Alternative Energy Sources for Transportation
Alternative and transitional energy sources are being explored as potential transportation fuels. These include electricity, biofuels (such as vegetable oil or biodiesel), hydrogen, alcohols (methanol and ethanol), and ethers.
Hydrogen fuel cells are becoming increasingly popular, though not without their drawbacks.
Today, many types of electric vehicles are on the road, including cars, trucks, buses and even big rig tractor trailers. These range from battery electric vehicles (BEVs) that lack gas engine parts to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that incorporate a gasoline engine with an electric motor and large rechargeable battery pack.
Though electric vehicles (EVs) are more energy-efficient than their gasoline-powered counterparts, the benefits they bring in terms of greenhouse-gas emissions and air quality depend on which generation sources powering them. If the grid relies largely on fossil fuels, EVs could contribute up to five times more smog than cars running on traditional gasoline fuels.
Fortunately, these emissions can be dramatically reduced through efficient use of renewable energy to power our electrical system. This includes shifting away from using more fossil fuels like solar, wind and geothermal electricity for electric vehicles (EVs).
Another way to reduce emissions is producing hydrogen as a fuel through electrolysis, which splits hydrogen molecules from water. Hydrogen can also be produced from non-emitting sources like sunlight and wind energy as well as plant materials.
Producing hydrogen requires the emission of CO2, but this can be offset through capture and storage. Furthermore, GHG emissions can be further reduced by converting waste products like landfill gas and wastewater into forms suitable for fuel cell cars.
These technologies are progressing at an impressive clip, but they require substantial investments in research and development over the coming years. While not yet perfect, these innovations offer us a path towards an environmentally friendly transportation future that’s both affordable and dependable.
Though electric cars may be more costly than traditional gas-powered cars, their total cost of ownership is much lower over their lifetime. Drivers can save up to 40% on maintenance, repair, and fuel expenses with no need for expensive parts like spark plugs or multi-speed transmissions that need replacing frequently. Furthermore, regenerative brakes convert otherwise wasted energy into electricity for charging batteries.
Hybrid vehicles are an innovative form of energy that combines conventional gas or diesel engines with an electric motor to power their wheels. Additionally, they include a large battery that can be charged either from within the motor itself or external sources (like your home’s solar panels).
Which hybrid vehicle you purchase depends on your driving requirements. Some cars use an electric motor only for minimal acceleration, while others have larger batteries that enable you to travel a long distance using only electric power.
A mild hybrid is a less powerful version of the hybrid that utilizes both gasoline engines and regenerative braking to recharge its battery. These cars can travel up to 50 miles on electricity alone, but if you require more than that they’ll need to be plugged into an outlet.
Another type of hybrid is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). These vehicles use larger batteries that can be recharged through an electric source like your home solar panels or from public charging stations. PHEVs offer greater range on single charges than mild hybrids but if you plan to drive longer distances they must be charged while on the go.
In addition to hybrid and PHEV options, hydrogen fuel cells could become a viable alternative in the near future. These cars feature tanks filled with hydrogen and oxygen that is pumped into a fuel cell to convert it into electrical energy.
Hydrogen fuel cells can be up to 60 percent more efficient than traditional combustion engines at converting chemical energy into electricity. Furthermore, since they don’t emit harmful carbon dioxide or other airborne pollutants, hydrogen fuel cells have the potential to be very clean sources of energy.
Hydrogen fuel cells could potentially provide a viable alternative to gas and diesel vehicles, but that requires them to become more widely accessible. That won’t happen quickly or easily – it will take time.