Viva la France! French engineer Guy Nègre has been working on the concept of an air-powered car for the past 15 years. Thanks to a new contract with India’s main car manufacturer, Tata Motors, Nègre’s technology is about to reap the benefits of a major corporate backer; not to mention access to a massive, growing market. Geeks Are Sexy lays out the details on the tech,
“The principle that makes this car work is very simple. Instead of using gas to create an explosion and make the pistons move, the vehicle’s engine is powered via three compressed air tanks located under its chassis. Environmentally speaking, this means all that goes out the exhaust pipe is cold, pure air, which can even be used as an air-conditioning source on a hot summer day.”
With a top speed over over 70mph and a range of almost an equivalent amount, the Veunturi solar car allows you to draw stares while commuting to work in Formula One style. 3.6 sqm of photovoltaic cells operating at 21% efficiency work to power what is considered the first ever commercial vehicle that’s capable of using absolutely no fossil resources. From the site,
“Capable of working with very little energy (16 kWc motor) and of recharging even when in motion, this vehicle of another era does not need to be permanently exposed to the sun in order to move. Its last-generation NiMH Venturi NIV-7 batteries ‘liquid cooled’ in fact enable it to restitute stored energy, whether solar or from the electricity supply, making it the first electro-solar hybrid vehicle. To attain this level of performance while using very little energy, Astrolab has been designed like a Formula 1 : its carbon monocoque chassis is ultra-light and serves as an oversized protection cell ensuring the safety of its occupants in the event of a collision. Its profile recalls the aqua-dynamic design of great racing yachts.”
This news story caught my eye during the busy month of August. While electric cars have been the talk of the green blogosphere over the last year, this is the first instance I’ve heard of electric boating.On August 12, the Tamarack Lake Boating company launched “The Loon” a pontoon boat with 738 watts of solar panels mounted on its cover, and a 30 mile range on its 48 Volt deep-cycle battery array. (Syracuse.com)
With the flick of a switch, Canadian boat builder Monte Gisborne turned on his solar-powered pontoon boat, The Loon, and quietly slipped out of Oswego Harbor.
“It’s beautiful. It’s my first time on this canal and it’s beautiful,” Gisborne said as The Loon approached the Minetto Bridge. “The sky is clear, there’s a nice breeze blowing and people along the shoreline are waving I couldn’t be happier.”
The 12-day journey will take the Gisbornes – Monte is accompanied by his wife, Denise,
According to a recent U.S. Department of Energy study, there is so much excess energy on the U.S. grid nightly that if every light-duty car and truck in America today used plug-in hybrid technology, 73 percent of them could be plugged in and “fueled” without constructing a single new power plant. So much for the myth that electric vehicles will cause more emissions.
The Portland Press has a great article on the potential benefits of harnessing this excess energy and making the switch to plug-in vehicles. Apparently, each night there is a large amount of renewable power generation capacity that sits idle. Tapping into this source by plugging in our vehicles at night would harness a vastly unused portion of the U.S. grid. From the article,
“Studies have shown that plug-in hybrids produce at least 67 percent fewer harmful emissions than a standard gasoline-powered car. Even when accounting for emissions from the production of electricity, national studies have shown greenhouse gas production would fall by almost 40 percent if plug-in hybrids became commonplace. Plug-in hybrids could easily be expected to get over 100 miles per gallon of gasoline, and owners would do most of their refueling at home where the equivalent cost of electricity is about $1 per gallon.”
I don’t care who you are, this right here is pretty darn cool. What an interesting way to reuse an old car and make a nice commuter vehicle, although it appear he may have gone overboard!
When the starting light flashed, the Datsun, known as White Zombie, shot silently past the Corvette and kept widening the lead as the two cars faded into the distance. “Oh man, right off the [starting] line he had me,” said the Corvette’s owner, Robert Akers, shaking his head.
The electric car renaissance is barely spreading ink on the canvas and already plans are in motion to have a viable charging infrastructure in place. Earlier this week, Tesla Motors — the crew behind the highly anticipated 2008 Tesla Roadster — received a grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop a 16KW station that could be installed at hotel chains across the state. While the stations would be commercially based, we have no idea if they might also be autonomous through solar power; much like the stations Vectrix is planning on introducing in Europe.
Tesla also recently announced plans to form a new division that will sell batteries to other car manufacturers.
“The electric-car startup said it will initially provide advanced lithium-ion battery packs from the new Tesla Energy Group to Think, a Norwegian maker of electric cars. The deal is expected to bring Tesla $43 million over the next two years. The new division will also develop and make battery packs for Tesla’s two-seat roadster that is set to go into production this fall, and for a four-door sedan set to debut later this decade.”
The Vectrix shareholder report for April 2007 just dropped into my lap. Besides some beautiful eye candy, the document lays out some important milestones reached by the company; as well as future developments underway for the vehicle line. Here are some of the highlights:
>>Financially, Vectrix has firmed things up by appointing HSBC to undertake a strategic review which could lead to a flotation. Such a move could would see the company valued at up to 200m. Yee Haw. Additionally, the big V might put itself up for sale to attract a larger company or interested private party. We’ll keep our ears open on this one.
>>Besides its launch in the EU late last Fall, Vectrix now poised to push the new all-electric bikes in the UK (indeed, they launched yesterday) and in the U.S. by the end of June. Over 2,100 customer reservations in the U.S. alone are waiting to be fulfilled. The first 700 scooters allocated for the American market will see a roll out in major U.S. cities so as to increase visibility of the product. Look for the bikes in Seattle, Austin, Portland, San Francisco, Newport, and other locales. By the end of 2007, there will be up to 50 official Vectrix dealers in 8 countries (Italy, Spain, England, Portugal, Switzerland, Greece, Australia, and USA). Plans are already underway to expand distribution to Japan, France, Germany, and Israel.
Community Solutions recently issued a report about modifications necessary to our transportation infrastructure in a future world where we experience declining oil supplies. (Community Solutions, if you aren’t familiar with them, is the group that created the documentary “The Power of Community: How Cuba survived Peak Oil”) They are proposing a system they are calling the Smart Jitney, which is essentially a souped up ride share program designed to reduce the amount of cars on our roads. And I have to say, I like it. I like it a lot.
I recently read through a report by Alliance Bernstein about the future of automobiles where they placed all the marbles for our future transportation needs in the plugged in hybrid basket. Essentially making quite a few difficult, and risky, assumptions that we will be able to sequester power plant emissions (unproven), generate clean energy for our homes and cars (not at the levels we are generating now), and create a new infrastructure built around a totally new type of car (to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars). In short, they are making some huge leaps there to support their given choice for transportation.
I always appreciated the efforts of Barney and Fred in The Flintstones to push around their apparently heave stone vehicles with only their legs for power. And let’s get one thing straight, regardless of Fred’s eating habits, the guy must have been in excellent shape.
These days, we’re all fat-fat-fattys in our vehicles, relying on millions of years of ‘ancient sunglight’ to get us to our destinations. Sure, we can bike it, but if you’ve got a family to move, biking sometimes isn’t the safest option. Enter The Human Powered Car. This street-legal four passenger vehicle relies on human energy (think: rowing machine exercise) to get you where you’re going. Apparently, there is also a human/electric hybrid available, which would dramatically help in those steep up-hill climbs. Priced at $7K, the company has 750 units available for this year. Take a look at the video below for more details. Your legs might not look like Fred’s after using this ‘car’, but you arms may look more like Arnold’s.