Car Technologies to Save the Planet Fast

Modern technology has made waves in the automobile industry, enabling us to ride around in high-tech cars that boast a host of equipment. But it isn’t just the electronics we’re concerned about. Our technology has increasingly focused on how to make automobiles more fuel efficient and safe. We’re developing cars that run on hydrogen fuel, electricity and a combination of both. While this is laudable in itself, there’s more that’s being done to ensure that future generations can travel in vehicles that have a minimal impact on the environment. Take a look at some of these technologies designed to save the planet and fast.

1. General Motor’s engine to use carbon dioxide as a fuel and emit oxygen

The technology

In 2010, GM and SAIC launched a concept vehicle with a difference. Called the YeZ Concept, it works on the principle of photosynthesis to absorb CO2 and emit oxygen. It may seem farfetched but the technology could soon turn into reality. Solar panels on the roof harvest sunlight while wind turbines on the wheels gather air movement. If successful, this artificial photosynthesis or photoelectric conversion will help clean up the air and give us much-needed O2.

Difference it’ll make

The developers claim that the technology used on YeZ will be able to work during sunny and overcast days which is something that researchers have been trying to fine tune with solar energy devices.

2. MDI compressed-air car

The technology

Motor Development International developed a prototype vehicle that runs on compressed air. The Air Car not only runs on the same source but also incorporates a secondary biofuel energy source to help the vehicle reach speeds of 96 mph, a range of 850 miles and a mileage of 106 mpg. As long as the Air Car maintains speeds under 35 mph, the compressed air source is used. Once it tops that number, small amounts of fossil fuel is used to heat the air in order to expand it before reaching the engine.

Difference it’ll make

Compressed air vehicles make use of air which is found in plenty. Moreover, they can be left unused with little consequence for longer periods unlike conventional vehicles that deteriorate.

3. Magnetic field-powered cars

The technology

If cars could successfully run on magnets, we wouldn’t need to recharge or refuel them. Kia Motors had in 2011 unveiled a concept crossover car called Naimo that uses a magnet synchronous motor and lithium-ion polymer batteries. Using this technology, automakers can greatly decrease dependence on gas. A magnet motor is powered by batteries to drive an air-compressor which is then turbocharged to deliver the required horsepower.

Difference it’ll make

The only time one would have to stop for a recharge is when the battery pack wears down. Other than that, magnetic field-powered cars should be able to provide us with transport systems that never need to be refueled and cause even a hint of air pollution.

4. Toyota hydrogen-powered vehicles

The technology

The Toyota FCV R is a concept vehicle from the Japanese automaker that runs on hydrogen fuel cells instead of batteries. The company is working hard to see H2-powered vehicles plying roads by 2013 and we’re hoping the FCV R will be the first to enter production. Incidentally, is the FCV R were to hit the streets, it would have a driving range of 435 miles.

Difference it’ll make

Unlike batteries, hydrogen offers more driving range. It is emission-free and is abundant in the atmosphere unlike lithium which is used to power modern batteries.

5. Infiniti extended-range electric vehicle

The technology

Infiniti’s EMERG-E debuted at the recently held Geneva Motor Show featuring an extended range of 300 miles. It can cover 30 miles in pure electric mode with zero emissions and once the battery runs out of the juice, the car switches to its petrol generator with CO2 emission of 55 g/km.

Difference it’ll make

The 402 bhp vehicle offers consumers a chance to make use of en electric car without having to worry about short driving ranges, a big problem for most EV enthusiasts.

6. Volvo plug-in hybrid

The technology

The Volvo plug-in hybrid uses a diesel engine and an electric motor that significantly cuts down fuel consumption and cost. While it’s more expensive than the V60, buyers will be glad to know that the hybrid reduces fuel cost to just a third that of conventional cars.

Difference it’ll make

In this age of rising fuel cost, the Volvo hybrid comes as a blessing. It’s powerful too, having an output of 281 hp and 472 lb/ft of torque.

7. Ecotricity wind powered supercar

The technology

Ecotricity developed the planet’s first wind-powered vehicle using an electric motor that can run at speeds of an impressive 170 mph. Called the Nemesis, the car was built in under 2 years and has an acceleration time of just 8.5 second from standstill to 100 mph. The supercar is powered by the company’s 51 wind turbines with a charging time of only 2 hours.

Difference it’ll make

Electric cars are one thing but powering them using the wind is a completely novel concept. True, the car doesn’t have wind turbines but the fact that it’ll be charged using Ecotricity’s turbines is truly laudable.

8. Antro’s solar car

The technology

A car that splits in two? That’s right, Antro is working to construct a modular vehicle that can split into two cars. Solar panels on the roof will enable it to run for 20 km a day on solar energy. The three-seater modular vehicle will have the ability to be converted into a six-seater when needed. We aren’t exactly sure how it’ll work but Antro seems pretty confident and we’re putting our faith in its developers.

Difference it’ll make

Too many cars on the roads has forced us to think about ways to reduce congestion. If Antro is successful, then people needn’t buy more than one car as the modular vehicle can serve as two when required.

9. Mercedes Benz fuel cell technology

The technology

Come 2014 and Mercedes will get ready to mass produce its fuel cell-powered vehicle. With a range of 250 miles, the car delivers more to its customers as battery packs tend to have short driving ranges. According to the company, the car is ready to enter volume production by 2014. No price has been given but there are rumors that it will cost about the same as a diesel hybrid.

Difference it’ll make

Unlike a battery charge, refueling with hydrogen takes only three minutes. Moreover, the 400 km range is good news for green folks who’re dying to get an eco friendly car with a decent driving range.

10. Volvo flywheel technology

The technology

Volvo’s flywheel technology is looking to make hybrid cars cheaper and more eco friendly. With KERS, fuel consumption can be cut down by 20 percent. Incidentally, KERS isn’t a new concept, having been used by the likes of Ferrari and Renault for their racing cars. It works by reapplying braking energy to the wheels during acceleration. Volvo has fitted the system to the rear axle. During acceleration, the flywheel slows down as a continuously variable transmission sends power to the rear wheels.

Difference it’ll make

This harnessing of kinetic energy means that you get an extra jolt during acceleration.

Source: Automotto