Stepping on the gas

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Science  31 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6209, pp. 538-541
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6209.538

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Natural gas is plentiful and costs only about half the price of gasoline for the equivalent amount of energy. It's also a cleaner burning fuel than gasoline and diesel. That's made it an increasingly popular fuel source for trucks and buses. But it has yet to catch on with drivers of light-duty cars and trucks, which make up nearly 60% of vehicles on the road. The problem is that the low energy density of natural gas means that it must be pumped into high-pressure tanks, which are expensive and take up precious cargo room in cars. Researchers are now working on novel tank technology to improve the range of natural gas–powered cars, and they're also working to develop cheap compressor technology that allows drivers to refuel at home using the natural gas that's already piped into half of all American homes.

  • * in Los Angeles, California

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