LONDON, England – For a century, the gasoline engine has remained largely unanswered, seeing the face of all the pretenders to their crown. However, with concerns about emissions of greenhouse gases and a host of new contenders are looming large in the rearview mirror, is the gasoline automobile fuel due to be overtaken by a fleet of cleaner, agile rivals?
I takes a look at the competition of electric vehicles for cars that run on hydrogen, solar energy and even the air.
The science that cell?
The hydrogen-powered car emissions are free – only the expulsion of drops of water from the exhaust gases – and fuel cell technology is proven. NASA has been using hydrogen to power space missions since the 1960s.
A fuel cell works by converting chemical energy into electrical energy, which in turn powers the vehicle. Unlike electric cars, hydrogen cars do not need recharging.
Earlier this year, Honda became the first manufacturer to complete production of the first commercial hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle – the FCX Clarity – which is powered by a 100-kilowatt V Flow cell Fuel cell.
But they are expensive – “hundreds of thousands of dollars each,” said Honda – and only 200 made (by hand). Honda is leasing the FCX for a variety of hand-picked clients, including actress Jamie Lee Curtis and Japan, the Ministry of Environment.
Dozens of car manufacturers are currently designing new cars with fuel cell technology.
As part of its celebrations of the centennial 2009, the United Kingdom of the Morgan Motor Company is developing the LIFECar – a lightweight fuel for automobiles based on the chassis of the Aero 8 model.
The LIFECar is powered by a small fuel cell (22 kilowatts), which has been built by British defense contractor QinetiQ. It has a set of ultracapacitors that helps you speed up much faster – from zero to 60 miles per hour in six to seven seconds.
Malcolm McCulloch, leader of the electricity in the Group of the United Kingdom at Oxford University is helping Morgan with the electric motors and power electronics in the car.
“At this moment we are still doing tests on the car, but it seems to emit about 50 grams per kilometer of carbon equivalent, which is five times better than most vehicles will do it now,” McCulloch told CNN reporter.
As the most abundant chemical element in the universe, hydrogen is not about to run out, either.
Professor Rob Thring, President in fuel cell engineering in the UK, University of Loughborough, told news reporter: “If you’re buying a bottle of a hydrogen that today almost certainly is made from natural gas – That is not very green.
“But there’s a better way. Electrolyze If water using electricity to be produced from wind turbines, solar or wave, then you can say that you are completely carbon-free transportation.”
Hydrogen fuel-cell cars are not ready to overcome the gas engine. They are currently very expensive to produce and Honda said that a mass-production model is still a long way to go. But in the long run it might be the best option. Fuel cell cars are an incredibly clean and efficient mode of transport.
“We have to build infrastructure in the same way as we did in 1900 with oil,” said Professor Thring. “The time it takes to deploy the infrastructure will depend on the incentives, but I believe that a significant proportion of the total fleet of vehicles powered by hydrogen will be in ten years.”
John Turner, a researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado, USA said: “It’s going to take a long time to create a fuel cell manufacturing base. But for a species that wants to maintain the viability of the planet, hydrogen is perfect.”
Our friends electric?
Historically, electric vehicles have been seen as slow, fiendishly uncool cousins of the gasoline car. And the recent additions to the family electrical appliances, such as the Reva G-wiz, which began in 2001, have failed to erase the rather negative connotation of going electric.
However, recent advances in battery technology could dramatically change the fate of electric cars. Powering cars with lithium ion batteries is the transformation of their capabilities. Lithium-ion batteries are lighter, require less maintenance and hold his position much longer than the old lead-acid batteries.
The Tesla Roadster, the much-hyped first fully electric sports car is powered by a lithium-ion battery and is proof that the electric car has changed.
With a full load 3.5 hours, which will travel 250 kilometers. The Roadster will go from zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds and has a top speed of 125 miles per hour. Less impressive is the price: about $ 100,000.
Hot on the heels of Tesla is the UK Lightning Car Company, which is WP Gleam further roadster and beautiful that comes with a similar specification. It is even more expensive – about $ 180,000 – but do not come with the option of a Nanosafe titanate lithium battery that can be loaded in just 10 minutes.
Though these cars are not exactly within reach of most people, there are a lot of new companies – including Chevrolet, with its upcoming Volt – which motorists are lining up to sell an affordable electric vehicle.
Founded in 2006 by two former Lotus engineers, Evert and Julian Wilford Geurts, the Nice Car Company has a fleet of two, four passenger and commercial vehicles, including the Mega City and Mega MultiTruck.
Mega City costs about $ 18,000 and has a range of 60 miles with a full load of eight hours. That is perhaps a little too expensive for the performance, but the costs should be lower as technology improves.
Of Oxford University said McCulloch electric cars could appear to dominate the market in the coming years. “The advantage of the batteries is that there is a ready infrastructure,” he said.
Renault’s electric vehicle project director, Serge Yoccoz, told the International Herald Tribune recently that he hopes for electric vehicles represent as much as 20 percent of the European market in 10 years.
And the UK Government’s Communication on Climate Change has predicted – perhaps more boldly – that 40 percent of cars on British roads will be electric by 2020 if greenhouse emissions are hard to meet the objectives.
John Turner, but from the NREL is not convinced that electric cars are the way forward in the long term.
“Batteries are a material-intensive technology. As you buy more batteries, not necessarily lower costs,” he said. “The nickel metal hydride battery used in [Toyota] Prius is a classic example. If the demand for nickel rises, the price goes up.”
Toyota continues to lose money on the Prius because of the cost – about $ 5000 – the battery.