Green Car Technologies

Charging of an electric car

What makes green cars go

For decades, conventional gas-powered cars have left an impressionable footprint on our environment by way of harmful emissions.  These emissions have contributed largely to the global warming crisis we now face, among other environmental problems.  By contrast, green cars are cleaner, more efficient and much kinder to our environment.  Even though modern day advancements are helping to address specific environmental issues, many people aren't familiar with the ins-and-outs of green car technologies. 

So exactly how do green cars work?  How are they powered and what are the technologies used to generate that power? In this section, we outline common green car technologies to help you gain a better understanding.   

Hybrid Car Technology

A hybrid car uses a combination of two or more power sources to put the vehicle in motion.  These power sources typically include a gasoline engine alongside an electric motor with a battery pack. Many hybrids on the road today use a feature called Regenerative Braking allowing the motor to recover energy traditionally lost in braking.  That energy is then utilized to recharge the vehicle's batteries. The gasoline engine on a hybrid car is smaller and usually more fuel efficient than an engine found in a conventional car, and by way of advanced technology, allows for fewer emissions.

Plug-in Hybrid Technology

Also known as PHEVs, a plug-in hybrid is an electric vehicle that uses a plug and an electric power source to recharge its batteries. PHEVs also use a gasoline engine which takes over to propel the vehicle forward when the battery power is depleted, for greater driving range. There are many benefits of a plug-in hybrid, including increased fuel economy, reduced air pollution, and the convenience of charging the car's batteries at home. At present, there are no PHEVs in production; however, consumers have the option of buying a hybrid and having it converted to a PHEV. There are a number of companies that specialize in this conversion.

Hydrogen Vehicle Technology

As the name suggests, hydrogen vehicles use hydrogen as fuel for power. These vehicles convert the chemical energy of hydrogen by using one of two methods — by using an internal combustion engine or by way of a fuel cell. These methods create mechanical energy from hydrogen to propel the vehicle forward while producing nearly zero emissions or more environmentally-friendly emissions such as water vapor. Some automakers offer hydrogen vehicles for sale and for use on today's roadways.

Flex-fuel Vehicle Technology

Flex-fuel vehicles are designed to accept regular gasoline, or an ethanol blend such as E85 which consists of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. E85 is a renewable fuel that does not require as many natural resources as those required by fossil fuels. Most ethanol is produced from corn, with other sources of ethanol production currently being researched. There are nearly eight million flex-fuel vehicles on the road today. When ethanol fuel is burned, fewer emissions are released into the environment as compared to fossil fuels.

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