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.
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
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