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Alternative Engines

The current information coming from the motor industries developing laboratories is pretty ambivalent. One can indeed doubt whether that which is leaking to the outside at the moment, can solve our our energy and CO2-emission problems. As universally useable as our cars are now, can probably not be expected in the future.

Of course, one can imagine driving a car with an electric motor. What however, is to be done when the range of the electric motor is exhausted? General Motors uses a system which then starts a (small?) internal combustion engine, which allows one to carry on driving. Indeed, how high is the efficiency during the rest of the trip, if a petrol engine generates the current which powers the electric motor? Or does one have to have two cars?

There is another possibility for driving using electricity. The above picture shows an additional electric motor built in to the rear axle of a BMW 7-series. This type of set-up is called a 'hybrid- drive'. In this upper-class vehicle the extra weight is not really a factor, but only if the batteries are not considered. Exactly at this point, problems arise. Compared to the range that a petrol tank offers, the range of a battery is minimal.

If we stay with the customary engine, at least fuels made from renewable energy sources are possible. Natural gas of course, only if it is produced exactly like Bio-Ethanol for petrol engines and like Sunfuel for diesels. These natural products as fuels, are all the more interesting, if they don't compete with the foodstuff production.

One of these substances could also be hydrogen, which could be, e.g., gained from photo-voltaic current. Unfortunately, in this case, we also have the problem of accumulator-storage. Moreover, if we use hydrogen, then we may as well go for a fuel-cell in the car right from the word go. However, this solution is very complicated and above all, for the foreseeable serial production, still much too expensive.

For their Cayenne, the Porsche-company wanted to borrow technology from Toyota. They however, only offer the complete drive-train, which is, for a comparatively expensive Porsche, impossible. One wants to do the developing oneself, after all, there is Volkswagen, who, if one can rely on the test results, have achieved the most success with their conservative 'Blue-Motion' policy. Thus, the market leader Toyota, also warns against underestimating the problem. 03/09

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