I think the statement "There is also a distinct lack of filling stations for natural gas and low incentive for gas-rich markets like the US to use it" says it all. Regardless of which fuel choice an automobile maker wants to gets behind, fuel distribution infrastructure and price (supply and demand) continue to be a large part of the bottom line.
As gas prices go up and consumers continue to demand refueling convenience, the next challenger to gasoline will emerge. Obviously human safetly will play a big part in the selection process, but one of the biggest decision criteria will also be ease of refueling and cost.
CNG has been used on indoor vehicles, like forklifts, for years, but performance under a wide number of operating conditions is not that critical to a forklift. It's safe to say that engineers would have to spend several years learning how to properly burn CNG in an automobile. More than anything else, I wonder about safety. Gasoline is only under pressure after the fuel pump, while CNG would be under pressure during storage and along the entire length of the fuel system. There are some advantages to CNG being a gas rather than a liquid, but the whole system being under pressure is a little disturbing.
I know Fiat is a staple in Europe and not so well known in the United States, that is until a year or so ago when they made a concerted effort to get dealerships here and up their advertising (any recall the J. Lo ads?).
There are quite a few fiats cruising around my area and I have to say, the cars are adorable. But as far as driving an alternative vehicle powered on propane gas (the same stuff that runs my BBQ), I'm not so keen. I get nervous sticking the tanks in my car to go get a refill, let alone using the fuel source to fill my car tank. I think the industry would have to spend some time and money educating people like myself to get over the fear of propane as being highly combustible.
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.