Next week, I will spend a few hours test driving one of a hundred experiemental GM Chevy Equinox powered by hydrogen fuel cells. These vehicles promise zero emissions are represent one of several alternatives to gasoline. The problem, as an MIT professor friend of mine pointed out recently, is that the pure diatomic hydrogen to power fuel cells either comes from fossil fuels like natural gas or coal and requires significant energy in the refining process. Indeed, where is all this pure hydrogen going to come from? And what will it cost? The Dept. of Energy (DOE) in 2005 doubled its target for hydrogen costs based on a GGE or gasoline gallon equivalent calculation.
The more you dig into what will power vehicles in the future, the more daunting the challenge seems to become. If you accept the DOE’s target price of $2-$3 GGE for hydrogen (before taxes!!), driving won’t be cheap even if we could power our engines with dirt. The only hope for cheap transportation is a purely electric car that you plug in at night and the power comes from solar panels or a wind turbine. Then again, none of power sourcees are cheap either!
I am looking foward to driving the Equinox and learning more about hydrogen. I also take comfort in the fact a lot of smart people are working on what will replace fossil fuels or substantially lessen our dependence on them. And you can expect a full report in video, words and photos on my driving experience and continuing indepth coverage on renewable fuels.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.