Friday, September 26, 2008

Alternative transportation technologies to gasoline driven boxes on four wheels

In todays context we face two major challenges both of which stem largely from the abundance of gasoline driven cars on American roads. On one hand the U.S. and the world is facing high oil prices a looming shortage of oil as oil fields around the world go into depletion. On another hand the whole world is facing a global environmental catastrophe that's destabilizing environmental conditions world-wide. On yet another hand (we must be from Mars) the U.S. style of building cities is wasteful of land and ties our hands to possible solutions because of the highway infrastructure.
External Media

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Monday, September 22, 2008

A less car-dependent California

Daniel Lerch on our enduring relationship with the personal automobile, and the potential for a less car-dependent California. Written for the Sacramento Bee's The Conversation.
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Carbon Nanotube Supercapacitors May Replace Clunky Car Batteries

The cover photo from Synthetic Metals  shows a scanning electron microscope image of a single-walled carbon nanotube sheet consisting of randomly entangled bundles of carbon nanotubes. Image: University of Texas at Dallas
(Source Gizmodo)
Carbon nanotubes are one of the surprising new carbon supermaterials,
and it looks like their application in supercapacitors may have a role
in replacing clunky old car battery tech. Scientists at the University
of Texas at Dallas have invented a technique to make supercapacitor
"paper" made from randomly tangled carbon nanotubes embedded in a
polymer. Both chemical batteries and capacitors store electrical
charge, in differing ways, but nanotech supercapacitors could store
more energy in a smaller space, without the dangers associated with
chemical systems. Potentially excellent news given the rise of the
hybrid car. Better yet the new technique is "easily scalable for device
fabrication on an industrial scale," so it might end up in real
products sooner rather than later. [Physorg]

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Evpulse/~3/n3xvn3f7ElY/carbon-nanotube-supercapacitors-may.html

Carbon Nanotube Supercapacitors May Replace Clunky Car Batteries

 University of Texas at Dallas(Source Gizmodo)Carbon nanotubes are one of the surprising new carbon supermaterials,and it looks like their application in supercapacitors may have a rolein replacing clunky old car battery tech. Scientists at the Universityof Texas at Dallas have invented a technique to make supercapacitor"paper" made from randomly tangled carbon nanotubes embedded in apolymer. Both chemical batteries and capacitors store electricalcharge, in differing ways, but nanotech supercapacitors could storemore energy in a smaller space, without the dangers associated withchemical systems. Potentially excellent news given the rise of thehybrid car. Better yet the new technique is "easily scalable for devicefabrication on an industrial scale," so it might end up in realproducts sooner rather than later. [Physorg]

Electric MINI spotted in Munich, expected at 2008 LA Auto Show


(Source:  Engadget via caremagazine.co.uk)

Check it, Cooper fans -- that electric MINI we've been sporadically hearing about is for real, and we've seen the spy shots that prove it. Car
has hosted up a slew of non-blurry (gasp!) snaps of the eco-friendly
whip cruising around Munich, and just in case the complete absence of
an exhaust pipe wasn't evidence enough, maybe the "Hybrid Test Vehicle"
decals will make you a believer. Also of note, we're now hearing that
the car is on track for a 2008 Los Angeles motor show appearance, which
jibes quite well with the purported summer 2009 US launch.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Evpulse/~3/Q4mTN5zu8Tk/electric-mini-spotted-in-munich.html

Electric MINI spotted in Munich, expected at 2008 LA Auto Show

(Source:  Engadget via caremagazine.co.uk)Check it, Cooper fans -- that electric MINI we've been sporadically hearing about is for real, and we've seen the spy shots that prove it. Carhas hosted up a slew of non-blurry (gasp!) snaps of the eco-friendlywhip cruising around Munich, and just in case the complete absence ofan exhaust pipe wasn't evidence enough, maybe the "Hybrid Test Vehicle"decals will make you a believer. Also of note, we're now hearing thatthe car is on track for a 2008 Los Angeles motor show appearance, whichjibes quite well with the purported summer 2009 US launch.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

We need to get smarter about sustainability

Academic thinking about sustainability has progressed quite a bit since the days of the Brundtland Commission and the Earth Summit. Our practice of sustainability, however, has lagged. With global warming and peak oil at our doorstep, we have no time to waste to turn theory into practice.
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Energy issues in the academy

Colleges and universities can be powerful social actors, with their large populations, research facilities, and significant budgets. How are they acting with respect to climate and energy issues?
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Weighty Matters Involving Electrons

Have you ever wondered how much the electrons that power our car weigh?

