Alternative Fuel Vehicles

Pollution due to unclean car fuels, and non environmentally friendly energy sources is becoming a bigger issue and hazard to us and our environment. However, all this can be avoided by using clean energy and renewable fuel sources. Getting the fuel to power our cars and homes through easy, and non polluting ways will help save and preserve the environment.

From Early Beginnings

The idea of alternative has been around since the 1800’s when inventors such as Sir William Grove and Rudolph Diesel found new ways to create energy, and to power cars. Sir William Grove had the earliest invention when he found a way to create electricity in 1839 by reversing the process of electrolysis which produced water and electricity. He called this a gas voltaic battery which later became the modern day fuel cell.

The fuel cell, as previously stated, works by reversing the process of electrolysis. Electrolysis is the process of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen by sending electricity through it. The car is then powered by the electricity. However, the term fuel cell was not used by William, but by Ludwig Mond and Charles Langer, who were scientists that later improved on Sir Grove’s original design. The first fuel cell car hit the streets of the United States in 1998 at Palm Desert, California. The car was made from three hydrogen powered golf carts, and even then was viewed as a major step towards pollution-free automobiles.

Rudolph Diesel took another step towards non-pollution when he thought of an engine that could run on plant products. He published a paper called the Theory and Construction of a Rational Heat Engine detailing an engine that could “where air would be compressed by a piston to increase pressure and therefore raise temperatures.” (Planet Fuels, 2001) This allowed the engine to use other fuels such as peanut oil and oil from vegetables. This opened a new window for inventors that found they could use sources other than oil to still power an engine.

Today, many excess crops are taken and produce biodiesels such as Ethanol and Methanol, E85 and other such fuels which are quickly catching on in today’s market.

The final major fuel that will be talked about is electricity to power cars. In Scotland in 1832 to 1839 Robert Anderson designed the first electric car. At around the same time Professor Stratingh created another version of an electric car which was built by his assistant Christopher Becker. Then in 1842 Thomas Davenport and separately Robert Davidson created better models of the car. The electric vehicle was supported by England and France, but it was not until around 1895 that the United States start to pay attention to electric cars. However in 1897 New York City set into use an entire fleet of electric taxi cabs made by the Electric Carriage and Wagon Company of Philadelphia. Electric cars have steadily gone up until the Prius, combining electricity and gas, became the first massively used electric car.

These fuels are all being used, and improved upon, and are stepping towards creating cars that do not pollute. As these fuels are improved, and new fuels are found each day, we take more steps towards conserving our planet and being eco-friendly. These fuels will replace oil in the near future and cars will truly no longer need to use a polluting or depleting fuel source again.

I polled roughly 50 people at random of various ages and locations to find out whether or not they drove alternative fuel vehicles and which they did drive if they did. These 3 graphs are the results.


From the age chart it shows that 18-28 year olds and 45-55 year olds use alternative fuels and alternative transportation the most.

Also it shows that hybrids and human power/biking is the most used alternative fuel

The conclusions I got from these graphs were relatively straight forward. As expected I found that not that many people use alternative fuels yet. However it is a growing trend and more and more people are starting to use alternative fuels.These are the conclusions that can be drawn from these graphs and data.


Red Prius:
Ethanol Corn Fuel Pump:


“First U.S. fuel-cell car hits the road” April 29, 1998

Nice, Karim, and Jonathan Strickland. "How Fuel Cells Work." 18 September 2000.

Valdes-Dapena, Peter “Hybrid Cars are so last century” April 24, 2006

“The History of Electric Vehicles”

Carson, Zach “ Alternative Fuels as a solution: History of Alternative Fuel Development” November 14, 2005