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8 alternative ways to fuel your car, from the normal to the bizarre

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November 9, 2021
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With the sale of new petrol and diesel cars being banned from 2030, you might be wondering what else you can fuel your car with. From the wonderful to the downright weird, we’ve listed some of the alternative ways you can fuel your car.

Before we begin, be warned about using the wrong fuel in your car as this can damage your vehicle. We provide misfuel cover for just £19 and will drain the wrong fuel from your vehicle. We’ll also put some of the correct fuel into your car to help you get back on your way.

1. Electricity

We’ve started with the obvious here, but it might not actually be the best – but we’ll get to that later. Electric cars have a rechargeable battery that can be charged at charging stations.

Although they are quickly becoming the number one alternative to petrol or diesel cars, many are still worried about the range of electric vehicles (EVs). Of course, the technology is getting better, but EVs that can travel 400 miles on a single charge – like the Tesla Model S – will cost over £70,000.

According to New Motion, the average range of a fully electric car is around 181 miles. This could pose a problem for those who travel long distances as charging from empty to full can take around 35 minutes with a rapid charger or up to 8 hours at a 7kW charging point.

2. Cheese and wine

That’s right. Prince Charles recently revealed that his car runs on leftover cheese and wine. Leftover cheese and wine is something of a rarity for us, but it could be a viable option for the princes and princesses of our great nation.

Prince Charles uses E85 to fuel his Aston Martin, i.e. a mixture of 85% ethanol (made from cheese and wine byproducts) and 15% unleaded petrol.

Unfortunately Greg Archer, UK director of a European clean transport campaign group, noted that this isn’t the best option for the planet, especially if crops are being grown for the sole purpose of fuelling our vehicles.

3. Solar power

Young person looking out of camper van with solar panel on the roof top and pine forest on the background

This might sound like something out of a science fiction film, but the first solar-powered car has actually been created. The Lightyear One is already available to reserve, but it will set you back over one hundred grand. We’re not sure how it would fair in British weather, but it would probably work well in some climates. There are also some cars, such as the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, that features a solar panel that can power electronics on the go and recharge the battery when parked.

4. Coffee

Many of us fuel ourselves with coffee, but one enterprising engineer in the US decided he also wanted to power his 1975 GMC pick-up using coffee grounds remnants.

The truck burns up used coffee grounds to create a combustible gas, which feeds the engine to create a caffeine-powered vehicle. And it seems there are at least a few coffee-fuelled cars out there, with one – the Carpaccino – even breaking a speed record.

On board wood gas generators can be used to create gas from just about any waste combustible material.

5. Hydrogen

Hydrogen fuel car charging station white color visual concept design. 3d Illustration

Hydrogen cars work in much the same way as a petrol or diesel car. Hydrogen is stored in a fuel tank and this is then fed into the fuel cell to generate electricity. And the only byproduct is water, which is great news for the planet. Some people even think they’re better than EVs. Find out more about hydrogen cars and their benefits in our blog on ‘Are hydrogen powered cars better than battery powered electric vehicles?’.

6. Air

Free, abundantly available and 100% clean – wouldn’t it be great if all our cars needed to run was air? If it sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is right now. Although Peugeot tried to create an air-fuelled vehicle, they had to put plans on hold in January 2015 as they couldn’t find a partner willing to split the huge engineering costs.

That being said, Motor Development International (MDI) has been trying to create a compressed air vehicle called the AIRPod. Although Air France and KLM trialled these vehicles in airports, not much has been heard about the project since.

7. Water

Next to air, the second most abundant resource on earth is water, and in 2008 a Japanese group of engineers produced a car that could run on nothing but good old H2O. An energy generator splits the water molecules to produce hydrogen, which powers the car.

Unfortunately although many people have claimed that they’ve been able to create a water-fuelled vehicle, no companies have been able to scale production to a viable level.

8. Vegetable oil

Row of plastic bottles with vegetable cooking oil

Vegetable oil can be used quite effectively as an alternative to diesel. You can use up to 2,500 litres of it a year to fuel your car duty-free. As fuel duty makes up quite a significant proportion of the price of petrol and diesel – over half the price at most times of the year – this could help you save a bit of money.

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