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As gas prices continue to jump up and down, alternative fuel sources continue to gain momentum. Biofuel and electric cars are starting to wage a war to see who will become more accepted in mainstream society.
Consumer Reports recently did a study by converting a 2002 Volkswagen Jetta TDI to operate on biodiesel (B5 and B100) and fryer grease to see how they matched up in price and convenience. Biodiesel is developed from vegetable or animal fats and is sold in blends with normal diesel.
During their study, Consumer Reports found B5, comprised of 5 percent biodiesel and 95 percent petroleum diesel, has the best fuel-economy results. It also out preformed the others in convenience, emissions, and overall performance. It runs in any diesel engine without modifications primarily due to its similarity to traditional fossil fuels.
Battery cars, on the other hand, also have some drawbacks. To create batteries for cars, mining is required to gather lithium or other minerals. However, they have the advantage of being able to be recharged at home. Also, public charging stations are becoming more and more prevalent, costing only around $3,000 to build. That’s quite a bit cheaper than the $150,000 it can take to build an ethanol tank and pump.
As another convenience, biofuel cars only take a few minutes to refill and get back on the road. Electric cars however, often need hours to charge, unless high-powered charging stations are utilized.
Many electric cars have a limited range and some models aren’t yet freeway legal. Biodiesel and biofuels are already popping up at the pumps, and although the price per gallon is a bit pricey now, it is expected to go down in a few years. Most electric cars are also coming in at a rather hefty price, with some, like the Tesla Roadster, being over $100,000.
Only time will tell which alternative fuel source will take over, but each type is continuing to make advances in technology.
New and creative ideas are coming out as innovations, as design and manufacturing is growing. One that stands out is a project at UMass Lowell. A group of electrical engineering and computer science students have designed, built, and tested a prototype quadricycle, or “taxi”, that can transport up to four people. This taxi is Electric/Solar power-based, which makes it the first of its kind as it emits no pollution, and runs solely on a solar energy powered battery. This taxi can maintain speeds up to 25 miles per hour, while not consuming a single drop of gasoline.
Energy efficiency is something that the electric cars have been pushing for a while now, yet they need an electrical source. The normal electric car typically uses electrical power from a commercial power grid, which in turn burns fossil fuels. So is it really all that efficient? The typical electric car attains 300 watt-hours per mile, versus a mere 45 watt-hours per mile on the taxi, which means that it uses less than 6x’s the amount of power to charge for the same distance. But if the taxi charges solely based with its 150-watt solar panel, it uses NO secondary electrical power source. Commercialization of the “taxi” may become more popular and gain some backing throughout UMass Lowery’s campus over the next few years.
It’s about progress, and building something new.
Tired of high energy bills in the summer? Trying installing a whole house fan to combat the cost of constantly running the air conditioner. A whole house fan pulls air in from open windows and exhausts it through the attic and roof.
The whole house fan should provide 30 to 60 air changes per hour, depending on climate, and floor plan. Calculating the size of fan a house will need starts with the volume of the house measured in cubic feet. To calculate this, multiply the square footage of the area to be cooled by the height from floor to ceiling. Take the volume and multiply by 30-60 air changes per hours, then divide by 60.
It’s best to leave the installation to a professional electrician because of the wiring and possible addition of vents in the attic. They can also help take the measurements to make sure everything is the proper size.
Often, the duct work of the central heating and cooling can be altered to work with the whole house fan. This will create ventilation throughout the entire house. This can replace the need to put additional vents in the attic.
Eco Electric can help measure the area and find the right option for the home. Give them a call for more information about whole house fans and reducing the energy bill.