Alternative energy for transport

Electric Car

Gasoline — certainly not the only possible materials suitable to set the vehicle in motion. Another question is that in the early twentieth century, the choice of gasoline as fuel for cars and others like them, was due to a number of unsolvable problems then. This is the large size and weight of the steam engine and the small power reserve, with, again, the large size and weight of the battery electric vehicle. But since then more than a hundred years, and, really, at the height of today's technological advances, we can not solve these problems?

ALTERNATIVE FUEL: profit and fiction

We are increasingly afraid to dry up oil and gas reserves on the planet, global warming, which is causing car exhaust. It is appropriate to recall that the only known oil reserves will last for 500 years, and undiscovered (no one has any doubt that beneath the polar ice hiding billions of barrels of oil) — even more. In the 1920s it is generally believed that the oil in the world is not enough for more than a quarter century. Global warming? More than half of the thermal background created animals, people and plants — due to the heat of his body, motor vehicles produce less than a half percent of the thermal background! What kind of impact of transport on the environment may be involved in this situation?

On the other hand — "global conspiracy" of the producers who deliberately hide more efficient and cost-effective technology.
It already belongs to the category of paranoia.

And yet, since the car is continuously going research in the area of alternative fuels. Surprisingly, at the dawn of the automotive … most of the cars were electric cars! In general, the first electric car was created by inventor Robert Davidson in England in 1838 …! That is just six years after the discovery of electromagnetic induction Faraday, and for half a century before the first car with an internal combustion engine! At the end of XIX century, electric cars faster than with traditional (in our current understanding) engine speed and volume of the release!

But there were steam cars! The first steam car … "steam wagon" as it was called then, was built in 1769 by Frenchman Nicolas Joseph Kyuno. His "Fire wagon" to reach speeds of 4.5 km / h, and the range was 12 minutes, and then had to add water to the boiler. Fourth millennium later, in the early twentieth century, steam cars (in fact — smaller versions of locomotives), again outnumbered cars with gasoline characteristics. Record speed shown on the "locomotive" Frenchman Leon Serpole in 1902 120.8 km / h, was then beyond the reach of the traditional understanding in today's cars. Between the lines can be noted that Louis Renault "sick" cars after the same Serpole gave him steer steam tricycle in 1891 …

All these examples suggest that gasoline — just not the only possible materials suitable to set the vehicle in motion. Another question is that in the early twentieth century, the choice of gasoline as fuel for cars and others like them, was due to a number of unsolvable problems then. This is the large size and weight of the steam engine and the small power reserve, with, again, the large size and weight of the battery electric vehicle. But since then more than a hundred years, and, really, at the height of today's technological advances, we can not solve these problems?

And what, in general, is the ideal fuel for the car? Perhaps, from this and is repelled. What sort of properties must have an ideal fuel?

1. The first criterion is, of course, the availability of fuel. Ideally it should be in the nature in its purest form, and production costs should be minimal. Perhaps the only thing that fits this criterion — the tree.

2. The high specific heat. That is the minimum weight (or volume) of fuel should provide maximum thermal energy into mechanical. Here wood, with heating value 10 MJ / kg are at the end of the list, the top position belongs to hydrogen — 120 MJ / kg. Gasoline somewhere — 46 MJ / kg.

3. Toxicity. Fuel, however it did not possess the qualities, should have low toxicity — for vehicles, at times, get into an accident, and even in motor racing, but "safety cage" that protects the driver, not the least attention to protection and to prevent tank spills . There it is solved using rubber tanks, with a "sponge" inside. Clearly, if a drop of spilled fuel is killing all life within fifty miles — it's not our method. In this respect, again, the ideal fuel is wood.

4. Toxicity of combustion products. This indicator is closely linked to the previous one, because if the vehicle is driving kilometer exhaust kills a couple hundred flies drozdofilov — this is not exactly environmentally friendly. Ideal for this indicator, it would seem, is electricity — because it does not give the combustion products! However, just remember where it comes from … Again, a product of combustion of hydrogen — water. Each is also fairly low-toxicity. Alcohol, gas — also give low amount of combustion products. Wood and gasoline, which result in combustion carbon monoxide CO, and the latter is heavy metal oxides, look at the background of the previous examples, to say the least clumsy.

