Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The fuel of the future, once and always

Jalopnik dredged up an old article about the fuel of the future from 1936. The proposed fuel was radio-fuel that powered an electric engine. I like old articles like this because they show that the problems we are dealing with in today's transportation world are not new. This brings up all kinds of questions about why we are still working through the solutions to 100-yar old problems. The internal combustion engine is dominant for many reasons above and beyond the relative efficiency of power generation from gasoline. What ever happened to electric cars? If we had spent the same amount of effort engineering electric engines as we have gasoline engines, we would certainly have far better electric options than we currently do. Who knows if they would be superior for power.

We should probably be happy that the radio-fuel car never took off, though. Stringing towers emitting electric and magnetic fields over all out roads might cause greater incidences of child leukemia and other cancers. Though some of those adverse health effects would be offset by improved air quality from fewer emissions, resulting in less asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

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