Fueled by the chemical reaction of hydrogen gas and oxygen, Toyota's Mirai goes on sale in late 2015, but it is expected to remain expensive because hydrogen gas must be stored in heavy-duty, high-pressure tanks for safety reasons, BBC Science Focus reports.
Therefore, scientists at the UK's Science and Technology Facilities (STFC) are developing a low-cost method of extracting hydrogen from ammonia.
According to professor Bill David, who leads the STFC research team, "a small amount of hydrogen mixed with ammonia is sufficient to provide combustion in a conventional car engine."
"While our process is not yet optimized, we estimate that an ammonia decomposition reactor no bigger than a 2-liter bottle will provide enough hydrogen to run a mid-range family car," David said in a news release.
Propelled by compressed air and induction motors inside a vacuum tube, Elon Musk's Hyperloop passenger-train concept is designed to travel at 760 mph — much faster than Japan's new maglev bullet train (374 mph).
Earlier this year, Musk announced a Hyperloop pod competition that would enable students and independent engineering teams to design and build a subscale pod for the train. From the more than 1,700 teams that registered, 300 teams were recently selected to move to the next stage of the competition.
The winner team is expected to test out its pod designs on a subscale Hyperloop test track. The BBC Science Focus magazine also reports that test runs are expected to begin in two years.
According to The Washington Post, Elon Musk is waiting for government approval to send 4,000 small satellites into low-Earth orbit. The satellites are designed to beam a high-speed signal to everyone on the planet, including remote regions where people do not already have internet access.
The filing, made with the Federal Communications Commission in May, proposes tests starting next year, and Musk hopes the service could be up and running in a few years.
As wildfires have been multiplying over recent years and the trend is likely to continue in that direction, new technologies to combat fire are being invented, and two students at George Mason University are at the forefront of the trend.
The students, Seth Robertson and Viet Tran, created a device that sends loud noises toward the flames. "At the right frequency, the fire simply dies out," the BBC Science Focus magazine notes.
The pressure waves coming from the device cut off the oxygen supply to the fire.
Though their invention has not yet been tested on large fires, the students are confident their technology works. "I'd like to see this applied to swarm robotics where it could be attached to a drone and that would be applied to forest fires or even building fires," one of the two students said in a video interview.