Everyday radios, newspapers, televisions and the internet warn us of energy exhaustion, atmospheric pollution and hostile climatic conditions. After few hundred years of industrial development, we are facing these global problems while at the same time we maintain a high standard of living. The most important problem we are faced with is whether we should continue ?developing? or ?die?.
Coal, petroleum, natural gas, water and nuclear energy are the five main energy sources that have played important roles and have been widely used by human beings.
The United Nations Energy Organization names all of them ?elementary energies?, as well as ?conventional energies?. Electricity is merely a ?second energy? derived from these sources. At present, the energy consumed all over the world almost completely relies on the supply of the five main energy sources. The consumption of petroleum constitutes approximately 60 percent of energy used from all sources, so it is the major consumer of energy.
Statistics show that, the daily consumption of petroleum all over the world today is 40 million barrels, of which about 50 percent is for automobile use. That is to say, auto petroleum constitutes about 35 percent of the whole petroleum consumption. In accordance with this calculation, daily consumption of petroleum by automobiles all over the world is over two million tonnes. At the same time as these fuels are burnt, poisonous materials such as 500 million tonnes of carbon monoxides (CO), 100 million tonnes of hydrocarbons (HC), 550 million tonnes of carbon (C), 50 million tonnes of nitrogen oxides (NOx) are emitted into the atmosphere every year, severely polluting the atmosphere. At the same time large quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) gases, resulting from burning, have also taken the major responsibility for the ?green house effect?. Atmospheric scientists now believe that carbon dioxide is responsible for about half the total ?green house effect?. Therefore, automobiles have to be deemed as the major energy consumer and atmosphere?s contaminator. Also, this situation is fast growing with more than 50 million vehicles to be produced annually all over the world and place into the market. However, at is estimate that petroleum reserve in the globe will last for only 38 years . The situation is really very grim.
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