As I was musing over the properties of our Tesla Roadster electric car the other day I was drawn to the single most massive component of our car which is the battery. This nearly 1000 pound system is composed of various chemicals, enclosures, [...]

Monday, September 15, 2008

Visit low-carbon Honolulu, only 2,500 miles away!

I've always been wary of city sustainability rankings (Warren Karlenzig's top-notch How Green Is Your City? excepted). A recent Brookings Institution report of the carbon emissions of the 100 largest U.S. cities is a case in point.
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rise of the Roboscooters


(Photo source: ScooterInsight.it)

Great news from SYM! The foldaway electric Roboscooter, joint designed with MIT Media Lab and NEXT Consortium, is about to become more than a prototype. Check out this bit of background from CENS.com .
Motorcycle makers in Taiwan have been forced to brainstorm, besides relying on filling OEM orders in rosier times, to come up with creative ways to effectively compete in the increasingly harsh global arena, especially with players in emerging economies ready to reduce costs and margins to paper-thin levels. One recent example of the local makers` innovative attempt is the prototype RoboSooter, a compact and foldable electric scooter.

Three major participants in the joint RoboScooter project recently demonstrated the ingenious foldable scooter in Taiwan, after its global premier at EICMA 2007, the 65th International Bicycle and Motorcycle Exhibition in Milan, Italy.

The main backers of the RoboScooter include Sanyang Industry Co., Ltd. (SYM brand), the second-largest powered two-wheeler (PTW) maker in Taiwan; Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) Creativity Laboratory, who aims to generate, evaluate, demonstrate ideas by tapping in-house mechanisms and intensive interactions with industry; and MIT Media Lab, a globally-famous research unit at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology devoted to integrating multimedia and technology.
Look for commercial production to begin Q3 2009! What's so good about the Roboscooter? I think this quote puts it best:
SYM president Huang said that his company, being given significant innovative input by joining NEXT Consortium, decided to design a personal transport ideally suited for increasingly crowded streets, parking lots, worsening pollution, and spiraling fuel prices. "The RoboScooter fits the bill: it is a personal urban transport," Huang said, "which is not only foldable, compact and electric but also an easy link between private and public transportation systems."

The goal for the production unit is to cut the gross weight down to 88lbs with a top speed of 31mph and a max distance of 37 miles... all for under $2000. BRING IT ON, SYM! Click on the CENS.com link above for more info and photos.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Evpulse/~3/52_IsNQL8ZU/rise-of-roboscooters.html

Rise of the Roboscooters

(Photo source: ScooterInsight.it)Great news from SYM! The foldaway electric Roboscooter, joint designed with MIT Media Lab and NEXT Consortium, is about to become more than a prototype. Check out this bit of background from CENS.com .Motorcycle makers in Taiwan have been forced to brainstorm, besides relying on filling OEM orders in rosier times, to come up with creative ways to effectively compete in the increasingly harsh global arena, especially with players in emerging economies ready to reduce costs and margins to paper-thin levels. One recent example of the local makers` innovative attempt is the prototype RoboSooter, a compact and foldable electric scooter.Three major participants in the joint RoboScooter project recently demonstrated the ingenious foldable scooter in Taiwan, after its global premier at EICMA 2007, the 65th International Bicycle and Motorcycle Exhibition in Milan, Italy.The main backers of the RoboScooter include Sanyang Industry Co., Ltd. (SYM brand), the second-largest powered two-wheeler (PTW) maker in Taiwan; Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) Creativity Laboratory, who aims to generate, evaluate, demonstrate ideas by tapping in-house mechanisms and intensive interactions with industry; and MIT Media Lab, a globally-famous research unit at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology devoted to integrating multimedia and technology.Look for commercial production to begin Q3 2009! What's so good about the Roboscooter? I think this quote puts it best:SYM president Huang said that his company, being given significant innovative input by joining NEXT Consortium, decided to design a personal transport ideally suited for increasingly crowded streets, parking lots, worsening pollution, and spiraling fuel prices. "The RoboScooter fits the bill: it is a personal urban transport," Huang said, "which is not only foldable, compact and electric but also an easy link between private and public transportation systems."The goal for the production unit is to cut the gross weight down to 88lbs with a top speed of 31mph and a max distance of 37 miles... all for under $2000. BRING IT ON, SYM! Click on the CENS.com link above for more info and photos.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Plug-in Prius demoed today in London

