Sunday, July 13, 2008

Alternative Fuels - Fueling Stations

Alternative fuels are very popular lately because rising oil prices and very serious problems with global warming and climate changes. Most alternative fuels are ecologically more acceptable than petrol or diesel, but main motivator to change fuel type is still only money. Some alternative fuels are also very cheap compared to fossil fuels and that is very tempting for most drivers – save money and environment.

Many drivers are very interested in alternative fuels, but finding an appropriate fueling station is very serious problem. More advanced fuel – more problems with fueling stations. For example, hydrogen engines are very advance technology, hydrogen can be produced from water and combustion is very clean – product of combustion is water. But hydrogen fueling stations are very rare because transportation and on-site storage technologies are very expensive. Price is even higher when we take into account the fact that there is only a small number of hydrogen driven cars - there is a big investment without real economical background.

Hydrogen pump.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is very cheep fuel, but fueling stations are almost non-existent. On other hand, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG - Propane) stations are all over the country, but LPG is much more expensive gas then LNG. Both fuels can be used in regular engines with small engine modifications, but LNG installations are rare because there are no fueling stations for cars using that fuel. LNG is compatible with diesel technology, and LPG is more suitable for petrol engines.

To help drivers to find appropriate fueling station, US government is collecting data about alternative fueling stations. On US government page Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy drivers can find map with alternative fueling stations: Alternative Fuels – Fueling Stations.

Example: Hydrogen fueling stations (green) in 25 mile radius from Los Angeles center.

Israel and Electric Cars

The Israeli government has announced a major initiative to push nation’s drivers away from fossil fuels and toward electric cars. With this initiative they plan to reduce dependence on foreign fuels (oil) and also deal with environmental issues at the same time. For this purpose Renault-Nissan company will manufacture the cars with batteries that can be recharged or simply exchanged on battery exchange stations. In this plan is also included supporting infrastructure which will be build by California start-up called Better Place. By some plans this supporting infrastructure eventually my consists of 500,000 charging points and up to 200 battery exchange stations.

Current battery technology is advancing fast, but recharge periods are still unacceptable for normal refueling (recharging) on stations. Battery exchange stations are most suitable solution for this problem because on exchange station one will simply exchange empty battery with fill battery. This procedure will not take any longer than normal car refueling. Israeli government also reduced tax rate on electric cars to only 10% in order to encourage customers to buy the electric cars once they will be available.

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