You may have heard your parents or someone on the television complaining about the high cost of petrol or diesel at some point of time. This is because petroleum, the natural substance from which we derive petrol and diesel that fuel our cars is becoming more and more scarce. Furthermore, a lot of the world’s oil reserves are in countries with many social, economic and political problems. Our thirst for this liquid will never end and so it has come time for us to look for other alternatives to power our vehicles.
The concept of electric cars
The concept of electric cars is slowly picking up speed. Like a lot of other technologies, it is a concept that has been around for many decades but we have not had the capacity to build them economically. However this has changed and there are multiple car companies that have put out hybrid petrol-electric cars.
What is a hybrid vehicle?
The term hybrid vehicle is used when the vehicle is combines 2 or more types of technologies to power it. An HEV or Hybrid Electric Vehicle combines a regular internal combustion engine with an electric system that improves the performance and efficiency of the car. Since the vehicle has two power sources to run the engine, they can be combined in different ways to increase the efficiency while allowing the car to function like any other. Let’s look at some of the ways Hybrid Electric Vehicles built to do so.
Understanding hybrid cars
- The battery (learn how batteries work here) of a hybrid is able to work as a motor as well as a generator. Every time you press the brakes on the car, energy is lost in the form of heat. A hybrid will absorb this energy back into the battery which means you are using less fuel because you are recycling energy.
- Cars burn the most fuel when they are accelerating, climbing a hill or starting and stopping like when in traffic. The battery of a hybrid vehicle assists the engine in doing these tasks. This means that your fuel engine burns less petrol to do the same work.
- The battery shuts down automatically when the car is idle for more than a certain amount of time and will turn itself back on by stepping back on the accelerator.
Advantages and disadvantages of hybrid cars
Hybrid cars are very efficient. They greatly increase the fuel economy of the car i.e. you can travel a greater distance in a hybrid car than a regular car by burning the same amount of fuel. However producing the batteries of these cars use what is known as Rare Earth Elements that are not easily available and extremely expensive. Even though electric cars are the way to go in the future, much work needs to be done to reduce the amount of petrol and diesel we consume just to get from point A to point B.
Name some other types of alternate energy sources that are being used to replace petrol and diesel.