The engine-fuel situation has changed almost overnight. Oil-consuming activities have taken on an accelerated expansion and the situation has shifted from excess supply to a position where demand is assuming the lead and is seeking a supply. A gasoline stringency, accompanied presumably by a marked rise in price, is a prospect to be anticipated. The production of gasoline is increasing more rapidly than the production of its raw material, crude petroleum. The available supply of the latter is very limited in view of the size of the demand. As a direct result of the situation, gasoline is changing in character and becoming progressively less volatile. The low thermal efficiency of the prevailing type of automotive apparatus contributes strongly to the demand for gasoline as engine fuel and has a bearing upon the quantity and the price of this specialized fuel. While this now tends to work to the disadvantage of the industry it may be turned to its advantage since it brings into the problem the matter of supporting resources such as benzol, alcohol, shale-oil distillates and mixed fuels. The production of these products can be counted upon as need arises for them and the engine should evolve in the direction of adaptation to the new fuels. Fuel is now to dictate to the engine, and “the engine should listen well to all that fuel has to say.”
The author outlines three stages of activity to be provided for in meeting the problems in the situation, economic analysis, material research and coordination between industrial activities. For the last no ready-made examples are to be found and the means for handling these functions will have to be built up for the first time from a point of view covering the new problems, since science can offer no solution if its scope is restricted.
The work to be done should be regarded as an emergency measure. Something more than laboratories engaged merely in chemical, physical and mechanical research is needed. Research to be effective must be applied to critical and pivotal points. We need to catch at once the natural trend of things, to develop the engine where needed advances are not being made with sufficient celerity and to bring a discordant set of individual policies into harmony with the demands of the situation.