Can Cars Be Green?

Cars are an indispensable tool for almost everyone now. Whether it’s for work, school, or simply going for an errand run, cars are always the number one option for people. The reality though is that cars contribute a huge percent to the pollution around us and they damage the environment. An environmentally friendlier option is to go for “green cars” since they don’t emit as much harmful chemicals in the air and they use fuel resources which are sustainable.

Makings of a Green Car

Green cars are safe for the environment compared to cars which use fossil fuels. This is what separates a green car from the rest of them out there. To be specific, a conventional car uses a combustion engine which uses fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are considered non renewable and so the world’s supply will be depleted in the future. Additionally, when fossil fuels are used, this will release greenhouse gases. These gases are the main culprit of global warming and other environmental disasters. It was because of these factors that spurred auto makers and private companies to create green cars that are pleasing to the environment.

Green cars in general, use much less petroleum (or none at all) compared to traditional cars and they use renewable fuel sources to power it. There are many types of green cars available today: hybrid cars, electric cars, solar cars, and hydrogen cars.

Electric Cars

One major feature of an electric car is that utilizes an electric motor and does away with the internal combustion engine commonly used by traditional cars for generating power. In an electric car, power is stored in rechargeable batteries in the form of chemical energy. This makes them more energy efficient than internal combustion engines and the whole conventional cars.

Advantages of an electric car:

  • Since they don’t burn up fossil fuels, they don’t release exhaust fumes
  • Battery packs being developed now can get their energy from renewable energy
  • Their exhaust is not noxious or damaging to a person and the environment
  • An electric car’s engine doesn’t make much sound compared to traditional vehicles.
  • One feature being developed in electric cars right now is “regenerative breaking”. When a car applies its brakes, it partially recharges the battery as well as reducing damage on the brakes.
  • The newer battery packs are able to store huge amounts of energy, enabling them to travel for a long time without needing a recharge.

Electric cars decrease the need for petroleum powered vehicles and reduce the effect of global warming. However, electric cars do have some limitations.

Disadvantages of an electric car:

  • The travel time before you can recharge the battery is short. In a lot of cases, travel time would depend on your driving skill, the car’s weight and shape, including the battery type used.
  • In some cars, recharging the battery packs take quite a long time.
  • Some battery packs have a short lifespan.

Hybrid Cars

From their name, a hybrid car uses both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor for moving the vehicle. For their internal combustion engines, these cars use diesel or petrol-fueled engines. For their electric motors on the other hand, they use electric batteries. Although they still use petroleum, they use it considerably lesser than the traditional cars and thus reduce pollution.

Advantages of Hybrid Cars

  • In some hybrid car models, they use the internal combustion engine to recharge the electrical battery. This is different from purely electric cars that need an external power source to recharge their battery.
  • Understandably, they use less fuel and produce lesser air pollution.
  • The size of a hybrid car’s internal combustion engine is considerably lighter, smaller and more efficient than traditional vehicles.

They are more fuel efficient compared to traditional cars resulting in lesser damage to the environment and cheaper costs. On the other hand, there are still disadvantages for hybrid cars.

Disadvantages of Hybrid Cars

  • If a hybrid car comes with a “power boost” then it would not lessen the running costs or benefit the environment in the end
  • With the complexity of having two engines, a hybrid car’s inner working are considerably complex and repair costs would be substantial
  • Their sticker price could be more than traditional cars

Hydrogen Cars

For hydrogen cars, they utilize hydrogen to power their engine instead of petrol. As of this writing, only a few hydrogen cars have been successfully manufactured and they are not successful at the moment.

Advantages of Hydrogen Cars

  • A hydrogen car’s engine uses hydrogen and oxygen from the air as a power source. The by-product for this process is water vapor which benefits the environment
  • In central power plants, hydrogen is produced, thus controlling the by-products of fossil fuels is much better.
  • Hydrogen can also be derived from renewable energy sources, this would result in fewer to no emissions of carbon dioxide

Currently, there are more drawbacks than benefits of hydrogen cars. This is why it is very difficult to roll out the market. Experts estimate that it will take years to overcome these difficulties.

Disadvantages of Hydrogen Cars

  • Producing a single hydrogen car is very expensive
  • Operational costs for hydrogen cars are high and their energy efficiency is also low
  • Since there are few hydrogen cars, refueling stations specially made for hydrogen cars aren’t common

Solar Cars

Solar cars use energy from the sun to fuel the vehicle. It is able to obtain solar energy through the solar panels attached to the car’s surface. It is able to convert solar energy to electrical energy.

Advantages of Solar Cars

  • Since nothing is being burned to power the engine, there are virtually no exhaust fumes produced.
  • This also means that toxic or greenhouse gases are not released, thus improving health and lessening global warming
  • They use sunlight, so there are no costs for fuel

Although they are being produced a handful at a time, solar cars are not yet used as common transportation for a number of reasons.

Disadvantages of Solar Cars

If there is no sunlight then they can travel short distances only. This makes traveling at night or on cloudy days difficult

  • Solar cells are easily damaged whether it’s through mechanical factors or simply damage over time
  • Solar cars need to be small because of their energy available, so it can only accommodate one or two persons at a time.

 

As you can see, there are a lot of different advantages and disadvantages for each type of green car. Some are too soon to be mass-produced or used by the public or too expensive in terms of repair and maintenance. It might be better to give it a couple of years when research will pave the way for public use and it won’t be too difficult for the not-so technical savvy person to operate these kinds of car. For the meantime, there are a couple of ways that you can do to make your car a bit ‘greener’. It involves checking the engine and making sure it’s not a bit heavy, but you get the drift.