Fuel is to automobile what oxygen is to a man. Without it, these man-made machines will be nothing more than showcase items. Nowadays plenty of fuels other than fossil fuels are being researched and the vehicles are getting customised to suit the fuel. But why now? What is the need to search for new alternatives?
Fossil fuels won’t around for long
- The consumption of petrol and diesel has increased by folds in the past few years, leading to the depletion of the deposits. We are left with gasoline deposits that are going to last for nearly 50 years from now. This is a major issue.
- But the actual and the worst issue is pollution. If the pollution level keeps on increasing at the same alarming rate, earth has got less than 20 years before it gets inhabitable. At least, the gasoline deposits will last more than us. This is the major reason, governments all across the world are implementing strict emission policies in order to curb pollution. These strict policies such as BS6 emission norms in India will make it infeasible to run vehicles on fossil fuels.
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What other fuel options do we have? | Alternative fuels
- What will our vehicles run on then? Are we going to get the horse carts back? Well, no, we won’t need horse carts to commute. Engineers, researchers and designers all over the world are finding alternative fuels. The automotive industry is a pillar of the economy of any nation thus the stability of the industry needs to be ensured.
- Within the past few years, electric driven vehicles have come into play. Automakers around the globe have launched full electrified drivetrain run vehicles, especially in the year 2019. But that’s not all. Research and Development centres of the automobile industry are working on other ways too.
- One such alternative is the hydrogen fuel cell. Hydrogen is highly inflammable, which makes the use really difficult because the vehicles are vulnerable to accidents. This is the reason for the delay in the use of the hydrogen fuel cell. Although companies have developed vehicles with hydrogen fuel cell technology. Hyundai’s Nexo is one such vehicle which is claimed to be the world’s first hydrogen-powered SUV by the company.
- CNG has been in the long run now as the alternative fuel all over the world. In India also, CNG is being used as a primary fuel in various metropolitan and non-metropolitan cities. CNG has proved to be a cheaper alternative and many taxis and autos run on the biofuel.
What are the pros and cons of the available alternative to conventional fuel?
Let’s dig deeper to explore.
Electricity | Electric Cars
We’ll discuss the trending electric drivetrain. The emissions from an electric-powered vehicle are absolutely zero making it an efficient alternative. The electricity is cheaper than gasoline fuels. Maintenance of electric vehicle is less frequent as well as less expensive due to the less moving parts required.
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- A petrol or diesel engine vehicle contains on an average of 2500 parts which comes down to nearly 400 parts in an electric vehicle. Thus less space is required to build an electric vehicle. The noise pollution, not at all with an electric vehicle. Sometimes you’ll get confused whether your vehicle has even been started or not. This may be a problem with the automobile fanatics who love the sounds of roaring engines. But for a greater good the noise pollution is curbed. These are the impressive pros an electric vehicle has. But nothing is perfect.
- Most of the electric vehicles have a pretty short range making them non-feasible for longer distances. The EV infrastructure around metro cities is good. But the areas other than these have very less or no infrastructure to support EV revolution at all. The initial cost is also a factor for many. The batteries used take a long time to charge making EV’s less favourable. This is the reason, the automobile giant, Ferrari has scheduled the reveal of their first full EV drivetrain vehicle to 2025.
Power Of H20 | Hydrogen Fuel Cells
- Now comes the hydrogen fuel cell. The only emission hydrogen fuel cell has is water vapour. Fuel economy is more than twice that of a gasoline engine. Hydrogen is present in abundance and can be made from renewable energy sources. Pretty efficient! Right?
- Well, no, the hydrogen gas is known to be one of the most inflammable gases on the periodic table making it a highly dangerous substance to be used as fuel. Storing of hydrogen requires proper infrastructure for storage.
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oline | CNG or LPG
- CNG sounds like a pretty impressive as no one wants to get burned in ignited hydrogen or get stranded on the way to Ladakh due to discharging of batteries. CNG is a clean fuel with no harmful emission at all. The power output is also comparable to gasoline engines. But then again, it’s no fairy tale for the CNG also,
- CNG tanks are large and a huge trunk space or boot space in a car. Also, CNG refuelling stations are yet to be set up across the country thus making it feasible only in few cities. CNG refuelling also takes much more time as compared to gasoline refuelling thus causing long queues at the CNG stations.
