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New Technologies for Hybrid Cars

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Hybrid-carConsidering the constant threat of global warming, hybrid vehicles are here to stay, but their success isn’t yet a noticeable one. U.S. consumers are expected to purchase approximately 350,000 Hybrid vehicles annually by the year 2008. Ultimately the choice is in your hand. Buying a normal car would mean another threat for the environment for the next 15 years. However, choosing a hybrid car will give the automakers a pretty good picture that there’s definitely a market for greener cars. To prove our point, here are 5 of the latest technologies that might convince you to choose some green wheels:

1. Biodiesel – This is a fuel made only from renewable biological sources such as vegetable oil, made to be used with in unmodified diesel-engine vehicles. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic and contains fewer aromatic hydrocarbons. Research is still ongoing, scientists worrying that producing this fuel would mean cutting down large areas of tropical forest to grow such oil rich crops. Other sources for biodiesel include rapeseed and soybean oils, mustard, flax, sunflower, canola, palm oil, hemp or animal fats. A New Zealand company has even developed a system for using sewage waste as a substrate for algae, a source of biodiesel.

2. Hydraulic Hybrid – These type of systems offer a robust, cost-effective alternative to normal cars, thus achieving significant fuel economy and exhaust emissions reductions. A hybrid hydraulic system uses an accumulator (which stores energy as highly compressed nitrogen gas) and one or more hydraulic pump/motors instead of the battery pack. Wondering about the benefits? A few of them include 60%-70% improvement in fuel economy, meeting the 2010 heavy-duty NOx standard and recouping the additional cost of the hydraulic hybrid within 3 years.

3. Fuel Cells – In 2003, President Bush announced a program called the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative (HFI) with the promise to make fuel-cell vehicles practical and cost-effective by 2020. Basically, a fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device. Fuel cells give off no pollution, and in fact produce pure water as a byproduct. . DaimlerChrysler has invested US$1 billion in fuel cell research and has built 10 vehicles with this new technology either as concept cars or test vehicles. Honda is not far behind, its FCX fuel cell vehicle being currently being road tested.

4. Hydrogen hybrids – This type of vehicle uses hydrogen as its on-board fuel for power. However, since hydrogen only carries energy, this should be eventually provided by a conventional power plant. The aim is a clean-running vehicle, the environment-friendly fuel as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, but at a lower cost. Millions are spent by the auto industry on research into hydrogen-powered vehicles, still the costs of producing such autos makes them expensive to produce on a large scale. Still, we can see a ray of hope: General Motors recently announced its plans to introduce over 100 hydrogen powered Chevrolet Equinox cars into the U.S. market beginning with the third quarter of 2007.

5. Battery electric vehicles – Probably the most popular of the hybrid cars, these electric cars make use of chemical energy stored in rechargeable battery packs, thus replacing the classic internal combustion engine. These produce almost no pollution and, if wind, solar, or hydropower is used as an energy source, they are 100% pollution free. Even if the price is higher, they require less maintenance since they have fewer moving parts.

To draw a line, hybrid cars are much more economical and more friendly to the environment. The only drawback to hybrid cars is that they tend have a higher price. As more of us will decide to buy them, their price will effectively reduce thus making them a viable option for making our planet a greener one.

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