Alternate Fuels Essay Research Paper Jennifer Allers — страница 5

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developed not including solar powered vehicles. These include 100% electric vehicles, vehicles with range extending generators and regenerative braking devices, and electric, ICE hybrids, (Moore, 92). Battery powered vehicles have the advantage of zero emissions. This does not necessarily make them environmentally friendly. Power does not come from the air (unless its solar). Electric must be generated at some point. In California, where 30% of electricity is produced by coal, electric vehicles lose some of their luster. In the east, 50% of power is produced with coal. Power plants are not located in cities, they are located outside of city limits which helps the local smog situation, but not the environment, (Derr, 32). A power plant burning natural gas in the LA basin by 2001

and supplying electric power will contribute .9 lb/Yr. ozone precursors per car. Gas fired generators will produce 7 to 12 lb/yr. Coal fired plants will produce 30 to 42 lb/Yr. which is three times what new 1995 gasoline powered vehicles produce. This is not the only pollution. Batteries wear out and have to be replaced at approximately $2000. They contain heavy metals which must be recovered so as not to be released to the environment. Batteries also weigh 1000+ lb. Technology has limited their range to city driving until this point. A Massachusetts firm has used a nickel metal hydride battery to extend the range of its Sunrise concept car to 238 miles in a recent road rally in New England. The battery, developed by Ovonic Battery Corp. in Michigan, will begin sales of the

battery in January of 1996. The Sunrise concept car will enter full production in 1998 with 20,000+ cars per year, (Nadis, 45). Cost is still high. Robert Eaton, chairman of Chrysler, was quoted as saying his company will have to sell electric minivans for less than $18,000 even though they cost up to $45,000 to build. He will make up for the loss by adding $2000 to every other vehicle he sells in California, (Derr, 32). Electric vehicles also have a limited driving range, are still technically inferior, and are not “consumer familiar,” (Moore, 93). According to a new analysis by the International Energy Agency (IEA), Cars and Climate Change, it is estimated that an electric car operated on coal power could contribute as much as 200% more emissions than a petrol car over its

life cycle. Environmentally, electric cars would make sense in countries such as France, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, New Zealand, and Iceland, which have a high percentage of nuclear or hydro electricity production. However, such cars would increase emissions in the UK, where 68% of the nationally generated electricity comes from coal, and throughout the United States, (Bond, 13). The U.S. has few hydro electric generating stations and is in the process of closing its nuclear power plants thereby rendering the electric car without advantage monetarily, technologically, realistically, and environmentally. This source is not only unwise to pursue, it is also only feasible in a limited sense. In only one sense is electric a wise avenue to pursue; when it is coupled with the

hydrogen fuel cell, (Williams,25). Hydrogen: Hydrogen is the last alternative fuel warranting significant attention and it will quite possibly be the fuel of the future one century from now if no new methods of propulsion and / or power are discovered in the next century. Hydrogen has many advantages and disadvantages most of which seem solvable by existing technology. The most obvious advantages are that it is by far the most abundant element in the universe, it packs more energy per unit of weight than any other fuel, and it burns cleanly, (Johnstone, 90). BMW has currently been researching the hydrogen alternative for one decade, (Siuru, 65). Hydrogen fuel cells are the most popular area of research at the moment in an attempt to deal with the dangerous hydrogen storage

problem. The cells convert a fuel’s energy directly into electricity, without combustion and without moving parts. The main features of the fuel-cell system are a fuel supply, an oxidant (typically oxygen from the air), and two electrodes with an electrolyte sandwiched between them. A type of fuel cell that promises to be both compact and inexpensive enough for a practical automobile is the proton-exchange-membrane fuel cell. Aside from cost, the features of the fuel-cell car of greatest interest to the consumer are fuel economy, performance, refueling time, and range between refueling. Fuel-cell cars operated directly on hydrogen would be 3 times as energy-efficient as comparable gasoline cars. They would also be much quieter and require less maintenance than ICE’s,