Other Technologies
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Note: All data shown herein are taken from the noted references
Hydrogen Fuel Cell
Fuel Cells & Alternative Fuels/Energy Systems; SAE SP-1635 Aug 2001
In principle, a fuel cell operates like a battery. Unlike a battery, a fuel cell does not run down or require recharging. It will produce energy in the form of electricity and heat as long as fuel is supplied. A fuel cell consists of two electrodes sandwiched around an electrolyte. Oxygen passes over one electrode and hydrogen over the other, generating electricity, water and heat. Hydrogen fuel is fed into the "anode" of the fuel cell. Oxygen (or air) enters the fuel cell through the cathode. Encouraged by a catalyst, the hydrogen atom splits into a proton and an electron, which take different paths to the cathode. The proton passes through the electrolyte. The electrons create a separate current that can be utilized before they return to the cathode, to be reunited with the hydrogen and oxygen in a molecule of water
Photo courtesy Ballard Power Systems A fuel-cell stack that could power an automobile

Ford Focus powered by hydrogen fuel cell

AutoGuide Freeways (A Concept)

In 1993, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) awarded fifteen Precursor Systems Analyses (PSA) research contracts totaling $14.1M to investigate the issues and risks related to the design, development, and implementation of Automated Highway Systems (AHS). Several pilot tests of automated highway systems have been run, including a large scale Congressionally-mandated demonstration run by the National Automated Highway System Consortium in August 1997. This four-day demonstration, held in San Diego (photo on left), involved the installation of digital communications equipment at the roadside and magnets down the center of both lanes

A concept for an automated highway of the future might include the following features (sketch on right):
* Edges of Guideways contain RF nodes linked to Control Center by fiber optics. * Entering vehicle locks onto an RF node which captures vehicle data and assumes control of vehicle. * As moving vehicle passes RF node, data and control is handed off to succeeding node. * Control Center manages speed, steering, separation distance, and command actions (e.g., disengage to manual control) for each vehicle in que.
Tunnels & Boring Machines

The increasing reliance of the United States on imported energy is most critical in the area of transportation. One solution which is beginning to receive more favorable consideration is the use of underground trains using magnetic levitation. The use of such a model of transport requires, however, a relatively rapid and inexpensive method of rock excavation. Conventional rock tunneling machines generally work by drilling the central axis of the tunnel first and then successively breaking rock to that exposed surface. A different approach to drilling has been proposed in a 1986 Los Alamos report which called for using a fission powered, nuclear subselene to provide the heat to "melt rock and form a self-supporting, glass-lined tunnel suitable for Maglev or other high-speed transport modes."

MagLev Trains

The Transrapid Maglev System is the world’s only commercially-available high speed Maglev technology. As a result of over 25 years of continuous design, testing and refinement, the Transrapid Maglev technology is the first such transportation system approved for public use. Achieving routine operating speeds of up to 500 kilometers per hour (310 miles per hour), vehicles travel along a fixed guideway using non-contact levitation, lateral guidance and propulsion.
The system utilizes conventional electromagnets (not superconducting magnets) to attract the bottom frame of the vehicle upward to within 10 mm (3/8 in.) of the bottom of the guideway. Propulsion is achieved through the same principle as a standard rotating electrical motor, but with the stator cut, unrolled and placed lengthwise into the guideway. The levitation/support magnets mounted in the frame of the vehicle serve as the rotor (excitation portion) of the electric motor. When current is run through the stators along the guideway, a linear traveling magnetic field is created, propelling the vehicle. As a result, no separate locomotive car or on-board motor is required to be part of the Transrapid trainset, significantly reducing overall weight and eliminating concentrated loads on the guideway.
Source: Transrapid International-USA, Inc.

Supersonic Commercial Aircraft

Casting an eye toward the passenger jet of the future, the Langley Research Center of NASA is now working on next-generation supersonic aircraft capable of moving 300 people at more than 1,500 miles per hour--more than twice the speed of sound. The High-Speed Civil Transport (HSCT) would cross the Pacific or Atlantic in less than half the time of modern subsonic jets. Better yet, the travel would be affordable--at a ticket price less than 20 percent above comparable, slower flights! HSR is supported by a team of major U.S. aerospace companies in a multi-year research program that started in 1990. The international stakes are high, and for good reason. It is estimated that the market for more than 500 HSCTs between the years 2000 and 2015 translates to more than $200 billion in sales. There is the potential for 140,000 new jobs in the United States to bring about HSCT development.
Coal Into Oil
Today, new technology has made it possible for us to turn back to domestic energy sources -- and to do it cleanly. Coal gasification/coal liquefaction will now allow us to tap the abundant energy stores within our own borders -- without compromising our standards of environmental quality. In fact, these technologies may be our best hope for environmental progress in future years. Using more of our domestic energy reserves would free us from reliance on potentially unstable sources and the economic drain that results from buying oil from overseas. It would result in greater stability in fuel pricing, jobs and job security, and enhance our national security by lessening our dependency on foreign sources. The "US Geological Survey estimates the total identified coal resources as being 1,600 billion tons. Another 1,600 billion tons of unidentified resources are postulated." Currently the US produces approximately 1.06 billion tons of coal annually. If the US were to produce, from coal alone, the amount of oil equivalent to what the US imports, the US would consume an additional .912 billion tons annually. Total coal production/consumption would then = 1.972 billion tons annually. (Not even considering the benefits of energy efficiency, biomass, renewables, high mileage vehicles etc., all of which would significantly extend our energy reserves.) 1,600 billion tons of coal / 1.972 = 811 years of fuel reserves. Given these new conversion technologies the US is, in effect, sitting on a minimum of 811 years of worth of fuel reserves.