Regular unleaded gasoline may soon power fuel-cell vehicles. Arthur D. Little (ADL, Cambridge, MA), a technology-based consulting firm, completed a five-year program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Out of the study, rose a reformer technology that converts gasoline and other carbon sources to hydrogen on-board an automobile. Fuel cells then convert the hydrogen to electricity which powers the vehicle. Chrysler Corporation is working on a model of a fuel cell car and hopes to demonstrate a working vehicle with this technology in the next two years. "Using the current fueling infrastructure will shrink the time frame needed to achieve fuel cell-powered family sedans," states Jeffrey Bentley, a director in Technology and Product Development business. "Fuel cells require hydrogen to operate and hydrogen is something not sold at your neighborhood service station. This breakthrough technology represents the first time that gasoline can successfully operate fuel cells." The reformer incorporates a fuel flexible design, enabling a vehicle running on this technology to use a variety of 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.
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.