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Alternative Engines: Are They Worth the Struggle?

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Jon Mucka1


Whether you drive or not, I'm sure you've noticed the sudden jump in gas prices. From hurricanes ravaging the gulf coast to the war in Iraq, and a supposed gasoline shortage, many people are left to wonder if there is any end in sight to the drastic hikes. Many people cannot afford to be driving on three dollars per gallon, so they are looking for alternatives. The development of hybrid engines, further development of diesel engines, and the possibility of hydrogen powered vehicles has brought a glimmer of hope to people around the world. Continuing development of many of these projects can be extremely useful in the future. I feel engineers should continue to work on some of these vehicles so that peoples wallets aren't left empty.



The hybrid engine is an engine that still uses gasoline, but is also propelled by a nickel-hydride battery. The gas engine is shut off when the car comes to a complete stop. However, during acceleration the cars gasoline engine propels it, and once it reaches a speed of about forty miles per hour, the battery and gas engine work together with a computer to get the best gas mileage possible [1].


You see, the thing is they average around fifty miles per gallon. However, they still run on gasoline and can cost up to five thousand dollars more than a car of the same model with an internal-combustion engine. So by the time you reach you save five thousand dollars on gas, it can be up to seven years. If engineers could figure out a way to make a cheaper hybrid, this car could be extremely useful, however with their base prices as high as they are, you're almost better off buying a car that costs less money that gets decent gas mileage. Hybrid engines can contain up to forty-two percent more parts than that of a regular engine, which is the cause for the heightened price. Automotive engineers are working on ways to cut back on the parts, making the ___________________________

1Jon Mucka, 513 Edinboro Ct. Cranberry Twp, PA 16066,

vehicles cheaper [2]. Fuel cells in the battery are also affected by the temperature. Engineers are working to solve this problem currently so that maximum gas mileage can be achieved at all times [3].


A complaint amongst many hybrid owners and non-owners alike is that they lack in horsepower. They have sluggish acceleration, and slow top speeds. Something needs to be done about that, and progress is being made. The Honda Accord Hybrid is as packs over 250 horsepower and accelerates faster than the Accord V-6 [1]. This is something that should be pursued for all hybrid vehicles. Many people enjoy cars that are practical yet fun to drive. No one wants a four-wheeled moped.


Diesel engines can be seen frequently on the streets throughout the United States. They can get gas mileage up to forty percent of what a gasoline engine can get, but they do cost up to three thousand dollars more than what a gasoline powered car does. One thing that is holding back more diesel production in the United States is the emissions. The exhaust from these vehicles expels NO gases and engineers haven't come up with any concrete ideas just yet [4]. Something like this is an idea that needs to be pursued by car companies. Diesel engines can be of value to drivers, and if something can be made to cut back on emissions, there will no doubt be many more diesel engine vehicles on the streets of the United States in the near future.



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