From the Forums: Could a Biodiesel Hybrid Be the Missing Link


While I've stated my dislike and skepticism of biodiesel in the forums before, I am one to keep an open mind and I do wonder if biodiesel and hybrid technologies could be the bridge we need to go from our reliance on gasoline to other cleaner renewable alternatives in the future. We're no doubt 5-10 years from seeing a major push and advancement in electric cars to the point where the average American would consider purchasing one.When I see things like this:

Mississippi State University, for the second consecutive year, has earned top honors in General Motors (GM) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE)
Challenge X student engineering competition. Over the past nine months, the 2008 Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainability competition challenged 17 university teams from the U.S. and Canada to reengineer a Chevrolet Equinox that employs advanced powertrain technologies. The goal is to produce a vehicle that has improved fuel economy and lower emissions, all while maintaining driver comfort and vehicle performance. University teams have followed a real world vehicle development process and integrated their advanced technology solutions into their Equinox vehicles. GM and DOE, lead sponsors for the competition, congratulated students from the 17 participating universities at a finish line ceremony this morning.

The Mississippi State team designed a through-the-road parallel hybrid electric vehicle powered by a 1.9L GM direct injection turbo diesel engine fueled by bio diesel (B20). It achieved a 38 percent increase in fuel economy over the production vehicle on a modified urban test cycle.

Diesel cars, trucks and SUVs provide 20 to 40 percent better mileage and emit 10 to 20 percent fewer greenhouse gases than comparable gasoline vehicles. In addition to superior fuel economy and reduced emissions, American drivers who purchase cleaner-burning diesel cars, trucks and SUVs are eligible for similar tax incentives as purchasers of gasoline-hybrid electric vehicles.

I do wonder if it could help us bridge that technology gap and our reliance on foreign oil for at least the near future, until we have a better alternative with the proper infrastructure in place.

That being said, I am still skeptical about biodiesel in general, and if there was an electric car that could replace my current VW for under $30k...I'd buy it in a second. I think the days of the combustion engine for city and short distance driving are nearing their end.

What do you think?

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