Alternative propulsion

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Alternative propulsion is a term used frequently for powertrain concepts differing from the standard internal combustion engine concept used in petroleum fueled vehicles.


File:Microvett rom.jpg
Battery electric-Transporter Micro-Vett

The term alternative propulsion or "alternate methods of propulsion" includes both

Today's cars can be classified in three main groups:

Motivation and petro-free

The motivation for the research in alternative propulsion in transport is primarily to achieve more sustainable methods of transportation than those relying on fossil fuels.

Petrofree is a term to indicate that petro(leum) is not used or sold (i.e. petrofree fuel station, petrofree vehicle). It's a synonym of post carbon or zero-carbon.

Application fields

Most work in alternative propulsion concepts is focused on replacing traditional internal combustion engines in automobiles. Several contenders, such as Michelin's Challenge Bibendum and the North American Solar Challenge, are designed to provide motivations for effective concepts utilizing alternative propulsion. Hybrid vehicles, which combine an internal combustion engine with an alternative system, are perhaps the most visible example of alternative propulsion systems in use today.

Alternative propulsion is not limited to automobiles, however; it can also apply to types of spacecraft propulsion beyond solid- or liquid-fueled rockets. Propulsion methods such as the ion thruster and solar sail are examples of alternative propulsion options for spacecraft.

Criteria for successful application of alternative propulsion

In order to supplant traditional propulsion systems, alternative propulsion systems must be able to equal or exceed the performance and convenience of traditional systems in several areas:

  • operating radius (range)
  • acceleration and top speed
  • stability of the stored energy (degradation over time, losses or leakages).
  • refueling or recharge procedure.
  • environmental effects (minimizing odor, noise, vibrations, radiation, emission of noxious substances, etc.).

See also

External links

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de:Alternative Antriebstechnik it:Propulsione alternativa