In the 21st century, and particularly in the last decade, concerns over the environment have grown from distant rumblings into unavoidable roars. Considering that the EPA says cars are responsible for 75% of carbon monoxide emissions in the United States, and transportation accounts for 27% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the country, it’s no wonder that green vehicles have become a central focus in the auto industry.
Exactly what technology is driving the progress behind green cars, though, and can it truly drive down the footprint left by the industry?
Understanding Green Vehicles
First and foremost, it’s important to grasp precisely what a green vehicle is. Essentially, the EPA guides drivers toward vehicles that utilize alternative fuel sources (meaning anything other than gasoline and diesel), stating that they are more eco-friendly.
Included on this list are electric and hybrid electric vehicles, as well as those powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), E85 (a mixture of ethanol and gasoline), and biodiesel. Even vehicles that operate by hydrogen power (referred to as Fuel Cell Vehicles or FCVs) are beginning to enter the market and are listed by the EPA as green vehicles.
As of right now, the most popular types of green vehicles are hybrids and electric vehicles, as is obvious by the amount of press that EVs have gotten in recent years.
How Does Green Vehicle Technology Work?
Electric and hybrid electric vehicles utilize a battery storage system to power the car’s electric motor and to turn its wheels. Rather than filling up on gas when it’s running low on power, an electric vehicle needs to be recharged either from a charging station or an ordinary wall outlet (though this takes much longer).
CNG vehicles work much in the same way that traditional gas burning cars do; high-pressure natural gas is transferred to the engine’s combustion chamber and mixed with air to create power. Similarly, biodiesel cars are not all that different from diesel cars; in fact, the only real difference is the source of the fuel (biodiesel comes from waste oil created as a byproduct of other processes).
FCVs work by inciting a chemical reaction which creates electricity. This is by far the cleanest (and therefore, the greenest) form of fuel that is currently being pursued in the automotive industry.
Will Green Vehicles Cut Emissions?
Since so much of the eco-friendly technology in the automotive industry is truly cutting edge, it’s hard to know precisely how much regulations and advancements will impact the overall picture of climate change.
One thing that’s certain is that automakers aren’t shying away from the challenge of producing greener vehicles; in fact, the automotive industry may prove a leader in ushering in a new, more environmentally conscious era.
Though there is still much to explore when it comes to green vehicles and the technology driving them, there’s no doubt that the advancements of the last decade will prove instrumental as the industry looks ahead and works to improve its environmen