Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weird alternative power sources for cars

When we refer to alternate fuels for cars, we, at most times, mean electricity, bio-fuel, or ethanol. But what happens when you add the word 'weird' before alternative fuel? It's a whole new story!

A car powered by air? Yes indeed: the MDI Air Pod proves that the notion is not just a load of hot air. In fact, it's a load of compressed air. MDI wants to build charging stations to compress air which will then power its three-wheeled bubble car at speeds up to 50mph, and up to 95 miles range.

A car that runs on apples - has cider producer Henry Hobhouse been on the tipple? Not at all: this Somerset farmer has converted his Jaguar XJ6 to run on fuel made from apples from his farm. He makes his own methane fuel by pulping apple cores and grass waste at a cost of less than 50p per litre.

Methane Gas
The GENeco Bio-Bug is a real-life 'dung beetle'. The Bristol-built prototype is powered by methane gas generated from household poo. GENeco says it takes about 70 household dung heaps a year to power the car for 10,000 miles. We bet it goes like stink. And you're guaranteed to win at top trumps.

Most of us started driving when we got our first pedal-powered car. Well, a few companies make leg-powered cars for grown-ups as a green statement. The HumanCar PS goes one step further by using the arms of its four passengers. You have to 'row' the car using the onboard sticks. Top speed: 30mph on the flat. Oh, there's no steering wheel: instead you need to steer by shifting your buttocks about in the seat

Jet fighter - and a rocket as well
Bloodhound is the latest British land speed record hopeful. Its Eurofighter Typhoon jet engine is used to reach a 'running-in' speed of 300mph, at which point it switches over to hybrid rocket power. The combined engine thrust is 47,500lb - the equivalent of 180 F1 cars. Pilot Andy Green expects to reach the magic 1,000mph barrier in just 42 seconds.

Bottoms up, Brazil! Way back in the 1970s, the South American country pioneered the idea of bio-fuel, using its huge sugar cane harvest to circumvent the oil crisis by making ethanol fuel from fermented sugar. Today, Brazilian cars powered by flexi-fuel engines (running on either petrol or alcohol) are widespread, including the all-new Fiat Uno.

French company Venturi says it wants to make the world's first commercially available solar-powered car. The Eclectic's eccentric look is mostly down to its huge roof covered with photovoltaic solar cells. Since one day of sun will only net you 4.5 miles of road travel, the Eclectic also mimics a wind farm with an optional roof-mounted wind turbine to recharge the batteries as well.

French Fries oil
Thousands of UK drivers have now discovered that you can run some diesel cars on vegetable oil. It's cheaper than regular fuel - and even free if you make friends with your local chip shop. The government won't tax you on it unless you use more than 2,500 litres a year. Only one downside: your car may start smelling like a chip van.

We're not taking the piss here. An Ohio scientist called Gerardine Botte has developed a catalyst capable of extracting hydrogen from urine. By electrolysing the urea in human pee, she's managed to unleash 0.0005kW - not exactly Ferrari territory, but she hopes her invention can be scaled up.

Source: MSN Cars

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