In the last few years, we’ve heard a lot about driver-less cars – some big companies are working to make those a reality, and let’s be honest, there’s not a lot they can’t do when they put their minds to it. In the meantime, though, have you thought about the kind of automotive technology they’ll be using to run the cars of the future?
There’s a common misconception that we could run out of gas if we keep driving our current cars. That’s wrong – we will never run out of gas. The only thing that will happen is that our entire society will shift to the next-cheapest source of fuel and start using that instead – and advances in technology mean we’ll be able to make the switch long before we come even vaguely close to running out of gasoline.
So, what are the alternative fuels that automotive technology could be using in the future? Here are the most likely candidates:
That’s right – that nasty stuff that grows on water. Don’t laugh too hard, though, because the military is taking this seriously and has successfully tested the technology. They’ve already paid for commercial-scale production, and pond scum power is compatible with existing technology. It wouldn’t be very difficult to switch over any existing vehicle.
Yeah, automotive technology can be pretty weird – but when the cost gets down to a sustainable, practical level, this really is going to be a thing.
There’s something slightly frightening about driving in a car that’s literally powered by air, but this is a real concept that uses the expansion of air to fuel a piston-based system. If that sounds familiar, it’s because this automotive technology is basically a steam engine without the steam – the real challenge is figuring out how to make storing and using this air practical.
Advances in technology are never to be underestimated, but it’s likely that this automotive technology will be used mainly as an additional way of powering the vehicle – a gas/air or electric/air hybrid is a very realistic option for the vehicles of the future.
Otherwise known as ‘Running a car with booze’, ethanol is another type of alternative fuel that’s already creeping into service. In fact, most cars already on the road can run on gasoline that has ethanol in it, and advances in this automotive technology have helped to drastically reduce the cost of production.
One of the most interesting things about this automotive technology is the way that practically any usable farmland could be converted to producing the fuel. And if we don’t need the fuel, well, now we have a surplus of food! It’s a win-win situation for society, especially because keeping the cost of food down is big on any country’s To Do list.
(Incidentally, this automotive technology is also interested in an algae-based production method. Seriously, don’t underestimate the chances of that stuff being the big player in the fuel production of the future.)
So, What Does This Mean To You?
Automotive technology is a Big Deal – it’s how we move around, get to work, transport goods (both needed and luxury), and generally manage to keep our society functioning. If some of these technologies pan out – and there’s every indication they will – you won’t just be running a car with booze created by pond scum… although that’s pretty awesome all by itself.
But seriously, low transportation costs help to reduce the cost of everything else in our society, and widespread implementation could give a huge boost to the economy. This is definitely something you’ll want to keep an eye on.