Fossil fuels seemed like the perfect thing for powering all of our automotive needs, but their use is now in question. Various reasons are given from cost and efficiency, to environmental hazards to finite supplies. Now we start looking towards alternative fuels for our nearly insatiable appetite for transportation needs. As long as cars have been around, you would think someone would’ve come up with the optimal solution to fuel them by now. Alas, that is not the case, but there are some really interesting and innovative concepts around that deal with this problem.
It takes time, but the so-called fuel problem will have to be dealt with sooner or later. Sure, there are some real-world alternatives that exist today for vehicles, but there are even more that don’t get the attention they deserve. And then there are those alternative fuels that are so simple in concept, it almost seems that they are mysteriously buried, never to be heard about again. Some people are already converting their existing vehicles to run on alternative methods, and more are learning how. In the end, the goal should be to have a universal, free and endless supply of whatever the world decides will be the de-facto standard for fuelling vehicles.
Check out some of these interesting alternatives to beating the prices at the gas pump.
Zero Pollution Motors calls gasoline “a fuel of the past”. Their alternative-fuel creation called the AIRPod hopes to capitalize on people wanting an alternative to fossil-fuelled cars. AIRPod is quite a small car, with hopefully a small price tag, that uses compressed air to propel it. The 2.0’s engine is actually two engines.
One is a tiny 1/2 -liter gas engine and the other is compressed air, powering the AIRPod’s four wheels.
ZPM says it takes three minutes to charge the car and it costs approximately 2 dollars to fill the tank. That’s a game changer if I ever heard of one.
This is a car that knows no bounds. The Quant-E Sportlimousine uses a so-called ionic-flow (sea water) battery for propulsion. The fuel cell is made up of different electrolyte fluids contained in 2 separate 200-liter tanks, which react with each other to create electricity. It’s estimated the car will go for 370 miles on a single charge. It’s also estimated that it takes 2.8 seconds to go from 0 to 60. The car has four motors, one going to each wheel. It’s pretty cool looking. This method of using flow batteries have the potential to power cars three times as far and one fourth the cost of lithium-ion batteries. Although critics always compare the Quant-E to a Tesla, in my opinion I don’t think that is the case. I think the company is simply trying to bring a different alternative to the car-buying public.
I never thought coffee would be able to power a car, but this car takes the literal coffeecake. Although the car is not practical, it proves what a little ingenuity can get you. 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco runs on the ground coffee. It was built as an experiment by a show on BBC1 called “Bang Goes The Theory”, to participate in a 210-mile trip according to Gizmodo.
At an estimated cost of between $1000-1900, it’s interesting that the trip will cost up to 50 times as much as it would if it were running on gas.
One thing found out later in an article from The Economist, is that coffee beans can actually be converted into a very practical biofuel, if done correctly.
With a mix of allergy and electricity, this car will easily get you where you need to go. The experimental car used a 700-pound battery pack and according to Scientific American, the Algaeus got one hundred and forty-seven miles per gallon in the city. On the highway it only got 55 miles to the gallon, due mostly to its setup. Strangely, the algae/gasoline mix acted no differently in powering the car. The smell was not very different from ordinary gasoline. The car can also be driven for at least 25 miles on pure electricity. The company making the fuel hopes to raise $1 billion to build new a facility in New Mexico. They believe they can produce algae oil at a competitive price comparable to conventional oil.
Poo Power! Yep, that’s what I said. This interesting vehicle comes from the company called TOTO. They famously make those portable toilets you see at nearly every event and construction site.
The bike is powered from livestock waste.
The seat is shaped like a toilet. Really. The three wheeled motorcycle has a 250-cc engine. Interestingly, the bike can go for up to 180 miles on a full tank of juice. The bikes creators hope to raise awareness among customers about environmentally friendly products. I think it’s a fantastic idea, especially when people seem to forget that waste actually helps to grow everyone’s food and now can be converted into biogas. Great job!
