The advent of fossil fuels was an important part of the industrial revolution, and hence, of life as we know it today. Petrol, diesel, coal, natural gas – fossil fuels have been the cornerstones of human development and have led us to where we are today. But, as it’s said, all good things must come to an end, and a “Good Bye” to fossil fuels is inevitable.
Though we may not run out of Oil, Gas and Coal completely, we are definitely on a downward slope. With the growing concerns about the imminent end of fossil fuels and their effect on the environment, rather than worry about how long or how much, we need to embrace the alternatives – sun, wind and water.
Fossil Fuels and the Automobile Industry
The automobile industry has always been one of the largest consumers of fossil fuels. However, with growing awareness of the adverse effect of global warming and as a reaction to the soaring price of fossil fuel and fuel dependency on petrol-producing countries, there was a demand to create eco-friendly alternatives. Auto manufacturers in Europe and the Americas started researching on and producing eco-friendly engines using alternative fuels, with a goal of making the internal combustion engine obsolete. Leading to a cleaner world and a more independent economy.
China, the largest auto market in the world, along with France, UK, India, Norway and many more countries have joined hands to ban fossil fuel car, in a move that will encourage usage of alternate renewable energy in this high consumption industry. The most promising forms of alternate energy being battery – electric, Ethanol and Hydrogen.
All Electric Vehicles
These have one or more electric motors powered by rechargeable battery packs. The electric motors provide quiet, smooth operation, stronger acceleration and require less maintenance. Combined effort of East Asia with battery technology, Europe with engines and USA in electronic control technology is expected to make E.V. a success story. India too has committed to sell E.V. by 2030 and the government is planning to set up a Lithium-Ion battery making unit, more charging infrastructure and swapping bays to cut down the cost. Volvo, Volkswagen, Tesla, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jaguar etc. have either already launched or are going to introduce electric models soon.
Widely used in Brazil, USA and some countries in Europe, Ethanol is mostly derived from Sugarcane, Corn, Potato, Sunflower etc. Large scale production involves microbial fermentation of the sugar, distillation, dehydration and denaturing. Increased power output and better fuel economy is achieved in an Ethanol-fueled car engine through higher compression ratios, delivering more torques. Cellulosic Ethanol is expected to have a great future in the automotive industry. Nissan plans to create a technology where liquid Ethanol will be used to generate Hydrogen within the vehicle. Ethanol is gaining wide acceptance in the green car market because of the ease of manufacturing.
Hydrogen, a renewable fuel, is produced by electrolytes of water using a sustainable energy service like solar electrical power and it is used as combustion or fuel-cell conversion, the by-product being water. Efficient use of it involves the use of fuel cells and electric motors. Metal hydrides and compression are two methods of storage. In the automobile industry, quite a few car makers are already working on a range of models using Hydrogen. Toyota Mirai, Hyundai ix 35FCEV and Honda Clarity are some good examples of Hydrogen-powered models. Other car makers are also set to follow the path.
Fossil fuels have been in the eye of the storm due to 2 major reasons – their catastrophic effect on the environment and the fact that sooner or later the earth is going to run out of it, as these are non-renewable energy resources. Over the last decade or so, developed and developing countries have been spending a huge amount of time and effort on coming up with cleaner renewable energy alternatives. With the growing clamour for ending the use of fossil fuels and the successful usage of alternative energy in most industries, the day is not too far when fossil fuels will be a thing of the past. Leading to a cleaner planet Earth for the upcoming generations.