5. Consumer characteristics. This name, of course relative. Do not forget that for combustion must be submitted to the combustion chamber, and ensure the integrity of the process of combustion. TPS, for solid fuels — coal preparation plant are (unloading, storage, milling, filing) of fuel, not inferior in size by TPP. That is, if the organization of the combustion process requires a mechanism for the preparation and the combustion chamber is so large that double minicar into a forty-ton tractor … Who needs it?

Now we will try to consider and, if possible, to assess the types of fuels that have a chance to appear in the near future. Let alone splitting plasma beams and cold nuclear fusion — the technology of today are too fantastic to drive the average car. By the way, looking ahead, we can say that the ideal in all respects, the fuel is water — the most common substance on earth, is a non-toxic … but now it is not clear how the energy of water (other than mechanical — similar to a water mill) can be converted into mechanical energy the rotation of the wheels.


We are taught from childhood that the cars of the future will most certainly go on electricity, so as an alternative source of energy for electric vehicles arises in the first place. And interest in electric vehicles is growing — from the 1960s, when environmentalists raised the alarm, after — the popularity of electric energy crisis contributed to the 1980s, today the cause of increased attention to these vehicles is the rise in oil prices.

As already mentioned above, the first electric car was created in 1836, and in the 1910s years in New York taxis operate to 70,000 electric cars! Speaking of electric cars can not ignore the trolley — it's what they are! By the way, the world's first land vehicle to break the barrier of the speed of 100 km / h it was electric — «La Jamais Contente» (Is it all the fr.) Belgian Camille Zhenattsi that showed spring 1899 speed 105.882 km / h

In the West, producing electric cars GM, Renault, Daimler, Japan's Mitsubishi, Toyota, Honda, even India did not pass "elektromobilizatsiya" — there was established Reva. In the USSR, the topic of electric cars could not pass U.S. institution, and of course, AvtoVAZ, which were created by the experimental freight electric 2702, 2802 and on the basis of the VAZ-2102 — Electric for conveying food 2801. Moreover — Kharkov Highway Institute has successfully performed at record rides on electric HADI-11e, 13e, and so on.

The Japanese, who for decades kept the palm production of automobiles and electronic devices have gone furthest, creating a 640-hp eight-wheeled electric car Eliica (Electric Lithium-Ion Car), capable of speeds up to 370 km / h!

In fact, electric vehicles have a number of advantages:

— Lack of exhaust gases;

— Simplicity of design — all traditional power plant of engine and transmission replaces one mechanism — the electric motor, which is the ability to develop a very high speed (up to 15 000 r / min), eliminating the need for transmission!

— Low cost of refueling;

— Low levels of noise pollution.

The set of all possible advantages not only to present GAZ truck Gazelle Power, but also to buy the Moscow City Hall a few electric vehicles for trial operation. By the way, in the late twentieth century concerns the California Air Resources Committee gassy, almost led to the complete electrification of vehicles in California. So it was decided that in 1998, 2% of cars sold in California should not produce emissions, and by 2003 — 10%.

First to respond to this GM, introducing to the market model EV1, quickly gained popularity in the experimental batch, and GM is preparing for mass sales, but in 2002 the law was repealed, and almost all of the outstanding electric cars were confiscated from owners and destroyed. Only the electric Toyota RAV-4. The reason stated expiration of the battery. Of course, once there were those who saw the bill to repeal the plot authorities and oil magnates, felt threatened by the new mass transport mode.

But not so corrupt as it seems at first glance. The fact that electric cars have a number of disadvantages:

— In the first place — a small reserve. On average, the battery can in the summer to drive about 100-150 miles on a single charge in the winter — even less. Eliica, able to travel on a single charge of up to 320 km is the exception;

— Longer charging time. In fact — to fill a full tank of fuel even voracious multiwindow Jeep takes on the force a few minutes to charge the battery electric vehicle — up to 10 hours!