With a tank refill time of just 3 to 5 minutes, the Honda clarity cannot be ignored. Business insider says the ETA recently gave the car an estimated 366 miles, which is the longest range of any zero emissions vehicle. Car and Driver calls the Clarity a compelling proposition, but only for a certain few. The car weighs more than 4000 pounds, even with the mostly aluminum body. It drives fine, but it is not a sports car. The 10,000 psi tanks are filled with hydrogen which powers the electric motor. The only problem with these types of fuel cells, is that auto manufacturers have yet to perfect a gauge which will read the fuel range properly. The main problem at the moment is having enough hydrogen stations. At the moment they’re only in California, but hopefully that will change soon.
Jay Leno tells the story about a Chrysler Turbine car that ran on tequila. Actually, back in the 1960s, the leader of Mexico drove this tequila fuelled car. He became upset when he realized that newspapers wrote articles about the car, but not about him in the car. I guess he was jealous.
Jay Leno says that when the car was driven in France, it was fuelled by Chanel number five.
According to a CNN report, the disadvantage of this car is that it was extremely expensive to produce. The car could still go 200 miles-per-hour but was not terribly efficient. Modern cars may be more efficient now, but the 60s was a wonderful time for innovation.
Wood burning cars have been around since the 1870s. They became quite common during World War II. The technology powered all types of vehicles from buses to ships. The cars were especially popular in Europe from Austria to Sweden. This was due mostly to the rationing of gas during World War II. But the technology was proven and quite efficient. Even today people still make their own wood-gas cars. They still use wood or wood chips to power the engines of their vehicles. Most modern wood-burning tanks can hold 66 pounds of wood, and have a range of 60 miles, but can still maintain a max speed of around 75 mph, which is somewhat comparable to some electric cars.
Another alternative to fossil fuels is the use of soybeans. Once converted to bio-diesel, the fuel can be used to power many different vehicles. A lot of cities have been experimenting by fuelling their buses with the soybean fuel in an effort to see how much of a savings they can achieve, versus other alternatives. It must be pretty good because the demand for biodiesel-powered buses have been steady according to a report from schoolbusfleet.com. The process to convert the buses is easy enough, and not very expensive. I would think the long-term savings will certainly make a difference.
Turbine engine cars remind me a lot of diesel powered cars. You can put just about anything in them and they will still run. The Chrysler Turbine Car was such an example. Built in the early 1960s when it seems everything was jet-themed, the car turned out to be quite a big deal.
Over 200 turbine cars were produced for testing.
The cars performed quite well according to testers. The Turbine Cars has around 130 hp, but were proven to be nearly vibration free, from reading a report at Petrolicious. The only thing stopping the Turbine from full-scale production was the agreement between Chrysler and the government to give up experimentation as part of the company’s 1979 bailout.
Quantino is the smaller version of the Quant-E Sportlimousine. Top Gear calls the Quantino a “funny looking thing”, and that probably makes sense. Using the same sort of “Nanoflow Technology” as its larger sibling, the car is electric, but it has an ionic fluid (sea water) fuel cell. It’s supposed to be the world’s first low-voltage car, meaning it won’t take much to get it to go far. How good is it? When the company enlisted the Quantico in a 14-hour 1100 km endurance test, the car still had fuel in the tanks. Wow. While the tech is still being perfected, the Quantico’s technology has proven to be a most interesting choice for future cars.
Top Gear considers the car to be nothing more than a record-breaking machine. CNN says “the acceleration is completely bonkers.” The comments go on and on about the car with the “megawatt” engine. If you are not aware of that word, I’ll break it down: Think “Over One-Thousand HP”. Think “Supersonic”, then think “0-125 mph in 7-seconds”. Yep, it’s that fast. But I suppose that nearly any car in possession of a 1341 hp engine would be capable of that. But there aren’t any others, are there? The Shanghai, China built beast seems to be as balanced and steady as it is exotic. The best part is that the EP9 is totally street legal, nothing special required. Who should I write the check out to?
The Lightyear One is supposed to be a fully solar car that’ll be ready for production by 2019. What does it look like? Only the Dutch manufacturer knows this, as there’s been no real images of the car released.
I find that very strange for a car that’s being prepped for production in less than a year’s time.
