Shifting winds


As far as fuel goes, there’s been a dramatic change in the wind in the last few years – one that’s long overdue, in my book. Where maybe about a decade ago it seemed that all we did was talk about finding alternatives to gasoline and diesel, today there’s a flurry of activity and research into a variety of alternative fuels; natural gas, propane and electric all appear to have promise, depending on the application.

What changed? You could argue that America is finally getting fed up with depending on OPEC for most of its oil, or our apprehension with drilling on home soil and the environmental ramifications for doing so. In my mind, it probably was the sticker-shock pump prices of the summer of 2008 that had most of the technology laggards do an about-face and realize “We can’t depend 100 percent on diesel and gas anymore.” At that point, it seemed inaction would leave America to face the next few years scrounging for diminishing oil supplies at ridiculous prices.

Now, it appears that everyone is on board – the vehicle builders, engine makers, customers, government, etc. – to investigate all possible options and make something happen. It’s exciting to watch and ponder what will become the fuels of choice in the years to come. There’ll probably still be gasoline stations before I’m too old to drive a car anymore, but perhaps my son’s children may never stop at a gas station.

Gasoline engines were developed in the late 1800s. Considering all of the technological marvels we enjoy today that seemingly are introduced with breathtaking frequency, I say it’s about time we found a new fuel or two.