Operation of Green Cars and Use of Alternative Fuels
These cars are the most promising examples of the replacement of diesel and gas engines in our cars. They produce no emissions from the electric motor which drives the wheels and unlike hybrid cars; the modern electric car such as the Nissan Leaf does not have a gas or diesel engine. It depends solely on the batteries to power the electric motor drive.
Regenerative braking which retrieves some of the energy used to slow the car down, adds to its overall efficiency. Many cities throughout the world are setting up recharging facilities where these cars can be plugged in while being parked in the street or a carpark.
Modern electric cars can travel up to 100 miles on a full charge which takes 8 hours. This equates to $1 for 100 miles, even less if off-peak electricity is used at night. If your electricity provider is supplying electricity generated from renewable energy, zero or very low CO2 emissions are achieved.
These are similar to electric cars, except that they have a small efficient engine for highway use and charging the batteries, the electric motor being used mostly in city traffic. Emission rates are low when using the electric drive, but still significant when using the internal combustion engine. Nonetheless, overall emissions are considerably reduced.
These were the forerunners of the hybrid and electric cars, and are still popular, especially for city driving as they are easily maneuvered and parked. Although they do not appeal to everyone, smart cars are very economical and efficient, having a highly tuned small 600cc engine, the diesel engine version returning 85MPG, considerably reducing its emissions into the atmosphere.
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
This is becoming more popular as an alternative fuel due to the rising costs of gas and diesel as CNG can cost up to 75% less than gasoline. Only gas-powered cars can run on CNG as it needs the spark to ignite the gas, but produces about 20% less CO2 than a gas engine with an 80% savings on diesel engine noxious gas emission.
There are CNG supplies at some forecourt pumps, but a new innovation which enables household natural gas to be used in the car is currently under investigation.
These are produced from plants and algae, so can be considered to be CO2 neutral, although so far they can only supplement diesel and gasoline fuels at around 20% mix ratio, however research into bio-fuels as a substitute for fossil fuels has been promising.
Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Fuel cells owe a lot of their technology to NASA as they adopted them for production of power in their spaceships; the Space Shuttle currently using hydrogen fuel cells for electric power and drinking water production.
Fuel cells are becoming popular means of driving electric cars. Basically, the cell works by passing a mix of hydrogen fuel and oxygen over catalysts causing a chemical reaction. This chemical reaction produces electricity to drive an electric motor, water being the cells only emission into the atmosphere.
Please read on to see the not so friendly cars...