You Got to Be Kidding Me!

Bolt-On Electric Bike Kit from MIT

Posted in Electric Vehicles by Stacy McMahon on February 20, 2009

Technically, there are a lot of bolt-on kits to turn your reg’lar ol’ bicycle into an electric vehicle, but they usually involve bolting a whole lot of stuff on. Wires, batteries, a motor, a bigger chain to handle the motor power… by the time you’re done, you have a fugly bike-like object that needs the extra power just to haul the extra weight.

This item from MIT (ht: AutoBlogGreen) looks like it might finally solve that problem. I’m not sure I buy the 25 mile range from a battery pack small enough to fit into the wheel hub, but at a reasonable price it’d surely be worth a try!

Electric Supercharger

Posted in Electric Vehicles, Four Wheels, Going Green by Stacy McMahon on September 27, 2008

A British company has developed an electrically driven supercharger intended to boost small engines without drawing power from the crankshaft to turn the impeller. I’ll take their word that using electricity from the alternator is more efficient than driving the impeller directly from the crankshaft, but I have trouble seeing how physics allows this method to be more efficient than turbocharging, where otherwise-wasted heat from the exhaust drives it.

Anyway, the bigger news here is that the electric supercharger a fuel cell stack needs to produce enough power to drive a car (or an airplane) is now an off-the-shelf part. Take that, hydrogen skeptics…

Ayn Rand Was Right…

Posted in Electric Vehicles, Going Green by Stacy McMahon on September 5, 2008

Interesting people would visit industrial sites on vacation (link via AutoBlogGreen).

The family’s idea for summer 2009 is to travel the U.S. in a veggie-oil-powered VW Beetle and visit sustainable energy locations as well as EV makers like Tesla, Zenn, Poulsen and Aptera along the way. The trip website is currently pretty sparse, but expect daily blog posts and lots of videos from the happy campers once things get roling in May.

I’ll be especially interested to see what they find at Aptera, which looks to me to be the biggest piece of vaporware in alternative energy.

Solar Powered UAV

Posted in Aircraft and Flying, Electric Vehicles by Stacy McMahon on August 24, 2008

Another step toward manned electric flight*, mainly because of the lithium-sulfur batteries. It’s interesting to watch people’s thinking get more focused as they actually go out and try to do things. Engineers know all about this, but it’s really nice to have your thinking accelerated by trying out your idea and seeing what happens.

Lithium-Sulfur batteries for night flying

Lithium-Sulfur batteries for night flying

* I know electric planes have flown already, but battery weight is one of the critical problems (much like with electric cars)

Speeding Ticket for Honda FCX Clarity

Posted in Electric Vehicles, Four Wheels, Silly/Funny by Stacy McMahon on August 21, 2008

Not much good comes out of Falls Church … actually plenty good comes out of Falls Church, but I like saying that. Anyhoo, turns out that FC council member Dan Sze somehow got himself an FCX Clarity, Honda’s limited-release fuel cell car, and then got himself pulled for speeding over at Haines Point (link via Fark). The park police officer was apparently going to release Sze, since afterall he’s a virtuous fuel cell car driver, but Sze decided it was worth paying for the publicity stunt value of the ticket. Promise I’ll update if I find the story repeated in a bigger pub than “some guy”.

Another Electric Bike

Posted in Electric Vehicles, Going Green, Two Wheels by Stacy McMahon on August 20, 2008

Today’s theme is apparently reposting AutoblogGreen’s posts, but hey they’re on a roll…

This one is about the second US company – after Brammo, which is already in production with their Enertia model – that’s developing a 100mph electric motorcycle based on the Ducati SS900. The 900 is probably just a development mule that won’t share much with the production model, but Dominic Yoney’s riding impression is encouraging:

The guest rider found the torque to be mule-strong and unrelenting while the throttle stayed smooth and precise. No shifting was required as he quickly brought it up to the shy side of 100 mph, and then, with the help of some Brembo hardware, back down into legal range again.

Considering all but one of the current-production electric bikes are bicycles with a hill-assist feature, I’ll be keeping a close eye on this development!