|Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) Batteries for Electric Boats
By: Armin Pauza, EBAA business member
|Filed Under: Electric Boats
This article explains the basic features and benefits regarding the latest developments in lithium ion battery technology which are now available for use in electric boats.
Up to the present time the electric boat owner has only had available one type of battery chemistry to provide propulsive power for their electric motor no matter whether the motor is an inboard or outboard motor. This battery type is of course the lead acid battery. There are two main variations to the lead acid battery depending upon its specific application. Broadly speaking the lead acid engine start or "cranking battery" in its intended application is designed to provide a short, high power burst of electrical current to crank over either a petrol or diesel engine while starting. The other main type of lead acid battery is the deep cycle or gel/AGM type which is used to provide sustained power for electrical devices and equipment over a long period. This is the type of battery which commonly provides house power on boats as well as presently being the most common type to power electric boat motors.
Both types of lead acid batteries however have severe limitations. Lead acid batteries are extremely heavy and while weight may not be an important factor for batteries in a stationary environment, for use in a motive application such as a boat, having to move (accelerate/decelerate) such a heavy dead weight does not make much common sense. In addition lead acid batteries contain nasty chemicals such as sulphuric acid and toxic heavy metals like lead which are potentially hazardous to the environment.
Lead is a very heavy metal and for many years the search has been on to make a better battery that is also lighter in weight. Lithium is the logical choice since it is the lightest metal known to man. However in addition to being extremely light in weight, lithium is also extremely reactive and for this reason pure lithium metal is never found in nature. Lithium metal is manufactured from lithium salts which are extracted through mining activities mainly from brine lakes. It can also be extracted from sea water.
Lithium ion batteries have been available for several years for many consumer applications which most people would be familiar with. As with lead acid batteries, lithium ion batteries also are available in several chemistries, each having their particular good and bad points. The earliest lithium battery chemistries which became a commercial reality and which are still in use today for consumer items like mobile Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4)
Batteries for Electric Boats by Armin Pauza, EBAA business member Energy density comparison phones, notebook computer and camcorders etc. are cobalt oxide lithium ion batteries. Li-Co batteries have high energy densities but have the disadvantage that in large format applications and in cases where many separate cells are used which can potentially become unbalanced during several charge cycles, they can pose a dangerous risk of fire or explosion is a possibility. While these batteries are generally considered quite safe in small format applications such as for mobile phones and the like (generally one cell only is used therefore this is why the battery voltage of a typical mobile phone battery is 3.6 -3.7 volts) there could be disastrous consequences should a large lithium battery of this chemistry fitted to a boat catch fire.
In the mid 1990's Dr John B Goodenough and his research team from the University of Texas developed material used to make the Lithium Iron Phosphate battery (LiFePO4 for short). Dr Goodenough patented his invention and gave permission to Phostech Lithium/Hydro Quebec Canada to manufacture this material in commercial quantities for the production of LiFePO4 batteries which would be a superior replacement for lead acid batteries.
Unlike the hazardous nature of the earlier chemistry lithium battery types, lithium iron phosphate batteries are extremely stable and safe to use. This safety combined with their light weight has found wide use for these batteries for military applications and now for the emerging electric vehicle markets including electric boats. They are in fact even safer than lead acid batteries and do not suffer from some of the problems which are inherent to lead acid batteries such as, thermal runaway, sulphation when left in a discharged condition and high rates of self discharge if not used. Lead acid batteries generally have a life of only a few hundred deep charge cycles while a quality LiFePO4 battery can typically be charged in excess of 2000 times.
Though not as high in energy density as the earlier lithium battery types, the lithium iron phosphate battery still has a far higher energy density compared to the lead acid battery as can be seen from the graph on the left.
In recent years large format LiFePO4 batteries have been made to replace lead acid batteries and these batteries are now being widely used for battery packs to power electric vehicles as well as hybrid electric cars. They are also being used in high power electric cordless power tools.
The benefits to the boat owner of a quality LiFePO4 battery are many. Lithium iron phosphate batteries are a truly multi-application battery type so the one battery or battery bank can be used to provide propulsive power for the boat's electric motor/s as well as to supply all the electrical loads on a boat. Normally the electric motor requires a voltage of 36V, 48V or higher voltage while 12V is required for house power, radios, Lithium battery bank navigation lights, etc. In this case a suitable DC/DC converter should be used to provide the lower voltage from the higher voltage main battery bank. It is very bad practice and still used by some manufacturers to simply tap off 12V from a single battery in the main battery pack to supply this lower voltage. This can lead to uneven discharging of different batteries due to varying loads which can further result in some batteries being over charged while others end up being less than fully charged. By fitting a DC/DC converter all batteries are discharged evenly regardless of varying loads. This will result in the longest life from all batteries and will minimise the chances of individual batteries failing prematurely which is a strong possibility if a DC/DC converter is not used.
Another major factor which should be taken into consideration when replacing a lead acid battery with a LiFePO4 battery is that due to the higher energy density and greater performance of the lithium battery often a smaller battery can be used which will provide equivalent or better performance compared to the original lead acid battery. For many applications a 60Ah LiFePO4 battery will provide equivalent performance to a 100Ah lead acid battery. This difference in performance can clearly be seen if both battery types are compared side by side in high current drain applications (for example if used to power an electric boat motor at high power settings). What many people fail to realise about a lead acid battery is that its capacity (Ah) rating is usually specified at the 20 hour discharge rate. At high rates of discharge the effective or "real" battery capacity is reduced considerably due to "Peukert's Effect". A typical 100Ah lead acid battery when discharged in an hour or two may have an actual measured capacity of as little as 60-70Ah. LiFePO4 batteries are not negatively affected in the same way by Peukert's Effect as are lead acid batteries.
