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Countermeasures to Automobile-Exhaust Pollution Essay

The world motor vehicle population exceeds 1 billion units at the moment. These vehicles are used for transportation of people and products across various places around the world. As a result, they emit many pollutants. This is attributable to the action of their engines burning fuel to release energy, which is an inefficient process. Firstly, they release particulate matter consisting of both organic and inorganic substances into the atmosphere, through exhaust emissions. Secondly, they release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which have carcinogenic effects. Pollution from vehicles is a universally acknowledged problem.

However, it varies depending on the nation and its population. For example, pollution from cars contributes to between 50 to 90 percent of the total in urban areas. This may not be the same for rural areas. However, motor vehicles still present a disadvantage to the environment and human life. It is, therefore, prudent to develop countermeasures to automobile-exhaust pollution. Most of the world’s vehicles are operated on conventional hydrocarbons such as diesel and gasoline. By switching to fuel that maintains less pollution, the environmental impact of vehicles can be minimized.

An alternative fuel technology that has the potential to meet this challenge is fuel cells. In this technology, hydrogen has maintained the best promise as a candidate to replace petroleum-based fuels. This technology utilizes hydrogen gas to create electricity. This electrical energy is converted to mechanical energy through an electric motor, which makes the wheels of an automobile to rotate. In this process, the emissions developed are pure water, Carbon (IV) Oxide and various oxides of nitrogen. This emissions are attributable to difficulties in storage and commercial production.

Despite the release of oxides of carbon and nitrogen into the air, hydrogen fuel cells have a smaller footprint on the environment, when compared to conventional gasoline engines. However, such inefficiencies can be eliminated through use of concrete, as researched by a study at the University of Eindhoven (Yirka npp). The easiest method for manufacturing hydrogen gas at the moment requires mining fossil fuels, which has an environmental impact in its own right. However, new production techniques such as bacteria and biomass waste are expected to become conventional in the coming years.

This will reduce the environmental impact of fuel cells, since the technology will lower oxides released into the air (Katsuhiko 3371). A hydrogen fuel cell works by the introduction of hydrogen at the cathode and oxygen at the anode. In the process, water is released out. Anions and cations from the cell are harnessed at the respective terminals, and energy is released. Hydrogen has a high energy content of around 150MJ/Kg or 61,100 BTUs per pound. This exceeds gasoline and its 20,900 BTUs of energy per pound. High energy content implies that less fuel is required to maintain the same amount of power in engines, or to travel the same distances.

Similarly, it has a higher efficiency when used in combustion engines. Advanced hybrid engines such as that of the Prius maintain an efficiency of about 40% (Potera 38). However, hydrogen has an efficiency of about 75% when used as the lone source of fuel. This efficiency means that greater distances can be covered with less consumption of energy. However, introduction of additional hydrogen fuel cell cars has been hampered by infrastructural issues. There are limited facilities that allow fuelling to conventional commuters within their localities (Katsuhiko 3369).

There are many electric cars (EVs) on modern roads. Examples may be seen from Tesla’s roadster and the Nissan Leaf car. These vehicles release virtually no emissions to the environment, therefore are a solution to automobile-exhaust problems. This is attributable to their engines, which do not burn fossil fuels in order to release energy. Electric cars use sets of linked batteries as their primary source of energy. These energy sources comprise materials such as lithium, lead and nickel-metal hydrides. These batteries typically consist of thousands of cells such as the lithium-ion type.

They store energy that has been harnessed from electrical outlets at home, or the recharging stations that are found in some major cities. In the example of the Model S, the vehicle is charged through a ‘high power wall charger’. This device is replenishes the batteries around twice as fast as conventional power outlet would manage. Electric batteries are used to operate everything in the vehicle. They are used to run a controller which serves to run an electric motor. This motor is what rotates the wheels in EVs. Through recent breakthroughs in manufacturing, EV batteries can be mass-produced.

There are now lower costs of ownership and maintenance to the consumer, when compared to the past. Batteries have a very high energy density, when compared to fuel cells. As a result, they offer higher mileage than traditional fuels. The Tesla Model S provides a good example of mileage. It can manage about 300 miles of travel at a speed of 55 miles per hour, out of its lithium ion batteries. Even conventional lead-acid batteries allow a range of 80 miles. EVs are characterized by high torque and low speeds. They are, therefore, very useful for usage within cities, where many vehicles are located in smaller vicinities than rural areas.

