Science » Technologies and discoveries

Fantastic vehicle of future

Vehicle working on water…on compressed air…on sunflower oil…on spirit…
Vehicle spending one liter of fuel per 3,500 kilometers. Many of these dreams have become true. The vehicle is the primary source of air pollution (70% of pollution) and one the main fuel consumers. The pollution of the environment and shortage of natural resources makes the vehicle change, and 20-50 years later it will be very different.

Changing vehicles started with developing filters, catalysts and other devices reducing release of poisonous substances. Toyota, alongside with Ibiden and Sant-Goben developed the filter structured like bee cells, which slows down the particles having 10-8 of meter in size. Precious metals used in catalysts allow to make perfect refinement. However, after that people came to understanding that minimizing exhausts would be better than refining them.

Developing additions to fuel was the first step in this direction. People tried to use ethyl alcohol (many vehicles in Latin America still use it), plant oils, dimethyl ether, methanol. The additions of this kind have some advantages, such as reducing exhausts of sulfur oxide and sulfur aerosol.  At the same time, some disadvantages arise as well, such as high cost, toxicity and sometimes bad smell in the vehicle salon. Because of such flaws, the next step was working on economical vehicles releasing minimum of harmful exhausts. Fuel can be saved by using a regulating system adjusted to driving in town (where fuel spending is very uneven). Valco company developed  “Start-Stop” system saving up to 10% of fuel during vehicle’s braking and stopping. A French agency on environment protection published a list of the most ecologically safe vehicles after testing 3,643 vehicle models. Smart was in the first position (it uses 6 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers and releases 118 grams of СО2 per kilometer of driving). Toyota Prius was the second (5.11 liters/100 kilometers, releases 120 grams of СО2 per kilometer. These are regular vehicle models. There are special models as well. There was time when the news on developing Japanese motorcycle spending 1 liter of fuel per 100 kilometers, was perceived as fantastic. Today the engineers from Tulusa produced really fantastic vehicle at Eco Marathon contest. Their Tim 03 vehicle went as far as 3,500 kilometers on just one liter of fuel. This vehicle can come across the globe on 11.5 liters of fuel. The vehicle speed is only 25 kilometers per hour, but it is very economical due to 24-kilogam polyester body, electronic operating engine and low resistance coefficient – 0.12.

Saving fuel is good, but oil supplies are limited in any case. In 50-80 years the last drop of oil will be released by pipelines. Oil tycoons and vehicle producers are in search of good replacement for oil. Fuel can be obtained by hydrolysis of coal, and the coal reserves will be exhausted only in several hundreds of years. Most likely, hydrogen will become the fuel of future. The industries of our planer produce 45 million tons of hydrogen. There is abundance of hydrogen on the Earth, although in mixed state in the water molecule. Daimler-Chrysler was one of the first to start researching hydrogen as fuel.  Toyota and Honda expressed the wish to be the first produces of the hydrogen-driven vehicle, Renault and Nissan supported this initiative. The vehicle with hydrogen balloon passes up to 300 kilometers with no refueling and at high speed. The main problem is safety, such a vehicle in accidents can turn into a bomb, and for this reason fuel supply impermeability and hydrogen balloon safety to impermeability should be provided. The mixture of hydrogen with oxygen in the ratio of 2:1 explodes well and was even named “explosive mixture”. However, obtaining hydrogen requires much energy, and this means burning some oil fuel. Japanese specialists went further. Research center Tsukuba developed the catalyst allowing to obtain hydrogen out of water due to the impact of seen light, by reproducing photosynthesis. Magic catalyst containing oxides of Tantalus and Indium on porous nickel, activates water decomposition, and the catalyst is not spent. After adding more water, the vehicle continues running.

The vehicle whose engine is driven by compressed air, is also of interest. The hybrid engine driven by the mixture of compressed air and regular fuel, was developed only 10 years ago. In the 10 years the engine was improved, and currently is has four cylinders, the volume of 800 cm3 and is driven exclusively by compressed air. The vehicle maximum speed is 110 kilometers per hour, it can run 300 kilometers with no refueling. The engine is environment friendly enough as air used as fuel is clean, but compressing the air still requires some other source of energy.

In this way, the vehicle of future will probably have balloons of hydrogen or compressed air in the boot, accumulator battery in the front, it will be light and economical. Probably, it will be absolutely different. Engineers have to adjust the vehicle to the world where the environment cannot be polluted and natural resources are limited.

Valery Lipik,
Doctor of Science, special reporter for Byelorussian online newspaper,
special for PRAVDA.Ru