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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Future car technologies

Automobile propulsion technologies under development include gasoline/electric and plug-in hybrids, battery electric vehicles, hydrogen cars, biofuels and various alternative fuels.

Research into future alternative forms of power include the development of fuel cells, Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI), stirling engines, and even using the stored energy of compressed air or liquid nitrogen.

New materials which may replace steel car bodies include duraluminum, fiberglass, carbon fiber, and carbon nanotubes.

Stirling engine

In the family of heat engines, 'Stirling engine' defines a closed-cycle regenerative hot air engine, though the term is often used incorrectly to refer generically to a much wider range of hot air engine types. In this context, "closed-cycle" means that the working fluid is permanently contained within the system, whereas "open-cycle" engines such as internal combustion engine and some steam engines, exchange working fluid with their surroundings as part of the cycle; "regenerative" refers to the use of an internal heat exchanger - the regenerator - which greatly improves the engine's potential efficiency. There are many possible implementations of the Stirling engine, the majority of which fall into the category of a reciprocating piston engine. The Stirling engine is traditionally classified as an external combustion engine, though heat can equally well be supplied by non-combusting sources such as solar or nuclear energy. A Stirling engine operates through the use of an external heat source and an external heat sink having a sufficiently large temperature difference between them.

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