Because it is unlikely that the demand for automobiles will decrease, we need to find ways to make them more efficient and find alternatives to gasoline. Rising oil prices, global temperature increases caused by the greenhouse gas emissions, and instability in the oil-rich Middle East are three of the main problems caused, in part, by the world's addiction to gas-powered automobiles. And while carpooling, public transportation and simply driving less could help alleviate these problems, they won't take us far enough. In order to slow the negative effects of automobile usage, we need to design with the future in mind. We need to design ourselves out of oil dependence.
In this episode, General Motors unveils The Volt, a super-hybrid vehicle, and the fuel cell-powered Sequel, while technology firm Fiberforge shows off the latest in ultra-lightweight materials for car manufacturing. These are only a few of the advanced technologies being developed for the future of the automobile industry. Which solution or solutions will emerge as the most cost-efficient, energy-efficient and ultimately the most popular cars of the future?
2. What are the challenges of fueling cars with gasoline, both from an environmental and a political perspective?
3. What percentage of the gasoline in a car do you think is used to move it forward?
4. It is often said that people "love their cars." What do cars represent in our society? How dependent are you, your family and your city/town on automobiles? Do you use other forms of transportation?
Link to resources to conduct research on these topics.
2. What problems do we currently face due to our society's dependence on oil? Are there benefits to our current system?
3. How could using lightweight materials to manufacture cars help the environment?
4. Why wouldn't every car manufacturer want to use lightweight materials right now? What are some of the risks with being the first company to use a new technology? What are some of the benefits of being the first?
NATIONAL STANDARDS FROM MCREL STANDARD
Standard 5.8: Understands how the use of domestic and commercial power and energy affects the environment
Standard 14.4: Understands how societal interests, economics, ergonomics, and environmental considerations influence a solution
Standard 16.3: Understands the role of research and development in the production of new or improved products, processes, and materials
Standard 17.6: Understands tradeoffs among characteristics such as safety, function, cost, ease of operation, quality of post-purchase support, and environmental impact when selecting systems for specific purposes
Standard 3.3: Knows that alternatives, risks, costs, and benefits must be considered when deciding on proposals to introduce new technologies or to curtail existing ones (e.g., Are there alternative ways to achieve the same ends? Who benefits and who suffers? What are the financial and social costs and who bears them? How serious are the risks and who is in jeopardy? What resources will be needed and where will they come from?)