Cars are a source of air pollution – that is no secret. Petrol or diesel is burnt in the internal combustion engine, and greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide in particular) are released at the exhaust. To be exact, about 2.4kg of carbon dioxide is produced for every litre of fuel that is burnt – not to mention the significant emissions associated with the manufacture of vehicles. Fortunately, the automotive industry has been working hard to reduce emissions as much as possible, while still providing people with a comfortable and safe means of transport.
Fuel Efficient Vehicle Designs
The figure quoted above, 2.4kg of carbon dioxide per litre of fuel, cannot be changed – that is basic chemistry. However, what can be changed is how many litres of fuel the car needs to get from A to B. Designing cars with fuel efficiency in mind has had a significant impact on the reduction of emissions. Combined with many governments around the world issuing vehicle emission standards, this is a field that will only continue to grow.
Unfortunately, the phrase 'fuel efficient' tends to evoke one of two images in most people – an extravagantly expensive hybrid, or a tiny two-seater volkswagen. The truth is, a wide variety of vehicles with outstanding fuel economy exist today, ranging from family cars to utility vehicles.
Barring pure electric cars (a technology still in its adolescence), hybrid vehicles are the lowest emission option. Hybrid technology combines a traditional internal combustion engine (powered by petrol or diesel) with an electrical motor. The electrical motor supplements the engine's power, and the generator that charges the electrical motor is run by the fuel engine; no external plugging in/charging required. With hybrid technology, carbon dioxide emissions can be lowered by as much as 50% compared to the equivalent, non-hybrid vehicle, and the technology is only getting cheaper with advances in research and development.
Renewable Fuel Sources (Biofuel)
Certain vehicles, known as flex-fuel vehicles, are designed with engines that are able to run on either biofuel or gasoline. Biofuel is a blend of ethanol and gasoline, usually 85% ethanol to 15% gasoline, where the ethanol is derived from organic, renewable sources – usually corn. This 85% blend is known as E85, and car manufacturers are slowly beginning to encourage its use as a primary fuel source.
While E10 (10% ethanol) has been around for a while, with the advent of flexible engines which can run on any source (from pure gasoline, to anywhere between E10 and E85), the future of emissions reductions is starting to look pretty green.
For more information on exhaust systems, contact a company such as Gold Coast Mufflers & Exhausts.Share