Research is under way to reduce air emissions from the transportation sector by developing electric vehicles that can run farther and longer between charges. Clean electricity from nuclear plants can make these vehicles truly "clean." Several automakers have introduced new concept cars—plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that promise astounding fuel mileage: up to 150 miles per gallon or more.
For example, owners would be able to charge the battery-powered Chevrolet Volt by plugging it into a 110-volt outlet for approximately six hours a day. When fully charged, the car could travel more than 37 miles on the electric charge. The vehicle also would use a gas engine to create additional electricity to extend its range.
The Ford Edge with HySeries Drive™ is a drivable fuel cell hybrid-electric plug-in vehicle. Combining an onboard hydrogen fuel cell generator with lithium-ion batteries, it can deliver more than 41 mpg with zero emissions. Nuclear energy can generate electricity to charge plug-in hybrids so there is no adverse impact in the air quality throughout the entire process.
Nuclear Energy Could Help Power Plug-In Vehicles
"Nuclear energy has no polluting emissions, providing clean energy to our increasingly vulnerable and deteriorating environment, with reliable generating capacity to fuel the world’s growing economies," Raymond Learsy, a retired oil and gas commodities trader, wrote in a January 2007 opinion piece for The Huffington Post. "In due course it will become a major source of electrical power for plug-in hybrids, which together with flexible fuel vehicles, will inevitably go a long way toward replacing gas-guzzling automobiles," he said. "In so doing, nuclear energy will play a major role in reducing the role of oil, which today powers 98 percent of the world’s cars, trucks and planes."
The federal government has several programs under way, including the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership, which examine the research needed to develop the component, fuel and infrastructure technologies to enable a full range of affordable cars and light trucks. The partnership’s goal is to reduce America’s dependence on imported oil and to minimize harmful vehicle emissions, without sacrificing freedom of mobility and freedom of vehicle choice. Nuclear energy could provide part of the answer.