The impact of cars on nature and co2

October 2, 2019

It is generally considered that the greenhouse gas CO2, caused by human activities such as the combustion of coal and gas in power stations and the use of petrol and diesel for cars, plays an important role in global climate change. In addition, people are also aware that the availability of fossil fuels on our planet (such as oil, gas and coal) is not infinite.

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It is difficult to predict future developments to attract the economy and solve the climate problem. How long will the conventional car with petrol and diesel engine continue to exist? To what extent will the hybrid car and the electric car replace the conventional car? Will there be a whole new development? Today’s society cannot be compared to that of the early 1900s, when the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid was driving around. In the coming decades it will be determined which direction will be taken for the automobile but also for mobility in general. However, history has taught us that major changes are possible, as is the step from the horse-drawn carriage to the automobile of today.

Land transport is as old as history. First, pack animals were used, then the invention of the wheel, which made it possible to use carts, both for transporting goods and passengers. The luxury version of the cart became the carriage. This was gradually improved over the years, first with suspension systems and later with the addition of brakes.

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The discovery of steam power at the beginning of the 17th century led to the invention of several machines, including ventilation pumps used in English mines. Many inventors tried to use that steam power to propel themselves.

The first to do so, as far as we know, was Père Verbiest, a Belgian Jesuit who lived as a missionary in China at the end of the 17th century. He built a scale model of a steam-powered cart. The Emperor found this extremely amusing, but the project was never carried out. It was not until the end of the 18th century that a full-scale steam-powered utility vehicle was built, the Cugnot tugboat, made in France by an officer from Lorraine. The French Revolution interrupted these experiments. This was followed by the following steam vehicles in England, where they were used with some success by driver-mechanics.

Unfortunately the high maintenance costs and the numerous accidents caused further experiments to be stopped. At the same time, the use of rail was increasing and steam power seemed to be more efficient there than for road vehicles. Steam continued to attract many inventors throughout the 19th century, but few practical results were achieved. Another source of energy that was the subject of various experiments during the 19th century was carbon dioxide and the Belgian Etienne Lenoir built a stationary engine that ran on this fuel in Paris just before 1860. The Lenoir engines enjoyed some success in competition with small stationary steam engines.

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Then Lenoir started to adapt one of his gas engines to a vehicle on the road. He failed to connect his vehicle to a fixed gas reservoir and then replaced carbon gas with paraffin gas. In 1862-3 several tests were carried out but the inventor was not satisfied and abandoned the idea. However, Lenoir succeeded in building the first vehicle on petroleum. Several other inventors experimented with this type of vehicle, including Marcus, Delamarre Deboutteville, Frederic de la Hault, but none of them reached the commercial production stage. The first petroleum-powered car to be sold to the public was Karl Benz’s: it was equipped with a low-speed stationary engine in the chassis of a three-wheeler. The vehicle was both homogeneous and feasible. In 1886, the Benz was the first car ever marketed. At the same time another German, Gottlieb Daimler, assisted by Wilhelm Maybach, was working another type of petroleum engine that was completely different from the heavy and slow stationary engines of the time.

They wanted a light, high speed engine that could be used in all kinds of machines. Strangely enough, this type of engine was used for the first time in France and not in Germany. Panhard-Levassor built it under license of Daimler. Peugeot also bought these engines from Panhard and installed them in the first Peugeots with the engine in the back.

Shortly afterwards, Emile Levassor installed an engine from Panhard Daimler in the first Panhard-Levassor car that foreshadowed what the next generations of cars would look like: an engine at the front with a gearbox behind it that drives the gears (via chains at the time).

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