7 Alternative Fuels and Fuel-Powered Vehicles

With $4.00/gallon gas prices a not-so-distant memory, alternative fuels are all the rage. But what about the vehicles that run on them? Between hydrogen fuel cells, bio diesel, electricity and compressed air, the industrialized world is hard at work creating the next generation of non-oil consuming vehicles. These new, eco-friendly chariots deserve at least as much attention and fanfare as the fuels that power them, especially these 7 models.

Compressed air

(Image via DanceWithShadows)

Perhaps the most tantalizing of all the alternative fuels is compressed air. That’s all it takes to run this car, which was designed by French engineers and will be available to American drivers by 2010. Hard as it may be to believe, this little car that could requires nothing more than compressed air to cruise around town at speeds of up to 35MPH. (If your conscience can withstand using a few drops of oil, the engine can heat and compress enough air to let the car get up to 90MPH.) Best of all, this car will be affordable to virtually everyone at a sub-$20,000 price tag.

Vegetable oil

(Image via Biodiesel.org)

Environmentalists everywhere have been salivating at the idea of running a car on vegetable oil ever since the idea was first proposed, and we have now taken the leap from concept to reality! Volkswagen aficionados can now drive with a clean conscience in this entirely bio diesel-powered Beetle, and they don’t have to wait for it, either. The Beetle shown here belongs to a fleet at Bio-Beetle, the nation’s first-ever 100% bio diesel car rental agency headquartered in Maui.

Hydrogen fuel cells

(Image via ImagesMe)

The prospect of hydrogen-powered cars has been enticing eco-friendly motorists for years. And while car makers are currently grappling with a whole host of technical challenges (such how to efficiently store hydrogen in a vehicle or how to prevent it from freezing and/or catching fire), that hasn’t stopped the creation of deliciously fuel-efficient, hydrogen-powered proof of concept cars. A case in point is this model from luxury vehicle giant Mercedes. (Just don’t expect this bad boy to be as affordable as the air-powered vehicles!)

Ethanol

(Image via InternetAutoGuide)

Most of us are already using ethanol in our vehicles, as federal law requires a certain percentage of it to be in the gasoline we buy. But by 2010, Suzuki Motor Company begin selling cars that are completely, 100% powered by it. The first such car (pictured above) will be the E25 sedan, which goes on sale in Brazil this March. US models are soon to follow!

Water (yes, water!)

(Image via ZandJets2020)

This Japanese car (called the Genepax) can travel roughly 80 kilometers per hour, for an hour, on just one liter of water as its fuel source. The ar uses hydrogen electrons from water to produce electricity which, in turn, powers the electric motor of the car. To all the critics who so dismissively assumed no car could ever run on water, the Genepax is a most welcome retort!

Electrical power

(Image via UberGizmo)

It might look like this car could only exist in a movie, but the Moovie is real and drivable by flesh-and-blood human beings. The space age looking, 2-seater concept car from French automaker Peugeot boasts 2 huge front wheels that can rotate at different speeds and swivel a full 360 degrees. No word on when or if this car will be available for sale, but its mere existence is encouragement enough!

Wood pellets (aka Biomass)

(Image via BioMassAuthority)

If you aren’t already astonished that there are cars that run on air and water, this one is sure to pique your interest. The car pictured here literally runs on wood pellets. That’s right – essentially the same thing one might burn in a wood stove or campfire for heat is what powers this rugged, outdoors-y vehicle. It’s all part of what is known as biomass, a catch-all term referring to living and recently dead biological material that can be used as fuel.

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