— Environmental friendliness of this transport, more apparent than real. After all, electricity is taken from the outlet and how it gets there? Yes, there are nuclear power plants, HEC, wind power, tidal, but the vast majority of power today — the heat, burning fuel for generating electricity;

— Even more environmentally friendly production of batteries and their recycling. Because they contain toxic elements — lead, lithium, and acids;

— The absence of mass exploitation of charging stations, the construction of which will cause damage to ecology and economy hardly larger than for a gasoline vehicle. If we allow a massive charge of domestic networks — will increase the load on those same networks, which can lead to overloading of power networks, and as a result, the local industrial accidents.

In summary, it can be noted that electricity is likely to be the fuel for the mass transport, but not for the foreseeable future.


Speaking of wood, we have in mind is not a locomotive engine is an external combustion engine, a gas-generator engine. As the phenomenon of electromagnetic induction, the process of conversion of solid fuel to gas, was invented in the nineteenth century, and the world's first gas generator was built in England in 1839. The very idea of combining the gas generator and the internal combustion engine came already in the 1870s by E. Dawson's. Initially the gas generating cars did not get popular — alternative fuel gas generator was enough, but World War I forced to pay the high and mighty look at gas generators. The first such car was truck Berchet who rose to adopt the French army.

It is worth a brief digression to explain that such a gas generator in general, and how it works. With electricity is clear — it lives in the wires are not visible, and into the car from the mains. But as solid fuel is converted to gas, bypassing the liquid phase at the same time?

The recipe is really simple — constant heating wood burning at a temperature above that is destructive distillation. The very same gas generator is a kind of moonshine. In the diagram: 1 — furnace gas generator with loading hatches for firewood intake manifold vozduhofiltrom Engine 3 — fan for ignition gas generator, 4 — cleaner, cooler flue gases from the gummy deposits and smoke 5 — heat exchanger for cooling the gas, 6 — ash hatch .

In the Soviet Union, when the car was more than fuel, came with the launch of GAZ factory in the early 1930s. It soon replaced the simplest plants using charcoal, came more complex, was used as the starting material gasification wood chocks size 40X40X50 mm. Their use imposes more stringent requirements on the design of the gas generator. Yet the temptation to use readily available raw materials (for chocks were good and sub-standard and even wood slab) was the reason why many designers draw attention to the wood-burning plant.

In the course of development work was built a huge number of experimental facilities, many of which found their way in life. So there is not only a gas-generating truck ZIS-13 and GAZ-42, but the gas generating sedans. So in September 1938, AI Peltzer, AN Ponizovkina and ND Titov (these names will be performed more than once in the history of the domestic automotive and motorsport) have been non-stop for gas-GAZ-M1-D 5000 km, showing average speed of 60.96 km / h, exceeding the world record belonged to the Frenchman!

Undoubtedly, gas generators have several advantages:

— availability and low cost of fuel,

— Low exhaust emissions of internal combustion engine (not gas generator!)

— longer service life of the combustion chamber engines, compared with the traditional fuel

— no soot on the walls of the cylinders,

Started rampant "gazogenerizatsiya" country. Transferred to the gas-fuel not only trucks and tractors, and with the beginning of the Great Patriotic War — even tanks! But everything was not quite smooth. For the availability of the fuel had to pay, taking gas generators and cons:

— high fuel consumption — up to 32 kg chocks for 100 km,

— weight and size of gas generators reduced capacity of vehicle,

— stock of firewood are reducing the capacity of vehicle, some vehicles — almost half

— low, compared to the base model power

— exhaust gas generators in the form of ash and soot.

Since the mid 1950s, the number of gas-producing cars in the Soviet Union began to wane. But, in fairness, we should note that in the boreal regions of the country still have the trucks and tractors running on producer gas fuel. So what to do, there are no gas stations in the forest every half mile!

But in the extensive use of gas generators significantly outweigh the cons pros and return to them today — irrationally.