They will help in reducing urban pollution since they do not release exhaust into the environment. The production of EVs often has higher environmental pollution than conventional cars (Lave and Hendrickson et al. 993–995). Improvements in production are needed for the solution of such issues. However, the usage of such vehicles is limited by infrastructural issues, just as the hydrogen fuel cells. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has highlighted that only 4,000 EVs are currently running on American roads. This contrasts to gasoline-based vehicles which are in the millions.

New breakthroughs in charging and fuel range are required for such EVs to gain critical mass of commuters. The larger the distance a vehicle is driven, the more pollutants it releases to the environment. According to the EPA, over one third of smog emissions are attributable to vehicle use in urban areas. However, more people have taken to the roads since the 1970s. Similarly, they have driven for longer miles hence attenuated the pollution problem. This has only served to attenuate the problem at hand. People usually drive for many reasons. Firstly, it may be as a means for arriving at work.

Secondly, they do it to access leisure areas such as parks. Thirdly, they drive to shopping centers to do their groceries. There are ways that people can drive fewer miles while accomplishing all these needs. Firstly, they can involve themselves in carpools. This refers to the sharing of cars on journeys, between different people, such that several people drive in one car simultaneously. This is useful in that lower miles are collectively driven, hence reduced environmental pollution from exhausts. Through carpooling, people can get to work or leisurely places without inconveniences such as fuel costs, long drives and pollution.

Carpooling is possible through websites, apps and pickup points. Use of public transport vehicles also achieves the same effect. People should use buses and other public transport means, whenever possible. Secondly, people can reduce the environmental footprint of their cars by combining errands into a single trip. This is especially useful in the case of families that own multiple cars. Instead of sending different people to pick up items needed by the family, one vehicle may be used to collect all these items. Shopping often requires the use of vehicles, since the luggage may be overbearing.

In that respect, pollution can be reduced through use of the efficient e-commerce platforms such as Amazon. Individuals are able to meet their shopping needs while reducing their environmental footprint. The use of trucks for shipping goods is also useful since it allows collectively leaner environmental emissions when compared to many cars operated by shoppers. The internet has allowed various individuals to work at home. Similarly, it has enabled people to telecommute. It would, therefore, be environmentally beneficial if people used these tools instead of driving to work on each applicable day.

These measures also reduce congestion in traffic. There will be fewer vehicles on the road, thus fewer delays that accumulate into environmental pollution through release of exhausts. In the modern world, settlement has been defined by work and educational opportunities. For example, people try to live as close to work as is comfortably possible. This has been attributable to efforts in reducing travel times, as well as associated fuel costs. According to the United States Census Bureau (npp), over 10 million Americans travel an hour each way to work. This has provided a challenge to the country’s urban planners and engineers.

There has been a trend in altering commuting patterns through development of areas that provide ‘walkable communities’. This concept implies areas that require less motorized movements in order to get around (Fullerton & Gan 303). Through walkable communities, commuters would be able to reduce their environmental footprints as they get around. Residential, leisure, business and industries are developed in a common area such that people get to each point devoid of cars. Alongside reduction of pollution, the quality of life is also improved for people residing in such locations, since they are able to exercise.

Through use of alternative fuels, environmental emissions can be reduced. However, arguably the best approach to reducing such wastes would be an alteration of driving habits. In that respect, an effective method for reducing both fuel consumption and environmental emission would be a reduction in vehicle idle time. When people sit in their cars while their engine runs, they release exhaust just as they were driving. This happens during conditions such as traffic among others. In that respect, it would be prudent if people learn to switch of their engines in such circumstances.

Manufacturers should also implement the start-stop systems across a wider range of cars. This will allow engines to switch off, when the cars are stationary. By stepping on the gas pedal, vehicles are able to start their engines immediately. This reduces the annoyances associated by drivers to starting their engines again. Cars of the past featured inefficient engines. They released more particulate wastes into the environment, while consuming more fuel than contemporary variants. However, some of these cars are still in service today.

Despite good maintenance, older vehicles become less efficient than their original state. . Drivers should be encouraged to drive newer vehicles. For example, modern cars such as the Prius offer nearly triple the efficiency of older cars, in terms of fuel consumption and environmental consumption. Newer cars also adhere to modern emission controls that are set by the EPA and other responsible bodies (Dennis-Parks 799). In the United States, public transportation policy has been left to local authorities in cities and towns. As a result, the country lacks a homogenized transportation system.

