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Alternative Fuels

Essay by   •  September 10, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  4,387 Words (18 Pages)  •  1,830 Views

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As humans continually exploit the earth for their own conveniences they become increasingly aware of the damage they cause. In the last 30 years the population has begun to notice just how serious the problem is and as a result great efforts have been put into amending the environment from our technological follies. Since the use of fossil fuels causes 70% of the earth's air pollution it's only logical that the human race must restrict the use of oil (Exploring Alternative Fuels) One of the main reason that fossil fuels are extracted from the earth is to provide oil for the propulsion of transportation vehicles. Scientist and researchers realized that oil is unnecessary to power ground transportation vehicles such as cars and trucks. In fact electricity is just as effective for propelling vehicles as gasoline is. Due to "the major concern of air quality, energy diversity, and the innovations of the automobile industry" electric vehicles began to be researched and produced (Electric Vehicle Report). Electric vehicles are now becoming the future of the transportation because they secure a long-term answer to the problem of fueling and they greatly reduce the earth's air pollution. The most viable options to replacing gas-powered vehicles are the three different forms of electric powered automobiles; hybrid, solar and fuel cell. Although electric vehicles were not recently invented most of their development has occurred in the last 15 years and with the application of modern technologies, developers have enabled electric vehicles to be powerful and cost efficient, without causing harm to the environment (Information on Electric Cars). Electric vehicles have had a relatively long history compared to most transportation devices. The first known electric automobile was a small model built by Professor Strtingh in 1835 in the Duct City of Groningen. This car, however, was extremely impractical because of its expense and the short life of the battery. The first practical electric vehicle to be built was a small automobile that was produced in the United States by Thomas Davenport. Thomas made great improvements to his electric automobile, reducing its cost, and implicating a battery with a longer life span and greater power. Even with these improvements Davenport's electric automobile was not popular because he was forced to use non-rechargeable batteries in his vehicle. It seemed that the public would never use electric vehicles because of their batteries, but Frenchmen Gaston Plante change this notion by inventing the rechargeable storage battery in 1865 (Electric Cars). The first electric automobile to really grab the world's attention was La Jamais Contente's racecar. It was produced in 1899 in Belgium and it was designed for speed. The car broke the world land speed record in France with driver Camille Jenatzy in 1899, with a speed of over 62 miles per hour. After the invention and production of the gasoline powered automobile, electric cars gained little attention until the 1980's. (Electric Vehicle Report) In the 1900's electric cars were put to use in other ways than mass transit. They were used as an inexpensive way to travel short distances across factories, golf courses and campuses (Advocating the Use of E.V.'s). It was not long until people began to see the potential of electric vehicles. In the early 1980's research teams were developed, sponsored by major automobile companies, to reinvent the electric vehicle by taking advantage of new technological advancements in batteries, system integration and aerodynamics. Soon word broke out that the government was going to mandate energy diversity and air quality and "many of the leading automobile companies, electric utility companies and the academic community began to do researching, testing and developing electric powered vehicles"(Electric Vehicle Report). Around 1990 several California cities began to use electricity to power buses, streetcars and mass transit vehicles to help lower their high level of air pollution. In 1992, Congress approved and President Bush signed the National Emergency Policy Act, which stated that the consumption of petroleum in the U.S. will be reduced by ten percent by the year 2000 and thirty percent by the year 2030. Since this announcement even more companies and research teams have jumped on the electric vehicle production wagon. Automobile manufacturer giants such as Honda, GM and Chrysler put millions of dollars into research teams so that electric cars would be available to the public as early as 1996. Also, since the National Emergency Policy Act was passed electric vehicles have been promoted greatly all over the country and the Government even offers tax breaks for owners of electric vehicles. (Electric Vehicle Report) * see #1 appendix for time line One of the main reasons why electric vehicles are being developed is to help maintain a clean and safe environment. Since transportation, because of the massive amounts of oil used, is the single biggest air polluting industry in the world there is a great need to create a vehicle that does not rely on oil. Electric vehicles seem to be the best answer to this problem. Electric vehicles, on average, are 98% cleaner than combustion vehicles as far as air pollution goes. That means that if electric vehicles were to replace traditional automobiles, air pollution could be reduce by up to 35% each year. Also, the emissions from internal combustion automobiles have lead to the depletion of the ozone, which "could increase the amount of ultraviolet radiation reaching the earth, where it damages crops and plants and can lead to skin cancer". (Air Pollution) The usage of oil can also bring great harm to the world economic system and replacing gasoline fueled cars with electric vehicles would greatly reduce the horrible economic impact that oil will eventually bring to the globe. In as little as 5 years oil shortages could cause a major oil shock where the price oil per barrel could triple. To most people this evidence is hard to believe. The average consumer thinks that because the price of oil is so low now it will stay that way and the depletion of our oil supply is light years away. This common notion is, however, false. "Within a few years the coming decline in oil production will have moved from the realm of specialist articles in scientific journals to mainstream common knowledge" says one geophysicist (Oil Shock Will be Felt Globally). With as little as a 5% shortage in oil production " gasoline lines of the 1970's could be brought back, but this time the oil shortage will be permanent"(Oil Shock Will be Felt Globally). Many geologists and geophysicists agree that global oil productions will peak in the year 2010 and only a small fraction of the oil produced today will be produced due to oil depletion in the year 2050. (Oil

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