Electric Vehicle Alternatives

We have all been hearing a lot about electric vehicles these days. Some people are for them and some people aren’t. Depends on which side of the fence you are on. Some say that they are great for the environment, that they produce less carbon emissions on the frontend. As true as that may be, it takes a lot of energy and resources to produce an electric vehicle on the backend. Does it really help to lower emissions and be a better deal for the environment? Looking at the history and reliability of gasoline and diesel engines, does electrifying our automotive industry really make sense. Is it about the environment, or money? Diesel and gas engines have been around since the 1800’s. Now, we have the accelerated development of electric vehicles, which are not a new concept. Electric vehicles have been around for the same amount of time. So why now? Electrification was tried before, and wasn’t received very well. Now, in a new age and generation, we are giving it a go again. Time will tell if it will be well received this time. Did you know there are other alternatives to electric vehicles? Some have been tried and tested, and others have been in use for quite awhile. Such alternates are hydrogen powered, steam, solar powered, and saltwater batteries, to name a few.

Hydrogen Powered:

What is hydrogen power, and how does it work? Hydrogen is a clean, lightweight compressed gas and one of the most abundant gases. When you burn hydrogen, it produces heat energy which can have a variety of uses. One of them being for powering vehicles. This form of fuel is already being used in vehicles around the world. Filling your vehicle with hydrogen is exactly the same as filling it with gas or diesel, and takes the same amount of time. Because of its lightweight, it makes a great fuel alternative to gas and diesel. It works by feeding an onboard fuel stack that transforms the fuel’s chemical energy into electric energy, thus powering the electric motors on your vehicle. Hydrogen fuel cells are generally 2.5 times more efficient than gas engines.

Steam Powered:

Did you know that steam powered vehicles dates back to the 17th century? It’s a concept that has been around for awhile. You may remember steam powered locomotives used on the railways. Fast forward to present day to modern steam powered vehicles. Back in the day steam was produced by mostly coal. Today a closed loop system is used to heat and cool, which makes the engine much more efficient, and produces less waste byproduct. The steam gets so hot that it actually mimics a liquid, which in turn produces more power. It’s also less expensive to make because it eliminates the use of a catalytic converter, muffler, oil, or a transmission, like you would find in a normal engine and vehicle. The benefit of the new modern steam engines is that you can use any fuel to produce the steam.

Solar Powered:

Mostly, we have heard of solar panels for use in powering our homes and businesses. But they also power vehicles. They have been used for that application for many years. For example, you may have seen them on the top of heavy trucks as a way to power accessories in the trucks. Solar energy is harnessed from the sun by converting it into electricity. This electricity fuels the batteries that power the electric motors on your car. Some solar vehicles direct the power straight to the electric motors on the car. This sounds like a great alternative, until there is no sun. But due to the battery system, it can store the energy until needed for a period of time.

Saltwater Batteries:

Have you heard of saltwater batteries? Most people have heard of lithium-ion batteries. There are many being used today, such as your cell phone. Lithium-ion batteries primary ingredient is lithium. Lithium is mined at a great cost to the environment, and they do have limits. Saltwater batteries store electricity for use at a later time. The primary ingredient in saltwater batteries is sodium (salt). The same stuff you find in table salt. Imagine that! Creating electricity with salt. There is a lot of salt in our oceans, which makes this product easily attainable. Saltwater batteries are safe as there is no fire risk with them. They are easily recyclable. Saltwater batteries have a very long life span. This would actually save money as they wouldn’t need to be replaced as often. But there is a downside to them. Because they have a lower energy density, which means that they store less energy in the same amount of space as a lithium-ion battery, they cost more to produce. This is a problem as you can well imagine for large scale production, and applications. While all these alternatives have their pros and cons, they can be very useful in reducing the use of fossil fuels. So, the next time you buy a new car, you may very well have a lot more fuel options in the way your vehicle is powered. Choose wisely!

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