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OTHER ITA SITES:
Alternative Fuels - Or Saving Money On Gas
A lot of things have changed since I was a youngster. I remember the day when I worked on the corner gas station pumping gas, cleaning windows and checking oil, the last two of which you find very few stations doing anymore. The whole idea of "full-service" is pretty much a thing of the past, however this is a subject for a different article. During those days I had the part-time job at the gas station, the ozone layer was something that astronomers and astronauts worried about and not something that he had to worry about breaking down thereby burning a hole in this beloved planet we live on.
The cost of gas was $.16 a gallon - yes you heard me - $.16 a GALLON! We drove cars that got on a good day 18 miles per gallon and it didn't break the bank or increase the interest rate on your credit card just to fill up the tank. We would ask mom and dad for a five spot to go cruising up and down the main drag, not the credit card charge of $30 or more that it takes now. It's no wonder that the old folks (like myself) who are now the parents of children cruisiní the drag came up with the idea of alternative fuels to try and save ourselves a few bucks at the pump as well as save the planet that we so dearly love and yet manage to almost destroyed the last 30 years or so.
One solution to this has been to make engines smaller, cars smaller and sometimes I even wonder if theyíve made people smaller - because I sure canít fit in these boxes. I actually saw a car that couldn't have been more than a lawnmower engine with wheels, which were no larger than the ones I used to make my go carts out of when I was (once again) a kid! The car itself was boxy and it did sound a lot like a lawnmower going down the street but hey - I am sure it got great gas mileage!
Another solution is to change the gasoline we run our cars on. What does this mean? Well, we remove the lead, an anti-knock agent which was needed in the old days because we didnít have super computers tuning our cars for us as we drive. We eliminated High octane fuel which to tell the truth pretty much killed a lot of the old muscle cars (Ahh.. the sound of a big V8 in the morning!). and then, we added ethanol (grain alcohol) to the gas to try to thin it out and help it run cleaner. A step in the right direction but personally, I always like my grain alcohol with a twist and just a plash of gin!
The other solution we have come up with alternative fuels. So far these consist of been added it to the fuels we've reduced or eliminated lead in the fuel which was an anti-knock agent but it did so pollute our atmosphere in which since replaced it with grain alcohol (funny I used to look at that as a kid to drink not to run my car on). The grain alcohol is supposed to reduce emissions while at the same time converting some of the emissions to water vapor that goes into the doesn't do any good but it doesn't do as much harm. But this is not the solution.
They did have come out with hybrid cars now which run on electricity the last word a combination of gasoline and electricity switching back and forth between the two is the load on the engine dictates. You have to admit this is a pretty smart idea however and makes for a maintenance nightmare because of the weight of the batteries carried in the car cancel out any real advantage of having a hybrid car in the first place. Don't get me wrong, it does some good just not enough to make a difference.
You also have the companies and entrepreneurs that are working on pure electric cars. Unfortunately these haven't made a big impact on the road right now because it requires so many batteries at the car is incredibly heavy and the batteries and the batteries don't have a long life in the car so they have to be replaced sooner than any engine overhaul would take place. This is a very expensive ordeal as well as you have to find a specialty shop to that would be able to do it for you. They do have one battery that does show some promise -it's called the "sulfur battery". The only problem with this battery is it needs a key element in it out in the field to keep sulfur in its liquid state about 300 plus degrees. Not a good thing to have rumbling around in your trunk! Let's face it batteries just have not made it to a level or place where they can take to the road as well as a gasoline engine.
One of the more exciting things that I've seen is called the hydrogen fuel-cell. This unique little device takes water and converts it to electricity by using special layers of chemicals and minerals to separate the hydrogen in the action from each other and causing his chemical reaction that generates electricity between the plates and thereby supplying electricity to whatever needs to be run-in this case the motor in the car. This is probably one of the more exciting developments as come along however it doesn't create a lot of electricity only creating a few milliamps or a few amps here and there where running cars can take hundreds of amps, especially during hard acceleration. So until they develop this little bit further its out as well.
Honestly I believe that at this point in time since we don't have anything else to run our cars are than gasoline, I believe the hybrid engine is the way to go. But electricity doesn't really seem the way to go to me and additives to the fuel make it inefficient or simply don't exist at this time. There has been one promising area that I believe should be pursued...
The idea of hydrogen being injected into an engine is a good idea-they actually came up with this some time ago running an engine completely on hydrogen. Do have to admit it was pretty much a rolling firetrap if it ever got into an accident the hydrogen itself is very explosive in very small quantities so great care has to be taken in its care and handling.
Now here comes the idea I read about -- What if one were able to use water as a fuel? It's plentiful, it's everywhere and it's a renewable resource. "How is it renewable" you ask? Well it's car were to run off water, the only by-product coming out of the exhaust pipe would be --can you guess? Water! The water goes up in the air, and comes down as rain. Itís renewed! It's a wonderful idea and a few people are working on exactly that idea. Personally, I'm hoping some big corporation picks up on the idea and runs with it. It would be the best possible thing that could happen to us as a planet and possibly even for us as a race!
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