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What will the fuel of the future be?
With conventional fuels running out and the need to promote renewable energy use, it is clear that motor fuels will change in the near-term. Car manufacturers are exploring basically two major non-fossil fuel technologies which are in theory able to fully replace gasoline and diesel: electric cars and hydrogen powered cars. It cannot be said at this point which one of them will prove to be the most efficient, environmentally friendly and economically viable. Both alternatives are solutions for the longer term, which still need a lot of research and development before a wide market penetration can be achieved at affordable prices, and based on renewable sources.
In the meantime, conventional engine technologies in combination with hybrid and biofuels will prove to be appropriate options. The blending of renewable components into petrol and diesel will help reduce CO2 emissions and also ease concerns about energy security
There are numerous conditions a fuel has to meet before it is fit for powering a vehicle. The fuel has to deliver sufficient energy, it has to be produced sustainably, it has to meet high quality standards to fit the technological demands of modern propulsion systems, it has to be widely available and transportable, to name a few important criteria.
Fit for purpose
Auto-makers simply demand that market fuels are ‘fit for purpose’. This means they provide the desired performance, they help reduce emissions (tailpipe gaseous and particle emissions and evaporative emission from the fuelling system), they help to keep engines running cleanly, they are not apt to degrade in performance or quality, they are available at all filling stations across the EU (and further a field) and meet a common standard and the fuels are properly labelled at the pump.
Today, several European car manufacturers sell vehicles that run on petrol and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) or on petrol and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). Manufacturers also sell flex-fuel vehicles that can run on E85 (a mix of 85% ethanol and 15% petrol) or on petrol. Apart from the additional costs, a major obstacle to overcome for greater fleet penetration of these vehicles is the limited number of filling stations across the EU that sell autogas, CNG or E85. Bear in mind also that CNG and LPG are a product of fossil decomposition (like oil) so they too may have limited resource.
Hydrogen could reduce car emissions to zero in the future provided the hydrogen is produced from renewable sources, or the CO2 from producing hydrogen is captured. Hydrogen is not yet available at filling stations. However, European carmakers continue to invest into the development of hydrogen vehicles. Hydrogen can be used to power combustion engines and, through fuel cells, electric vehicles.
Market & Economy
- Diesel Emissions Conference, & Adblue Forum 2013 Europe, 18-20 June 2013. ACEA members get a 20% discount on the registration fee.
Recent and Past Events
- ACEA Annual Transport Policy Event 2012: How Can Policy Reflect Changing Transport Demands? 6 December 2012,Brussels. Click here for more...
- Our Future Mobility Now "Innovation for Europe, Skills for the Future" Roundtable 10 October 2012. Click here for more...