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The KestrelAn electric car with the body made of hemp is being developed by Project Eve, a group of Canadian companies in collaboration with an Alberta Crown corporation. The Kestrel will be prototyped and tested later in August by Calgary-based Motive Industries Inc., a vehicle development firm focused on advanced materials and technologies.
Ohio State's Buckeye Bullet
Let's face it, earning your engineering degree by building the first 300MPH hydrogen fuel cell powered streamliner sounds like a blast. The work of these students at Ohio State is nothing short of extraordinary. Talk about teachable moments... other schools should take note of this program. Not everyone wants to be a quarterback. Check out some video.
Running A123 Systems NanoPosphate batteries, the KillaCycle is the quickest electric quarter mile vehicle. A great demonstration of the instant torque capabilities of electric motors. Check a video here.
Mike Dabrowski's Insight
Mike is the father of the MIMA system for the Honda Insight. He has also installed an electric fifth-wheel under the car. I've considered a similar setup for my mini-van in recent years, now that we're not transporting a load of kids somewhere every couple hours. Here's a quick interview with Mike about MIMA at HybridFest 2007. Mike is an innovative guy. He also charges his car with solar panels. I have a ton of respect for the things Mike has already done and can't wait to see what's next. Keep tabs on him at 99mpg.com.
CalCars - The California Cars Initiative
The California Cars Initiative (CalCars.org) is a Palo Alto-based nonprofit startup of entrepreneurs, engineers, environmentalists and consumers promoting 100+MPG plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).
I had the opportunity to meet with Ryan Fulcher a couple years ago. Ryan is a local guy who originally converted his Prius to a 100+ MPG PHEV with CalCars. He has gone on to further enhance the car to a hybrid battery configuration using Manzanita Micro's charging technology. Ryan took time the night before his wedding to show me the car and allow some photos. Thanks Ryan, I really appreciated that. A feature on his car is coming soon.
Invention Nation is a TV show on The Science Channel but it's a project too. From the website: "Micah, Chris and Nobu - three guys passionate about the green life - take a veggie-fueled trip across America in search of amazing eco-inventions. Their journey takes them from New York to California, while they seek out the grassroots green inventors." Look, I don't watch a lot of TV but I DVR this program and I wish it was a 1 hour show. Looks like these guys are having fun and doing good work. From solar power to green building, electric vehicles, hydro electric power and more -- from backyard do-it-yourselfers and production companies too. You never know what they'll feature and better yet, what new ideas will spark from the things you'll see. Invention Nation is great TV.
Fellow Illinoisan, Wayne Gerdes coined the term "Hypermiler" to describe a driver who strives to exceed their vehicle's EPA fuel economy rating. There are those out there who would focus on dangerous and extreme aspects of hypermiling to give it a bad rap -- but I'd rather drive in a world of alert hypermilers than a bunch of crazed appointment-chasing, race-to-the-stoplight, otherwise-focused drivers -- any day. Yes, you can dramatically increase your MPG by modifying your driving habits. Yes, you can be safe in the process. Yes, you can improve things right now, in your current vehicle, without spending any money. For example, in my '02 Ford Windstar, typical daily driving nets ~17.9 MPG. Using some basic hypermiling techniques, that MPG increases to ~23.5. Over time, hypermiling becomes second nature and in most cases, makes you a safer and more aware driver. Check out CleanMPG.com to see what people are accomplishing with vehicles similar to your own. This spring, Wayne drove a stock Prius (with some data monitoring gauges added) from Chicago to New York City (story/video), on 8.9 gallons of gas, at 71 MPG. Learn a bit about hypermiling and you can make a positive MPG impact on your very next drive.
Drag racing is often about tweaking things to get the last 100th of a second from a car. As a result, it's a great testbed for development. If you have yet to discover the instant torque on-tap in an electric vehicle, I encourage you to checkout the NEDRA.