As you may know, petrol and diesel are fossil fuels that are refined from oil. Because of a growing global demand for such fuels and the somewhat limited resources that they can be extracted from, the prices we have to pay at the pump seemingly increase year on year.
A Round-Up Of Alternative Fuel Technologies For Cars
Car manufacturers are often coming up with ways to make their engines more fuel-efficient (and thus make motoring in the UK more affordable), but considering the prices for fossil fuels will only ever worse, many motorists are looking for alternative fuels to power their cars.
So what’s about at the moment, and how feasible a replacement are they? Here is the lowdown on some of the most common alternative fuels for cars in Britain.
OK, so this isn’t exactly a fuel as such – and yes some may argue that electricity is actually produced mainly from fossil fuels such as coal – but it’s still worth a mention. Electric cars are an increasingly attractive option to motorists in the UK, and with the state pledging £5,000 towards each new electric car bought from a main dealer, it makes the deal even sweeter.
The only trouble is, electric cars tend to be more expensive than their fossil-fuel-powered brothers and sisters (does this sound like history repeating itself to you?), but they offer numerous advantages over them.
For example, electric cars don’t attract any vehicle excise duty (car tax), many current models have been designed with longer ranges in mind, and there are no harmful CO2 emissions from them.
A renewable energy source, biodiesel is typically produced from vegetable oil, such as waste oil from restaurants, as well as animal fats and algae. Made from a process called transesterification, biodiesel is completely biodegradable and is not toxic to the environment because it does not contain petroleum (normal diesel does).
In the UK, the term biodiesel typically refers to a mixture of 5% biodiesel and 95% normal diesel. Although it is possible to run most diesel engines on pure 100% biodiesel, the issue that one may face is that some of the components related to the diesel fuel system of an engine may not be happy with running such a fuel.
Some people recommend that the fuel filter be changed the first time a pure biodiesel fuel is introduced into the fuel system of a diesel car, and not to use pure vegetable oil as it can freeze (whereas rapeseed oil doesn’t).
Results can vary, so it’s probably best to stick with a 5% biodiesel mix in your used Jaguar for now until car manufacturers categorically confirm that their diesel cars will work fine on a 5% or 100% biodiesel mix.
Another interesting alternative fuel for cars is hydrogen. Although it is typically produced from fossil fuels, it can be produced using renewable sources such as solar and wind power.
Hydrogen fuel cells typically power electric motors and consist of three major components: an electrolyte, an anode and a cathode. Although this is a promising alternative fuel technology, it costs way too much money (from a manufacturing point of view) to implement such a system for now.