The SolarWorld GT, hailed as the world’s prettiest solar car, is making its way across America right now as part of its attempt to go farther than any solar-powered car has ever gone.
Encourage customers to shop more by offering to deliver their bags to the garage for free? On tiny little electric four-wheelers? Akihabara, land of electronics, totally has that covered.
Akihabara, also called “Akiba” and “Electric Town,” started their new experimental service yesterday. Customers who want to wander the shops and buy all of the new, classic, or just plain weird electronics and geeky merchandise (no, seriously, it’s either amazing or horrifying, I can’t decide which) without hauling all that heavy stuff back to their cars just need to get the attention of one of the operators, who will take everything back to the garage for you.
The social-technological experiment is called the “Akiba Robot Mobility Porter Service” (yes, those are all English loan words, except for the first one). It’s based out of the underground garage below the Akihabara UDX building (Chiyoda Ward, Soto Kanda 4, if you’re curious). Participants are expected to fill out a survey, for which they get an hour of free parking.
How Is This Green?
I’m glad you asked – the porter service isn’t using traditional vehicles to haul your stuff around for you. They’ll use the COMS, manufactured and sold by Toyota. It’s 79” long and just over 37” tall, and seats exactly one person. (And your stuff, in the box in the back.) The COMS runs on lead acid batteries, so there are zero emissions and zero noise added to the already enthusiastic district.
The program was set up by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, jumping on the green bandwagon and trying to think of environmentally friendly pilot programs. The Akiba project is just one of several under way in an additional 4 cities in 2 prefectures. The idea is to see how tiny green vehicles integrate with local traffic – and there’s nowhere in Japan that has more local traffic than the various districts of Tokyo, and nowhere in Tokyo more likely to embrace neat little EVs than Akihabara Electric Town.
New Energy Technology, Inc. (NET) has created a novel method for generating electricity using existing vehicles by way of its MotionPower™ System. NET, in partnership with the City of Roanoke, VA, debuted the electricity-generating system (the first of its kind) the last week of October. Around 580 vehicles participated in the 6 hour event, the first of many scheduled in the coming months.
The MotionPower™ system “harvests the “kinetic” or “motion” energy of cars, trucks, buses, and heavy commercial vehicles when they slow down before coming to a stop,” explains John Conklin, president and CEO of New Energy Technologies, Inc. “MotionPower™ converts this captured energy into electricity.” These vehicles’ tires depress a series of small rumble strip-like treadles, which in turn rotate patented electrical generation “devices” that convert the captured energy into electricity. In the demonstrations, this energy powered a series of brightly illuminated lights for the drivers-evidence that it works, and a step up from losing energy as heat or friction.
NET is touting the energy harvested as clean green electricity and hoping to mitigate the effects of emissions contributed by the 250 million cars on American roads. The device can be used to either add to or replace conventional electrical supplies for powering roadway signs, street and building lights, emergency power, and the like.
Mark Jamison, the mayor of Roanoke, believes the system will “…offset the city’s cost of operating traffic control devices, such as traffic signals and street lights… [and] has the potential to provide a more sustainable environment, while simultaneously conserving strained budgets of cities across the nation.” The company also has ambitions to power devices in homes and businesses, which makes for a rosy future when coupled with other alternative sources of energy.
The MotionPower™ Design
The MotionPower™ Express was designed for installation in places where vehicles travel over 15 mph with many stops, such as parking lots, exit ramps, toll booths, and travel plazas. A system experiencing traffic patterns similar to the demonstration could produce enough juice to power the lights in an American home, or power a 150 square foot electronic billboard for an entire day, according to the press release.
Mr. Conklin writes that “The MotionPower™-Express basis system is designed to be cost and power output competitive to a 4kW solar PV system. MotionPower™ has the unique feature of being modular and scalable (power greater than or less than the 4kW basic system) to accommodate specific, or customized, applications.” The goal seems to be to collect the energy of around 300 automobiles traveling at approximately 15 MPH. When they come to a stop, enough kinetic energy is dissipated to generate electricity to light up 0.12 homes. A 4kW Solar PV system lights approximately 0.13 homes. NET’s goal is for its system to eventually outperform the traditional 4kW solar PV system.
The design can be custom-built to varying lengths and is designed to have a very low profile in order to reduce passenger discomfort. It can also be designed in accordance to the energy needs of the particular application in mind. Installation costs will be forthcoming; earlier estimates were $16K to $20K, depending on the design. The materials used include various metal alloys, plastics, composites, PVC, and recycled and recyclable materials, according to Mr. Conklin. In short, materials which are sturdy and resistant to damage from vehicles, road debris, and weather.
