Broward County promotes the use of environmentally beneficial alternative fuels and advance technology vehicles by managing more than 100 cars and trucks that run on fuels other than gasoline and diesel. Advance technology vehicles with a range of nearly 60 miles per gallon of gasoline (mpg). These vehicles are available to environmentally conscious employees that are committed to preserving a healthy environment for county residents.
The transportation sector accounts for more than 50 percent of the air pollution in South Florida. Playing a leadership role and thinking towards the future, Broward County introduced the use of alternative fuel (compressed natural gas, propane, and electric) vehicles. In 2003, introduced the use of hybrid (gasoline-electric) vehicles, which combine the benefits of a gasoline engine and an electric motor to improve fuel economy and reduce tailpipe emissions by almost half compared to a conventional gasoline car.
Since 1997, more than 5 million miles have been driven on alternative fuels, benefiting the environment by reducing the release of more than a million pounds of greenhouse gases into the air. The use of alternative fueled vehicles, as well as cars with integrated advance technology, not only decreases our dependence on foreign oil sources, but provides many health and environmental benefits.
Broward County's fleet is composed of the following vehicles:
Currently, the most fuel efficient vehicles are hybrid (gasoline-electric) vehicles. They combine the best features of the internal combustion engine with an electric motor to improve fuel economy without sacrificing performance or driving range.
Hybrids are propelled by an internal combustion engine like conventional vehicles but, convert energy normally wasted during coasting and breaking into electricity, which is stored in a battery until needed by the electric motor. The electric motor is used to assist the engine when accelerating or hill climbing and in low-speed driving conditions where internal combustion engines are least efficient.
The Federal government, as well as the state of Florida offer incentives to people who buy hybrids, as well as dedicated alternative fuel cars. Some of these incentives include tax reductions, the privilege to drive in the dedicated High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes during rush-hour traffic by displaying a HOV decal provided by the state.
Hybrids are considered best-in-class for fuel economy and best-in-market for emission performance vehicles. Assuming you drive 15,000 miles annually at an average cost of $2.00 per gallon for gasoline, your savings per year could be as much as $1,000 in gasoline (55%) when driving in the city, and about $800 in gasoline (45%) when driving on the highway.
The Toyota Prius, in our fleet, provides the following performance features:
- Double the fuel economy (average of 55 mpg), and half the Carbon Dioxide (CO 2) emissions of a gasoline car
- Carbon monoxide (CO 2), Hydrocarbons (HC), and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) are reduced well below the California's stringent standard of Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle levels.
- Energy generated through breaking and deceleration is stored in batteries for use during startup and acceleration.
- Reduced CO 2 emissions – the engine shuts off when the car comes to a stop
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
Natural gas (methane) is an abundant, clean burning fuel widely used for home heating and industrial processes. Compressed natural gas vehicles emit low levels of toxics and ozone-forming hydrocarbons.
Nearly 80 percent of the county alternative fuels fleet are dedicated (operates exclusively on natural gas) and bi-fuel or dual-fuel (use both natural gas and gasoline) vehicles. The benefits are lower operating costs, fuel cost fifty percent less than gasoline, and they have significantly lower exhaust emissions. Our vehicles store natural gas in high-pressure fuel cylinders at 3,000 to 3,600 pounds per square inch (psi). There are nine Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) refueling stations throughout the county. Nationwide, there are approximately 1,300 refueling stations in 46 states, and the number continues to grow. In addition, CNG vehicle owners can refuel their cars at home by installing small compressors connected directly to the home’s natural gas supply.
- Reductions in Carbon Monoxide (CO) emissions of 90 to 97 percent, and reductions in Carbon Dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions of 25 percent
- Reductions in Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions of 35 to 60 percent
- Potential reduction in non-methane hydrocarbon emissions of 50 to 75 percent
- Fewer toxic and carcinogenic pollutants, and little or no particulate matter produced
Propane (Liquefied Petroleum Gas)
Propane is the most widely used alternative fuel today. It is a byproduct of natural gas processing and petroleum refining. Under moderate pressure, propane gas turns into a liquid mixture, making it easier to transport and store in vehicle fuel tanks. Auto manufacturers offer a variety of light and medium duty propane-powered vehicles. They have two separate fuel systems, allowing them to run on either propane or gasoline. Propane refueling stations are located in all 50 states, typically at service stations, propane dealerships, and equipment and truck rental facilities. Broward County has a propane refueling station available for its fleet.
