Solving the natural gas tank puzzle.
One of the cleanest burning alternative fuels is natural gas. In
light-duty vehicles, natural gas produces 90% less carbon monoxide, 60%
less nitrogen oxides and between 30 and 40% less carbon dioxide than
gasoline. Until now, the use of natural gas in vehicles has been limited
by the fact that the fuel storage tanks necessary were very bulky and
required high-pressure conditions. Researchers at the University of
Missouri-Columbia and Midwest Research Institute have come up with a
solution in which ground corncobs are baked and compressed into carbon
briquettes. These briquettes contain "fractal pore
spaces"--spaces created by repetition of similar patterns at
different levels of magnification--that can store 180 times their own
volume of natural gas without high pressure and that can be fit into
smaller areas. The technology is currently being tested in a truck owned
and operated by the Kansas City Office of Environmental Quality.
edited by Erin E. Dooley