A quick review of past articles on this new tech reveals fears from car owners with regenerative braking, but owners of hybrid cars with regenerative braking systems need not fear. Mr. Conklin states that the MotionPower™ system “does not capture energy from regenerative brakes. MotionPower™ harvests kinetic energy (motion energy)… A vehicle operator can use brakes (traditional friction pad or regenerative) while traveling over MotionPower™ if the operator chooses. MotionPower™ continues to produce electricity while a vehicle is braking or decelerating without brakes.”
With demand for energy set to keep increasing, we need good sources of alternative, renewable energy. In the meantime, finding solutions that maximize what we already have is not only logical, but necessary. Residents of Roanoke, let us know what you think in the comments below!
Source: New Energy Technologies
Thanks to John Conklin, President and CEO of New Energy Technologies, Inc., for the interview!
Images: Beckerman PR
Looking like the steampunk love-child of a Segway and an old English penny-farthing bicycle, Ayrton and Perry’s electric car offered its owners quiet operation and a top speed of 9 (nine) mph – courtesy of its 0.5kW vertical electric motor and 7.5Ah battery. Nine miles-per-hour may not seem too impressive today, but when the Ayrton and Perry electric was new – back in 1881 (!) – it was a sensation, easily matching the speed of horsedrawn carriages without the expense of stables and hands and without the black soot and dangerous crank-starting of the combustion-powered horseless carriages of the day.
The Ayrton and Perry electric shown here isn’t original (there are no surviving examples known), but it is a painstaking recreation by the German Autovision museum that used the original patent drawings to create this 100-point-perfect “recreation”, celebrating this electric-car milestone that was in production less than 18 months after Edison’s first electric lightbulb made its debut – and a full five years before Benz’ “first car”, three years before the first steam cars, and nearly twenty years before the first gas/electric hybrids (the 1900 Porsche Lohner hybrid) went on sale.
Perspective is pretty neat, eh?
Enjoy the video of Autovision’s Ayrton and Perry electric on the road (slowly), below.
Source | Photos: Gizmag.
Pedal-powered bicycles equipped with electrical power generators are now supplying electricity to protesters at Zuccotti Park, the home of the Occupy Wall Street movement – just in time for the area’s first major snow of the season!
Yes, the first snowstorm has come and gone in the Northeast, and it was a big one, dropping 20″ of snow in some areas. Other than asking when the power will come back on, many are a residents wondered if the cold and snow would break the Occupy Movements that started in New York City (especially since the NYPD and FDNY “conveniently” confiscated all of the protester’s generators as “fire hazards”).
Protesters with a cause are tough to push back, however. Facing down the possibility of a frosty weekend without power and heat, the Occupy Wall Street protestors got down to business, and – less than 48 hours after having their generators taken away – the Occupy Wall Street group looked to some alternative ways to generate power, which led to bicycle powered generators being quickly purchased online, shipped to Zuccotti Park, and getting immediately put into service.
The bicycle powered generators are being used to power just about everything now, from cell phones and laptops (which allowed the group to maintain its keep live streaming and communications equipment) to area lighting electric heaters in the Occupy zone. It is estimated that 6 hours of pedaling will charge the generators’ batteries for almost 100 hours of use, but with plenty of volunteers to keep the wheels spinning, there will hardly be any occasion to put that to the test!
In addition to powering up the Occupiers in Zuccotti Park, the pedal powered generators are also attracting a lot of positive attention, proving the movement to be plenty resourceful when faced with some of the very “real world” dilemmas that the movement’s detractors would like you to think they aren’t capable of overcoming.
That’s great news for OWS, and bad news for Wall Street.
Source | Images: Inhabitat.com, David Shankbone under a Creative Commons License
Researchers at Penn State University claim to have developed a process which shows “that pure hydrogen gas can efficiently be produced from virtually limitless supplies of seawater and river water and biodegradable organic matter” … which is, of course, a fancy way of saying “poopy water”.
The process developed by Penn State researchers Bruce Logan and Younggy Kim extracts electricity between the small differences in charge between saltwater and fresh water, then adding this small charge to a waste-water solution containing microbial electrolysis cells (MECs). With the help of this added current, the MECs partially reverse the decomposition of the organic compounds found in waste-water to generate hydrogen and methane (two compounds which are considered viable alternative fuels for cars and large trucks motivated by natural gas or hydrogen fuel cells, assuming they can be generated in sufficient quantities).
The group showed photos of their fuel cell stacks (below) and – in the way of such things – claimed that, since “biodegradable liquids and cellulose waste are abundant and with no energy in and hydrogen out we can get rid of wastewater and by-products. This could be an inexhaustible source of energy.”
