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Mechanical Engineering. 2014;136(07):32-37. doi:10.1115/1.2014-Jul-1.
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This article discusses the economic growth opportunities due to liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the United States. Advanced drilling and production techniques have given the United States more natural gas than its markets can handle. Converting that bounty into liquefied natural gas promises to transform the U.S. gas industry into a global energy power. LNG is the generally preferred form of natural gas for use in long-haul heavy-duty trucks, because liquefying it reduces volume. More fuel can be loaded into the tank. Local-use vehicles, which operate from a central yard, often use CNG. For LNG, the only serious limits that people are talking about today are related to infrastructure costs, particularly in the development of exports. Even if the international demand for LNG stays high, exports from the United States cannot happen for a few years because of the time needed for plant construction. Optimism reigns among players throughout the natural gas industry.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2014;136(07):38-43. doi:10.1115/1.2014-Jul-2.
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This article focuses on the use of gas turbines for electrical power, mechanical drive, and marine applications. Marine gas turbines are used to generate electrical power for propulsion and shipboard use. Combined-cycle electric power plants, made possible by the gas turbine, continue to grow in size and unmatched thermal efficiency. These plants combine the use of the gas turbine Brayton cycle with that of the steam turbine Rankine cycle. As future combined cycle plants are introduced, we can expect higher efficiencies to be reached. Since almost all recent and new U.S. electrical power plants are powered by natural gas-burning, high-efficiency gas turbines, one has solid evidence of their contribution to the greenhouse gas reduction. If coal-fired thermal power plants, with a fuel-to-electricity efficiency of around 33%, are swapped out for combined-cycle power plants with efficiencies on the order of 60%, it will lead to a 70% reduction in carbon emissions per unit of electricity produced.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2014;136(07):44-51. doi:10.1115/1.2014-Jul-3.
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This article presents the discussion on challenges, triumphs, and contradictions that were on display at Critical Thinking, Critical Choices: What Really Matters in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The forum focused on middle school, where students become teenagers and develop many of the interests and attitudes that will guide their life choices. This makes middle school a critical time for STEM educators. Critical Thinking, Critical Choices is part of the ASME Decision Point Dialogues thought leadership program, where leaders debate the complexities underlying an issue by focusing on the decisions people must make in real life. Unlike typical conference sessions, the panellists’ opinions were challenged by other panellists and the moderator, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist John Hockenberry. The conversation ranged from how to serve disadvantaged communities and the role of testing versus project-based learning to the contentious Common Core and Next-Generation Science Standards.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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