This type of fuel is also not how else exotic — today on gas runs every route gazelle. In the USSR, on the gas bottle trucks began in mid-1936, mainly due to the institution of NATI (later — NAMI). Research facilities for GAZ-MM and ZIS-5 containing propane-butane mixture at 6-7 cylinders under a pressure of about 200 kgf / cm. sq. m., and weighed 420 and 550 kg. That is, in this respect, the special advantages over the gas generators were not. Power reserve also was not very big — about 100-150 km.

And, yet, gaseous fuels for many years been used in trucks, along with gasoline and diesel fuel, and so there is a simple explanation: the thermodynamic cycle of the internal combustion engine ignition compressed mixture from an external source of energy, found Nicholas August Otto in 1874, was designed especially for gaseous fuels! Yes, the inventor of the internal combustion engine is considered the ideal fuel gas!

In fact, the gas has a number of advantages:

— more complete combustion due to better education mixture in the cylinders

— low toxicity of combustion products,

— low cost of transporting gas

— low cost of fuel,

— low levels of noise pollution,

— inability to steal fuel gas service personnel

— low cost of converting the vehicle.

By the way, today, a lot of examples of using gas as a fuel, not only in trucks, and cars — BMW, Audi, VAZ and so on. Moreover — today there is a network of filling stations avtogazovyh. Someone will say, "but what about the diesel?". This problem is solved with the advent of gas diesel — a mixture of methane with a suspension of diesel fuel.

But the gaseous fuel also has a reverse side of the coin:

— low, compared to the base model capacity. Specific heat of the combustion gas 44 MJ / kg versus gasoline with 46 MJ / kg,

— high risk of explosion of gas cylinders in case of accident,

— high toxicity of the fuel itself. Poisoning of propane-butane mixture causes euphoria, drowsiness, narcosis, asphyxia, cardiac arrhythmia.

Yet today, more and more cars converted to gas fuel in the first place — because of reasons of economy. Perhaps, the gas can be called the most likely alternative to gasoline in the near future.


The use of alcohol as a fuel for internal combustion engines — are also far from yesterday's invention. History, as in the case of electricity and gas generator, takes us two centuries ago — in 1826, when American inventor Samuel Morey has built an engine running on a mixture of alcohol with turpentine. Automotive applications such fuel is found in 1896, when a Henry Ford produced his first car «Quadricycle», worked on the alcohol!

One would think — think, prototype, assembled a farmer in his garage … but the idea of using alcohol as a fuel has gone further — to go on sale "Model T" can run on either gasoline or ethanol, and mixtures thereof! Perhaps this is due to the system of multi-fuel Ford T has become so popular and widespread. Because the cost of the car — this one, and the value of its content — often very different value. By the way, just for economic reasons Ford has resorted to the use of ethanol. Since 1861, the U.S. acted high taxes on alcohol, given during the Civil War. In 1906, taxes on alcohol have been drastically reduced, making the price of ethanol is comparable to the price of gasoline — 7 cents per liter.

In 1923, the American Standard Oil Company was the first to add ethanol to gasoline to increase octane and improve the performance of engines, and in 1927 at the Indianapolis 500 races Ethanol was first used as a fuel for a race car.

But the decisive milestone in the history of alcohol fuel steel 1970s, and it is connected to the fuel crisis. In 1973, the Arab countries imposed an embargo on the supply of "black gold" States, which supported Israel. As a result, oil prices have tripled. Certainly, it was a disaster for the world, but for Brazil, the main export product of which was sugar, the trouble did not come alone. In 1974, sugar prices have fallen.

The country was lucky — Brazilian President Ernesto Giselle not lost heart, and initialize the transfer of Brazilian cars from gasoline to ethanol, determined both problems in one fell swoop — because alcohol is produced from waste from sugar production. As a result, by 1979, the production of alcohol has increased by 500%, and the government of Brazil has taken the next step — signed an agreement with the world's largest car manufacturers (Fiat, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, GM and Volkswagen), in which they were required to collect only the models in Brazil machines that can be used as fuel 100% alcohol. In the late 1980s, almost all new cars sold in Brazil were able to use ethanol as a fuel only. In fact, this has led to a new crisis, in which Brazil has been forced to import ethanol, and in the early 1990s and did go back to petrol.

