After around a century of domination by gasoline and diesel-powered engines, countries globally are making the shift to electric vehicles (EVs). While EVs are highly energy efficient, their carbon footprint will be within mandated limits only if the electricity for recharging is sourced from renewable options such as solar, wind, etc.
Moreover, there are concerns about extensive mining activities for minerals such as lithium cobalt, manganese, nickel, etc. that are used for battery manufacturing. Recharging EVs is another hassle for users.
As the world rushes to create an all-encompassing EV ecosystem, it makes us wonder if there could be other options that can be more affordable, sustainable and environment friendly. In that context, here’s a look at some of the most promising alternatives to electric vehicles.
Biomethane – This is a renewable source of energy, as it is manufactured via decomposition of wastes produced during farming, food processing, catering, etc. In terms of environmental pollution, biomethane has 80% less carbon footprint in comparison to fossil fuels. CO2 emissions are also minimized significantly. Another benefit is that final residue generated during biomethane production can be used as organic manure for farming. Biomethane can be provided in liquid form, allowing a car to run anywhere between 400 to 700 km on a full tank.
Hydrogen – Hydrogen-powered cars are currently a topic of heated discussion. Some experts feel that it can be better than EVs, as they don’t need expensive and dangerous batteries. Hydrogen fuel cell-based cars have only H2O as emission, which makes them the most environment friendly. However, current technology makes these cars quite expensive. Moreover, producing and transporting hydrogen is a challenging task as of now. Hopefully, as technology improves and new ideas are brought in, it is possible that hydrogen may emerge a challenger to electric vehicles.
Hydrous Ethanol (E100) – While ethanol blending is being practiced in several countries, Brazil has taken a giant leap by introducing cars that run on Hydrous Ethanol (E100). This is pure ethanol fuel and does not have any gasoline mixture. For colder temperatures, E100 cars have a secondary gasoline reservoir that is used only for starting the engine. Brazil has been able to take a lead in cars with flex-fuel engines, as the country has vast arable land and well-managed farming activities for generating ethanol.
Biodiesel – This is biodegradable and renewable fuel, produced from things like vegetable oil, recycled restaurant grease and animal fats. This can be used in compression-ignition engines. With the existing engine technology, biodiesel usually requires a blend with gasoline or diesel.
Solar – Prototype models have already been developed, wherein these cars have solar panels covering most of their exposed outer surfaces. These are lightweight vehicles made mostly from carbon fibers. Only limitation is that solar powered cars without a battery won’t be able to run when the sun is down.