When a lead acid battery is connected to a load (such as an electric motor for example) the voltage slowly continues to decrease until the battery is completely discharged. By contrast the discharge characteristic of a LiFePO4 battery is quite different. The discharge curve of LiFePO4 battery is close to being linear for about 90% of its capacity. Therefore a LiFePO4 battery can be almost fully discharged yet it will provide very close to the same power as when it was fully charged. During the last 10% of the batteries capacity the voltage will drop very suddenly.
Another great benefit of Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries for boating applications is due to their inherent safety features. Since they do not produce flammable hydrogen gas under any circumstances (even if overcharged) a LiFePO4 battery can be safely installed in a confined place in a boat or ship without fear of a fire or explosion occurring. There is absolutely no maintenance required so a battery can be fitted into an out of the way space in an electric boat such as under seats, under stair wells, in the hull, etc. Due to slim cylindrical nature of many LiFePO4 cells a custom battery of virtually any shape can be made which will fit into any tight space in a boat. Battery cells can even be fitted inside a mast or inside hollow railings.
Another advantage of LiFePO4 batteries is their rapid charge capability. High quality batteries can be re-charged extremely quickly. In fact premium quality LiFePO4 batteries can be re-charged from a completely discharged state to more than 90% fully charged in only fifteen minutes with a suitable fast charger from shore power. Of course they can also be more slowly trickle charged by solar panels or more quickly aboard the boat via an engine driven back up generator/alternator. A deeply discharged deep cycle/AGM lead acid battery can only be re-charged in a matter of hours and not minutes. For many electric boats this rapid charge capability will be a godsend.
Weight is another factor of concern to owners of electric boats. A Lithium Iron Phosphate battery is usually about half the weight of an equivalent capacity lead acid battery. For example the photo of the battery bank below shows a large LiFePO4 battery bank used to power three motors fitted to a 55ft electric racing catamaran. It was originally planned to fit more than half a ton of AGM lead acid batteries to this boat before the owner learned of the benefits of LiFePO4 batteries. Due to the many benefits the owner of the boat decided to install LiFePO4 batteries instead and was able to reduce the total weight of the battery bank by more than half with the total of all twelve batteries weighing in at less than 200kg.
To sum up, an overview of the benefits of Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries:
• Safe technology, will not catch fire or explode with overcharge
• Over 2000 discharge cycles life compared to typically around 300 for lead acid
• Double the usable capacity of similar amp hour lead acid batteries
• Virtually flat discharge curve means maximum power available until fully discharged (no "voltage sag" with time as with lead acid batteries).
• Unlike lead acid batteries, can be left in a partially discharged state for extended periods without causing permanent damage
• Extremely low self discharge rate (unlike lead acid which will go flat quite quickly if left sitting for long periods)
• Does not suffer from "thermal runaway"
• Can be used safely in high ambient temperatures of up to 60 deg.C or more without any degradation in performance
• Can be connected in series for higher voltages or parallel for higher capacity.
• Absolutely maintenance free for the life of the battery
• Can be operated in any orientation
• Does not contain any toxic heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, nor any corrosive acids or alkalis thus making LiFePO4 batteries the most environmentally friendly battery chemistry available
• LiFePO4 cells are of solid construction. There are no fragile/brittle plates made of lead which can be prone to failure over time as a result of vibration.
• Can be safely rapidly recharged. When fully discharged can be re-charged to more than 90% full battery capacity in only 15 minutes.
There are already several brands of LiFePO4 batteries which are available to boat owners and are suitable for powering many kinds of electric motors from tiny trolling motors to large inboard electric motors of several horsepower. The prospective battery purchaser should be aware that the majority of the LiFePO4 batteries manufactured in China are of very poor quality and correspondingly provide poor overall performance. These batteries will also have a shorter life than a quality LiFePO4 battery. Only high quality LiFePO4 batteries should be used by the electric boat owner so as to provide peace of mind in terms of battery reliability. One way a battery buyer can gauge the quality of any particular battery brand is to check what kind of warranty the manufacturer/supplier will provide and whether it is a factory backed warranty or only a distributor backed warranty in the country of sale since many distributors of Chinese batteries are required by law to provide a minimum warranty period when a battery is sold in a western country. If a battery manufacturer is not prepared to stand behind their own products by providing a lengthy factory backed warranty then it is best to steer well clear of these companies so as to avoid any possible headaches in the future.
Chinese battery cell manufacturers will often assemble their cells using less expensive manufacturing techniques thereby reducing the final cost of the battery to the customer at the expense of shorter cycle life and/or poorer performance. For example some manufacturers will simply crimp end terminal caps on the cells while other manufacturers will spot weld or even fully laser weld the cell ends. Obviously a cell which is merely crimped will be cheaper to manufacture than a cell which is fully laser welded. By the same token the crimped cell is also more prone to fail prematurely due to slow ingress of moisture, humidity and other atmospheric contaminants which in a laser welded cell are totally excluded from entering the cell for the life of the cell. It really is a case of having to pay more for quality. By paying more for a quality battery a great deal of frustration can be avoided and allow the electric boat owner to enjoy the tranquillity of silent, electric boating without any noise or exhaust fumes. There are a handful of manufacturers of A-grade quality Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries which will outlast several lead acid batteries and provide vastly superior performance and thereby bring much enjoyment to the owner of the electric boat they are fitted in.
Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries are sure to revolutionise and bring about the growth of the electric boating market in the years to come.
|Electric Boats: Then and Now
By: Four Seasons Electric Boats Website
|Filed Under: Electric Boats
Electric boats are definitely not a new concept. What is believed to be the very first marine outboard motor was invented in 1880 by a French inventor, Gustave Trouve, and it was electric. In the early 1890's electric boats were first introduced in the United State with the formation of the Electric Launch Company (Elco) in Bayonne, New Jersey. It was the Chicago Exposition in 1893 that put them on the map. Elco was requested to build fifty-five (55) 36-foot electric launches for this event. Ticket sales to transport people around the Chicago area lakes and rivers exceeded 1,000,000.
That was over 120 years ago and at that time electric motors were the preferred form of propulsion. The electric "Picnic Launch" became the essence of a perfect lake cruise. Elco's company records reveal that Thomas Edison, John Jacob Astor, Admiral Dewey, George Westinghouse, and the Grand Duke Alexander of Russia were all owners of Elco electric launches.
There were, of course, steam engines that were very powerful, yet heavy, a lot of work and not conducive to a pleasant cruising experience - especially when their boilers would explode. In the late 1800s, there were also gasoline engines. These engines at that time were called "Explosion Engines". The names were later changed to "Gasoline Engines" to make them sound safer, and more appealing to the consumer.
After about 1920, gasoline and diesel engines became the primary propulsion units for boats - but they could never offer the quality of the electric cruising experience. At that time, electric boats lost their following, because the batteries could not carry enough energy to match the horsepower of the internal combustion engine - as folks became more intrigued with speed at the expense of comfort and quality of the boating experience.
However the Navy's submarines continued to rely heavily on electric propulsion - because it is fundamentally reliable, efficient, and quiet. Later on, Navy ships and commercial vessels returned to electric propulsion systems for the same reasons - but using generators to create the electricity.Today, the Queen Mary II is powered exclusively with electric motors that generate 157,000 horsepower.
So electric propulsion is not a "new concept" and is considered by far the most reliable form of propulsion. Not only is electric propulsion reliable and efficient, it offers the ultimate pleasure boating experience: relaxing, quiet, and NO smelly fumes.For these reasons combined with the advances in battery technology, electric pleasure boating has enjoyed a revival over the passed few decades.
Several companies, including Duffy Electric Boats, considered the industry leader of this revival since 1970, have resurrected the electric launch and other more contemporary designs.
Electric boating has become the boating lifestyle of choice for many thousands around the world in many different venues for the mainstream population.
|Club educates through electric vehicles
By: Geoff Burns
|Filed Under: Go Kart
One club on campus is focusing on helping the environment by making electrical vehicles to promote clean and renewable fuel alternatives.
The University's Motor Sports Club is a student-run organization in which students can get hands-on experience with the latest technology and a chance to race go-karts.
The club has been around since 1994 and has 20 students on roster.
Anthony Palumbo, adviser of the University's Motor Sports Club, said getting the experience of the reality-based program is something that cannot be learned in the classroom.
"One thing about motor sports above all other sports is that it's not only athletics participating, but people who can put stuff together with electronics," Palumbo said. "The beauty of the Motor Sports Club is that it's open to anybody with any major because the motor sports enterprise can utilize the experience of all majors."
The organization's program is funded by members, donations and marketing partners.
"Last year we generated almost $20,000 of brand new money that did not come out of students' tuition," Palumbo said. "That money was used to buy and build the latest electric vehicle technology. We have state of the art technology here and my students get that experience."
President of the University's Motor Sports Club, Spencer Lee, said the program has recently converted into more of an environmental sustainability club.
"Last year was the year that we converted over to the electric vehicles," Lee said. "Before we ran our carts on gas and ethanol."
Lee said there is a race called the Electrical Vehicle Grand Prix in Indianapolis the week after finals, which the club plans to complete in.
"What makes us different from other clubs is that we go out and actually compete in races," Lee said.
One member of the Motor Sports Club, freshman Joseph Zbasnik, started participating in the club during fall semester.
"Getting experience with the electrical technology and everything that goes into the design of the cart is awesome," Zbasnik said. "Anyone can join. I'm learning new stuff in the club every day about the club and about how everything goes together."
Anyone interested in becoming part of the club can email Spencer Lee at email@example.com or Anthony Palumbo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The club meets every Thursday at the Airport from 1-4 p.m.
|2012 Brutus Electric Motorcycle Promises To Be Green, Mean
By: Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield
|Filed Under: Electric Motorcycles
Think about the names given to electric cars and electric motorcycles on the market today.
Most, if not all, are a play on the concept of all-electric, zero tailpipe emissions travel.
So when we heard about a team of engineers in Henderson, Nevada who were developing a new electric motorcycle called Brutus 2, we had to investigate.
Retro Styled, Classic Charm
Squint at the all-electric Brutus 2 and you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a classic Harley Davidson bobber or perhaps an Orange County Chopper.
Either that, or a working prop from a film set in a post-appocolyptic future, Mel Gibson optional.
Designed from the ground up to be the living embodiment of a sports cruiser, Brutus 2 is the first electric motorcycle we’ve seen that caters directly to fans of classic American motorcycles.
Brutus 2 is also the first real stealth electric motorcycle we’ve seen. Unless you look at it closely, it doesn't immediately appear electric.
In fact, park it up beside similar gas motorcycles, and we think you’d have a tough time telling it apart from the rest.
It Isn’t Just Tough By Name
But as many classic motorcycle fans will tell you, good looks and a tough name will only get a motorcycle so far.
In order to be considered a real motorcycle, it has to perform like one.
That’s no problem for Brutus 2, claims Chris Bell, the original designer and owner of Brutus Electric Motorcycles.
Although it hasn’t had any official range, or performance tests, Bell claims the 535-pound motorcycle can spring from 0-60 mph in around 4.7 seconds, reach a top speed of over 100 mph, and travel over 100 miles per charge.