Brazilian test did not completely — that owe the emergence of "flexible fuel vehicles on» Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFV), which can use a mixture of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline (what today is denoted as E85), as well as normal gasoline. Blends of up to 20% ethanol content can be used on any vehicle.

Today FFV used successfully not only in Brazil, but also in Japan, USA, Germany, England and other countries. This is facilitated by a number of positive qualities of ethanol:

— neutral ethanol as a source of greenhouse gas emissions, as in its production by fermentation and then burned, release as much CO2, how much of this was due to the atmosphere used for its production plants,

— low cost of ethanol fuel.

For obvious reasons, the Soviet Union and Russia, the fuel distribution is not received.

However, there are some significant drawbacks:

— ethanol increases the capacity of plastic fumes for some plastics (eg density polyethylene). This feature increases the risk of increasing the methanol emissions of volatile organic compounds, which can lead to a decrease in the concentration of ozone and increased solar radiation

— low, compared to the base model capacity. Specific heat of alcohol 27 MJ / kg versus gasoline with 46 MJ / kg.

However, the advantages of ethanol as fuel gas, far outweigh the disadvantages, and it can be called the most promising fuel near future.

The story about the use of alcohol as a fuel would not be complete without a mention of methanol, but it is used exclusively as a fuel for a sports car, because methanol poison aluminum, that is of concern is the use of aluminum carburetors and fuel injection systems in internal combustion engines. Throw away a hundred years of technological progress, and go back to cast iron cylinder block and cylinder head … such a move clearly not bring a brighter future.


In broad terms "biofuel" — the fuel from biological raw materials. That is to include this type of wooden logs, ethanol, methane, and so on. Even Biohydrogen. But the first three were considered as the most victuals left for last. And then it would be possible to put an end, if not for biodiesel — fuel based on animal fat, vegetable and microbial origin, as well as products of their esterification. Today, the raw material for biodiesel can be rapeseed, soybean, palm oil, coconut oil, and waste from the food industry. Develop technologies for the production of biodiesel from algae.

In fairness it should be noted that the work on engines with biodiesel being relatively recently — a little more than a quarter century, and the very beginning of biodiesel in the European Union on a commercial scale production started in 1992.

Biodiesel actually has a number of advantages:

— high lubricating properties, which prolongs the life of the engine. For example, a truck from Germany hit the Guinness Book of Records, traveling more than 1.25 million miles on biodiesel with its original engine.

— high cetane number (for mineral diesel fuel — 42-45, for biodiesel — not less than 52),

— high flash point — more than 150 grams.,

— renewability of the resource,

— preservation of the ecological balance — the combustion of biofuels is allocated the same amount of carbon dioxide as was absorbed by the plant for the entire period of his life,

— low cost, largely due to receive by-product of biodiesel production.

It would seem — ideal fuel problem is solved, and programs that promise to transfer a significant portion of vehicles on biofuels by 2020, have a right to life. But the fly in the ointment is in any ointment:

— higher viscosity of biodiesel, which makes it necessary to heat the fuel at low temperatures to ensure acceptable yield,

— small period — about 3 months.

But in the end, biodiesel — another contender for fuel near future. So RZD, tests biodiesel in 2006-2007 in locomotives of South Eastern Railway, was satisfied with the results of the experiment, and expressed willingness to use biodiesel on a commercial scale in its locomotives.


Here it is — the sweetest. Hydrogen fuel. Fuel having a specific heat of combustion of 120 MJ / kg — that is the highest of the now well-known (if not to take into account the anti-matter, the splitting of plasma beams and other fiction).

The first experiments with hydrogen engines are … well if it were wrong! Back to the first half of the XIX century! In 1806, Frenchman Francois Isaac de Rivaz invented the internal combustion engine running on hydrogen, which is produced by electrolysis of water. But these experiments were forgotten almost half a century — until World War II. In the siege of Leningrad gasoline was in short supply, but the air-hydrogen mixture for balloons abounded. Military equipment Boris Shelisch suggested using it for internal combustion engines winches balloons and when the experience was a success — translated into hydrogen about 600 cars!

