Alternative fuels for engines were known for over a hundred years ago. But all of the motors, the energy that was formed by the combustion energy source, has been and remains one important issue – the environment. And because we are not only harmful oxides, soot, acid rain, and carbon monoxide gas. These problems mankind has learned how to handle something. Where are the environmentalists see a big problem in constant increase in carbon dioxide emissions of CO2 in the process of human activities, in particular because of the ever-growing number of vehicles. Is there a reasonable alternative to traditional fuels, which will without a radical processing infrastructure to significantly reduce harmful emissions and CO2? This question of “first transmission” tried to answer in the test drive Seat Leon TGI.
At first sight, Seat Leon methane outwardly no different from its gasoline counterpart. Only label TGI can cause more experienced motorist question “what does this non-standard abbreviation?”. Inside, we see exactly the same typical SEAT Leon and only the second fuel gauge in the left pit hinted – is not so simple with this car. Cranking the ignition, start the engine and … sound at idle is almost inaudible, the engine is running smoothly and without vibrations to hear, not stalled at a traffic light, we are not looking at the tachometer, you need to open the window. Include the transfer and release the clutch smoothly – no problems with the moment on bottoms, the machine starts to move, even without podgazovki. Despite the small volume of the engine of 1.4 liters, it is set up well, missing the moment, and already from 1600 rpm comes in a compact turbine and the machine is quite briskly rushes forward. However, all briskness and grab disappear after 3500 rpm, further acceleration and smooth everyday, without a spark.
Separate plus the system start-stop. Even if you are stalled at the start, one has only to pull the clutch, the engine itself zavedet without much fuss. Conveniently. Unfortunately, there is no updated version of our seven-speed DSG, because all the charms cost-comfortable life experience did not succeed.
Interestingly, the version of the Leon 1.4 Turbo with a methane installation on the passport by 10% weaker than its clean gasoline 122-strong fellow. Whether triggered the traditional formula of “gas car are 10% less power,” whether a manufacturer specially understated power in favor of reliability and efficiency.
A little bit about the expense. On-board computer produces a figure of 5-6 units per 100 kilometers. First impressions – a delight. Is the car can eat only 5 liters of gas per hundred. But not all so simple. It is interesting that the fuel consumption on-board computer by default in kilograms sold in cubic meters, and is pumped into the atmosphere. Try to figure out what’s what.
One kilogram is equal to one and a half cubic meters of methane at 15 ° C and a pressure of 1 bar. The energy output of 1 kg of methane is equal to 1,675 liters of gasoline. To simplify the calculations we can assume that 1 cubic meter of methane is approximately 1 liter of gasoline. In Sierra Leone it is possible to switch the flow rates from kilogram per cubic meter.
If you are looking for something new in the interior “methane” Leon, we hasten to disappoint you a little, and in some ways can even be good news. Changes zero. All the same laconic style sustained, high-quality plastic and verified ergonomics.Range of adjustment wheel and driver’s seat are enormous. It fits seamlessly NBA basketball player, and even a small margin over his head at the place of stay. Comfortable seats with good lateral support ensure that the back of the driver does not get tired in a long journey. But that’s it. Sitting in Leon you feel that the manufacturer did not spend on you any extra cents. Although the main thing that is not saved.
Not only good news is that the car with low mileage crickets have already appeared in the cabin. And a lot of them as a new Vahan platform MQB. Seventh Golf appeared in this regard quieter car.
You can complain on-board computer with mediocre graphics and low-resolution display. In the courtyard of the year 2015, with FullHD screen phones have long become mainstream, but automakers, as usual, slow down.
In the more expensive versions can be ordered Leon higher quality screen, and we are able to say thank you and the standard, because it goes by default, even in the most inexpensive vehicle equipment.
The sound recorder can be described in one word, “come down.” For “good” tradition need to pay extra.
Suspension and steering
Connoisseurs of the Spanish brand SEAT know what cars of this brand were different for the better from the boring golf and Octavius. SEATO was always more emotion for the same money. A more striking design is more sporty road manners. Leon felt subjectively more vivid car.
But in our case, it is somewhat different. Firstly, gray. You can throw stones at me, but this color is absolutely not suitable proud lion. Red, yellow, green, pearl white – that’s true colors for the SEAT Leon. Second, the increased weight and engine derated. Believe me, it is very noticeable even in comparison with soplatformennoy Skoda with the engine 1.4 TSI. Methane Leon more quiet and smooth, the steering wheel too light, smooth response and a mediocre setting exhaust discourage any desire to accelerate briskly and turn the engine. The disadvantage, you say? But this is exactly what the engineers sought – a minimum movements, maximum savings. On comfort affected by the increased weight of the vehicle, and – beam rear suspension with noble work and quieter than Octavia. But if you want emotion – it is unlikely you will like the test Leon greatly.