These impressive performance figures are apparently down to a five-speed clutchless transmission, a powerful DC motor, and a liquid-cooled Zilla controller more commonly found in electric drag race cars like BlackCurrent III
There aren’t any details published on battery pack capacity, although Bell claims Brutus 2 should recharge its 144-volt lithium-ion battery pack in 3 hours from an available 110-volt wall outlet. Using some basic math, we think that translates to a battery capacity of between 4 and 5 kilowatt-hours.
Here’s the catch: while Brutus 2 is certainly an real electric motorcycle built for real motorcyclists, it hasn’t entered production yet.
According to Bell, that should happen some time this year, provided current deals being discussed with various parts and manufacturing companies are signed.
But right now, the all-electric beast is nothing more than an impressive prototype motorcycle awaiting production.
And that’s a real shame, because we think this is exactly the kind of electric motorcycle that needs to be built in order to help convince mainstream motorcyclists that electric powered motorcycles can be mean and green at the same time.
|E-motorcycle offers hot ride, keeps the cool
By: Angeli Duffin
|Filed Under: Electric Motorcycles
Making the case for an electric car - higher up-front costs, but then much less expensive and environmentally damaging to operate - to someone switching from a gasoline-powered car is pretty straightforward.
But convincing someone to trade in their Harley for an electric motorcycle? That could be more challenging. There has to be an element of cool. And speed.
Which is what two Purdue University students and AllCell Technologies set out to produce – and appear to have delivered, with an electric motorcyclethat packs 72 kilowatts of power and, according to early tests, can hit 120 mph and cover 120 miles on a charge, according to AllCell.
The company said the trick to creating this high-performance bike was in the 10.6 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery that uses AllCell’s thermal management material.
The phase change material graphite composite (PCM-graphite) controls the impact if one cell has an internal short circuit, and the PCM material absorbs and distributes heat away from the battery, protecting the cells and maximizing battery life.
While some motorcyclists might enjoy being daredevils, with this motorcycle riders can let ‘er rip and concentrate on driving without worrying about unnecessary things like an overheating battery. Apart from the battery, electric vehicle experts Tesla Motors and Delphi Corporation also provided support for the project, AllCell said.
This team is not alone in the quest for the superior electric motorcycle. There seems to be quite a trend in DIY green conversion of motorcycles in garages, notably from a fellow Purdue student who we reported used solar power to power his, yes that’s right, Solar Cycle.
However, for those of us who aren’t that confident in our mechanical skills, there are a growing number of companies producing electric motorcycles with both coolness (largely because of their green-factor) and impressive power and speed.
|Will Electric Motorcycles Catch On Faster Than Electric Cars?
By: By Jonathan Welsh
|Filed Under: Electric Motorcycles
The International Motorcycle Show starts in New York today, so the Jacob Javits Center will be awash in chrome-crusted cruisers weighing more than 600 pounds and packing car-size engines, and screaming superbikes with enough horsepower to fly a four-passenger airplane.
But some of the most intriguing machines at the show are small, light and nearly silent.
Electric motorcycles powered by lithium batteries are beginning to look like contenders in a bike market that is increasingly concerned about fuel efficiency, emissions and noise.
Electrics may attract customers who like the idea of two-wheel transport but are put off by the mechanical complexity of traditional motorcycles and the perceived difficulty in riding them. They may also have particular appeal to urban riders and commuters who can operate more easily within the bikes’ limited range.
I test-rode an electric sport motorcycle called the Zero S this and week and was surprised by how appealing it is even for someone who loves the chugging rhythm of a Ducati twin or the wail of an old Honda V4. The quiet whir of the electric motor and its impressive off-the-line acceleration made the Zero ideal for city riding, where hearing nearby traffic can be as important as seeing it.
While the motor puts out about 28 horsepower, it feels like much more, especially when accelerating from a standstill. I was able to leave menacing taxis far behind and the bike’s weight of less than 300 pounds gave it a light, athletic feel that made getting through midtown New York’s congestion enjoyable.
The Zero S has evolved since 2009, when I rode an early version. The new bike is faster, smoother and better-looking than its predecessor and has a tighter, well-finished feel. It’s ready for prime time.
As with electric cars, though, high prices could keep some customers away. The S and its on-road-off-road stable mate the DS start at $11,495. The higher-capacity battery that boosts range to 114 miles from about 76 miles with the standard battery also increases the price to $13,995. That amount would buy a Honda CBR1000RR, which is close to being a street-legal racing bike.
Of course riders interested in electric motorcycles are not cross-shopping superbikes. But the Zero’s price premium could hurt sales.
Still, the simple joy of riding the Zero could be as big a selling point as its potential fuel savings. In many ways its design and the way it rides are throwbacks to the minimalism and excitement of earlier motorcycles that drew so many people into riding decades ago.
While I tell people that my next new car will probably be electric, a battery-powered motorcycle, in some ways, would be a better fit.
|MOWER EXCHANGE: A new program could help you put a cleaner running lawn mower in your garage this spring
By: Megan Reuther
|Filed Under: Lawn Care
It's time to trade in the snowblower for the lawn mower, and a new local program could help you put a cleaner running model in your garage.
It may not seem like you use a significant amount of gas mowing your lawn. But, the Environmental Protection Agency says cutting your grass contributes to about 5% of the nation's total air pollution. A program in Polk County is trying to change that with a lawn mower exchange.
All it takes is a push of a button and the pull of a lever for Office Specialist Gloria Walraven to start mowing the grass. She says, "You just clutch it, pitch it in, and away it goes." Walraven took a new Neuton mower for a test push. She says, "This is very easy. I was really surprised."
