon Musk from Tesla Motors have found efficient methods to produce electric cars to make them affordable to consumers, as well as dependable to drive.
Electric vehicles for 2009/2010:
GEM electric car, REVAi electric car, Tesla Roadster electric car, ZAP Sedan electric car, ZENN electric car, the all-electric FlyBo, the Modec electric van, plus others. For a more complete list of electric cars go to Green.VentureBeat.com.
Alternative Energy Vehicles / Hydrogen Vehicles
As the name suggests, hydrogen vehicles use hydrogen as their primary source of power. Hydrogen can either be used in the combustion process (hydrogen burned in engine); or in the fuel-conversion process (hydrogen is converted to electric energy which powers the electric motor). The best part of sing hydrogen is that the byproduct of using it is water.
Hydrogen fuel has already been put to use in space rockets, submarines, cars, buses, and motorcycles.
Hydrogen Vehicles for 2009:
BMW Hydrogen 7, Chevrolet Equinox, Honda FCX Clarity
Alternative Energy Vehicles / Hybrid Vehicles
Hybrid vehicles use two or more power sources for locomotion. Hybrid-electric vehicles use both gasoline and electricity for internal combustion and powering electric motor. The world’s first commercially mass-produced hybrid vehicle was the Toyota Prius.
Hybrid vehicles for 2009/2010:
Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid, Chrysler Aspen Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, GMC Sierra Hybrid, Honda Civic Hybrid, Honda Insight, Lexus GS 450h, plus many more. For a more complete list of hybrid cars go to HybridCars.com.
Alternative Energy Vehicles / Flex-Fuel Vehicles
The engine of a flexible-fuel vehicle is designed to run on two or more number of fuels. Therefore, it is also known as dual-fuel vehicle. Usually the fuel used is gasoline with methanol or ethanol fuel. All the fuels used are stored blended in the same tank.
Flex-fuel vehicles for 2009/2010:
2009 Chevrolet Avalanche, 2009 Chevrolet Express Van, 2009 Chrysler Town & Country, 2009 Ford E Series Van, 2009 GMC Savana Van, 2009 Hummer H2, plus many more. For a more complete list go to e85Fuel.com.
Alternative Energy Vehicles / Bio-Diesel Vehicles
Gasoline-powered engines have a mere 25-30% of fuel burning efficiency. A diesel-powered engine, on the other hand, has that of 40%. Thus diesel is often considered better than gasoline. However, fossil diesel poses the same problems and threats to the environment as gasoline. Because of this, a good alternative is using bio-diesel as fuel.
Bio-diesel is bio-friendly as it is made from oilseeds or vegetable oils. Few of diesel-powered cars can run on bio-diesel with little to no modification.
Developments in Australia
There have been reports of a growing trend of many electric car enthusiasts converting their vehicle’s petrol-consuming engine to use electric motor. Such conversion is an inevitable consequence of the notoriously high petrol prices in Australia. However, the idea isn’t easy to implement because most people don’t have much technical knowledge of the process of conversion.
Initiatives in the Field
GM introduced Saab 9-5 Biopower E85 flex-fuel vehicles in Australia in 2007. The step was a trial test to measure people’s interest in ethanol-powered vehicles. Saab was the first vehicle-maker to produce flex-fuel vehicles for Australia. Sometime later to this launch, another flex-fuel vehicle, 9-3 Biopower was launched which gave owners a choice of three different fuels in a single car.
Australian power company AGL, along with the finance group Macquarie Capital, and the US firm Better Place came together to create electric-vehicle networks in Australia’s largest cities – Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. These cities will have around 250,000 charge stations where drivers can plug in and charge their vehicles. The project will be completed by 2012.
Some of the alternative energy vehicles available:
Reva, Toyota Prius, Honda Civic hybrid, Lexus GS450h
Alternative Energy Vehicles / Conclusion
Benefits provided to us by alternative energy vehicles is still under study. However, from the affects we’ve observed recently, alternative fuels look promising. However, it is challenging to adjust the infrastructure and technology to get in sync with alternative fuels.
But once the task is well under way, we will be stepping into a greener and cleaner future. Use of alternative energy vehicles is not just a leap towards oil independence; it is also lending a helping hand to our global society.
For more information on the alternative energy follow these links: