Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Following is a college paper emailed to me and reprinted by permission. It cites this blog as an informational source. Scary.

Task Name:

SCI205-0902A-06 Environmental Science

Task Name: Phase 4 Individual Project
Deliverable Length: 2 pages


You have been assigned to a scientific commission whose mandate is to research ways of reducing air pollution from motor vehicles.

Your specific assignment is to research the types of alternative-fuel vehicles that are currently under development, examine the advantages and disadvantages of each, and decide which would have the least environmental impact.

* Electric
* Natural gas
* Hydrogen
* Fuel Cell

Use the Library and Internet to research each type of vehicle. Discuss the environmental and economic advantages and disadvantages of each type and select the one that, in your opinion, provides the best environmental impact at a reasonable cost. Provide evidence to support your selection.

Please submit your assignment.

Objective: Explain the importance of atmospheric pollution.

Submitted paper (probably an A):

Environmental Science

Phase 4 Individual Project


Results for the scientific commission from the research done on ways to reduce air pollution from motor vehicles: Research topics: Electric, Natural Gas and Hydrogen
Fuel Cell:

The first production motor vehicle designed to reduce air pollution was first sold in 1999 and was called the Honda Insight. The car achieved 61 mpg in the city and 70 mpg on the highway (About.com 2009). Called a “hybrid car”, it combines the best of an electric car with the best of a conventional gasoline burning car. A hybrid car reduces air pollution by using the power of the electric motor for initial starting and acceleration and switches over to the gasoline motor only when the car accelerates to a certain speed.

A hybrid car has been the first step toward the development of a totally electric car. An advantage of an electric car over a hybrid car is that the electric car produces zero emissions and is therefore cleaner that a gasoline hybrid car. Current electric car technology uses electrical power secured from the electrical grid to onboard batteries or from the sun. There are much fewer moving parts on an electric car which means fewer parts to wear out or break. Advantages of electric cars are primarily higher efficiency and lower emissions (Hybrid Cars 2009).

Some disadvantages of electric cars are limited driving range due to battery power limitations, long battery recharge times and high costs that come with the continual charging of the battery(s) that power the electric motor. Solar – electric cars have longer ranges due to batteries that are charged by the sun, but they are still dependant on batteries which have weight and size limitations. Disadvantages of electric cars have much to due with their range. Hybrid Cars (2009) states that today’s electric cars are limited to about 100 miles between charges. Once battery life is extended and recharge times improve, the electric car will be the technology used in cars of the future.

Compressed Natural gas is touted as the “cleanest burning alternative fuels available” (Gas 2.0 2009). This is because of the simplicity of the methane molecules in relation to fossil fuel molecules. The burn is smoother and reduces tailpipe emissions by 35 – 95%. Advantages to using CNG – ready vehicles are a significant reduction in greenhouse emissions as compared to gasoline vehicles and the fact that deposits of natural gas worldwide are almost infinite. Natural gas is also a renewable fuel with technology already developed to collect it from landfills. Gas 2.0 (2009) shares that landfill collected “bio-methane” could supply enough fuel for 11 million natural gas vehicles, or 5% of the U. S. fleet.

Disadvantages to using compressed natural gas consists mainly supply and distribution of both the vehicles and the fueling stations. The only CNG vehicle for sale to the public is the Honda Civic GX, and is only available for sale in New York and California. Gas 2.0 (2009), states that “Honda cannot build them fast enough”. Additionally, other than California, New York and Utah, it would be hard to find a refueling station for your CNG vehicle.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles or FCV’s are different from electric vehicles in that FCV’s create their own electricity onboard while EV’s store power in battery packs. This is a big advantage in weight reduction for the FCV. A fuel cell creates electricity by a chemical reaction between compressed hydrogen atoms and air from the outside. Power moves the car and the only byproduct is pure water which drips out the tailpipe (fueleconomy.gov 2009).

Disadvantages are similar to the compressed natural gas vehicles in that there is a shortage of FCV vehicles for sale and a shortage of re-filling stations. A main disadvantage also is the cost of producing the compressed pure hydrogen needed to power the vehicle. Producing pure hydrogen in a form needed to be used by an FCV, uses much electricity taken from the grid which was in part generated by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal. Once hydrogen can be manufactured without the damage to the environment, an FCV might be the vehicle of tomorrow.

My findings conclude that in the near future, electric cars will provide the biggest environmental gain at the most reasonable cost. Chevrolet (2009) announces the 2010 release of the Chevy VoltI. Unlike all other currently produced electric cars, the Volt has a “revolutionary propulsion system”. It has a 40 mile range on its electric battery and a gasoline engine to continue past that point. The average American does not drive over 40 miles in a day. With the Volt designed to “drive 75 % of America’s daily commuters without a drop of gas” (Auto Industry News 2009), General Motors should secure dominance of the next decade’s economy car market provided it fixes its financial problems. As the advertising slogan proclaims: Chevy Volt: Fully Charged 2010.


About.com (2009). The History of Hybrid Vehicles. Retrieved on May 5, 2009 from:

Auto Industry News (2009). Chevy volt. Retrieved on May 5, 2009 from:

Chevrolet (2009). Electric Cars. Retrieved on May 5, 2009 from:

CTU Online. (Ed). (c. 2009). Phase 4 Multimedia Course Materials. Colorado Springs,
CO: CTU Online. Retrieved on May 5, 2009 from CTU Online Virtual
Campus, SCI205-0902A-06, Environmental Science.

Fueleconomy.gov (2009). Fuel Cell Vehicles. Retrieved on May 5, 2009 from:

Gas 2.0 (2009). Natural Gas Cars CNG. Retrieved on May 5, 2009 from:

Hybrid Cars (2009). Hybrid Automobile FAQ. Retrieved on May 5, 2009 from:


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Mike Smitka said...

Teaching an auto industry seminar right now ("Econ 244") during our 6-week spring term. Very springy this year, several students have yet to turn in any work, the juices are clearly flowing.

Ah, sources ... well, today I talk about alternative fuel vehicles and such, using Maxton & Wormald "Time for a Model Change?" as one text. In past years I've had top people from PNGV / DOE plus piggybacked on environmental seminars in the area. Student grasp of technologies is weak....and the paper you post looks like it was done in approx 15 minutes. Not the sort of thing that gets a good grade. Not that I always got A's as a student...

Unknown said...

Auto industry is on the move, auto industry seen huge growth in last several years and information you shared is good.
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