The history of Alternative fuels, or at least the concept of it, has been around since the early days of the automobile. Alternative fuels such as biodiesel, ethanol and methanol, have been produced and used on a small scale for decades. They are now being rediscovered due to the rising cost of oil and the instability of world politics. The discovery of these fuels changed the face of the planet, but since day one people have looked for other fuels that improved over the course of history. Alternative fuel vehicles have a long history, beginning with, Henry Ford.
Ford was a conservationist who preferred harnessing nature as an energy source and using zero-emission hydroelectric energy. Henry Ford advocated both recycling and renewable resources like agricultural products. One of his great inventions was the Model T it was actually designed to run on ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, produced from corn. By the time the Model T appeared in 1905, gasoline was readily available, which was not the case with ethanol. Henry Ford also designed a Fordson tractor that would burn alcohol as well as fossil fuel, but never managed to put this model into production, due to high distillation costs.
During the Great Depression, Henry Ford looked for ways to recycle waste created by his factories and to help relieve the fuel burden on the public. By mixing one part light oil, a byproduct from the coal in coke ovens, and three parts gasoline, Ford created a fuel that could run automobiles. This fuel was very popular in the Detroit area, although it was never available nationally. From the very beginning, the Standard Oil Company marketed a blend of 25 percent ethanol and 75 percent gasoline in the Baltimore area, but high corn prices combined with storage and transportation difficulties terminated the project.
Henry Ford and several experts built a fermentation plant in Atchison, Kansas to produce ethanol fuel. During the 1930s, more than 2,000 service stations in the Midwest sold this ethanol made from corn, as gasohol. Products like Gasohol could not compete with cheaper gasoline and the plant closed in the 1940s. The product Alcohol was considered a fuel during these times and was made from corn, since mankind first learned to cultivate it, but it wasn't until the 70's that scientists realized it could be used in gasoline powered vehicles.
Ethanol could power an internal combustion engine as effectively as petrochemicals, but without a lot of the harmful byproducts of petrochemical combustion. It was cheaper to make than gasoline, and would require large amounts of corn, which was good for the farmers at the time. There are several other creators that contributed to the history of alternative fuel such as diesel, which was first introduced by Rudolf Diesel. He ran his first diesel engine on peanut oil that today would be called biodiesel. He believed diesel engines would operate on a variety of vegetable oils.
But petroleum-based diesel fuel was cheap and readily available, so it quickly became the diesel fuel of choice. But in the 1920s, the feed-stock shifted to petroleum distillates refined from crude oil during gasoline production. Petro diesel was considered cheaper and more plentiful than vegetable oil; it was also lighter and less viscous. So, Automakers had to modify engine designs accordingly, and vegetable oil as a fuel source was sidelined for decades. The electric vehicles were well developed in comparison to those powered by gasoline and steam back in the 1890’s. 898 and 1912 were considered the high point of electric vehicles in America. About 86 percent of the cars sold in the U. S. were powered by gasoline; electric and steam each captured about 7-percent of the market, the most in all Electric vehicle history. There are several reasons why gasoline won over electric and steam power. In reality, it was the cheap gasoline-powered car, most notably Henry Ford's Model T and the establishment of an infrastructure to keep them running down the road. There were some advantages and disadvantages to the electric car.
One advantage was that it was considered a novelty and usually only the wealthy could afford in their homes. The disadvantages seemed to outweigh the advantages, they were expensive, range that did not improve to match that of the gasoline car, and relatively low top speed the range between recharges of only 30-50 miles, and in the winter when batteries lost about 40 percent of their capacity. Also the poor roads of the day, frequently no more than cart paths shared with horse-drawn vehicles, turned to mud fields in bad weather. Electric cars, with their heavy batteries, were at a great disadvantage when they had to be pulled out of the mud.
Unlike gasoline cars that could travel virtually anywhere, electrics were pretty much confined to urban areas. Hybrid technology began with one of the first designs by Dr. Porsche; the creator of the Lohner. This car had electric drive motors built into the front wheel hubs with a gas engine driven generator supplying power. For decades much of the world's really big earth-moving equipment has utilized diesel-electric hybrid power trains. Also during this time the Owen-Magnetic was a hybrid with a gasoline engine driving a generator that supplied electricity to an electric transmission.
GM developed the first one, the Electro van in 1966. It didn’t contain any batteries to charge and no petroleum fuel this vehicle demonstrated the feasibility of a propulsion system using electrical power developed by cryogenically stored hydrogen and oxygen combined with potassium hydroxide. For decades the alternative fuel automobile and transition from phase to the next. Throughout history the alternative fuel has only improved over time. Creators like Henry Ford, Rudolf Diesel and Dr. Porsche played a big part in the history of alternative fuel vehicles.
From the very beginning it started out with just a simple experiment but yet turned into something great. The Japanese economy is one of the strongest in the world. Only the USA has a higher GNP. The Japanese currency is the Yen. Japan’s main exported goods are cars, electronic devices, and computers. The most important single trade partner is the USA which imports more than one quarter of all Japanese exports. Other major export countries are Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, China and Singapore. Japan has a large surplus in its import and export balance within the country.
Although the Japanese economy is seemingly doing well, the effects on their economy and the global changes taking place, Japan has seen a fluctuation in their automotive industry. With the introduction of the concept of the alternative fuel automobile in 1997, Japan has experienced times of crisis in their economy as well as other countries. Japan is able to offer the consumer an inexpensive vehicle, but often times, the expense to operate this new technological advanced vehicle is very expensive. Expenses are incurred through which non fossil fuel is chosen as a means of energy for the vehicle.
With introductions like this, China, as a country is faced with added costs to their economy through several public services that must be linked to having vehicles that are alternate fuel driven. These services include the service of stricter regulations of air quality services which must be implemented with this new type of product. Also, in a country where every bit of land is precious, adequate areas for parking must be found and utilized. Both of these restrictions are provided through the increase in taxes, property taxes, and the increase in high loan lending rates.
There are more than a dozen alternative and advanced fuels in production or used today. Although government-regulated and voluntary private fleets are the primary users of these fuels, consumers are showing a growing interest in them. Use of these fuels is critical to reducing dependence on foreign oil and improving air quality. The country of Japan has been in the leading forefront with this global technology. The Government, the economy, and many other obstacles make this alternative technology a struggle to “get into flight. The ultimate goal of this venture is to reduce petroleum consumption. By doing so, we actively take part in the plight to reduce the destruction of our planet and to return to the basics of using those elements available as a source of energy. By reviewing Japan’s attempt at applying alternative energy technology into their means of transportation, we are able to gather ideas and concepts to be instituted in the USA. In light of oil prices reaching 60 to 70 dollars a barrel, attention is being paid to alternative energy technology, in the hope that it might answer our problems.