The Neuton mower isn't like most machines in central Iowa garages. Jeremy Becker, an engineer for Polk County's Air Quality Division, says, "It's all electric, low emissions, no gasoline."
He says the electric mower is part of Polk County's first lawn mower exchange. People can bring an old working gas powered lawn mower to Midwest Recovery Center in Bondurant to be recycled. Then, you'll get a coupon from the county to buy a battery powered lawn mowers at a discounted rate. Becker says, "The whole premise is to get the less efficient, more polluting gasoline lawn mowers out of circulation and go to something with a little newer technology and less emissions."
Becker says the Air Quality Division monitors the air you breathe throughout the year and notices a spike in ground level ozone and particulate pollution when the weather turns warm. He says it happens for a variety of reasons, including lawn care equipment. The EPA says that can cause breathing problems, especially for the young, old and people with asthma. He says, "This is something the average person can do to help reduce air pollution levels."
Becker says the lawn mower exchange will make a modest difference at first. He says, "It's not going to make a big difference the first year. We're only looking to exchange about 30 to 35 lawnmowers." But, he says the program should make a bigger difference in the future. Becker says replacing one mower is equal to taking one car off the road for 10,000 miles. He says the division will track who uses the electric mowers, and if the technology makes a difference. He says, "As the program grows from year to year, if we get up to 100 or 200 lawn mowers exchanged, then we'd see a significant reduction."
As for Walraven, she says she wouldn't mind pushing one of these around this summer. She says, "It was very easy to handle."
This is only for Polk County Residents. If you participate in the program, you can choose from two models. One costs $149. The other costs $209, after the discount. A grant from Metro Waste Authority and the county are paying for the program.
|Why Green Lawn Care?
By: Barbara Keer
|Filed Under: Lawn Care
Have you noticed? Spring has sprung (almost) and lawn care decisions need to be made. Go Green Wilmette has some useful information that may be helpful whether you renew old contracts, find new services, or plunge in and do it yourself.
Gas-Powered Lawn Equipment
Lawn equipment with gas engines generates high levels of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and nitrogen oxides, producing up to 5 percent of the nation’s air pollution. Pollutant levels are often higher in metropolitan areas where there is concentrated use of lawn equipment.
One gas mower emits 87 pounds of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and 54 pounds of other pollutants into the air every year. One mower running for an hour creates the same quantity of pollutants as eight new cars driving 55 mph for an hour according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
More than 17 million gallons of gas are spilled each year in the refueling of lawn and garden equipment—more oil than was spilled by the Exxon Valdez! In addition, 800 million gallons of gas are burned yearly by Americans mowing their lawns.
Gas-powered lawn equipment, especially gas blowers, used during the hot summer months contributes to ground level ozone when it is the highest, which aggravates respiratory conditions and throws all kinds of noxious substances into the air, according to the EPA. That is why Wilmette passed an ordinance to protect our health forbidding the use of gas-powered leaf blowers from May 15- September 30 on residential property. Be sure to inform your lawn service of that restriction.
Gas leaf blowers are just a part of the problem. If just 20 percent of U.S. homeowners switched to electric lawn mowers, 84,000 fewer tons of carbon monoxide would be emitted into the air each year, and the average user would save 73 percent in total energy costs. (www.greenseal.org)
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|Green Inventor Talks Solar Powered Boats
By: Aaron Colter
|Filed Under: Electric Boats
Before starting Tamarack Electric Boats, Montgomery Gisborne was interested in electric cars, but now he's focused on the water. Since 1993, Gisborne has been involved in the technical aspects of electric vehicles in Canada. Gisborne has been competing in the American version of the Tour del Sol since 1997, placing first in 2003, and he even created a similar race called the Canadian Clean Air Cruise.
To date, Gisborne has logged over 31,000 miles of travel in electric vehicles. But he's not only concerned with cars. In 2003 he built one of the world's first electric snowmobiles, and two years later he founded Tamarack Electric Boats. We've covered solar boats many times, and the company's latest invention, the Loon, caught our eye and when given the opportunity, we thought readers would like to know more about a man who designs such interesting electric vehicles.
EarthTechling (ET): You have an extensive background in electric cars, what made you want to start an electric boat company?
Montgomery Gisborne: Having built electric cars and electrified many other devices such as a snowmobile, I was always looking for a business opportunity in the mix. I had thought of building electric cars for a living, especially after coming in first in the 2003 American Tour del Sol electric car rally, but the reality that you cannot become GM overnight settled in. After much deliberation, I decided that the idea of a solar-powered boat must be a good one, perhaps my best, so I decided to build me first solar boat as a "science project" in 2005. The boat worked so well that I little choice but to purse it!
ET: Was there any specific reason that you were looking to move the company from Canada to the United States?
Gisborne: Sure, more people, water and sun. I think that we brought our ideas to NYS at a time when Canada seemed to focus its attention the Athabasca Tar Sands, and NYS was looking for sustainable product projects to create sustainable jobs. Then there's this crazy little piece of legislation which was brought into the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) called the Jones Act which prohibits Canadian companies from selling boats into the US, so we had a triumvirate of good reasons to move across the border.
ET: Was the NYSERDA incentive program the biggest draw to relocate to Rome, NY?
Gisborne: No, probably not. You may have heard the old expression that "it takes a village . . . " I believe it is very true. When I passed through Rome on my solar trek across the state in 2007, i was overwhelmed by the reaction and enthusiasm of the people, more so that anywhere else I had traveled in my solar boats (which says a lot). The entire town seemed to make time to be there to catch our lines as we tossed them to shore, which really impressed me. The mayor of the town clearly saw the vision and has done more than we could ever have expected to convince us that Rome is our home. Incidentally, the first shovelful of earth removed in the construction of the Erie Canal was taken out of the ground pretty much in font of our shop on July 4th, 1817.
