Automotive Propulsion Fuels, Rotary Wankel and Gas Turbine Engines Power
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Automotive Propulsion Fuels, Rotary Wankel and Gas Turbine Engines Power

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The first recorded device, powered by other than man or animal, was a steam powered device, the Aeolipile, and was described by Hero of Alexandria (Heron) in 1st century Roman Egypt, in his manuscript Spiritalia seu Pneumatica.

Since the Industrial Revolution, mechanical propulsion has been possible, initially using steam engines. More recently, most vehicles use some form of internal-combustion engine, with electric motors supplementing them.

2007 Tesla electric powered Roadster
2007 Tesla electric powered Roadster.

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Vehicle propulsion refers to the act of moving an artificial carrier of people or goods over a distance. The power plant used to drive the vehicles can vary widely.
Originally, humans or animals would have provided the means of propulsion, later being supplemented by wind power (e.g. sailing ship etc.).

Most automobiles in use today are propelled by petrol (also known as gasoline) or diesel internal combustion engines, which are known to cause air pollution and are also blamed for contributing to climate change and global warming.

Toyota FCHV (Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle) 2005
The hydrogen powered FCHV (Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle) was developed by Toyota in 2005.

Increasing costs of oil-based fuels and tightening environmental law and restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions are propelling work on alternative power systems for automobiles. Efforts to improve or replace these car fuel technologies include hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles.

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Diesel Fuel...
Diesel engined cars have long been popular in Europe with the first models being introduced in the 1930s by Mercedes Benz and Citroen. The main benefit of Diesels are a 50% fuel burn efficiency compared with 27% in the best petrol engines. A down side of the diesel is the presence in the exhaust gases of fine soot particulates and manufacturers are now starting to fit filters to remove these. Many diesel powered cars can also run with little or no modifications on 100% biodiesel.

Biodiesel refers to a diesel-equivalent processed fuel consisting of short chain alkyl (methyl or ethyl) esters, made by transesterification of vegetable oils or animal fats, which can be used (alone, or blended with conventional diesel fuel) in unmodified diesel-engine vehicles.

Biodiesel is biodegradable and non-toxic, and typically produces about 60% less net-lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions, as it is itself produced from atmospheric carbon dioxide via photosynthesis in plants. However, the smog forming hydrocarbon emissions are 35% greater, and the Nitrogen Oxide emissions are also greater than those from petroleum-based diesel. Though this figure can actually differ widely between fuels depending upon production and processing methods employed in their creation. Pure biodiesel is available at many gas stations in Germany.

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Petrol / Gasoline

Petrol / Gasoline Fuel...
Petrol / Gasoline Fueled Engines have the advantage over Diesel Engines in being lighter and able to work at higher rotational speeds and they are the usual choice for fitting in high performance sports cars. Continuous development of gasoline engines for over a hundred years has produced improvements in efficiency and reduced pollution.

The carburetor was used on nearly all road car engines until the 1980s but it was long realized better control of the fuel/air mixture could be achieved with fuel injection. Indirect fuel injection was first used in aircraft engines from 1909, in racing car engines from the 1930s, and road cars from the late 1950s.[20] Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) is now starting to appear in production vehicles such as the 2007 BMW MINI. Exhaust gases are also cleaned up by fitting a catalytic converter into the exhaust system.

Clean air legislation in many of the car industries most important markets has made both catalysts and fuel injection virtually universal fittings. Most modern gasoline engines are also capable of running with up to 15% ethanol mixed into the gasoline - older vehicles may have seals and hoses that can be harmed by ethanol. With a small amount of redesign, petrol-powered vehicles can run on ethanol concentrations as high as 85%. 100% ethanol is used in some parts of the world (such as Brazil), but vehicles must be started on pure gasoline and switched over to ethanol once the engine is running.

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Liquefied Petroleum Gas

Liquefied Petroleum Gas Fuel...
Liquefied Petroleum Gas (also called LPG, LP Gas, or autogas) is a mixture of hydrocarbon gases used as a fuel in heating appliances and vehicles, and increasingly replacing chlorofluorocarbons as an aerosol propellant and a refrigerant to reduce damage to the ozone layer.

LPG - Liquefied Petroleum Gas, most petrol engined cars can also run on it with the addition of an LPG tank for fuel storage and carburetion modifications to add an LPG mixer. LPG produces fewer toxic emissions and is a popular fuel for fork lift trucks that have to operate inside buildings.

Flexible-fuel vehicles can use a mixture of input fuels (petroleum and biofuels) in one tank — typically gasoline and bioethanol or biobutanol, though diesel-biodiesel vehicles would also qualify. Liquefied petroleum gas and natural gas are very different from each other and cannot be used in the same tanks, so it would be impossible to build an (LPG-NG) flexible fuel system.

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Ethanol Alcohol

Ethanol Alcohol Fuel...
Ethanol Alcohol is ethanol (ethyl alcohol), the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. It can be used as a fuel, mainly as a biofuel alternative to gasoline, and is widely used in cars in Brazil. Because it is easy to manufacture and process, and can be made from very common materials, such as sugar cane, it is steadily becoming a promising alternative to gasoline throughout much of the world.