Talk like that is usually a bad sign (inexhaustible is, after all, a Big and Serious word), but the science involved is way over my head. You can check it out for yourself in the 19SEP issue of the newsletter for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and let us know if you think it’ll fly in the comments, below.
With any luck, these guys can pull it off and give the Saudi Princes something to fret about besides what to do with their AK-47s and Toyota Camry sedans.
Source: PANS, via Gizmag.
Solar energy has been in the news quite a bit these days with its ubiquity, advances in infrastructure, and expansion (as well as some major setbacks) making waves in the media. On the back of that publicity, Florida Power and Light Company (FPL) is working with the Florida Public Service Commission to offer rebates on solar panels to Florida residents and businesses, and also to give away photovoltaic (PV) systems to Florida’s public schools.
It’s hoped that these rebates and giveaways will allow lower-income families and small businesses to reap the rewards of long-term energy savings without having to face down high initial installation costs.
FPL will be distributing approximately $5 million in solar incentive funds on a first-come, first serve basis, and Gas 2 readers in Florida who would like to take advantage of the Sunshine State’s most plentiful product (sunlight, not oranges) can apply for there rebates at FPL’s website. FPL’s rebates apply to solar-energy devices ranging from simple water heaters to more complex PV systems.
Perhaps more interesting (and with more “propaganda power” to push for solar’s mainstream adoption in the future) is FPL’s “Photovoltaic for Schools Pilot Program“, which sees FPL donating a solar PV system to (at least) one public school in each of the 28 school districts the company serves, with plans to install solar PV systems in 81 Florida schools schools by 2016. FPL will also providing teacher training, classroom materials on reduced energy consumption, and will also maintain the PV arrays for five years after installation at no cost to the school system.
This is all great stuff, and – we hope! – just the beginning of Florida’s solar conversion.
A recent discovery of antimatter in the Earth’s upper magnetic fields have scientists claiming that these tiny specks of matter might one day be used to fuel inter-planetary spacecraft. Tremendous potential energies are tapped matter and antimatter interact (or, “annihilate“) in a reaction that produces energy more efficiently than the nuclear fusion at the sun’s core.
While the science involved is way over my head (despite having watched antimatter-heavy Angels and Demons movie twice for the ultra-sexy Lancia Delta scenes), Gas 2.0 is here to cover new and exciting sources of non-fossil energy. That said, exotic spaceborne antimatter is about as far removed from “up from the ground come a bubblin’ crude” as it gets! The discovery, then, that such a promising potential energy source exists in such a relatively accessible place means that future missions to Mars, the Moon, etc. (which may be somewhat more necessary sooner than later) won’t require as much of our terrestrial resources as scientists thought they would just a few short weeks ago.
This discovery (specifically, the discovery of orbital antiprotons approximately 200 times more massive than the previously discovered orbital positrons) probably won’t lead to Star Trek levels of interplanetary travel anytime soon, but it’s exciting to think of the sheer amount of electrical energies that could be harvested from the thermal waste of matter / annihilation reactions in the coming years. Here’s hoping we’re all around to see it!
You can check out a more science-heavy, lolcat-free take on the discovery made by a team of researchers at the University of Rome Tor in Vergata, Italy, over at the New Scientist magazine’s website. If you do check it out, feel free to explain it all to us in the comments, below.
Source | Graphic: New Scientist (adorable kitty added later).
Virginia has had a checkered past in the leading the nation in progressive movements. Yet, in a bit of an unexpected move Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has signed an executive order calling for widespread use of alternative fueled vehicles throughout the State.
Governor McDonnell is calling for the use of electricity and other alternative fuels for the use in the states vehicles, as well as specifically noting the future use of natural gas as a legitimate alternative fuel source for state vehicles– bit concerning.
The Virginia Office of Fleet Management Services will be responsible for replacing most of the states fleet with alternative fuel vehicles. The office currently oversees close to 4,000 passenger vehicles that are used by 175 state agencies and institutions. Replacing that number of vehicles is a massive task and some speculate that there will be a huge monetary cost to the state.
Price be darned, Governor McDonnell signed the executive order to be effective immediately. Under the order the state of Virginia is to, “pursue all practicable and cost-effective options to promote the use of alternative fuel vehicles…reduce our dependence on foreign oil, support the expansion of private sector businesses and create new jobs here in the Commonwealth.”
Alternative fuel vehicles that are to be investigated and eventually put into use in the state of Virginia under the executive order include the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi EV iMiev, and Ford F-250 Biodeisel Truck. A separate bill passed will allow retailers in Virginia to offer electric vehicle charging stations for drivers at their shops, West Virgina has a similar program in action already.
