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Alternative and futuristic energy technologies for vehicles and other applications

The use of oil and other fossil fuels has spawned a lot of concern, because fossil fuels produce carbon mono-oxide CO2 that increases the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere and thus causes global heatening, and because of toxic outlets of several kinds from the combustion process.

The threat from the global heating is probably not something one should be concerned about. In spite of the global warming propaganda, there has not been any net warming in the last decades. And id true, global warming and increased CO2-concentraion will probably be more good than harmful for the life on earth. It will open vast areas for life, habitaion and agriculture.

But the toxic vastes from fossile fuel are a heavy threat to the environment, life on Earth and people's health. Also fossile fuel is a limited resource that will get impleasently expensive if alternatives are not made practically useable. Therefore there is an ongoing quest for new energy sources to drive motorized vehicles: Here is a survey of some of these:


Ethanol or ordinary alcohol:

Ordinary alcohol (C2 H5 OH) can be used as a vehicle fuel, and is used in many places allready. Burning of alcohol does not produce toxic vaste. However, also alcohol produce CO2 during combustion and a such it contributes to the greehouse effect. Alcohol can be produced from fermentation of sugar, and the sugar must come from cultivated plants. Extensive production of alcohol therefore takes away agricultural land that could be used to grow food. However, in places where the cultivation of food produces vaste that must be burned or broken down in anyway, the fermentation of this vaste to produce alcohol for use as fuel, makes sense.


Bio-diesel is a diesel oil made partielly by cleaning and partially by chemical disintegration of fatty substances and other biological material. Bio-diesel can be made from biological vaste of all kind. This type of fuel do not produce as much toxic substances as ordinary diesel or gasoline. If the bio-diesel is made from vaste produced from botanic materials, the CO2 produced by combustion of the bio-diesel will equate the CO2 used up when the plants produced the original material and thhis kind of fuel will then also be environmentally valid in a global sense.

Bio-diesel made from botanical vaste is therefore an environmentally good solution. If however croplands are used to produce materials for further production of nio-diesel, the use of bio-diesel is not environmentally and morally valid.


Methanol is the simplest form of alcohol, having the formula C H3 OH. Metanol is very toxic when ingested, and most be handled with care, but is not toxic for the environment, and the burning of Metanol does not produce toxic vaste. Burning of metanol also produces CO2 and contributes to the greenhouse effect, but not so much as gasoline or diesel.

Metanol can be made from natural gas. Switching from gasoline to metanol will make the greanhous effect increase more slowly, but also methanol combustion increases the greenhouse effect.

Electric batteries combined with electric motors:

Electric motors can be made as strong as combustion engines. In rder to make electric driven cars practical for long distance freight one needs batteries that are more rapidly chargeable and that have greater energy storage capacity. Such batteries are gradually being developed. This energy althernative for the running of cars is a good solution for the local environment, since this power alternative do not polute the near environment.

For the global environment, however the alternative is environment friendly only if the elctricity used to charge up the batteries is made from clean sources.

Cars driven by a combination of electric batteries combined with electric motors is therefore a clean concept If the electricity is made by solar cell panels, hydroelectric plants, wind energ and other primary energy sources that do not produce vaste.

However, production units making clean electricity, also destroy natural areas, even though they produce a clean energy form. An example is the impact extensive installations of wind-mills have in many areas, and the over-flowing of vast areas by dams built to produce hydro-electric power.

If the electricity is made by burning oil or natural gas, this energy form will not be better for the environment or cheaper than gasoline or diesel.

Electricity can also be made by atomic power plants. If the vaste from these plants are kept locked down for a long period, these plants can be said to produce clean energy. But the waste storing problem is considerable. Also uran and other fuel for fission is a limited resource that will be used up during some years.

Batteries combined with electric motors is therefore an important candidate for future vehicle powering, but only in areas where the electricity can be produced in a clean way without destroying areas of nature or cropland.

Solar cell panels combined with batteries and an electric motor:

A smart alternative for future vehicle powering is solar cell panels combined with batteries and an electric motor. The solar cell technology is becoming so advanced that it is possible to cower all the surface of a car with ultra-thin solar cell sheets and it is not impossible that these sheets can convert as much as 30-40& of the energy in the sun-rays to electricity in the near future. By now such seeths only manage convert ca 9-18% to electricity, but this is also enough to be useful.

The electricity produced this way can actually supply much of the energy needed by steady speed. The extra power that the car needs by acceleration and in steep hills can be taken from the battery.

The solar cells can recharge the battery when the car is not in use. This alternative actually gives a car that runs mostly on free energy. Only on days with intensive use, the battery must be recharged by external power.

A drawback with such a car is the color, that will be dark grey or dark blue on much of its surface. By letting the roof and selected areas be covered by solar cell panels and the rest with some maching color, on can still get a car that looks estetically well and still get a lot of free power.


Hydrogen is non-toxic. When hydrogen is burned, it produces no greenhouse gas or toxic gasses, but only water. However, hydrogen is very explosive when mixed with air. There is therefore a problem of safe handling. This problems however, can be solved, for example by using special metals that dissolve hydrogen in the crystal lattice.

Hydrogen can be produced from natural gas, or by means of electricity. It the electricity is made by solar cell panels, hydroelectric plants or wind energy, hydrogen is a very environment friendly fuel in a certain sense. However, production units making clean electricity, also destroy natural areas, for example huge installation of wind-mills and huge dams to produce hydro-electric power.

Hydrogen is one of the most likely canditates for the future fuelling of vehicles, but also hydrogen have its limitations because of the impact the prodution units will have upon natural areas.