Ethanol Alcohol and other alcohol fuels have widespread use an automotive fuel. Most alcohols have less energy per liter than petrol and are usually blended with petrol. Alcohols are used for a variety of reasons - to increase octane, to improve emissions and as an alternative to petroleum based fuel, since they can be made from agricultural crops. Brazil's Ethanol program provides about 20% of the nations automotive fuel needs, including several million cars that operate on pure Ethanol.

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Electric Power

Electric Power Fuel..
The first Electric Power Fueled Cars were built around 1832 well before internal combustion powered cars appeared. For a period of time electrics were considered superior due to the silent nature of electric motors compared to the very loud noise of the petrol engine. This advantage was removed with Hiram Percy Maxim's invention of the muffler in 1897. Thereafter internal combustion powered cars had two critical advantages: 1) long range and 2) high specific energy (far lower weight of petrol fuel versus weight of batteries).

Henney Kilowatt, the first modern (transistor-controlled) electric car
The Henney Kilowatt, the first modern (transistor-controlled) electric car.

The building of battery electric power vehicles that could rival internal combustion models had to wait for the introduction of modern semiconductor controls and improved batteries. Because they can deliver a high torque at low revolutions electric cars do not require such a complex drive train and transmission as internal combustion powered cars.

Some post-2000 electric power car designs such as the Venturi Fétish are able to accelerate from 0-60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.0 seconds with a top speed around 130 mph (210 km/h). Others have a range of 250 miles (400 km) on the EPA highway cycle requiring 3-1/2 hours to completely charge. Equivalent fuel efficiency to internal combustion is not well defined but some press reports give it at around 135 mpg(1.74 l/100 km).

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Steam Power

Steam Power Fuel...
Steam Power, usually using an oil or gas heated boiler, was also in use until the 1930s but had the major disadvantage of being unable to power the car until boiler pressure was available.

It has the advantage of being able to produce very low emissions as the combustion process can be carefully controlled. Its disadvantages include poor heat efficiency and extensive requirements for electric auxiliaries.

London Steam Carriage 1797
London Steam Carriage von Richard Trevithick (1797).

In physical chemistry, and in engineering, steam refers to vaporized water. It is a pure, completely invisible gas (for mist see below). At standard atmospheric pressure, pure steam (unmixed with air, but in equilibrium with liquid water) occupies about 1,600 times the volume of liquid water. In the atmosphere, the partial pressure of water is much lower than 1 atm, therefore gaseous water can exist at temperatures much lower than 100 C.

In common speech, steam most often refers to the white mist that condenses above boiling water as the hot vapor ("steam" in the first sense) mixes with the cooler air. This mist is made of tiny droplets of liquid water, not gaseous water, so it is no longer technically steam. In the spout of a steaming kettle, the spot where there is no condensed water vapor, where there appears to be nothing there, is steam.

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Gas Turbine

Gas Turbines Power...
Gas Turbines, in the 1950s there was a brief interest in using gas turbine (jet) engines and several makers including Rover and Chrysler produced prototypes. In spite of the power units being very compact, high fuel consumption, severe delay in throttle response, and lack of engine braking meant no cars reached production.

A turbine is a rotary engine that extracts energy from a fluid flow. Claude Burdin (1788-1873) coined the term from the Latin turbo, or vortex, during an 1828 engineering competition. Benoit Fourneyron (1802-1867), a student of Claude Burdin, built the first practical water turbine.

The simplest turbines have one moving part, a rotor assembly, which is a shaft with blades attached. Moving fluid acts on the blades, or the blades react to the flow, so that they rotate and impart energy to the rotor. Early turbine examples are windmills and water wheels.

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Rotary (Wankel) Engines

Rotary Wankel Engines Power...
Rotary Wankel Engines were introduced into road cars by NSU with the Ro 80 and later were seen in several Mazda models. In spite of their impressive smoothness, poor reliability and fuel economy led to them largely disappearing. Mazda, beginning with the RX-2, has continued research on these engines, overcoming most of the earlier problems with the RX-7 and RX-8.

The rotary engine was an early type of internal combustion aircraft engine, used mostly in the years shortly before and during World War I. It is also used in a few motorcycles and cars.

In concept, a rotary engine is simple. It is a standard Otto cycle engine, but instead of having an orthodox fixed cylinder block with rotating crankshaft as with the Radial engine, the crankshaft remains stationary and the entire cylinder block rotates around it. In the most common form, the crankshaft was fixed solidly to an aircraft frame, and the propeller simply bolted onto the front of the cylinder block.

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Business Tips

Some tips on how to avoid business failure:

  • Don't underestimate the capital you need to start up the business.

  • Understand and keep control of your finances - income earned is not the same as cash in hand.

  • More volume does not automatically mean more profit - you need to get your pricing right.

  • Make sure you have good software for your business, software that provides you with a good reporting picture of all aspects of your business operations.

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