Alternative Fuels for Hybrid Vehicles

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An overview of alternative fuels and engine technologies that could help hybrid vehicles gain competitive advantage over conventional ICEs and electic vehicles.

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    Executive Summary

    Transportation is one of the industries that have the greatest impact on our economy. Transportation industry will keep growing to meet the demands of our globally interconnected world. Most automobiles and trucks in the market rely on internal combustion engines (ICE), which are reliable, cost-effective and practical. However, their impact on our economy and environment will soon make these benefits obsolete. The present ICE technology not only emits pollutants into our natural habitat, but also depletes natural resources that irrecoverable. ICE vehicles consume 80% of the oil produced in the world, creating a massive demand for fossil fuel production. In order to transform the existing vehicles into more considerate options, existing technologies like hybrids must be powered with alternative fuels. It is clear that the automotive vehicle industry is in a dynamic era, and the need for ground-breaking inventions is greater than ever before. As an alternative to internal combustion engine powered vehicles, hybrid vehicles promise a smooth transition towards more advanced technologies. They fill the gap between high-efficiency short-range electrical vehicles and low-efficiency long-range motor vehicles. Today, there are 1.2 million vehicles in the market that have adopted the hybrid technology. In order to ensure the continuity of this growth, alternative fuels and engine technologies must be considered for the existing drivetrain. Almost all hybrid cars in the market are powered with conventional gasoline or diesel fuel. They also use the low-efficiency engines which are pending for an upgrade. On the other hand, scientists work seamlessly and invest their time in long-lasting solutions. In effort to help our client invest in the right technology, our team have assessed the potential development of three alternative fuels and three alternative engines that can promote economical, societal and environmental benefits: Natural gas, biofuel and hydrogen for alternative fuels; and Stirling, Winkel and fuel cells for engine technologies. Our client is a North American company that will be investing in developing the suggested technology to meet the target demand in 2020. After a preliminary analysis, it was found that Stirling hybrid vehicles running on natural gas as an area that required in depth analysis. Also, hydrogen fuel cells were elected as a final candidate due to their clean and efficient nature. The compatibility of these engines and their price/reward relationship will be assessed throughout this report. The final recommendation outlines two research roadmaps for the company to follow, in order to be on top of both technologies. Our end goal is not only to provide the answer for the future, but also guide our client towards it.

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    Table of Contents Executive Summary ...................................................................................................................................................................................... ii 1.0 Introduction ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 1 2.0 Comparison between Engines and ICEs .......................................................................................................................................... 1

    2.1 Stirling Engine................................................................................................................................................................................... 1 2.2 Wankel Engine .................................................................................................................................................................................. 2 2.3 Fuel Cells .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 2

    3.0 Preliminary Analysis............................................................................................................................................................................... 3 3.1 Fuel Combinations with Stirling and Fuel Cells ................................................................................................................................ 3

    3.1.1 Fuels for Stirling engine ............................................................................................................................................................ 3 3.1.2 Fuels for Fuel Cells ................................................................................................................................................................... 4

    4.0 Interim Recommendation ...................................................................................................................................................................... 4 5.0 Stirling Hybrid Electric Vehicles (SHEV) with Natural Gas ................................................................................................................... 4

    5.1 Fuel Efficiency .................................................................................................................................................................................. 5 5.2 Vehicle Performance ........................................................................................................................................................................ 5 5.3 Market Potential ................................................................................................................................................................................ 6 5.3.1 International Market ....................................................................................................................................................................... 6 5.3.2 Domestic Market ........................................................................................................................................................................... 7 5.4 Costs ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 8 5.5 Environmental Benefits ..................................................................................................................................................................... 8 5.6 Social / Political Factors ................................................................................................................................................................... 9

    6.0 Hydrogen Fuel Cells (FCEV) ................................................................................................................................................................. 9 6.1 Fuel Efficiency .................................................................................................................................................................................. 9 6.2 Vehicle performance ...................................................................................................................................................................... 10 6.3 Market Potential .............................................................................................................................................................................. 10

    6.3.1 International Market ................................................................................................................................................................ 10 6.3.2 Domestic Market .................................................................................................................................................................... 10

    6.4 Costs ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 10 6.5 Environmental Benefits ................................................................................................................................................................... 11 6.6 Social / Political Factors ................................................................................................................................................................. 11

    7.0 Final Analysis ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 12 7.1 Market Comparison ........................................................................................................................................................................ 12 7.2 Environmental Comparison ............................................................................................................................................................ 13 7.3 Technical Comparison ................................................................................................................................................................... 13

    8.0 Recommendations ............................................................................................................................................................................... 14 9.0 Road Maps .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 15

    9.1 SHEV Road Map ...............................................................................................