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Winter Weather Performance Of 5 Alternative Fuels

December 24th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

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5. Biodiesel

Of all the alternative fuels, biodiesel is the most susceptible to the cold. In fact, even petroleum diesel is susceptible to the cold — anti-gel additives are common in the winter, as well as blending with kerosene or even gasoline when it gets really cold.

4. Ethanol

In its pure form, ethanol has some serious cold weather problems. When pure ethanol is cold, it releases fewer fumes, making it harder to start. To compensate for this, gas stations add more gas into the mixture . For lower blends of ethanol, cold weather is not an issue, due to the predominance of gasoline in the blend.

3. Battery/Electric Car

As some of you have surely experienced this winter, batteries have a hard time in the cold, especially those of the Lead-Acid persuasion. They put out less energy and sometimes an old battery will simply give up the ghost on a frozen morning. A little bit of precaution can make this a non-issue; you can insulate your battery, add a block heating system or have an oversize starting battery.

2. Hydrogen

Since a singular design for hydrogen-powered vehicles has not won out yet, and cold weather performance varies by design, this is a subjective call. Vehicles using liquid hydrogen have to keep the fuel refrigerated anyway hence no problem there. Ideal hydrogen fuel cells produce only water vapor as a byproduct. As long as there is a mechanism for clearing water from the fuel cell, there would be no problem; otherwise fuel cells would run the risk of freezing solid overnight in the cold.

1. Compressed Natural Gas

With no major drawbacks, CNG is clearly the best performing cold weather alt-fuel. CNG is kept in a gaseous state and under significant pressure; even in the cold it has no problems igniting. Simple as that.

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