Maybe it’s just too ugly for words, I just don’t know. We’ll see next year when 10 of these vehicles are released in 2019. Futurism.com says that the automaker claims that the One will be able to be driven for months without charging, and that it’ll have a 250-500 mile range.
The Hemp Car came from the mind of Henry Ford who built one in 1941. What was unique about the car was that not only was it hemp-ethanol fuelled, but that most of the car’s plastic body was constructed from industrial hemp fiber. An interesting fact about the hemp-plastic panels is that they were ten times stronger than steel at the time. The only reason the car wasn’t mass-produced was the fact that hemp and anything relating to it were banned in the US in 1937. But the car and its fuel cell provided an education to those thinking about alternative fuels at the time. How times have changed.
Coal was another alternative fuel experiment. GM started testing coal in for car fuel use in the 1950s, and experimented with it all the way up to the 1980s. As a matter of fact, there were two coal cars that were produced. One was the 1978 Cadillac Eldorado, and the other was a 1977 Oldsmobile Delta 88, according to the New York Times. The cars used powdered coal for combustion, and although rather clucky when first starting out, the cars were very good when moving on down the road. But coal-burning turned out to be an inefficient process for powering a car, even without the maintenance involved and issues dealing with emissions.
The Mazda Furai is a race car that is fully powered by ethanol. It a race car only, but that’s alright, because the car more than proves itself on the track. The Furai has a freakishly aggressive appearance to it, more like the Batmobile than anything else. Mazda says the car’s engine produces at least 460 hp.
It can also launch from 0-60 mph in a reality-bending 3.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 172 mph.
Mazda says the Furai is a one-off, meant as a showcase for alternative fuels powering race cars. It’s certainly a bold feat, considering that companies have to be very careful when sourcing fuels like ethanol, or they could run into some very bad problems.
It seems that anytime a company attempts to introduce a car that’s powered only by water, that soon after the company or the person who created the technology simply vanish. Conspiracy? I don’t know for sure, I can only report the facts as I research them. Stanley Meyer made such a car. It didn’t get any news attention, and his so-called investors sued him for fraud, even though he proved his car worked. He died in 1998 after taking a sip of juice. Stanley’s brother claims that Stanley told him he was poisoned. Then take the Japanese company Genepax. They introduced a similar car in 2008, showing they could any type of water to power their car. Cut to 2009 and the company abruptly shut down operations and were never heard from again. Maybe someone doesn’t want the masses to have it easy?
Quite a few people have converted their vehicles to run on old waste oil. As long as your car has a diesel engine, it seems the sky is the limit as far as what you could potentially power it with. A quick Google search will show you where you can get a conversion kit. Just remember that the engine has to be warm in order for the oil to convert to fuel properly or your vehicle might end up in a world of hurt, because it won’t have the ability to mix air with the fuel. The vehicles I’ve seen converted are mostly diesel trucks. And yes, some of them do smell like a French fry factory, but it’s a small price to pay to avoid the expensive fuel pump stations these days.
Compressed Natural Gas is another alternate fuel method for cars that it proving to be quite popular. Digitaltrends.com says that there’s very little conversion cost associated and that the cars are on par with any other vehicle. Natural gas is for the most part made up of methane and is quite plentiful. In a car, the gas is stored under pressure until ready for use. The downside is that extracting this fuel from what’s known as “fracking” is still considered to be hazardous to the environment. Still, companies like Honda say that the cars normally have a range between 220-250 miles, but that most drivers suffer from “fuel anxiety” when trying to search for a filling station that has natural gas.
Yes, The Mars Rovers are still considered to be vehicles, even though their home is not on Earth. The Rovers are nuclear-powered, and that of course got people curious about transitioning that technology to cars. This has already been tried as early as the 1950’s. The Arbel Symetric, Ford Nucleon and Studebaker Packard Astra were experiments to try to gain interest in cars that could have a potential range of at least 5,000 miles before a new reactor was needed. We haven’t been able to miniaturize nuclear reactors to such a degree, but it proves that car designers were already thinking up ideas like this back in the day.
Sources: collective-evolution.com; topspeed.com; topgear.com; honda.com; toto.jp