Highways of today
There is no question about transportation industry being one the major contributing factors to the total quantity of carbon emissions all over the world. Core statistical figures certainly attest to this with new gasoline model vehicles accounting for than 20 percent of the astronomical 8000 million tons of total carbon dioxide, emitted annually. In fact, the average passenger car in United States emits 11,450 pounds (5,190 kg) of greenhouse gases per year, thus translating to an overall ambit of more than 33 percent of US’s total carbon emanation. Even, when it comes to spatial habitats, the substantial carbon footprint of an individual fossil fuel powered automobile can account for loss of over a whopping 50,000 square meters of area.
In such adverse conditions, electric vehicles are often presented as the righteous saviors of our environment. However, when practicality knocks at the door, they have their own set of problems, which we have briefly discussed later.
The problem with electric cars
The greatest predicament of electric cars is related to commercial economy, rather than environmental effect. In the current scenario, an EV demands more upfront cost from the customer, than its comparable gas guzzling cousin. Moreover, there are a slew of other problems, given the relatively nascent stage of the whole electric technological scope. These include consumer oriented obstacles like lack of fueling, or in this case, charging infrastructure, the psychological range anxiety and even maintenance and servicing factors. Finally, when we consider their intrinsic power systems, large scale lithium ion battery production in itself can be pollution intensive.
Green transport beyond EVs
1. Air powered vehicles: Toyota’s air powered Ku:Rin
Air in itself can be considered as one of the greenest forms of ‘fuel’. In this regard, there are some independent conceptions that are powered exclusively by compressed air. However, big names as usual lend greater credibility to a nascent scope. Well, this time it is the world’s largest automaker Toyota, who has kicked up a few ‘green’ notches by conceiving the three wheeler Ku:Rin. Holding the world record for being the fastest car powered by compressed air, the arrow shaped contraption has a speed of 80.3 mph (129.2km/h). Though, there is still room for further development, as the current range is marked at a paltry 2 miles (3.2 km), because of the low energy density of compressed air.
2. Biofuel powered vehicles: Lotus Exige 265E
With a breathtaking acceleration of 0 to 60mph in just 3.9 seconds and an exhilarating top speed of 158mph (253km/h), the Lotus Exige 265E is certainly the boisterous monster we auto aficionados pray for. However, it is the green credentials that has tickled our fancies. Powered by a supercharged 1.8 litre engine with 260 hp capacity, the fuel used by this classy specimen is uniquely bio ethanol. This particularly naturalistic component comprises of around 85 percent ethanol (an alcohol) and 15 percent petrol. As for its advantages, the fuel produces more power in the engine than with conventional petrol, and also contributes to net carbon reduction. But, on the other hand, it does reduce the overall fuel economy of the car.
3. Hydrogen internal combustion engine: The Scorpion
When it comes to pure style factor, the ‘curvalicious’ Scorpion from Texas based Ronn Motor Company, is surely the eye candy to crave for. But, beyond the visual allure, it is the innovative power train under the hoods that matters most for our precious environment. In that regard, the company has taken the innovative path with their specially designed hybrid mechanism that entails an internal combustion engine configured to burn a combination of gasoline and hydrogen. This substantially decreases both CO2 and NOx emissions, along with improving upon overall fuel economy. Moreover, the car only requires an on board water tank which is controlled a dual computer processor to generate high pressure hydrogen.
4. Maglev vehicles: Dualmode 2030 concept vehicle
As can be ascertained by the apt name, this novel conception, which is still in its conceptual stage, will have two different maneuvering systems incorporated into a single automobile. In fact, the designer Geoffrey Cooper has envisaged the Dualmode 2030 car to have an autonomous maglev driving mechanism, when traveling through expansive, traffic free highways. This will allow an automatic mode of steering, while the driver relaxes throughout the zero emission commute. However, when the vehicle enters the city zone, the conventional gasoline oriented driving system will take over, pertaining to fully manual controls.
5. Human powered cars: HumanCar
Taking a page right out of ‘The Flintstones’, the human powered car is as sustainable as it gets. Powered by unique series of back and forth cranks, which are to be operated by the passengers, the whole contraption only works well with four people on board. Of course, the HumanCar could also be driven by a single driver, but then it will be powered by a hybrid engine or a fully electrical set up. As for solid specs, the $15,000 vehicle can supposedly move to a top speed of 30 mph (48km/h) with the ‘human power’ of four.
6. Hydrogen Petrol powered cars
British scientists are in the process of devising an artificial petrol component which is based on hydrogen, rather than carbon. This means the final by product after combustion will be limited to water, instead of harmful carbon fumes. However, even beyond its fascinatingly green potential, the artificial petrol will most likely be ludicrously cost effective. In fact, according to the researchers, the advanced fuel is expected to have a price of around just $1.50 a gallon, by its final stage of development after two years.
Now, the only silver lining in the current situation is that the amplitude of our green technology has certainly expanded beyond the constraints of electric driven mechanisms. Yes, some of them may still be relegated within the ambit of concepts and prototypes, but their continued credible development in the future may herald a more collective solution, both from perspectives of environment and user convenience.