When it comes to American consumers’ vehicular preferences, Texas A&M University chemist Hongcai Joe Zhou says the choice often boils down to simple economics more so than availability, environment or altruism.
And while passenger vehicles that run on natural gas may be an option for the financially well-off, Zhou says a more cost-efficient system will be necessary to drive a nationwide shift from petroleum to cleaner-burning fuels.
Zhou’s goal is to solve the technical hurdles related to natural gas storage — answers that bode well for sectors ranging from energy and economics to global relations and preservation.
“We should invest in this for security reasons so we don’t have to rely on countries that may not be our allies for petroleum and for environmental reasons, since a large part of air pollution comes from the transportation sector,” Zhou said. “Government policy can help. However, the ultimate determining factor is that it has to be commercially viable. If it’s too expensive, few will use it.”
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