Given that transportation consumes more than its fair share of energy resources, a lot of strategies are being implemented to lower its environmental impact and make it more affordable in the process. The approaches used include such things as alternative fuels, alternative motors, and altering the transportation infrastructure itself.
What’s in the Tank
In terms of vehicles themselves, changing the type of fuel used in them is the easiest way to make them environmentally friendly. This technique doesn’t rely on a major switch from internal combustion engines to electric, or some other type of motor.
Ethanol has already seen widespread use throughout the world. This fuel can be made from renewable crops and requires just a few modifications to existing engines.
According to a Festec engineering professional, for existing engines to handle ethyl alcohol with minimal damage, alternative gasket materials have to be used for piston rings, cylinder head seals, and other vulnerable spots. With biologically-generated methane, the alterations are more extensive and include pressurized tanks.
On the other hand, the gas can be used to manufacture more gasoline-like chemicals such as dimethyl ether. Methane also has a green advantage in not creating soil and water pollution.
Switching from combustion engines to electric ones is another way of achieving environmentally-friendly transportation. Currently, electric vehicles still have their limitations. The biggest problem is the storage capacity and recharging times of existing batteries.
While research continues on developing better batteries, countries like South Korea are conducting experiments with power cables embedded in roads that can recharge vehicles while they’re moving.
Along with vehicles themselves, alterations to the transportation grid can greatly reduce pollution and costs of transportation. One technology that’s being applied to existing thoroughfares is smart traffic signaling that detects the number and direction of cars well in advance and synchronizes traffic lights to move them through intersections quickly. Another measure being used is to simply charge motorists an additional fee for using streets when traffic is too heavy.
Additionally, many communities have provided bike lanes next to traffic lanes to encourage this pollution-free method of travel.
Most of these measures have already been utilized to an extent in many locations, and this provides an idea of how well they’re working. Even though air pollution continues to rise, it’s not nearly at the same pace as it has been in the past.
In developed countries, some types of pollutants have actually fallen. With continued implementation, these and other green measures should produce more startling results in the future.