Do we have other fuel options?
- Yes, we do. Nuclear Energy. Chernobyl and Fukushima’s nuclear disasters have caused fear in the minds of people. Many oppose the use of nuclear fuel for the generation of any amount of energy. The fact that nuclear energy is the cleanest ever energy.
- But it has got major drawbacks and by major I really mean disastrous major. A small nuclear disaster can finish a whole city, cause widespread damage and a prolonged nuclear disaster caused deaths. Let’s keep it out of the list for now, till the scientists and engineers find a 100% safe way to contain nuclear fuel and proper disposal ways. And let’s hope, no one in the research department of nuclear energy is desperate like Anatoly Daytlov.
What are the authorities doing about the fossil fuel crisis?
- Are there any provisions that people are forced to use alternative fuel-powered vehicles? Are there any provisions for incentives for the people using alternative fuels instead of fossil fuels such as electric vehicles. Yes, the Government of India has provided various incentives and discounts to promote the sales of EV. It has also provided support to the various startups related to EVs.
- Now we have our top contenders, Electric drivetrain, Hydrogen fuel cell, and last but not the least CNG. All the three contenders have shown their abilities to be the Fuel Of The Future. All of them have some drawback too.
Fossil fuels | If not, then what?
- People can be seen naming EV, the future. But the real enthusiasts know that EV won’t be able to satisfy the need that will be created if the conventional petrol and diesel engines are ruled out. EV has not got that thing every true car fanatic love, and that is the feel. Although companies like Tesla promise a great deal, breaking every stereotype EVs come with, it is yet to come to the Indian market.
- I myself being an automobile enthusiast will not prefer the EV as the range it provides is a way too less and I won’t love to stand for 4-5 hours to add electric fuel to the batteries in order to drive ahead. Yes, for city commute electric vehicle is the best option. But the best plans are the ones with no planning. And with EV, not planning is not an option.
- Moreover, most of the electricity being generated is generated using fossil fuel plants. Thus the clean energy is not very clean or at least not clean until the major electricity generation is done using nuclear power plants of which people are afraid and are opposing the new energy.
- I have driven few CNG operated vehicles too. The major issue is engine life. The classic engines are not suited to operate on CNG fully. Thus there is more wear and tear reducing the life of the vehicle. Maruti Suzuki has expressed its desire to launch a fully CNG operated vehicle in a near future which may have this issue removed being dedicated to CNG fuel.
- In India, CNG has been introduced for more than 10 years now. Then also the reach is still in metro cities. Rural and semi-urban areas are still to get a proper infrastructure for CNG. People have not adopted the CNG, the way it should have been, be it the availability or any other reason.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell | A potential future fuel?
- Science has always been fascinating and the hydrogen fuel cell is no exception.
- Hyundai’s Nexo, the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle is claimed to have a range of over 600 km. It is nearly or more than double what most of the electric vehicles have to offer.
- The only emission is water. What better than to have water on-demand when it is also getting scarce and scarce.
- Moreover, more energy means more power, more power means more thrill, more thrill means real automobile. So, my vote will definitely go to the hydrogen cell until we have nuclear powered, ultra-safe cars.
Or we have some other source better yielding than the present hydrogen fuel cell. Our scientists are doing extensive research in order to find the best source to deliver maximum power.
Maybe, in future, we have an ARC Reactor powered car which will be self-sustained, no need to refuel just keep driving. Well, they say, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of cars”.
Disclaimer: This is an authored article written by Ritvik Gupta who works as a content writer at GoMechanic. All suggestions, implications and opinions are personal.
[…] The End Of Conventional Fuel?: Alternative Fuels Against Fossil Fuels | An Insight […]
Till when India will be having a fully functional hydrogen fuel cell?
India may get a fully functioning Hydrogen-Powered Vehicle, Hyundai Nexo soon. Globally, the world’s first Hydrogen-powered car is plying on the roads.
Hydrogen fuel cell is positively not a viable future fuel.
Scientists have already been developing technologies to replace the present conventional fuels. Rest, let’s wait for time to reveal the answer.
Futuristic article well thought out
As they say Necessity is mother of Invention
Magnitude of demand will lead to economy of scale and cheap technology within reach of masses .👍👍
[…] Also Read: Alternative Fuels Against Fossil Fuels | An Insight […]