So will convert a standard internal combustion engine with hydrogen so easily that it was probably more than half a century ago in makeshift conditions? What are we waiting for?

But close to the elbow, but is unlikely to bite. Hydrogen can indeed be used in internal combustion engines. In this case, the engine power is reduced to 82% -65% compared to gasoline. If you make small changes to the ignition system, the engine power is increased to 117% compared to gasoline counterparts, but then significantly increase the output of nitrogen oxides due to the high temperature in the combustion chamber. In addition, hydrogen at temperatures and pressures that are generated in the engine is able to react with the materials and engine lubrication, resulting in more rapid wear. Conventional combustion engine to run on hydrogen is not suitable because Hydrogen is easily ignited by the heat of the exhaust manifold. Usually for the hydrogen rotary engine used as it exhaust manifold considerably distant from the inlet. Actually, it also explains that one of the currently existing cars on hydrogen — Rotor Mazda RX-8 hydrogen, but it is — bitoplivnaya, ie uses both gasoline and hydrogen.

Close to the traditional piston-hydrogen internal combustion engines (Hydrogen internal combustion engine — HICE) can be seen on the car BMW Hydrogen 7, and buses Ford E-450 and MAN Lion City Bus. But all this is now produced in limited experimental batches.

There are two hydrogen undeniable advantage:

— high specific heat value,

— absence of toxic emissions. After all, the combustion of hydrogen is water!

Cons much more. However, most likely, it's just so far:

— imperfect technology of hydrogen storage. For example, in the same BMW Hydrogen 7, the hydrogen is stored in liquid form at a temperature of minus 253 gr. Celsius

— the high cost of hydrogen

— complex process of producing hydrogen on an industrial scale, the process of which is allocated the same CO

— the high cost of hydrogen power plant and the complexity of its service,

— explosiveness of a hydrogen-air mixture. Recall the Zeppelins of the early twentieth century — were like matches

— lack of a developed structure of hydrogen filling stations.

Well, it seems the hydrogen as fuel near future, you can safely put a cross. Yes, most likely it will be used in internal combustion engines, a couple of hundred years or so.

Truth … before clean hydrogen pigeonholed, let us return to a favorite XIX century. Yes, the world's first hydrogen fuel cell was invented in 1939 by William Grove! Following tradition, his work was forgotten for almost half a century, but in the 1960s there was a serious practical interest in hydrogen fuel cells to power vehicles «Gemini» and «Apollo», and then — shuttle program «Space Shuttle». Fuel cells are shown to be safer than the nuclear facilities and not as expensive as solar panels.

Then, at the dawn of astronauts, even those on the spacecraft, where every gram is valuable, hydrogen fuel cells weigh hundreds of pounds, now an element weighs about 50 kg.

Basically, a car with a hydrogen fuel cell is nothing more than an electric because VTE produces electric current, but with two big drawbacks: combines all the dangers HICE coupled with low efficiency — about 45%. However, there are already VTE with an efficiency of 57%. However, compared to lead batteries, the efficiency of which is 70-90% of this efficiency is still too young to talk about the mass use of these batteries in the near future.

Not without pride among experienced hydrogen cars can be noted with the electrochemical generator Niva "Photon", developed for the program "Buran". The cost of the generator in the $ 300 000 also raises the possibility of an early use in civilian automobiles.

At first glance it looks the most promising of propane-butane mixture, ethanol and biodiesel. In sum, with the hybrid power plants they can give stunning results!

And now there is "Opa! Really for over a hundred years of road transport mankind has not found a decent replacement gasoline? ". Found! And even before the invention of the automobile!

Just do not try to reinvent the wheel if we? After all, efficiency gasoline internal combustion engine only about 35%, and 80% of the processes occurring in the cylinders remain unexplored to this day. That is, even a good old, all the usual gasoline engine has a huge potential for learning and improvement.

(C) 2010 Konstantin Kostin


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