Filling methane was quite a trivial task. Firstly, we did not know where to go and, most importantly, what procedure. As they say, to help Google. Total Kiev were four refueling, with far from the most crowded places. Not Comfortable. Second – no refueling at gas stations and people on the shuttle bus and trucks slightly askew glances in your direction. They obviously unusual to see a family hatchback in this place. Fortunately, we were lucky at the gas station caught responsive shift supervisor, who explained and showed all the nuances of the car refueling with natural gas. If not for him …
Let’s start with the fact that without special equipment certificates confirming that your installation of methane has passed all tests for safety and reliability, you do not refuel. No passport – no refills.
Next, you’ll need an adapter to connect the gas hose. It comes bundled with the machine, but it is not recommended to lose, because the cost of the adapter is 250-350 euros.
When filling a full tank of gas injected into the filling system until the moment when the pressure in the cylinders of the vehicle becomes equal to 200 bar, but in some cases, this number may reach 230 bar – at our gas stations are not installed the most modern equipment. This is the question why the cylinders are checked for 300 bars. The typical amount of filling empty bottles Leon TGI 20-25 cubic meters of gas.
After downloading the “full” tank should be cut off the gas valve and remove all the components in reverse order.
Plus methane is that it is much lighter than air and does not accumulate in the cavities of the adapter, so you can not worry about the unpleasant smell of gas in the cabin. Advanced car owners with established systems of LPG usually put the adapter in a sealed bag, because LPG is heavier than air, and after refueling owner odnoobёmnika can chase the smell of ethyl mercaptan gas odorant … Yes, it is he who gives the typical “gas” smell, because ordinary natural gas It has no smell.
By the way, often you can hear the conversations that whatever perfect gas installation or standing on the car, the cabin is always heard strange smell gas odorant. I can say that for the factory installation of methane this statement has no basis.For a week operation of Leon I never felt even a hint of odors.
Each cylinder methane tested at a pressure of 300 bar, which is 1.5 times the nominal working pressure of 200 bar. Also cylinders are checked for the destruction of hydraulic pressure: minimum force resistance should be 2.25 times the working pressure (450 bar), although in practice it reaches values of rupture pressure of 580 bar. For dynamic fracture balloon strict international standards define certain characteristics of the “leak before the explosion” that is, progressive gas leaks, damaged casing cylinder, before the coming destruction of the structure.
A safety valve in case of fire and high temperature and pressure allows for a controlled discharge of the excess gas pressure to avoid excessive pressure in the cylinder. If the pipe gets hurt, excess flow safety valve (located on the cylinder valve) to prevent the uncontrolled release of gas.
It is important to remember that methane, unlike LPG, in case of leakage dissipates rapidly, does not accumulate around the site of break and thus does not create an explosive gas concentrations.
If ecology, power consumption and everything is clear, what with the economy?
Average fuel consumption of the test car was 8.5 cubic meters per 100 kilometers in city mode. About the same consumes the same pure petrol unit. But I would like to note that the “gas” is heavier than the standard gasoline Leon fellow nearly 150 kilograms, so fuel consumption can be considered quite reasonable.
And now the sweet – price. Traditionally, the level of natural gas prices were significantly lower than the prices of gasoline, diesel, and even LPG. What now?
The cost of a cubic meter of gas for the population by the year 2015, the consumption of up to 6,000 cubic meters per year – 1,788 USD. When consuming more than 6,000 cubic meters per year – 3,645 USD. For legal entities established price of 7.71 USD per cubic meter, including VAT (remember, we provisionally equate the flow of one cubic meter of gas to one liter of gasoline).
What do you think, what the price of methane refueling for the population of one cubic meter? Five hryvnia? Maybe six? And here and there. The total price of methane – 10 hryvnia 80 kopecks. Again. Ten hryvnia eighty cents. This is two hryvnia more expensive than the cost of a liter of the best propane-butane.
This is no service in the form of a tanker, delicious coffee and donuts, charging mobile and other not. Fueling the era of the Soviet era, only 4 refueling to Kiev and totally inadequate price of fuel. I wonder where the Antimonopoly Committee looks?