I think we would have made the move anyway, without NYSERDA funding, but the funding made it possible and got us started much quicker than if we had to go it completely alone. The funding is great, but it takes more than money to create an industry, it takes drive and determination beyond my own.
ET: Why did you decide on solar-power for the Loon above other electric options?
Gisborne: There are so many reasons that make solar a natural on an electric boat. People look at my boats and say, "Oh, I get it, when the is moored at the it is picked up a free charge." While this is certainly true, the rationale for the solar goes far beyond that. For example, it dramatically reduced Peukert Effect on lead-acid batteries. Without getting into a long-winded technical discussion, this effect has a negative effect on batteries when the boat is under power, reducing the instantaneous capacity of the energy storage cells, and the solar input helps to reduce that effect, thus increasing the effective range the boat can travel on a given charge. This also helps the lead-acid batteries to better compete against other chemistries, such as nickel and lithium-based batteries at lower expense.
I hate oil is the reason why I eschew any internal-combustion options. It is the greatest detriment to the North American economy and a threat to world peace.
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|Go-Karts Are Coming To Somers Golf Center
By: Megan Bard
|Filed Under: Go Kart
There is a chance that by the Fourth of July holiday travelers along Main Street will hear a faint whir coming from the Somers Golf Center.
The sound will be from new outdoor electric go-karts whizzing around a 1,015-foot long concrete track that will be built at the rear of the property behind the existing 18-hole miniature golf course and batting cages.
Tuesday night, the Zoning Commission approved a special permit request submitted by 349 Main Street LLC, owner of the actvity center that also includes a driving range and Sonny's Restaurant.
Prior to voting on the request the commission held a 7-minute long public hearing, just enough time for Timothy Coon of J.R. Russo & Associates LLC, an engineering and surveying company based in East Windsor, to present the proposal and commissioners to ask for public comment - there was none.
The plan has already been approved by the wetlands commission and received a positive recommendation from the planning and conservation commissions, along with the health department official.
"We're excited to make it more of an amuzement center for the local region to enjoy. We want to make it more for the whole family to come out," Jonathan Murray said after the vote; Murray represents the owner.
In addition to the track, a small pit building will be constructed for maintenance and storage associated with the track and the 24 go-karts. The septic system will be expanded to accomodate the anticipated additional customers, along with the parking area where another 32 spaces will be created.
The project is within the 100 year flood plain so compensatory storage will be created on the far side of the wetland, as approved by the wetlands commission.
The track will be pitched inward so that any runoff can be collected in a single location and go through a series of filters before being discharged to a wetland at the rear of the site.
|Duo power up for kart race
By: Nicola Weatherall, Sunday Sun
|Filed Under: Go Kart
TWO North students are on track to build an electric go-kart that will reach a hair-raising 100mph.
What’s more, the duo will become the first British go-karters to compete in one of the world’s biggest racing tournaments.
Engineering students John Wood and Hayley Blythe, from Sunderland, are currently developing the electric motor and battery for the go-kart, which will power their way to the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.
Also known as the Indy 500, it is billed as America’s greatest spectacle in racing and is regarded as one of the most significant motorsport events in the world.
More than 400,000 racing enthusiasts attend the event every year and it is watched on television by millions of viewers across the globe.
This is the first time any vehicle outside the US has been invited to compete in Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s prestigious Electric Vehicle Grand Prix – or evGrandPrix.
This year’s Indy 500 is particularly special as it celebrates its 100th anniversary, but the evGrandPrix is a much more recent addition to the event schedule.
John and Hayley, who are studying at Sunderland University, have been set the challenge to design, build and race a fast and energy-efficient battery-powered kart over 100 laps.
They were invited to compete after a visit to Purdue University in Indiana during a conference with the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
On race day, it will be Hayley behind the wheel and she’s determined she can cut it in a man’s sport.
Dave Baglee, project coordinator at Sunderland University, who’ll be joining the students at the event, added: “John and Hayley are excited at the thought of showing off their skills. We have a great car and a strong team spirit, and real potential to compete well and finish in a top position.”
The evGrandPrix will take place on May 7, 2011.
|Electric-kart inventor hopes to inspire more
By: DAVID BRO
|Filed Under: Go Kart
After President Barack Obama said early in his presidency that we, as a nation, must start building things again, San Clemente real estate broker George Fortin went to work to build an electric go-kart from scratch in the garage of his Talega home.
In November, a year and $4,000 later, he finished the 20-horsepower, zero-emission vehicle he calls the Z-Kart. It uses six lead-acid batteries and has a range of 20 miles at speeds of 40 to 50 mph, depending on the gearing installed. With a frame built from recycled polyethylene, it weighs about 300 pounds and can be charged from a regular household electrical outlet in about three hours, Fortin said.
SEE A SLIDE SHOW HERE OR AT LEFT.
Fortin, 55, said he was inspired not only by the words of the president but also a personal conviction to live "greener."
"If I can build this using common tools and stuff from local hardware stores, then think of what someone could build with better resources and an engineering degree," he said.
WATCH A VIDEO FEATURING FORTIN AND THE Z-KART.
His parents learned quickly that no household appliance was safe from their son when he had a screwdriver in his hand. He took apart can openers and hairdryers and even made an electric scooter with the rotisserie motor from his dad's barbecue.
Fortin, who grew up in Diamond Bar, began "engineering" go-karts when he was about 11, including secretly taking apart his dad's first gasoline lawn mower.