With steps like these, who knows, maybe Virginia will indeed become the alternative energy capital of the east coast.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail.
We, as the crystal-petters will gladly tell you, are surrounded by energy. I’m not talking about any kind of spiritual “soul” energy, here – but electromagnetic energy bouncing between cell phones, radio towers, GPS systems, wi-fi hotspots, and more. Great gobs of electrical potential just “hanging out”, wasted … but no more.
A group of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have created a sort of “wireless paper” antenna which is capable of “scavenging” usable energy from those transmitted frequencies. Said power is converted into AC or DC electricity, which can then be stored in more conventional batteries and capacitors. So far, the team’s various antenna designs have been able to generate hundreds of milliwatts by “mining” energy from TV broadcast bands. A future, multi-band system is is expected to generate significantly more, and be enough to operate small electronics.
Granted, this is not the sort of train-driving “awesome power of lightning” power dreamed of by Ayn Rand and a generation of “free-energy” nuts who can’t tell the difference between Genius!Tesla and IateALLThePeyote!Tesla, of course, but the Georgia Tech – er, tech (sorry) has the distinct advantage of being – you know – actually real … and real beats fiction every time (except for when my Pontiac didn’t turn into a smack-talking hip-hop robot, which was lame).
Source: Gizmag | Image: Gary Meek
Environmentalists keep tabs on the corporations and governments they feel pose a threat to the environment, so it might seem only natural that energy firms who stand to benefit from more lax environmental regulations would turn the tables, and do a little digging of their own to see what kind of dirt they could get on the activists that hound them, right? Except that, it just seems a bit more evil when it’s big companies hiring PI’s to go after “the little guy”, doesn’t it?
Of course it does … and the fact the aforementioned big “companies” (E.ON, Scottish Resources Group, and Scottish Power) happen to be some of the largest coal producers in the UK doesn’t really help me feel any more sympathy for them.
This past Monday, UK’s Guardian published leaked documents that showed that Rebecca Todd, who owns one of the private security groups hired to infiltrate environmental protest groups, tipped off company executives at E.ON about environmentalists’ plans after monitoring their personal email accounts. Documents also show Todd instructing an agent to attend campaign meetings and coaching the agent on ways to ingratiate himself with the activists.
Some senior police officers complain about the investigators hired by companies like E.ON, primarily because of the lack of regulation, with the Guardian reporting that even the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers went so far as to call “the deployment by completely uncontrolled and unrestrained players in the private sector” a “massive area of concern“.
Over the past few years Todd has used a number different email addresses and proxies to sign up to the mailing lists of a number of environmentalist organizations, ranging from large-scale and high-profile events (like the G20 rallies in London) to smaller demonstrations against E.ON’s Kingsnorth power station. E.ON’s spokesmen, however, told the Guardian that the company only asked Todd to gather publicly available information, and that – if Todd and her colleagues had somehow obtained personal/protected information – they had done so “under their own steam” …
… but I don’t believe that for a second, and think this is a clear case of E.ON getting caught with its hand in the cookie jar.
It’s not entirely clear from the Guardian’s article what (if any) laws E.ON, Scottish Power, and Scottish Resources Group broke by hiring Todd to infiltrate these groups, but I
imagine hope that such negative PR is bad for business.
Source: the Guardian.
OK, so my local power company doesn’t actually say that my electricity is coming from unicorns … but they’re not saying it doesn’t, either! The above graph was provided by Illinois’ Champion Energy Services, which is required by Illinois law to disclose the source of the electricity they provide to consumers, be it nuclear, gas, coal, or “other” (as shown in the scanned document, below).
As you can see for yourself, it’s not much help.
Right about now, you might be asking yourself why this is important. Simply, some sources of electricity are cleaner than others, and the general idea is that “we” (as consumers) should be allowed to make our energy choices based on where said energy is coming from. When you hear someone say “Electric cars are not so clean“, this – the source of electricity being used to power EVs – is the issue they’re pointing to to make their
Still, when faced with that big, purple circle of “unkown” up there, I’m certainly forced to stop and think about where my energy might actually be coming from. As such, I’ve come up with a few options, in (what I think might be) descending order of probability:
I’ll give 10 bonus points to anyone who can tell us where the power going to Palatine, IL is actually coming from in today’s comments (20, if it’s actually unicorns).
Source: today’s mail.
Disclaimer: Champion has provided excellent service throughout the year, despite 6′ snow drifts, etc., and they have always been professional and courteous. This FAIL-worthy graph is definitely not the norm, and is more likely a symptom of a well-intentioned but ultimately useless set of disclosure laws.