The final conclusion can be disappointing, except for one “but.” If you live in the private sector or the trucking company and you have access to a gas pipe – can be great save by buying a compact gas compressor station to refuel vehicles. The cost of such facilities starts at 30 thousand. UAH. And if you have more than one car with a methane plant, and a trip to the city assumed no more than a single charge containers per day – the savings can be very significant.
“Home” gas station may be relevant for taxi drivers trucksIce small cargo on petrol “pies” and other entrepreneurs who have used the car for commercial purposes. Corporate car parks can also result in substantial savings by using methane.
In all other cases, for everyday use private cars to methane plants have questionable feasibility of hands, with the current infrastructure and the level of gas prices. Do not forget that installation of methane adds a rather impressive amount (1,5-2 thousand. Euros) to the final price of the new car. But if you are advocating for the reduction of harmful emissions and CO2 and do not want to sacrifice mobility and to pay for electric, vehicles with methane plants of your choice.
Instead of an epilogue
At first glance, the best solution of environmental problems associated with emissions – electric. The first electric trolley was established in 1841-m, long before the classical internal combustion engines. Quiet and zero emissions – these are the main trump cards of the electric vehicle.
But electric vehicles and have a number of disadvantages that are not yet resolved, despite the fact that since the creation of the first electric car took more than 170 years:
- The source of electrical energy is not always “environmentally friendly.”In many countries, the electrical energy produced in thermal power plants by burning coal and nuclear energy called “environmentally friendly” language does not turn too. The energy of water, obtained by means of dams – a blow to the environment and the local ecosystem. Only solar, wind and tidal power can be considered environmentally friendly.
- The lack of significant progress in the specific battery capacity of 1 kilogram.There is a situation when the build-up of the mass of batteries in the car increases the power consumption of 1 kilometer. The increase in consumption reduces the reserve. Adding a battery, we again increase the weight, hence increases the cost. As a result, even a car with a hybrid power plant will receive additional + 200-300 kg to curb weight, and pure electric vehicles total more – plus 500-600 kilograms.
- A longer duration of charging electric vehicles.You can drive on the same Tesla 400 kilometers, but then you must wait at least 4 hours before the battery is fully charged. And if such cars on the track will be 100 or 200, and each should be charged?
- Battery electric vehicles is also not the most “environmentally friendly” products.They have a limited life and need for high quality recycling.
- The cost of an electric vehicle today is much higher than the cost of similar petrol competitors.
In second place on sustainability among the mass of engines are modern diesel engines. We know from experience that the difference in consumption of diesel engine compared to gasoline on the same car model may reach 30-40%. Less expense – lower emissions. But modern diesel engines has its own nuances, primarily related to fuel quality, maintenance particulate filters and seasonal fluctuations in temperature – winter diesel fuel has not been canceled.
And whether there is fuel, which is relatively cheap, it is very environmentally friendly and can be used in all types of modern internal combustion engines (both petrol as diesel)? It turns out that there is fuel! This methane, conventional natural gas that we use gas stoves for cooking and heating equipment.
Judge for yourself: the huge deposits of methane, methane can receive not only the earth, but also from other sources (manure or compost, for example). When burning methane produces water and carbon dioxide. Natural methane is one of the most clean combustible gas, that is, there is almost no impurities, which in the combustion process will cause harmful oxides. Moreover, methane, unlike LPG, can be used immediately when starting a cold engine.And if petrol and diesel engines to warm up the engine and the full converter do not meet environmental standards for emissions of hazardous substances, the use of methane in the case of even a cold engine with a catalytic converter still cold at times greener.Methane is not necessary to recycle as oil, moreover, it is not necessary to transport fuel tankers – in finished form, it is transmitted through the gas line and is available in almost every, even the smallest, populated area.
So what’s the problem? Why so few cars are on methane?
First and foremost – the size and weight of the cylinders. Until recently, the use of methane has been the prerogative of the buses and trucks – cylinders were very bulky and heavy.
The second – the need for different settings of the engine to methane and gasoline power drop when using gas, but now this issue has been resolved.
Third – the high cost of modern methane plants, problems with quality installation and maintenance, the risk to ruin the engine.
Fourth – the loss of warranty on a new car.
If you look sober look at potential problems and find real savings, the sane person refuses methane venture, as the main motivating factor in this case, a trivial economic benefit, and certainly not the environment.
But if all these problems solved systemically at the producer level? What if the manufacturer directly to the assembly line will introduce the installation of methane with the correct program for the engine will provide the highest quality and reliability of the components and provide the factory warranty on your car?
You say, this can not be? Maybe! Our test car is the best proof.