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An Examination Of Feasible Alternative Fuels

3292 words - 14 pages

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, gasohols, and both liquefied and gaseous natural gas, as well as hydrogen. As mentioned above, drawbacks do exist; the chief drawbacks being cost of adaption / implementation, engineering, and cost of the fuels themselves. As stated by many a chairman of petroleum companies, alternative ...view middle of the document...

"Martin-Marietta Energy Systems Inc. of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, has developed a magnetohydrodynamic 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 auto maker, 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 alternative. Currently there are an estimated one million natural gas vehicles in service, many of them used by natural gas companies, as city busses, and 250,000 of them used in Italy alone (Birch, 26). A CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicle currently emits less toxic fumes than do gasoline powered vehicles. For comparison, a CNG vehicle emits 8 lb/Yr. "ozone precursors," (Derr, 31). CNG vehicles are one of the most viable alternative options in the U.S. due to our country's enormous supply of natural gas which could power autos for decades to come (Reed, 74). Also, natural gas would be cheaper to purchase than gasoline (Moore, 92). As of 1992, there were an estimated 30,000 NG autos in use in the U.S. (Reed, 74).The natural gas option is certainly not without its drawbacks. The most significant drawback would be a retrofit of existing vehicles with high pressure tanks. Retrofit costs are estimated to be $1500 to $3000 by Gene Moore, a fleet manager in Sacramento, California (Moore, 92). New CNG vehicle cost, detailed by Kenneth Derr, CEO of Chevron, in a speech, and estimated by the the U.S. Department of Energy, is $2500 to $5000 more than a "conventional car," (Derr, 31). "Natural gas needs to be highly compressed and requires a special high-pressure fueling station," (Moore, 92). "Natural gas fuel is stored on the vehicle in either compressed or liquefied form." CNG autos store at 16 to 25 MPa, and LNG's (liquefied natural gas vehicles) use pressures of 70 to 210 kPa and -160 °C (Reed, 74). However, this installation of high pressure fueling stations is not an unrealistic idea; for example, Italy's countryside is inundated with high pressure natural gas fueling stations for their 250,000 natural gas powered automobiles. Many Italian citizens with CNG vehicles purchase...

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