Fuel For Thought
Explained: How Your Future Car Will be Powered
Petrol And Diesel
We all know that petrol and diesel vehicles have a range of hundreds of miles on a single tank and can be resupplied – in a short time – throughout the country.
To be widely accepted by motorists, vehicles with an alternative fuel source must meet these standards.
Electric cars such as the Nissan LEAF and Renault Zoe are widely available. The advantage over their petrol/diesel siblings is that there are no tailpipe carbon emissions.
Such vehicles can be charged at home or via public ports. The problem is that the process can take hours, or at the very least far longer than pumping petrol. Furthermore, whereas there are traditional fuel stations on every corner the faster, public ports are relatively rare.
Electric cars also have a limited range compared to hydrogen, petrol and diesel vehicles. Nissan LEAF range, for example, is 124 miles but influenced by factors such as temperature and what equipment is running. Electric cars best suit drivers that stay local.
Vehicle range, charging time and national infrastructure are likely to improve in the future.
Hyundai has brought the first, hydrogen powered, customer ready car to the United Kingdom.
Its ix35 Fuel Cell is – at the point of use – more environmentally friendly than petrol and diesel powered vehicles as there are no carbon emissions from a tailpipe.
The manufacturer claims hydrogen represents the “future of sustainable motoring” as it makes-up 75% of the universe. What a contrast to fossil fuels.
The ix35 Fuel Cell pumps hydrogen and air into a fuel stack. This causes a chemical reaction that produces electricity to power an electric motor.
The emissions are water vapour and heat. The car can be refuelled in three minutes and has a range of 369 miles, depending on road conditions.
The problem is that there are only a handful of places to refuel. However, the manufacturer is working with the Greater London Authority and the London Hydrogen Project to build an infrastructure. The government is also financially committed to this effort.
A hybrid blends a petrol/diesel engine with an electric motor. The motor – courtesy of a battery – powers the car (say) at low speed. The internal combustion engine contributes as required. The battery is charged via the traditional engine. In contrast, the battery in a plug-in hybrid can also be charged from a plug socket.
Our Verdict: Hydrogen And Electric To Dominate
It is likely that electric – albeit improved and supported by a national infrastructure – and hydrogen cars will dominate the future.
Petrol and diesels are on borrowed time.