With high gas prices and impending fuel shortages, how will cars of the future be different from the ones we have now?
We won't have hydrogen propelled cars any time soon. Although they were first through of in the 1840s, and they emit harmless water vapor, extracting hydrogen from water uses up lots of gas. Hydrogen in the form of gas escapes easily and cannot be contained within engines. It's also highly explosive. Auto industry expert Garel Rhys says, "General Motors has spent a billion pounds on fuel cell technology but the cost needs to be reduced by 80% if they are to rival petrol engines."
Hybrid cars are here already, but they're not cheap. Rhys says, "In the world of Newtonian physics you get nothing for nothing, so for a Fiesta-sized car you pay a Focus price. It's the cost of the extra engine."
In the 1950s farmer Harold Bate created an engine which runs on the methane from decomposing livestock droppings, but not all of us have access to cow patties. Cooking oil has also been used?even used oil from restaurants.
Martin Brook of Biofuel.org.uk. says, "The diesel engine was originally designed to run on peanut oil anyway. There's a smell to bio-diesel a bit like a kitchen fryer, but you would only notice it if you put your nose to the exhaust."
French inventor Guy Negre has invented the ideal: an engine that runs on air. The air is stored in tanks which, when released, drives pistons which propel the vehicles at up to 75mph for up to 120 miles, but electricity is still needed to compress the air. Solar powered cars haven't been seriously developed, since in many areas, there's not enough sunlight to keep them going.
Leonardo daVinci designed a self-propelled vehicle that works like a wind-up clock. Paolo Galluzzi, who recently built one from daVinci's blueprint, says, "It is a very powerful machine. It could run into something and do serious damage."
Real wisdom comes from getting in the gap.
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