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Left Mazda built this RX-8 that ran on hydrogen

Below Solar panels used as sunroo:s are already a production reality

when you take the energy of refilling of the tank into account.

Hydrogen can be burned in a combust on engine in much the same ways as traditional fuels, or alternatively can be turned into electricity through fuel cells to power electric motors. Mazda have even experimented with using hydrogen in a Wankel rotary engine. So you never know... the next generation RX model may be powered by the stuff. The cnly by-procuct from using hydrogen is water, making it an extremely green option. But the problem of storing enough hydrogen effeclively to give vehicles a decent range is still to be solved. There have already been hydrogen :uel cell powered sports cars designed, like the LifeCar based on the Morgan Aero-8. Impressively, that could manage a 7sec 0-60mph time and had a range of 250niles using a lightweight body (including a wood interior), regenerative brakes and no gearbox.

Using solar panels to convert the sun's energy into electricity is nothing new. It's a useful source of power, but as of yet they can't be used solely to power a car. They're more of a back-up to electric vehicles to help extend their range.

ALTERNATIVE FUELS

E85 Bio-etharol is a fuel made by fermenting sugar derived from vegetable matter. It can act as a direct replacement for petrol and is very popular in South America, but also available from some UK pumps. However, your car will need upgrading as bio-ethanol perishes rubber fuel lines and also corrodes aluminium to some extent. Because significantly more E85 is needed therefore better 'inancial implications for the driver. While that means you get to keep your internal combustion engine, the added weight of the storage tank and stories of reduced performance may put you off. However, it's worth noting tha*. Mountune developed an LPG powered engine lor the Team Aon Focus in the BTCC. and that managed a 4th place in the 2010 Championship. This was due to the cars

"E85 fuel can show significant power gains"

in comparisor to petrol, bigger injectors and fuel pumps are also required with E85 to get the same power level.

E85 is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline or other hydrocarbon, and is often cited as a replacement to race fuel This is because it has a higher octane rating than super unleaded, bu: is much cheaper than race fuel. Used in turbocharged engines, E85 can show significant power gains, not only as it is high octane but also as it's very cold, reducing inlet temps even further. It's gcod for power, it has less harmful errissions. it comes from a renewable source, bu: the currert main problem is finding enough fields to grow the crops in.

There are three possible gas alternatives: Liquid Pe:roleum Gas (LPG). Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) anrl Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) All are fossil fuels (although biogas from landfills can be mixed with LNG or CNG), so they are all likely to have limited lifespans. However, as a short-term solution. LHG in particular tor petrol vehicles can offer a dramatic decrease in emissions and being turbocharged and the fact that LPG has an incredibly high octane rating, giving t huge potential on tuned turbo engines.

■ PERFORMANCE DIESEL

This is a debatable one and therefore something we want to test as soon as we can. There are two schools of thought with regard to this. Many folk say that high performance diesel sinply has cleaning additives that keep injectors and pumps working more efficiently than regular derv. 3ut we also understand they have a higher 'cetane' level which could (potentially) improve performance, especially on tuned diesels. We'll be trying out some Shell V-Power diesel in a future issue, so for now it's j jst theory!

■ COMPRESSED AIR

Believe it or not. t is possible to run a car on air! By injecting air into a traditional piston type engine but expanding to drive the pistons rather than using an ignited air/fuel mixture. The worries come with storing enough compressed air for any sort ot worthwhile range of d stance. And also how big the carbon footprint actually is

Left Mazda built this RX-8 that ran on hydrogen

Below Solar panels used as sunroo:s are already a production reality

Below The AON Focus BTCC car ran on LPG and did very v.ell in 2010

Many high-end cars now run carbon ceramic brakes. They offer a husl uf benefits, such as reduced weight, better stopping capabilities, durability and nigh heat resistance. They're expensive,but tie fact they're lighter and should last longer pleases the tree-huggers. As prices drop, we could begin to start seeing then* on real wo'ld performance cars v/ithin a fewyears.

561 January 2011 RecHlne rfetasa: ÏÏmS)km & BïïitsMs© (fcfeipgtattorM)

Below Concept Irom Volvo is designed to run on compressed air

Future Tuning

The racing and aftermarket tuning world have been long time advocates of carbon ;ibre, with carbon body panels and engine components. But now it's increasingly common in production cars, and it's not going to be restricted to sports cars. It's often beer avoided as. despite its qualities of strength and lightness, it's expensive, can be difficult to shape and also difficult to repair.

Companies like EMW have proven they can make it work, as shown by the latest M3. and they're already looking at using it in the r next generation of low-emission urban runabouts. The good news for us is they'd need to cevelop a more cost-effective process to create carbon fibre parts efficiently, which could eventually mean more carbon fibre at lower prices in the afternarket. Gocd news for tuners.

Below Carbon body cars could beaproduction reality in the future

■ CARBON KEVLAR

Much like carbon fibre, but Kevlar is mixed with the carbon to help reduce the brittle nature. This is good for stress points, but is slightly heavier than carbon fibre. Unlike carbon. Kevlar is less common in the aftermarket tun ng scene, despite being very popular in motorsport.

■ REINFORCED PLASTICS

The horly panels of rars. like the elertrir powered Tesla Roadster, use CFRP. The carbon fibre injected polymers offer great strength and low weight compared to traditional materials, like glass fibre reintDrced plast c. I his is becoming more popular in low-volume car manufacturing, especially for body panels, and may well be more commonplace in the future.

Advances in the manufacturing process means it's now much easier to create high-integrity magnesium alloy castings, ideal for things like engine blocks aid wheels. X magnesium block would be only two thirds of the weight of a current aluminium block and less than a third of the weight of a cast iron one. With wheels, these processes could mean magnesium wheels that are built to the right safety standards, but at a more wallet-friendly cost. The current problem is over time magnesium deteriorates and gets hrittle. giving it a finite lifespan Rut again this is likely to improve as the demand increases.

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Guide to Alternative Fuels

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