Alternative Car Fuels
If you haven’t noticed the incredible increase in the cost of Petrol and Diesel over the last few years, then you are either a keen walker, or very rich. The increase has been nothing short of incredible – soaring way above inflation and leaving people out of pocket and out of options when it comes to alternative means of getting about. With poor public transport systems in many parts of the country, and an increasing need to get about with many people having to travel ever further to get to work, there’s no wonder people are looking to alternative measures in terms of getting their cars from a to b.
As you may well be aware, Petrol and Diesel are not the only fuels capable of propelling your vehicle. Below I’ll be taking a look at some of the best options out there as well as the technicalities, and the legalities of making a change.
LPG is one of the best known alternative fuels out there, and perhaps one of the easiest to access. Although nowhere near as widespread as petrol and diesel, you can find LPG pumps at a good range of petrol stations throughout the country. The website lpgmap is a great source for anyone who wants to discover just how widespread these facilities are. Currently it is thought that there are over 1500 different locations throughout the country where you can fill up with LPG.
LPG, or Liquid Petroleum Gas, to give it its full name, is a greener option to petrol or diesel, as it produces fewer emissions. Once you have converted your vehicle to LPG you can expect to spend significantly less on fuel per litre, but you have to remember that fuel consumption is slightly higher, so the savings, although high, are not quite as high as you might imagine. At the moment you can expect to pay around 78 pence per litre of LPG, as against £1.41 per litre for unleaded, and £1.48 per litre of diesel. Despite being less fuel marginally less fuel efficient, LPG will clearly save most people significant money over a period of time.
You do have to factor in the cost of conversion. Of course, the cost of a conversion always depends on the vehicle you drive, and the company you use to convert the vehicle. You will find adverts on the net suggesting a conversion can be done for around £700, but you are better off using a tool to calculate the likely cost. Greenfuel is a great resource for anyone wishing to calculate the cost of a conversion for their particular car. You can find out an approximate amount of money you will save throughout a calendar year if you were using LPG, and you will also get a good quote for the cost of conversion. Most people would estimate cost at being between £1000 and £2000.
Bio fuels are less often used than LPG. This is both an educational issue and an availability issue. Bio fuel is not something that is regularly available at the petrol pumps so you do have to be dedicated if this is something that you want to investigate. It is also not considered to be such a green option these days either. Of course, the process of blending something like rapeseed or vegetable oil with diesel is going to result in a reduction in harmful emissions, but there are a number of issues with bio fuel for anyone considering the impact in the environment.
Looking beyond your own petrol tank, it’s important to consider the wider impact of bio fuels. A surge in consumption of this sort of fuel would put further burden on crops around the world, it would raise the cost of the production of crops, and it would also mean likely deforestation and greater demand for agricultural land. All of which would likely push up food prices and cause damage to natural habitats.
There is also a legal obligation to contact HMRC and pay the duty on any bio fuel used. This means if you are making bio fuel at home to run your family car you are expected to contact the government and pay for the privilege. You are also expected to prove that your product meets all aspects of the legal definition of biodiesel, and you must carry out specific tests to prove this.
Bio-Petrol cars are something of a novelty at the moment, and that’s mainly because it is more expensive and harder to do than to convert to LPG. It is however a developing art, and it is likely in the future that we will see more and more cars fuelled in this way.
Bio-Petrol is a mixture of Petrol and Ethanol. You also need to have your engine converted so that it can accept this mixed concoction, and this is especially the case if the mix of ethanol is greater in proportion than 10 percent. At the moment, most cars that are able to run on Bio-Petrol run on something called E10, which is an ethanol light mix of the two fuels. Fuels such as E85, which is made up of 85 percent Ethanol are rarely used. Again, it is important to note that Bio-Petrol is not the most green of solutions, with potential impacts on crops likely in the future should this fuel form take-off.
Pure Electric vehicles are probably going to be fantastic in ten or fifteen year’s time, but at the moment they are just a little limited. Obviously they are completely emission free, and incredibly inexpensive to run, but the downside is normally a very sluggish performance from the vehicle, as well as a short charge period, normally of not much more than 100 miles before they need recharging. The future of Electric Vehicles is very exciting indeed, but at the moment, it appears that the cons might just outweigh the pros for running an Electric car.
A Hybrid cars engine is powered both by the fuel of petrol and an electric charge. There is an electric motor which provides power at low speeds, and power at higher speeds is achieved through the use of petrol, or very occasionally, diesel fuel. The wonderful benefit of this sort of vehicle is that the electric motor is recharged during driving, which of course means no crazy recharging procedure to go through during the night! Hybrid cars currently offer the best in terms of balancing reduced emissions, a more economical way of travelling and ease of use.
What does the future hold?
Diesel Hybrids are now starting to crop up, and these vehicles are likely to offer even lower fuel consumption figure than petrol Hybrid vehicles, along with reduced emissions. The next major development we can all look forward to is hydrogen powered cars. The only emission would be water, so costs should be minimal. Only time will tell, but Hydrogen powered vehicles could be the norm in a few decades. Watch this space!