Alternative energy cars

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Here is a brief review of some types of alternative energy cars

What are alternative energy cars? The term refers to any vehicle that runs on a fuel other than "traditional" petroleum fuels (petrol or diesel). Due to green house gas emissions and a tremendous concern for the environment and the reduction of carbon footprints, creating and perfecting alternative power systems for vehicles and selling solar panels and related products has become a high priority among world governments and vehicle manufacturers.

The hybrid electric vehicle or HEV as it is also known, utilizes two or more distinct power sources by combining an internal combustion engine and one or more electric motors. The Honda Insight was the first hybrid vehicle available for sale in the United States and it achieved around 70 miles per gallon.

What are some of the more popular alternative energy cars?

1- Air Engine car

The emission-free piston engine uses compressed air as a source of energy. Efficiency of operation is gained through the use of environmental heat at normal temperature to warm the otherwise cold expanded air from the storage tank. Air is delivered to the engine via a rather conventional injection system. Unique crank design within the engine increases the time during which the air charge is warmed from ambient sources and a two-stage process allows improved heat transfer rates.

2- Battery-Electric vehicles

BEVs are alternative energy cars that get their power from the chemical energy of various battery chemistries, which are arranged in battery packs. Types of batteries vary and include: "flooded" lead-acid, absorbed glass mat, NiCd, nickel metal hydride, Li-ion, Li-poly and zinc-air batteries.
These cars are also known as zero emission (ZEV) passenger vehicles as they produce no emissions while being driven. BEVS actually date back to the 1950s, but their cost, speed and inadequate driving range made them impractical.

3- Solar cars

Solar cars are powered by solar energy obtained from solar panels placed on the vehicle. Solar energy products for cars and chargers are required in order to maintain performance on these alternative energy cars. These vehicles are often raced in competitions, such as the World Solar Challenge and the North American Solar Challenge. The United States Department of Energy often sponsors these events in an attempt to promote the development of alternative energy technology such as solar cells and electric vehicles.

4- Ammonia-fueled alternative energy cars

Although highly toxic, ammonia is considered no more dangerous than petrol, and since it can run in spark-ignited or diesel engines with few modifications, it has been proposed as a viable alternative fuel. Ammonia can be made from renewable electricity, and having half the density of petrol or diesel, can be easily transported in sufficient quantities in vehicles. On combustion, its only emissions are nitrogen and water vapor.

5- Ethanol, and Methanol (Biofuels)

The first commercial vehicle that used ethanol as a fuel was the Ford Model T, produced from 1908 through 1927. Some seventy years later, the 1996 Ford Taurus became the first flexible-fuel vehicle produced with versions capable of running with either ethanol (E85) or methanol (M85) blended with gasoline. It was fitted with a carburetor with adjustable jetting, allowing use of gasoline or ethanol, or a combination of both.

Both ethanol and methanol have been used as automotive fuels for alternative energy cars. Ethanol, however, has received more attention because of the fact that it is considered a renewable resource, which is easily obtained from sugar or starch in crops and produce such as grain, sugarcane, sugar beets or even lactose. Support for ethanol comes because it is a fuel, which addresses greenhouse gas emissions and climate changes. It also has a higher octane rating, which is beneficial to high compression ratio engines while methanol, on the other hand, is toxic.

It would seem that alternative energy fuels and alternative energy cars offer at least part of the solution to reducing the world’s carbon footprint. Using natural resources such as solar energy and power may be the only way to preserve the earth for the posterity and enjoyment of many generations to come.

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