Prepared by: Rich Ackerman
Date: October 13, 2004
Subject: Cars that produce less pollution


Cars pollute our air. Since we like to drive places, engineers are trying to find ways to make cars produce less pollution. Compared to the cars from before you were born, today's cars are much cleaner. However, people today drive more miles, so cars still cause a lot of air pollution.

How would you make a car pollute less? The gasoline engine makes most of the pollution, so car companies are inventing new kinds of engines that might be cleaner. It's hard to make an engine that goes fast enough for our highways and still doesn't make as much pollution.

Two new cars that make less pollution are the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight. (The picture on this page is a Prius, from Toyota's website.) These cars use engines that are part gasoline and part electric. These are called hybrid engines. They make less pollution and use less gasoline. A good article about hybrid engines called "Fill'er up ... and charge it--the new hybrid auto" is in the April, 2004 issue of Odyssey. You can probably get a copy at your library or school. It's a story about a family in San Francisco who bought a Prius. It has an interview with a Mom and her two sons about your age. They love their Prius.

Another interesting article you might want to read is from Junior Scholastic magazine, the April 8, 2002 issue. It's called "Hybrids are hot!" It tells a story about a five day race between a Prius and a big SUV. The SUV took a lot more gasoline and caused a lot more pollution than the Prius. It explains how much gasoline we could save with hybrid engines.

An article in the magazine Consumer Reports talks about all the different kinds of engines that people are working on. This is a good article for you to read, but you will need some help reading it. Maybe a parent or your librarian could help. You will learn about hybrid engines, diesel engines, and hydrogen engines. These could all help reduce pollution. The article is called "2005 cars: fueling the future" and it is in the October, 2004 issue of the magazine.

Article references

These are descriptions of the articles I talked about. Your librarian or teacher can use these to find the articles.

2005 Cars: fueling the future. (2004). Consumer Reports, 69(10 ), 15. Retrieved from LexisNexis.

Miller, J. (2004) Fill'er up ... and charge it--the new hybrid auto. Odyssey 13(4), 19. Retrieved from InfoTrac OneFile. This is an article about hybrids that is easy to read. It explains the basic concepts and has an interview with a Mom and her two sons. This would be great.

Hybrids are hot! (Environmental News). (2002). Junior Scholastic 104 (16), 11 (From General Reference Gold) . This is an older article but it is written at a good level and talks about the basic issues.

Additional sources

If you want to keep looking for more information, your librarian can help! Librarians know how to find lots of interesting things. Part of their job is teaching other people how to find cool stuff too, so they will help you.

Lots of good information is stored in databases. One database your librarian can show you is InfoTrac For Kids. It has articles from Time for Kids, Sports Illustrated for Kids, Weekly Reader, National Geographic, and lots of other magazines. If you need to find something for a school project, this database is a great place to look. Your librarian can help you learn how to use this.

There are other databases you could learn how to use too. Many libraries have a database called Sirs Discoverer. It has a lot more than just magazines. It has a current events section, the Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, World Almanac, biographics of famous people, a dictionary and a lot more. See if you can find a library with Sirs Discoverer because you can get your homework done really fast if you learn how to use it!

To learn more about hybrid cars, you might visit this website: This website explains how hybrid engines work. "How stuff works" is also a book that you can find in your library. It has lots of pictures and tells how cool things work.

Finally, an article for kids in grades 7-10 grade might be interesting to you, but it is probably a little challenging to read. It is called "Fuel for debate: gas guzzlers are an environmental hazard." and the author's name is Tucker. It's in Science World magazine. Show your librarian this: Tucker, L. (2003). Fuel for debate: gas guzzlers are an environmental hazard. Can car engineers clean up their act? Science World, 59 (13), 10-14 and she can find it really quickly for you.

Good luck with your report. If you need more help, just ask a librarian or your teacher!