The whole world seems to be talking about e-mobility, saving fossil energy and global warming. After all, it’s not just factories or volcanic eruptions that are to blame for global warming – the car, which gives us a lot of freedom, also poses a certain problem. That’s why, in these times, many car manufacturers are striving to produce environmentally friendly cars and thus make the world a little bit better. But how sustainable are these vehicles really?
Why are cars considered true polluters?
When we drive a car, we need fuel. Once it’s in the tank, all we have to do is start the engine and drive off. That’s the theory. But the internal combustion engine has to perform at its best. It converts energy when fuel is burned. The type of engine used is irrelevant in this context. The fact is that the refueled fuel burns in the engine and, of course, combustion exhaust gases are produced in the process.
The exhaust gases are released into the environment via an exhaust manifold that leads to the exhaust pipe. When we smell exhaust gases, we usually find them unpleasant. And this is hardly surprising. After all, exhaust gases are air pollutants. In addition to carbon monoxide, they also contain sulfur oxides, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, soot and dust. A mixture that does not simply fizzle out, but increasingly pollutes the world.
Now let’s imagine that in Germany alone, over 40 million vehicles take part in road traffic every day. Of these, 18 percent are cars used for private purposes. 51 percent are trucks and another 22 percent are other vehicles such as cabs, buses and the like.
The emission of exhaust gases is gradually damaging air quality – not only in Germany, but worldwide. It is not only the air itself that is affected, but also our precious climate. From crude oil extraction to gasoline processing and combustion in gasoline engines, numerous harmful emissions are ultimately released.
There is also a crucial factor: oil is a limited resource that will not last forever. One day, all reserves will be used up. In order to protect nature and not rely on oil in the future, more and more e-cars, hybrid vehicles as well as hydrogen cars are coming onto the market.
Which of these vehicles is the most environmentally friendly solution in terms of alternative drive types?
Consumers are presented with a great deal of information about new car models in the media. This information is often accompanied by news that does not always put e-mobility in a favorable light. High acquisition costs, short ranges, and a lack of long-term experience with electromobility are just some of the disadvantages that are mentioned. As a result, the advantages are unfortunately pushed further and further into the background and unsettle the end customer. At the same time, environmental simulation systems are becoming increasingly important.
After all, electric cars do not run on fossil fuels, but on alternative drives. This means that no harmful emissions are released into the atmosphere, which makes driving itself more environmentally friendly. However, if you don’t want to choose an electric car, you can turn to other environmentally friendly vehicles. The repertoire includes natural gas cars, for example, as well as hydrogen vehicles, which are equally beneficial to the environment. But what is the difference between the various vehicles?
Electric cars in particular are now the talk of the town. They are regarded as an emission-free vehicle variant and can already be found in large numbers on German roads. These cars run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that supply the electric motor with energy.
While the range has repeatedly been criticized in the past, the latest models can now reach up to 450 kilometers on one battery charge. Afterwards, a charging station must be sought out. Here, too, long charging times have been criticized time and again. But thanks to increasingly innovative quick chargers, this requirement is no longer a problem. Many vehicles such as the Audi e-Tron or the Mercedes Benz EQS can achieve a further 300 kilometers of range after just 30 minutes of charging.
Although the charging network is a headache for many interested parties, many car companies are also thinking along these lines. The expansion of the infrastructure is being continuously fine-tuned to ensure numerous charging points. Only one other problem remains: the mining of lithium, which is essential for battery production. This is another area where a limited resource is being tapped, which also costs landscapes and habitats.
Natural gas cars
In addition to gasoline and diesel, natural gas has also been available at gas stations for some time. Although it also releases pollutants when burned, all in all it produces up to 25 percent less CO2 than other fuels. This means that this vehicle option is more likely to be considered by many drivers. This is also due to the premise that natural gas filling stations can be found virtually on every street corner. The low emissions are an advantage, but natural gas is unfortunately a fossil resource that will be used up one day.
Driving a natural gas car is therefore a first step in the right direction, but not necessarily environmentally friendly or sustainable. It can rather be considered as an intermediate solution when it comes to finding an alternative to diesel or gasoline cars.
However, the automotive industry is thinking ahead and focusing on other paths beyond fossil fuels or batteries. In this context, a new technology is being used that works with oxygen and hydrogen. This produces chemical processes that are converted into electrical energy. All that is needed for the engine to function is heat and water – substances that are abundantly available and do not produce harmful exhaust gases. The resulting energy produces electricity, which also drives an electric motor.
However, the gaseous or liquid hydrogen must first be produced, as it is not found in this form in nature. This requires a lot of energy. Hydrogen is already available at some filling stations, but unfortunately not yet to the extent that many consumers would like. So in this respect, too, a denser infrastructure is needed to enable problem-free refueling.
Are there additional alternative concepts?
The three vehicle models mentioned above currently represent the most interesting solutions when it comes to alternative driving concepts. However, other technologies for emission-free driving are in the starting blocks. However, the technology is still in its infancy and must therefore be further developed. In addition to compressed air vehicles, these include wood gas cars or multi-fuel engines.
Meanwhile, while some automakers are fine-tuning ever newer vehicles, consumers are asking why gasoline and diesel engines can’t simply be made more environmentally friendly. Attempts to regulate emissions standards and thus reduce air pollution have been tried many times in the past. Unfortunately, no real progressive breakthroughs have yet been achieved.
Probably the most environmentally friendly way to protect the world is still not to use the car – whenever possible. While it is not always possible to implement this guideline, it succeeds in many ways. The use of bicycles or public transport is one possibility. Car or ridesharing is now also becoming established in more and more regions. In this way, the volume of traffic and environmental pollution can be reduced step by step.
It is up to the individual. He can decide how to make the world a little better every day. By using environmentally friendly vehicles and living a sustainable life, nature can gradually recover – because it is certain that we only have one world and we should definitely take care of it.