 
 Here's a piece from one of my old favorites, Engadget:
If you've been hoping to get your hands around the wheel of one of those eco-friendly plug-in Priuses (Priuii?), maybe it's time to bite the bullet and finally move to the UK... just like you've been telling all your friends you're going to do one of these days. According to a report, Toyota is gearing up for the first trials of the ultra-high-MPG car starting tomorrow at an event in London's Hyde Park. An invite mailed to select members of the media (British media, we assume) states: "the purpose of our UK trial is to evaluate not only vehicle performance, but also the electrical infrastructure required, as well as driver behaviour and expectations. The results will play a key role in preparing for the future commercialisation of Plug-in Hybrid technology." So if you've ever wanted to watch one of these planet-huggers race silently around a British landmark, here's your chance.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Evpulse/~3/DyjnN3xEH9s/plug-in-prius-demoed-today-in-london.html

Plug-in Prius demoed today in London

 
 Here's a piece from one of my old favorites, Engadget:

If you've been hoping to get your hands around the wheel of one of those eco-friendly plug-in Priuses (Priuii?), maybe it's time to bite the bullet and finally move to the UK... just like you've been telling all your friends you're going to do one of these days. According to a report, Toyota is gearing up for the first trials of the ultra-high-MPG car starting tomorrow at an event in London's Hyde Park. An invite mailed to select members of the media (British media, we assume) states: "the purpose of our UK trial is to evaluate not only vehicle performance, but also the electrical infrastructure required, as well as driver behaviour and expectations. The results will play a key role in preparing for the future commercialisation of Plug-in Hybrid technology." So if you've ever wanted to watch one of these planet-huggers race silently around a British landmark, here's your chance.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A radical concept: Distance matters again

Rutgers University planning school Dean James W. Hughes recently imparted two essential lessons about planning and the economy in the 21st century. First, resource constraints and reduced consumption are the future. And second, distance matters again.
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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Affordable, Powerful Electric Scooters Coming Soon

Here's a story (source) from Ariel Schwartz at CleanTechnica.com:
PowerGenix has developed a nickel zinc (NiZn) battery that has 35 percent higher power and energy density than a nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery (used in hybrid vehicles), but is half the cost of a lithium-ion battery.

This is great news for scooter fanatics, who right now are forced to choose between cheap scooters with lead-acid batteries and expensive scooters with powerful lithium-ion batteries.

A bike or scooter using the PowerGenix’ NiZn battery has enough energy to run errands or commute to work— but comes with a cheaper price tag than the lithium-ion powered Vectrix and Zero motorbikes

PowerGenix recently inked a deal with Houston based Veloteq to produce scooters using their NiZn battery. Look for the scooters to be marketed initially in Europe and the US next year.

The first Veloteq product will be unveiled later this month, at the Las Vegas Interbike convention Booth #5981. PowerGenix is based in San Diego, Calif.
I believe this is the first of MANY new battery tech developments you can expect to see over the next couple of years. No word on whether or not Veloteq went through the trouble of hiring talented designers to build a scooter with visual appeal and advanced handling or just settled for cramming the batteries into tired old Chinese gas-scooter bodies like so many others. I guess we'll find out in 20 days. Oh wait...

They settled. Zero and Vectrix might have expensive scooters, but at least the look good and handel well.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Evpulse/~3/6FFpEB7De7g/affordable-powerful-electric-scooters.html

Affordable, Powerful Electric Scooters Coming Soon

Here's a story (source) from Ariel Schwartz at CleanTechnica.com:PowerGenix has developed a nickel zinc (NiZn) battery that has 35 percent higher power and energy density than a nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery (used in hybrid vehicles), but is half the cost of a lithium-ion battery.This is great news for scooter fanatics, who right now are forced to choose between cheap scooters with lead-acid batteries and expensive scooters with powerful lithium-ion batteries.A bike or scooter using the PowerGenix’ NiZn battery has enough energy to run errands or commute to work— but comes with a cheaper price tag than the lithium-ion powered Vectrix and Zero motorbikesPowerGenix recently inked a deal with Houston based Veloteq to produce scooters using their NiZn battery. Look for the scooters to be marketed initially in Europe and the US next year.The first Veloteq product will be unveiled later this month, at the Las Vegas Interbike convention Booth #5981. PowerGenix is based in San Diego, Calif.I believe this is the first of MANY new battery tech developments you can expect to see over the next couple of years. No word on whether or not Veloteq went through the trouble of hiring talented designers to build a scooter with visual appeal and advanced handling or just settled for cramming the batteries into tired old Chinese gas-scooter bodies like so many others. I guess we'll find out in 20 days. Oh wait... They settled. Zero and Vectrix might have expensive scooters, but at least the look good and handel well.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tata Motors has high hopes for their new strain of electric car