Cold fusion reactors installed in vehicles:

In 1989 two chemists announced that they had managed to produce heat from cold fusion of deuterium packed into a palladium crystal lattice. They were chriticised for poor documentation and poor scientific practice and rediculed.

However, as the time have passed, steadily more reports of cold fusion have been mede from scientists trying to reproduce the findings, and cold fusion seems by now to be a rality.

Also govermental agencies has a positive interest in the potesiality of cold fusion, but on the public news media, cold fusion seems to be a taboo field.

It remains however to prove that this process can produce enough heat in enough amount and stably inough to be practical. If this shows to be true, cold fusion can be the main source of energy for vehicles in the future.

The heat from cold fusion can be used directly for driving a vehicle, can be used to produce electricity that is then used to generate driving force, or can be used to produce hydrogen for use as a fuel.

Fission reactors installed in vehicles:

By now using fission rectors for directly powering a car seems rediulous and frightening. In teh fitieths however For Notor Company and some other vehicle manufacturer seriously investigated the consept and were planneing car models based on this kind of powering. As far as known any prototype was never produced. The consept can give a car that theoretically is pollution-free and that only needs reueling a couple of times during its life cycle. It was thought that the reueling could take place by simply changeing the old rector with a new one.

The weight of the reactor, the size and weight of needed protective coating and the danger of leaks by any casual axident made the concept impossible to carry through.


The alternative energy sources listet above, are not primary energy sources in most instances. They are energy sources produced by transforming energy obtained form more primary sources in the first place. If those primary sources are not environmental-friendly and long lasting, it is of little use if the energy used directly in the vehicles are clean.

Vehicle traffic in the amount you find on earth by now, and even increased vehicle traffic can only be maintained if one succeeds in finding clean and environment friendly primary sources that are long lasting to obtain the energy from in the first place, and if they cannot be used directly to drive vehicles, the energy from these sources must be transfered to one of the types already described above. Let us look at the alternative primaryenergy resources of interest:

Water power plants:

Electricity is allready produced in a great scale from water descending down from higher altitude. However, there is a limit for how many and how great power plants that can be built without totally destroying the environment. This limit is soon reached.

Solar radiation power used in power plants:

Solar radiation can be converted directly into electricity by solar panels. Much energy can be obtained from the solar radiation. However, there will be a limit to how great areas you can cover by solar cell panels. There is therefor an environmental limit also for this energy source.

sun rays can also be focused by menas of gigantic mirors or lenses towards a focal piont and the heat at that point can be used to make steam that again is running a steam turbin connected with a generator for production of electricity.

Cold fusion used in power plants:

Cold fusion is a promising energy source, but the feasibility of using this process to extract great amounts of energy in a stable fashion, is not yet proven. If it proves to be practically useful, this source may show to be able to give the population of earth all the energy it needs. Cold fusion was detected in 1989, but because the process does not confirm to current theory, the discovery was for a long time dismissed. By now the discovery has been confirmed firmly enough to be regarded as real, but it is very poorly understood.

Hot fusion used in power plants:

There has been tremedous efforts done to produce a hot fusion process that gives out more energy that is put in. If building hot fusion reactors get to success, this may also be the main source of enrgy in the future. But, the feasibility of hot fusion is even less proven that that of cold fusion.

Nuclear fission used in power plants - traditional technology:

In traditional nuclear fission a mass of radiating material has adensity that make it critical, that is every fission of an atom trigger ejections of nucleons that create new fission. Such a process must be controlled in an absolute sense to avoid mdangerous meltdown or even explosion. Such nuclear nuclear fision is an established technology that produces heat that can produce electricity. However, it is clean only if the vaste from the process can be locked down or stored away for many thousand years. Uranium material to be used in fission reactors is also a limited resuorce. Nuclear fission therefore cannot furnish the world with very much more energy than it allready does.

Nuclear fission r plants - new approaches:

Nuclear fision with enough energy yield in certain materials can be induced by shooting neutrons into the material from an accelerator. Thorium seems to be the most actual fissionable meterial for this kind of reactors. The vaste from such a reactor has a half-life of only 500 years, and they therefore do not cause a so great vaste problems as conventional fission produce. because the process is not critical, there is no danger of explosion or meltdown. The amount of thorium on earth is also so great that thorium reactors can solve the energy shortage on earth for a very long time. Still the process will produce dangerous vaste and as such give an environmental danger.

Earth Heat:

Down in the earth it is hot, and the heat is a practically endless resource. By drilling channels some thousand meters downwards, much energy can be taken up and used for production of electricity. Earth heat can give a contribution to the growing energy demand in a cleanly way, but it is impractical to set up such power plants everywhere. Still, earth heat can show to be a very useful energy source in the future.

Wind power:

There will always be mechanical power in the wind, and this power can be converted to electricity in a cleanly way. But taking out much wind power, demands huge and vast installations of windmills, disturbing the environment over great areas. Wind power can therefore only give a limited contribution to the earth's demand for energy.

One can however use the wind by means of saising the wind directly. If the sails also are covered with sheets that convert solar power to electricity that is stored in batteries, a ship has a free source of energy for effective traffic also when the wind is weak.

Wave power:
There is energy in the waves in the sea. This energy can be taken out in a cleanly way to produce electricity. But taking out very much of this energy, demands wide areas of power plant installations that disturbe the environment. Therefore wave power can only contribute a little to the future energy supply. C. Conclusion

If cold or hot fusion shows to be practically useful, the earth will have all the energy it demands, and the energy will be clean. If not, one must use a combination of different sources, and set up power plants to take out the energy from these sources where it is most practical. Thorium reactors can be a an important contribution.

Energy must also be consumed in a much more echonomical way than now, both in vehicles and other applications.