But he didn't get serious until he upgraded an old motorized minibike. He said all the adults in the neighborhood had off-road bikes and would regularly ride to the top of a particularly steep hill. Limited by the small motor on his minibike, he was unable to tag along. But he swapped his bike's 3-horsepower motor for a Briggs & Stratton 8-horsepower model, and soon he was on top of the hill.
"The (bigger) motor was all in pieces when I got it, and when I had it on the bike it was so big, the spark plug came up through the top of the seat. But I made it work," Fortin said. "Sitting on top of that hill ... it was my moment."
Fortin, who has no formal training in design or engineering, has never stopped making things, with dozens of self-propelled vehicles and go-karts made and pulled apart again – always salvaging the parts to make something better. Trial and error has shown him what works and what doesn't, including gear ratios, chassis design, suspension and steering assemblies.
Fortin says he is driven by curiosity about how things work and making things people can use efficiently and safely.
"I am just a big kid," he said.
His first Z-Kart had spoked bicycle wheels, but when the motor torque and tight steering tests kept tearing the wheels off, he redesigned it using dune-buggy wheels with motorcycle tires, along with other refinements.
"I really want to use my story to support making the garage a breeding ground for new ideas," Fortin said. "Big corporate companies are too bogged down with stuff. The garage is a personal space free from negativity ... and politics, where a person with the passion and an idea can be creative. Apple and Microsoft did it."
Fortin said he has had about 155,000 hits on his YouTube videos featuring the Z-Kart, along with more than 4,000 emails from people inquiring about how to build it themselves. He also has been contacted by San Clemente-based chassis maker Swift Engineering to possibly help take the Z-Kart to the next level.
|Business Benchmark: Electric golf cars: not just par for the course any more
By: JIM TENNANT - email@example.com
|Filed Under: Golf Cart
In 1986, shortly after Bob Timm first joined the Napa Valley Country Club, his golf cart had to go in for repairs. The repairs dragged on for a few weeks, so the cart shop assigned Timm a loaner. However, a couple of days later, to his embarrassment, when he took a client out to the course to play, Timm found himself without a cart yet again — the loaner had been sold.
Formerly in the car repair and service business, “I decided that I had to do something,” Timm said. Taking matters into his own hands, he bought a used cart from E-Z-GO, a cart manufacturer owned by Textron, tore it down and completely rebuilt and repainted it. The new cart, painted in his own choice of colors, looked and ran better than any cart at the club, Timm said.
Timm wasn’t the only one admiring his work. His golfing buddies were so impressed with Timm’s cart they said they wanted their carts customized as well. “Everyone wanted one like it,” Timm said.
This prompted Timm to get serious about the business, becoming an E-Z-GO dealer. “We built and sold eight carts that year,” Timm said.
Twenty-five years later, Timm and his son, Gus Timm, own and run A&T Custom Golf Cars and Equipment, a thriving business customizing, selling and servicing electric golf cars, as they are called now.
These days, golfers and golf courses still buy carts, but owners or managers of large properties, hotels, wineries and anyone else looking for a means of transportation without a tailpipe, and thus with
|City starts talking golf carts
By: BRAD BUCK - dailycommercial.com
|Filed Under: Golf Cart
Dennis Smith says he'd drive his golf cart to Wildwood if there was something there he needed.
For example, said the 67-year-old retired Villages resident, if there was a hardware store, or if passenger trains returned to the train station along U.S. Highway 301 in town, he'd go to Wildwood.
Another incentive to drive to Wildwood would be if there were charging stations for electric-powered golf carts, such as the one he drives, Smith said.
People who love to drive around in their golf carts may get to do so in Wildwood.
But the idea is just that -- a concept that city officials are just starting to talk about.
The city of Wildwood recently adopted and received state approval for its 2035 Comprehensive Plan, said City Manager Robert Smith.
Included in that plan is a portion that says the city needs to plan for and promote lots of different ways to get around town and try to reduce motor vehicle travel.
At their Jan. 10 meeting, city commissioners told staff to look into ways of making Wildwood more golf cart-friendly, Smith said.
With places like The Villages and other big residential and commercial developments close by, Wildwood asked Sumter County for help on the golf cart idea, he said.
First thing's first, though. City staff must assess the following:
-- Which city roads can accommodate golf carts?
-- Would the future demographics of the city support golf carts as a means of transportation?
-- Safety. Dennis Smith, the retired golfer in The Villages, says this is really the key. "Everybody should be concerned about their safety," he said.
-- If pathways are needed, how would they be constructed and how much would they cost?
-- How would this affect future development?
-- What developments would support golf cart access?
-- What are the requirements for street legal carts?
After an initial assessment, if the commission chooses, the city would look to hire a transportation engineer to do a formal study.
Herman Schultz, manager of Tomlin USA, a golf cart vendor on U.S. Highway 301 just outside Wildwood, said if he were a Wildwood city official, he'd mostly be concerned for the safety of the golf carts and their operators. For example, The Villages has many paths designated for golf carts, and Wildwood should consider building the same types of paths, Schultz said.
"You have to have a designated path," he said.
Wherever the city of Wildwood looks for advice on golf carts, one place to start might the town of Lady Lake. In 1989, the notion first came up for people to get around Lady Lake's portion of The Villages, said police Chief Ed Nathanson.
For years, the Lady Lake portion of The Villages has allowed golf carts. A few subdivisions in Lady Lake that are not part of The Villages also allow golf cart drivers, Nathanson said.
In Lady Lake, people can drive golf carts 24/7, but to drive at night, they need headlights and brake lights, and preferably, some sort of reflectors, Nathanson said.
