Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Alternative fuels league table

27.04.2007
Norwegian scientists have drawn up a league table of alternative fuels for cars. Their analysis is based on a well-to-wheel approach that takes into account manufacturing, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and local and regional pollutants.

Bottom of the table, unsurprisingly, are petrol vehicles, but coming in a close second last are hybrid vehicles that can run on compressed natural gas or petrol. Top of their league are fuel cell powered vehicles using hydrogen gas obtained from natural gas methane.

Karl Høyer of Oslo University College and Erling Holden of Western Norway Research Institute, Norway, and reported in Inderscience's International Journal of Alternative Propulsion their analysis of fuel chains including petrol, natural gas, and alternative fuel sources such as methanol and ethanol, hydrogen and biofuels.

"Alternative fuels are not in themselves a road towards sustainable mobility," the researchers say. However, their analysis places petrol and hybrid vehicles firmly at the bottom of the league table when all energy factors from source to consumer use are taken into account. "Any alternative fuel we considered is better than the cars that are used mostly today," they add.

Currently, there is no consensus regarding sustainable transport development. Even if a particular energy reduction goal is set for the transport sector there is no agreement on actions that should be taken to achieve this goal. Different lobbying groups have different approaches to the problem and opponents of any particular approach can usually find evidence to suggest a particular approach is not sustainable. The ongoing biofuel debate is a case in point.

Nevertheless, there are several factors that must be considered in assessing a particular alternative fuel: the efficiency route, the substitution route and the reduction route. Each has its strong defenders, say Høyer and Holden, but in reality there are substantial grey areas between them. One important facet of the debate that is often overlooked, is to ensure the three impact categories - energy use, carbon emissions, and nitrogen oxide pollution - are considered together. "This is a highly problematic task and should only be carried out with great care," the team adds.

They used a simple ranking system to create their league table, based on giving each energy form a weight from 1 to 16 depending on its impact in these three areas. When the weights are added up from well to wheel, they provide an overall value for each energy chain. For example, extraction of natural gas, processing into liquefied hydrogen, storage, and end use in a fuel cell car. The energy chains giving the lowest sum-figures are the highest in the league table and those with largest figures are considered potentially the most environmentally harmful.

Interestingly, the team's analysis puts a fossil-based alternative, natural gas conversion into hydrogen for fuel cells at the top of the list. In contrast the direct use of natural gas in hybrid cars is lower down the list in terms of efficiency, energy, and pollution. Biological methanol for use in fuel cell vehicles is way down the list despite biomethanol being a potentially renewable resource unlike natural gas. "It must be emphasised that no single chain comes out with the best score on all impact categories," the researchers say, "There are always some sorts of trade offs involved. Thus, there are no obvious winners; only good or bad trade offs between different impact categories."

Jim Corlett | alfa
Further information:
http://www.inderscience.com/search/index.php?action=record&rec_id=13329&prevQuery=&ps=10&m=or

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How fires are changing the tundra’s face
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

nachricht Using drones to estimate crop damage by wild boars
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Hot vibrating gases under the electron spotlight

12.12.2017 | Life Sciences

New silicon structure opens the gate to quantum computers

12.12.2017 | Information Technology

Using drones to estimate crop damage by wild boars

12.12.2017 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>