November 15, 2008

Different Types of Vehicles

Do you know how many types of vehicles there are in all? Since the creation of the first crude automobile, several models and types have been created to suit the needs of people. These were developed in order to provide a safe, efficient and economical means of transportation. Some are built for luxury, others for practicality and some for environmental purposes.

Cruder Forms

Vehicles were first made thousands of years ago. The earliest forms of vehicles were actually living things like horses, elephants and camels. With the invention of the wheel around 3000 B.C., chariots, carts and horse-drawn carriages came into existence. The wheel has certainly paved the way for modern transportation as it is still very much present today.

Cycles were created around the 19th century which comes in many forms. Bicycles are one of the most common types of vehicles available today. There are also tricycles, quadricycles and unicycles. These vehicles mainly use a chain that goes around the wheels for propulsion. Cycling is a very important action in order to keep the transportation balanced. Later on, motorcycles were invented which incorporated a motor engine instead of manual pedals.

Origin of Alternate Fuel Sources

Electric vehicles or EVs were invented in the 1830's which uses one or more electric motors. The rotary or linear motors propel the vehicle through the wheels. Linear motors are used by tracked vehicles such as trains and MRTs. There are several sources of energy used to move the vehicle like an on-board RESS or rechargeable energy storage system, batteries, on-board super capacitors and direct connection to energy-generating plants. Fuel cells and nuclear energy have also shown to be very viable in propelling vehicles.

Steam engines are another alternate fuel source which uses an external combustion engine or ECE. ECEs are less efficient compared to ICEs but proper configurations can be made for the fuel burner in order to emit very low amounts of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and other harmful gases making it environmentally friendly in the process. Steam cars do have a problem when starting from cold leading to the development of flash boilers.

The Automobile

Automobiles are the most common type of vehicle. The majority of automobiles today are powered by gasoline or diesel engines. Automobiles use an internal combustion engine or ICE which can be highly polluting due to the constant burning of harmful gases. This type of vehicle has shown to be very powerful, convenient and aesthetic as well making it the most popular of all time.

Gasoline engine vehicles are lighter and able to work at optimum rotational speeds. The invention of the electric starter has boosted its popularity beating steam and electric cars in the process. Carburetor and fuel injection are some of the most useful discoveries in enhancing automobile performance.

There are various innovations in the engine allowing exhaust gases to be less harmful. Others combine efforts to minimize the greenhouse effect by reducing emissions to zero. Gasoline engines are capable of running with different ethanol concentrations. Some may run on 15%, 85% or even 100% ethanol. Fuel burn efficiency of gasoline engine vehicles are around 27%.

Diesel engine vehicles are more cost-effective compared to gasoline engine ones because of their 50% fuel burn efficiency. However, power and performance is also compromised due to less concentration of fuel. Diesel also releases exhaust gases into the atmosphere from soot particles. 100% biodiesel has been developed to improve the downside of these vehicles.

Other Transports

A train is a series of vehicles moving along a guided track or rail. A separate locomotive provides power to propel the entire train. Diesel or electricity is the usual energy source of trains while older versions were dominantly powered by steam engines. There are special kinds of trains with special tracks like rubber-tired underground, high-speed and monorails. Some trains can have more than one locomotive or coach.

A road train has a prime mover pulling one or more trailers. Trucks are the simpler version of this. Since the weight and maneuverability are a challenge, these vehicles often require several wheels for more control. Speed should also be watched meticulously to make travel as safe as possible. Diesel engines usually power big heavy trucks and road trains for fuel efficiency and power.

Other unique types of vehicles are amphibious vehicles and snowmobiles. Amphibians can run on both land and water making them very versatile. There are amphibious bicycles, cars, trucks and ATVs developed for passenger and official use.

The advantages provided by amphibians made them very useful for military operations. Snowmobiles are propelled by a built-in track made of Kevlar composite or rubber in order to effectively move through snow. These are also powered by a motor engine that consumes gas for fuel. Tanks use the same mechanism as snowmobiles by running on steel tracks.

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