There are no significant driving differences between dedicated propane vehicles and gasoline-powered vehicles. In fact, propane vehicles have a higher octane rating than gasoline, allowing for a higher compression ratio in the engine and greater engine efficiency. Because the fuel is already in a gaseous state, it mixes readily with air in the combustion chamber to allow for nearly complete combustion. This reduces exhaust emissions and minimizes problems with starting the vehicles in cold weather.
Propane emissions compared to gasoline:
- Propane exhaust creates 60 to 70 percent less smog than the hydrocarbons in gasoline exhaust Cuts emissions of toxins and carcinogens like benzene and toluene by up to 96 percent
- Offers a 20 to 25 percent reduction in emissions of greenhouse gas from light duty vehicles
- Reduction of particulate matter (PM10) of 40 percent 50 percent less of nitrous oxides (NOx)
The National Energy Policy Act of 1992 provides tax deductions for the cost of clean-fuel vehicles, up to $1,500 for vehicles less than five tons, and for refueling facilities, up to $100,000, placed in service after January 1, 2002.
Fuel Cell Cars… Future Vision
Fuel cell hybrid (fuel cell-powered electric) vehicles are hydrogen powered cars with a new technology that combines an advance fuel cell power system with a compact drive motor. It promises to be a practical, affordable, and environmentally friendly transportation for the future.
Fuel cells work on the principle of reverse electrolysis. The same way that an electric current can be applied to water to split it into hydrogen and oxygen, reversing this process electricity can be obtained. Because of recent technological developments, fuel cells are now small enough to fit under a car’s back seat. These cells use a stack of proton exchange membranes, each one only a few tenths of a millimeter thick that allow only the proton of the hydrogen molecule to pass through. This creates the voltage differential that powers the car.
Fuel cell vehicles are already manufactured, but the problem is that they require a steady supply of hydrogen. Hydrogen is a gas in its natural state, making it difficult to distribute and store in sufficient quantities to be practical.
Environmental benefits are that the only compound that a fuel cell car emits is pure water and heat.
A solar power fuel station of the future:
A solar power fuel station uses solar power to extract hydrogen from water with a backup electrical power to increase the hydrogen production capacity if necessary. Available solar power can produce enough hydrogen to drive a single fuel cell vehicle for a year.
Fuel cell vehicles advantages are:
Zero or near zero emissions
Increased fuel efficiency
Lower maintenance costs
Impressive driving range
A quiet, vibration-free ride
EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH EFFORTS
To promote the use of alternative fuel vehicles, the Energy and Building Automation Section reaches out to county agencies as well as the community through programs that educate and train individuals on the beneficial aspects of these new technologies. Also, training is provided to all County drivers/operators of the vehicles and fueling stations. We also assist with any training requirements for mechanics.
To increase awareness of the Energy and Building Automation Section efforts, a quarterly electronic newsletter was created and distributed to County employees via the email system. We also developed Internet homepages to reach world-wide access.
Brochures are developed as an educational tool for public distribution at numerous speaking engagements. The Energy and Building Automation Section, in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Department, develops and implements public outreach events to promote and support alternative fuels.
- 2004 National Clean Cities Conference in Broward County.
- 2005 Airport Airwareness Forum: Highlighted alternative fuels that can be used at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
- Slides about the program on the electronic board located in the lobby of the Governmental Center.
- Presentations at schools and general public.
- Channel 10 WPLG interview regarding alternative fuel/hybrid vehicles in the county fleet.
- Displays with information related to the program at the May Clean Air Month event held at various sites, including the Governmental Center, libraries, schools and malls.
- The ‘Beyond a Billion Gallons of Alternative Fuels” event held at the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport.