In the future, your Harley may start with a purr instead of a roar. The motorcycle of the future may run on fuel cells and create no emissions. A British company, Intelligent Energy, opened up a California sales office to sell its hydrogen fuel-cell bike, the ENV. The ENV stands for "emissions-neutral vehicle." The bike runs on hydrogen stripped from bio fuels—anything from sunflower oil to soybeans. A five-ounce can of hydrogen will power the bike up to 100 miles. Top speed is 50 mph.
The first ENV bikes are slated to appear in the United States and the United Kingdom in 2007. Retail prices will range from $6,000 to $8,000. Company officials acknowledged that finding readily-available hydrogen is a problem right now. It can be purchased from industrial chemical companies or at local welding shops, but it's not conveniently available for most consumers. California now has six hydrogen refueling stations and promises to have 100 by 2010. The current cost of fueling is $4 per tank, but that price is expected to come down to 25 cents.
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.