The clean air factor: car or fuel

Abstract

The essay discusses some facts on hybrid cars vis-a-vis alternative fuels particularly biodiesel and its advantages in relation to the global concern on a cleaner air.

Based on the gathered information, it would appear that biodiesel technology coupled with existing diesel engines present a more practicable solution to the issue of harmful emissions. The author is inclined to recommend that the policy makers consider the solution offered by the use of biodiesel, coupled by some other practical but doable practices, as it offers a long term solution and has more benefits than using the hybrid cars.

The Clean Air Factor: Car or Fuel?  Nowadays, mobility is a key word in the world of globalization. Computers have been shrunk into smartphones and the race is on as to who can best address the issues on tag price, talk-time, number of applications, operating system, connectivity, aesthetics and other issues addressing convenience and practicability of use. Essentially, the concern is to have a gadget, short of a computer or laptop, which can be brought anywhere in the world but can still make one connected to the office, school or home.

However, the more interesting aspect of mobility which is of global import pertains to one’s mode of transport.  The impact of vehicle emission on everyone’s health is a major concern not only for governments but for all of us who are eventually affected.  Fossil fuel has been found to produce harmful by-products of combustion which are major contributors to air pollution.  What is alarming is that children are more susceptible to the respiratory diseases brought about by fossil fuel consumption.

Governments, parents and non-governmental organizations concerned with these issues are worried for the next generation and the generations to come.  Aside from the direct health hazards, the volatility of the situation of oil producing countries in the Middle East resulting in skyrocketing and unstable oil prices aggravated and emphasized the need for long term solutions and alternatives.

Consequently, two major programs being adopted by car manufacturers and governments i.e., the development or promotion of hybrid cars and the use of alternative fuels. The major objectives of these programs are to maximize fuel efficiency in terms of miles per gallon (mpg) and substantially reduce or eliminate the environmentally harmful by-products of fossil fuel combustion.

Essentially the production of hybrid cars is more of compliance to statutes limiting harmful vehicle emissions. In order to soften the developmental costs, most governments offer tax incentives.  The result is a vehicle which is more fuel efficient giving improvements reported to be ranging from 20 to 35%. However, its selling price is quite high compared to gas savers of same category so that a hybrid may sell to as much as $5,000 to $8,000 higher. To cushion the steep price, manufacturers often offer longer warranties.

The other side of the crusade against harmful emissions is the use of alternative fuels such as biodiesel, electricity, ethanol, gas-to-liquid fuels (natural gas to diesel fuel), hydrogen, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG or propane) and natural gas which has been the focus of studies for the past decade.

The economics of biodiesel production coupled with the developments in diesel engine technology has increased the attraction of increasing its use.  The beauty of biodiesel consumption is that there is no need to develop or modify new engines as the existing ones can be utilized and the emissions are environmentally friendly.

Their sources are also readily available. From the foregoing, it is therefore submitted that the more practical and effective solution is biodiesel technology.  Hybrid cars may be more fancy looking but it does not really create a zero harmful emission unlike biodiesel. In the meantime, while fossil fuel cars are still in existence, policymakers should also encourage the minimization of the use of fossil fuel powered vehicles and to use other alternatives such as mass transport system, car pooling, bicycling or walking.

Cooperation is the operative word as this effort is not the sole responsibility of governments but also ours, who are the ultimate beneficiaries of a clean air.  Hence, if we want our children and grandchildren to live in a healthy environment, everyone should do his part and refrain, if not stop, the use of fossil fuels.