Schedules for buses and trains have difficulties in being followed. These systems are also characterized by slow speeds of movement. This has created frustration among users, who view cars as efficient modes of transportation. Similarly, American culture has often painted a tainted picture on public transport systems. The car has been portrayed as a symbol of achievement. The converse has been applied for transport systems such as buses. The American Public Transport Association states that usage of public transportation results into savings of over 35 million metric tons of Carbon (IV) Oxide on an annual basis.

By switching to public transport for the average American round trip of 20, miles daily, an individual is able to reduce their annual emissions by over 4,000 pounds (Fullerton & Gan 303, 304). Going to work is one of the key reasons behind owning a car in the United States. In that respect, companies can make a significant contribution to the efforts against environmental pollution. Firstly, they can provide shuttle bus services to their employees. In that respect, they can purchase or hire buses that will pick up and drop off employees at designated points, on each work day.

This will assist in reducing vehicle emissions due to ride sharing. This can be seen through Google, which operates shuttle services for its employees. Secondly, companies can post ride-share boards in their premises. This will allow employee who live close to each other to commute on a single vehicle, thus saving fuel and the environment. Some companies have also assisted employees through creation of car cooperatives. These are services that allow employees to rent cars from a set location. In return, the employees pay small fees for their use of the cars.

Such systems are very useful for people working in inner city districts, who need cars only on a rare occasion. This encourages them to use public and shared transport, as opposed to personal vehicles. It is estimated that the global urban population will almost double by the mid-21st century. As a result, alternate means of transportation need to be crafted for the urban populations. The use of motorized vehicles will only result into further environmental pollution in such areas. Urban dwellers will consequently be exposed to poor health and effects such as smog.

In that respect, local authorities need to establish policies that encourage non-motorized commuting. Bike sharing programs are similar to car cooperatives, only that they are not characterized by polluting effects (Fullerton & Gan 301). Different cities have made attempts at bike sharing programs. However, they are not meant to eliminate the use of motorized transport completely. Public transport and cars is used for commuting to centralized locations, where bicycles can then be accessed for movement within urban areas. Errands that exist within a radius of one mile are practical by foot.

Similarly, bikes are useful for errands within five miles, which characterizes the inner city. Various cities around the world have embraced such measures. For example, the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai have bike sharing programs that have operated very well. Cities may also embrace some measures, which may be rather draconian. For example, cars whose registration ends with odd numbers may be allowed access to roads on particular days of the week. This measure will allow a curtailment of excessive vehicles on roads. Similarly, it will encourage ride sharing programs.

Cars have an impact on environmental pollution, especially in the urban context. In that respect, several measures can be observed, in the efforts of reducing exhaust emissions. New technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells and EVs will be useful in reducing emissions such as the oxides of carbon and nitrogen. However, of greater use is the adoption of efficient driving habits by commuters. Car manufacturers also have a role in the reduction of emissions. By rolling out start-stop technology to all cars, high environmental savings can be recorded.

Driving to work is an important part of many American lives. Companies can assist in environmental efforts by providing their workers with ride sharing and shuttle facilities. Companies such as Google and Apple present a good example of how this can be implemented. Similarly, local authorities and urban planners have an important role in designing cities that will require little use of motorized vehicles. Through implementation of such measures, massive savings on environmental pollutants can be recorded.

Works Cited Dennis-Parks, Reda M. “Instructing the EPA How to Regulate Vehicle Emmissions.” Ecology LQ, 30. (2003): 799. Print. Fullerton, Don and Li Gan. “Cost-effective policies to reduce vehicle emissions. ” American Economic Review, 95. 2 (2005): 300–304. Print. Hirose, Katsuhiko. “Materials towards carbon-free, emission-free and oil-free mobility: hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles—now and in the future. ” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 368. 1923 (2010): 3365–3377. Print. Lave, Lester B, Chris T Hendrickson and Francis Clay Mcmichael. “Environmental implications of electric cars.”Science(Washington), 268. 5213 (1995): 993–995. Print. Potera, Carol. “Beyond batteries: portable hydrogen fuel cells. ”

Environmental Health Perspectives, 115. 1 (2007): 38. Print. United States Census Bureau. “Megacommuters: 600,000 in U. S. Travel 90 Minutes and 50 Miles to Work, and 10. 8 Million Travel an Hour Each Way, Census Bureau Reports – American Community Survey (ACS) – Newsroom – U. S. Census Bureau. ” Census. gov, 2013. Web. 2 Dec 2013. . Yirka, Bob. “Researchers find treating pavement with titanium oxide reduces air pollution. ” Phys. org, 2013. Web. 2 Dec 2013. .

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