New Delhi: Domestic auto major Tata Motors on Wednesday unveiled the electric version of their passenger car "Indica". Tata says that they would distribute their harvest of "Indica" to dealers locally in about two years, without disclosing the price of this green machine. They expect sales to be smokin' and hope it will releave stress on their current oil demand and have a relaxing effect on their economy; possibly helping people sleep at night.

Tata Motors will have to hash out the details on if or when they will bring their stash of new electric cars to America, but they will surely be welcome in California.

Original story found in India's Business Standard site.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Evpulse/~3/hjFc82iFSmU/tata-motors-has-high-hopes-for-their.html

Tata Motors has high hopes for their new strain of electric car

New Delhi: Domestic auto major Tata Motors on Wednesday unveiled the electric version of their passenger car "Indica". Tata says that they would distribute their harvest of "Indica" to dealers locally in about two years, without disclosing the price of this green machine. They expect sales to be smokin' and hope it will releave stress on their current oil demand and have a relaxing effect on their economy; possibly helping people sleep at night. Tata Motors will have to hash out the details on if or when they will bring their stash of new electric cars to America, but they will surely be welcome in California.Original story found in India's Business Standard site.

Killacycle: KillaCycle in Reykjavik, Iceland Sept 13th to 22nd!

Unbelievable as it may seem, the organizers of the Driving Sustainability Conference, with the help of IcelandAir airlines, are shipping the KillaCycle® to Reykjavik to show at the conference and race on the one and only dragstrip in Iceland.
The crating folks from CraTek came by this morning to take measurments for the bike, the pack, and the support equipment. (I highly recommend these folks. They work fast, make a top-quality crate that will get your goods there undamaged, and their prices are very competitive.)
We will be there from September 13th though the 22nd keeping our fingers crossed (and “holding our thumbs” as they say in that part of the world) hoping for a favorable weather window to run the bike on the strip.
The KillaCycle® will be on display at the conference and I will give a presentation on the design of high-performance electric vehicles.
See you there!
(This will be lots of fun. They have awesome geysers and stuff….)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Chevy Volt ready for its big screen debut as an Autobot!

Out in Long Beach, California, they are shooting footage for Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. Besides Ironhide, the GMC Topkick C6500 that gets about 6 mpg was a welcome addition from Chevy, the Volt.

It's not that far from the original concept seen in this video. A poll on the site gm-volt.com shows that 65% actually prefer the production version over the concept version.

The cool thing about the Volt is that it's a plug-in hybrid that goes up to 40 miles on a charge (half the range of the EV1), but also has a "range extender", which is basically a small combustion engine used to generate a charge for the batteries bringing it's distance to 360 miles per fill up. We're not expected to see it until the end of 2009. Expect 10,000 units for 2010 and upwards of 60,000 units for 2011! The price tag is a moving target, but I'd be willing to bet it will settle at $38,995 when it's all said and done.

Here's the original video. About halfway though is where the Volt shows up. She looks pretty roadworthy.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Evpulse/~3/TfkorHtvqlg/chevy-volt-ready-for-its-big-screen.html

Chevy Volt ready for its big screen debut as an Autobot!

Out in Long Beach, California, they are shooting footage for Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. Besides Ironhide, the GMC Topkick C6500 that gets about 6 mpg was a welcome addition from Chevy, the Volt.It's not that far from the original concept seen in this video. A poll on the site gm-volt.com shows that 65% actually prefer the production version over the concept version.The cool thing about the Volt is that it's a plug-in hybrid that goes up to 40 miles on a charge (half the range of the EV1), but also has a "range extender", which is basically a small combustion engine used to generate a charge for the batteries bringing it's distance to 360 miles per fill up. We're not expected to see it until the end of 2009. Expect 10,000 units for 2010 and upwards of 60,000 units for 2011! The price tag is a moving target, but I'd be willing to bet it will settle at $38,995 when it's all said and done.Here's the original video. About halfway though is where the Volt shows up. She looks pretty roadworthy.