Diesel vs. Electric vs. Hybrid Cars

If you are excited like I am about President Obama taking office you may begin to wonder what are different choices in gas-related technologies. You may not be concerned about your miles per gallon until prices start going back up but rest assured they will soon. We want to be free of foreign oils, breathe a cleaner air, save the environment, and save dollars at gas stations. There are several fuel options out there but not yet at even a tenth of our gas stations. Here are some options for better fuel economy :

What we have now is an Internal Combustion Engine Vehicle (ICE).  This is the typical engine in most vehicles today, running on either gasoline or diesel. Our cars have a heat engine in which the burning of a fuel occurs in a confined space called a combustion chamber. The ignition of a fuel and air mixture creates gases of high temperature and pressure, which then turn an engine shaft which, coupled to a transmission, provides the motive power of the vehicle. This technology is very 1969, we should have had bio fuel or fuel-cell powered vehicles years ago.

Battery-electric Vehicle – Battery-Electric Vehicles (BEV) are powered by electric motors that run exclusively on batteries that are charged by an external source such as the electric power grid. BEV’s are electric vehicles whose energy storage is in the chemical energy of batteries. BEVs are the most common form of what are defined as a zero emission vehicles, because they produce no emissions while being driven. BEV’s will improve miles per gallon by up to 79% over an ICE vehicle running on gasoline and, depending on the size of the battery, will have a range of 50 – 150 miles per charge. The downside to this option is that you most likely need a garage to really benefit from it or you will have cords running outside your home. The vehicle may only be used for commuting or runs to the store and you need to plug it in every time you go home.

Fuel Cell-powered Vehicle – A fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device similar to a battery, but differing in that it is designed for continuous replenishment of the reactants consumed. It produces electricity from an external supply of fuel and air/oxygen. Typical reactants used in a Fuel Cell-Powered Vehicle are hydrogen and the oxygen contained in air. Fuel cell Vehicles also produce zero emissions while being driven. Fuel Cell-Powered Vehicles will improve miles per gallon by up to 71% over a automobile running on gasoline. This seems to produce the best results for fuel economy unless you go electric 100%. I hope automakers look more into this fuel option.

Turbo Gasoline Direct Injection Engine Vehicle – A Turbo Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) vehicle utilizes a new technology that usually couples a turbo charger with specially designed & located fuel injectors. The resulting boost in horsepower and efficiency means that a smaller traditional gasoline engine can achieve similar performance of a larger traditional gasoline engine but using much less fuel. These Turbo Gas Injection vehicles will IMPROVE miles per gallon by up to 15% over a car running on gasoline and will have a better range per tank of fuel.

Flex-fuel Vehicle – A Flex-Fuel Vehicle (FFV) has a single fuel tank, fuel system, and engine. The vehicle is designed to run on unleaded gasoline and an alcohol fuel (usually ethanol or E85 – 85% ethanol produced from corn or other soluble product and 15% gasoline) in any mixture. Also, a gallon of ethanol contains considerably less energy than a gallon of gasoline, meaning a vehicle running on E85 will experience approximately a 25% reduction in MPG & driving range compared to gasoline alone. This was one of the ethanol mistakes made by politicians a few years back to make the farmers think they were going to get all this free money thrown their way. Not only have people had complaints that their cars do not run as good but they have experienced engine problems and we found out there are better uses of corn than as a fuel.

Hybrid-electric Vehicle – Hybrid vehicles use multiple propulsion systems to provide motive power. The most common approach, the Hybrid-Electric Vehicle (HEV), uses gasoline to power an internal-combustion engine (ICE), and electric batteries to power electric motors. The electric battery is recharged by either capturing kinetic energy via regenerative braking or using the gasoline engine to generate electricity by spinning a generator to recharge the battery. Unlike Battery-electric only vehicles, these are designed not to require power from the electric power grid; that is, no plug in is required or even available. Hybrid-electric vehicles will improve miles per gallon by up to 43% over a vehicle running on gasoline.

Plug-in Hybrid / Electrical Grid-Connected Vehicle – Like the HEV described above, this vehicle uses both electricity from a battery pack and gasoline as the energy sources, but the plug in has a larger battery pack. This larger battery is charged using a standard household outlet (110V, 15-amp). Depending on the size of the battery, charging will take from 3-10 hours. Compared to an hybrid/electric, the larger battery in a plug-in hybrid allows you to drive more using only the electric motor – up to 15-20 miles, and at higher speeds (around 50mph). The vehicle will run as a normal hybrid if it has not been plugged in, but the benefit of driving for a certain distance on electricity only will not be received. Plug-In Hybrids will improve miles per gallon by up to 70% over an ICE vehicle running on gasoline. Looking over all these ways to save fuel, lessen our dependency on foreign barrels of oil, and live longer this is the absolute best way to do it for now.

Direct-injection Diesel Vehicle – Direct-Injection Diesel (DID) vehicles have the engine’s fuel injection nozzle placed inside the combustion chamber. Direct injection diesel engines are generally more efficient, quieter, and cleaner than common indirect injection diesel engines. DIDs typically run on low sulfur fuel, typically called Clean Diesel. These cleaner diesel autos will improve miles per gallon by up to 25% over a vehicle running on gasoline and will have a range of 515 miles per tank of fuel.

Should the government on the state and local and federal level help us out on these?  Why not raise the gas taxes a penny or two to help lessen the fuel demand and increase a fund for these technologies!  We need them now and Yes we can!

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