Marbles will power the cars of the future!

To me this is reminiscent of the Monsanto House of the Future video – how science will make life better in the future.  Kind of goofy.

But at the same time, this really gets to something that we all feel – the pinch in our pocket at the gas station.  Right now gasoline is one of primary resources used for powering cars, energy plants – basically our lives.  Liquid gasoline is a great fuel source because it packs a huge PUNCH of power with only a gas-tank sized amount (like 200 – 300 miles for a 12-15 gallon tank).  But we all know the drawbacks to burning gasoline.

There are many gases which are not as harmful to the environment as gasoline when burnt – but one drawback to actually putting gas in a our ‘gas tanks’ is volume.  You get fewer particles of something in gas form compared to liquid form.  So we would have to create SUPER HUGE gas tanks (remember the Zeppelins?  Okay, fine, they were filled with gas, not powered by them, but you get the point).  Or find a way to pack more ‘gas’ into a gas tank.  Gases have a very quirky trait:  The gas particles like to hangout against walls (like hoodlums). To be scientific about it, the volume of these gases increases with increased surface area.  So if we could somehow just make gas tanks have more surface area…

A hoodlum gas particle

Nanotechnology to the rescue!  This video does a great job of explaining just how material scientists propose we do that (although the whole An der schönen blauen Donau part at the beginning seems out of place).  I imagine someday when gas tanks will really carry gases, and they’ll be filled with little synthetic marble-like structures that all the hoodlum gas particles gather around.

You know, like in 8th grade.

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