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6 options to replace fossil fuels in our cars


6 options to replace fossil fuels in our cars

The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it~ Robert Swan

That fossil fuels play a dominant role in the world today is known to all. Having been a fundamental driver of the Industrial Revolution, and a major contributor of most of the technological, social, economic, and development progress that followed, fossil fuels have brought about a global change in many ways. But with a growing list of environmental impacts such as air pollution and emittance of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, the time has come to switch to more renewable sources.

Yet, in 2018, fossil fuels provided 80% of the total energy used in the USA, the world's leading economy. As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, the world is running out of time to avert devastating impacts.

The longer we wait to curb fossil fuel usage, the greater the damage they will cause to the environment.

With car sales touching the 78.7 million mark in 2019, it's about time to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, transition towards renewable sources, and balance the role of energy in social and economic development.

Here are 6 options to replace fossil fuels in our cars:

1. Electricity

Although electric vehicles have been around for a while, Tesla has made the electric car concept undeniably trendy. Not only are they reliable, cheap, and safe to operate, with modern looks and features, they are also more fun to drive. Since they use high-powered batteries to store electric energy that powers the motor, they minimize the carbon footprint drastically. According to a report by the USA's Department of Energy, electric vehicles displaced 323 million gallons of gasoline in the US alone. All they need is a plug-in station, and you're good to go.

2. Hydrogen

With emissions virtually nil, hydrogen is another great alternative to fossil fuels. Since power is generated within a fuel cell, they emit only water vapor. An energy efficient vehicle that runs on hydrogen offers fuel efficiency twice as much as a vehicle that runs on fossil fuel. They can convert up to 75% of fuel into usable energy, and drive distances of up to 500 kilometers on a single tank. Since most hydrogen vehicles are equipped by regenerative brakes, they create a better environmental profile, while offering the same driving experience.

3. Propane

Propane, or liquefied petroleum gas, is another clean-burning and high-energy alternative to fossil fuels. Although propane vehicles are typically more expensive, the fuel itself is far cheaper than petrol. Also, since the fuel is in a gaseous form, the engine runs far more efficiently, especially in cold weather. The vehicle's power, acceleration, and cruising speed are similar to those of conventionally fueled vehicles. Plus, the ease of maintenance and reduced emissions have spurred the use of propane across transport vehicles from small cars to heavy-duty trucks.

4. Ethanol

Made from corn or sugarcane, ethanol or ethyl alcohol is a renewable source of energy that is picking up steam (pardon the pun) in the global fuel supply scene. Since ethanol contains less energy compared to fossil fuels, more of it is needed to get the same results. Yet the production and use of ethanol is known to demand greenhouse gas emissions anywhere between 52 to 86% less. Despite the energy needed in producing ethanol being substantially large, the total amount of energy that goes into the process is comparable to the energy released by burning the resulting ethanol fuel, resulting in an energy balance.

5. Natural gas

Natural gas finds great application in the industrial sector, mainly for heating buildings and generating electricity. Now it is also becoming a viable fuel for cars. Not only it is abundantly available, but it also has very low carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide emissions. Today, many hybrid compressed natural gas vehicles are available that are highly fuel-efficient. They offer mileage similar to fossil fuels while burning more cleanly. It is estimated that in India alone could have 10 million CNG vehicles on the roads by 2025.

Do your bit Although fossil fuels have long powered the transportation industry, environmental concerns and government regulations are driving car manufacturers as well as consumers to actively seek substitutes for the conventional fossil fuel-powered engine. Electricity, hydrogen, propane, ethanol and natural gas are some extremely efficient greenhouse-friendly alternatives. With fossil fuel levels dropping, and their environmental risks increasing, it's time we switch to more greenhouse friendly alternatives and do our bit for the environment.

~It is our collective and individual responsibility to preserve and tend to the world in which we all live~ Dalai Lama