Demand for gasoline has been the driving force in utilization and depletion of crude petroleum, which is a non-renewable resource. In recent years, tendencies have just begun to, at times, favor alternative fuels to power autos. Many possible alternative fuels exist, certainly not without their drawbacks. These alternatives include, but are not limited to, various batteries coupled with solar power, alcohols, gasohol, and both liquefied and gaseous natural gas. The chief drawbacks are cost of adaptation and implementation, engineering, and cost of the fuels themselves. As stated by many a chairman of petroleum companies, alternative fuels have limited applications and too many economic disadvantages. (Derr, 30) “Although alternatives to gasoline may have some very limited niche applications in efforts to reduce air pollution, they have too few environmental advantages and too many economic disadvantages to justify the high expectations that some regulators have of them,” stated the chairman and CEO of Chevron in 1994. (Derr, 30) It seems that some automobile manufacturers may have a similar opinion.
“The automobile industry is deliberately trying to sabotage electric and natural gas vehicles.” (Savage 7) However, these two industries are not in the majority as engineers in the United States and Europe are constantly developing low-cost alternatives. These industry giants may soon have no choice but to explore and diversify into more alternative fuel options as they have done in Brazil. (Grammer, 10) Emissions standards are growing stricter throughout the States, especially in California where a percentage of cars sold must be zero emission vehicles. Concern is also growing across the Atlantic in Europe: “According to recent findings in the U.
K., the pollutions in vehicle emissions cause a range of illnesses and are the main source of atmospheric contamination. The U.K.
government has been urged to double the real price of petrol, triple the use of public transport, and halve the size of its current 19 billion roads program by 2005. The findings have raised interest in possible alternative fuels.” (Cavenagh, 15)These alternatives involve modified internal combustion engines, ICE’s, modified fuel delivery systems, as well as advancements in the field of electrical storage capacities. I will discuss the many developments in the field of automobile alternative fuels, reduced and zero emission vehicles, and fuel delivery and ICE modifications producing reduced emissions. Positive and negative aspects to implementation will be discussed as well as an analysis made on whether the alternative approach is feasible on a mass production scale. There has been much improvement in reducing emissions of gasoline and diesel powered vehicles. Every month we hear of another vehicle running on petroleum fuels, reducing emissions, and increasing efficiency.
“Direct diesel injection into ICE cylinders increases mileage by 20%,” (DiChristina, 43), for example. Also, ozone precursor release in the 1960’s was on average 324 lb/Yr., whereas now it is 21 lb/Yr. In 1998 it is expected to be 12 lb/Yr., a 96% improvement. (Derr, 30) But this paper is examining non-petrol fuels. There is also much advancement in the non-petroleum field, as well as advancements in engines burning gasoline in addition to other fuels such as alcohol, and various combustible gases such as butane, propane, and methane.
“Martin-Marietta Energy Systems Inc. of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, has developed a magneto hydrodynamic engine that converts the chemical energy of liquid or gaseous fuels into variable-frequency alternating-current electrical power. Nicholaos Pahis of Vernon, Connecticut, has developed a rotary internal combustion engine with an inherently balanced 8-cylinder design that ingests a constant air/fuel mixture. SSI Corporation of Atkinson, New Hampshire, has developed a computer-controlled engine that operates intermittently, driving a fixed-volume hydraulic pump/motor.” (Lynch 66) Shown above, an ICE is no longer required to power a vehicle.
In the November issue of Popular Science, a fuel delivery system was overviewed. Developed by an Italian automaker, it uses an existing gasoline ICE, but adapts the fuel tank and fueling port to accept propane, methane/natural gas, and gasoline. The tank can be running low on gasoline, and the car fueled with natural gas or vice versa! Natural gas is an alternative fuel with the added bonus of cleaner and more complete combustion and thus emissions of carbon dioxide and water as opposed to hydrocarbons. Natural gas does seem a promising