The growing hole in the ozone layer has done little to shake people of their drive toward SUV motoring, but the skyward trend in gas prices has them parking their Suburban or Escalade on the front lawn with a for sale sign in the window.
Alternative Fuel Vehicles, or AFVs, are a growing trend in automobile technology that takes environmental concerns into account. Gasoline diluting agents, like Ethanol, and alternative fuels, like hydrogen, are eco-friendly, and they save the consumer money at the pump.
Ethanol is the most prevalent alternative energy source, according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center. It is alcohol-based and made from fermented starch, like corn, barley, and wheat. It has been used for more than a decade as a gasoline additive.
The Clean Air Act of 1990 made mandatory the use of oxygenated fuels in areas with elevated carbon monoxide levels. Ethanol has since been added to gas to aerate, increase octane and emission efficiency.
E10 is the most frequently used combination. It consists of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol. Most engines will accept the use of up to 15 percent ethanol without adjustment.
E85, 85 percent ethanol, and E90, 90 percent ethanol, are becoming more and more popular, particularly in the midwest where an increasing number of stations are carrying it. Most American cars made after 2002 will accept E85 and E90 without conversion. Stations are popping up all over the midwest and along the east coast.
Hydrogen-fueled vehicles are another promising alternative, according to the AFDC. Hydrogen, produced in unlimited quantities, can be used both in its pure state and mixed with natural gas. Although hydrogen will not get you as far as its gasoline equivalent, car enthusiasts laud its fuel cells as comparable to combustion engines both in performance and output.
Most people are still skittish about buying cars with new technology under the hood, but what concerns them most about buying AFVs, according to the AFDC, is the availability of the alternative fuel in question.
“It depends how limited or unlimited the resources are. Gas stations are everywhere you turn around. People want what’s at their fingertips,” Julie Smith, a junior English/communications major, said. Smith went on to say that she would drive an AFV as long as the fuel was available at a reasonable distance.
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Posted to the web by Cecelia Francisco