Lady Lake has experienced very few major problems with golf cart drivers sharing roads with other motorists, the chief said. In about 20 years, Nathanson said he's worked one fatal accident involving a golf cart driver.
The town regularly conducts courses on how golf cart operators can drive safely with other motorists.
"As long as people make safe choices," they'll be OK, Nathanson said.
|Electric Lawn Mowers Beat the Gas Guzzlers at Their Own Game
By: LuAnne Roy
|Filed Under: Lawn Care
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
calculates that a single gas lawn mower emits the same amount of volatile
organic compounds in an hour as a car driven 350 miles. Multiply that times 54
million—the estimated number of Americans who mow their lawns every
weekend—and it’s a staggering amount of toxic particles entering
the atmosphere—some five percent of the nation’s total air
pollutants. And because lawn mowers are used predominantly in hot months
when ground-level ozone is the highest, they bring added misery to asthma
that’s just the toxins that get into the air. Each year, the EPA says that
homeowners spill 17 million gallons of gasoline when refilling their lawn
products, six million more gallons than the Exxon Valdez spilled into
Prince William Sound in 1989.
The Electric Power Research Institute of Palo
Alto, California, says that replacing one half of the nearly 1.3 million gas mowers
in the U.S. with electric mowers would be the emissions equivalent of taking two
million cars off the road.
Electric mowers are not only better for the
environment (because they create no exhaust emissions and run cleaner), they
also need less maintenance (no spark plugs and belts) and are easier to use (no
pull cord—just turn the key). On top of all that, they’re less
expensive to run. The average electric mower uses the same electricity as an
ordinary toaster, costing just $5 per year. The electrics also create considerably
less noise pollution.
On the downside, electric mowers cost up to
$150 more and are limited to use with smaller lawns; corded mowers are
restricted by the 100-foot cord length and cordless mowers are limited to the
runtime of their charge—30 to 60 minutes, depending on battery size.
Corded mowers also carry the risk of running over the cord, although top models
guide the cord to the side of the handle to prevent that. And cordless mowers
can present an environmental hazard if their lead-acid batteries are not disposed
of at a recycling facility.
According to consumer ratings, Black
& Decker leads the pack. Consumer-search.com reports that
B&D’s corded model, MM 875 ($230), is “maintenance-
free” and has a one-lever height adjustment that’s easy to
maneuver. Its cordless model, CMM 1200 ($400), does a better job than most
corded electric mowers, plus mulches more effectively and cuts more evenly.
Other corded models that fared well are the Craftsmen 37051 ($220), and the
Homelite UT13120 ($200), that reportedly has the widest cutting deck (20 inches)
of all electric mowers, as well as the highest maximum cuttings
cordless models, Consumer Digest rates the Neuton Cordless Mower
($400) higher than B&D, mostly due to its lighter 48-pound weight, its
whisper-like hum and its “reel” mower, which cuts the grass at a
diagonal angle that’s considered healthier for the
Most of the major mower companies make electric mowers,
as do many smaller manufacturers, including Sun-lawn, Neuton, Homelite, Yard
Machines and Worx. The difficulty is finding stores that carry them. Locally,
Home Depot carries one brand—Homelite. Nick Redwood, department
manager of Lowes in Orange, Connecticut, says his store sells a maximum of
four different models. The Black & Deckers are the most popular, but
Redwood says customers rarely ask for electric mowers. He sells only one for
every 20 gas mowers.
Bill Moore, webmaster for EV-world.com, has
owned a Black & Decker CMM1000 for three years and says he had to resort
to the Internet to find an electric mower because there were none on showroom
floors where he lives in Omaha, Nebraska.
He now says
he’d never go back to using a gas mower. “It was tiring,”
he says. “I can’t prove it medically, but the electric doesn’t
produce the same level of fatigue; it’s not spitting out a quart of fuel and
giving off exhaust fumes.” The one drawback, Moore says, is that he
occasionally needs to make an extra pass because the blade of his B&D is
19 inches, compared to the 20- or 21-inch blade of most gas
John Longo of Milford, Connecticut stopped into Lowes
on a recent Saturday to purchase his second electric mower. He says he bought
his first 10 years ago, kept it for seven years, then went back to a gas mower.
“It’s a man thing,” he jokes, “I went for more
But Longo says he couldn’t deal with the
mess and noise. The clincher for both Moore and Longo is the simplicity of use.
“The electric mower is always there, ready to go,” says
LUANNE ROY is the listings editor
of the Fairfield County Weekly. She lives in Seymour,
|This is not a 'toy boat'
By: Ed Killer
|Filed Under: Electric Boats
STUART — STUART — When St.
Petersburg boaters Nancy Frainetti and Jeff Springfield pulled up to the fuel dock
at Hutchinson Island Marriott Marina in Stuart Tuesday afternoon, one thing was
noticeably absent — engine noise.
leisurely cruise from the River Forest Yachting Center on the St. Lucie Canal in
Tropical Acres to the Marriott served as the final leg of the 8-day, 250-mile
“Cruise to the Atlantic.”
Frainetti and Springfield,
owners of Endeavour Green, builders of electric hybrid yachts, left St. Petersburg
June 16 and traversed the Okeechobee Waterway in their 24-foot boat while
using only $16 in electricity and a few gallons of diesel
“We did this to show people that this is not a ‘toy
boat,’” said Springfield, a longtime captain who said many
boaters think electric-powered boats are typically for small lakes and short trips.
“A typical boating family might enjoy a 20-mile trip. We had legs of this trip
of 40, 47 and on Monday, 52 miles in a day.”
behind the Endeavour involves a 48 volt array of batteries that turn the 13
horsepower D & D motor. The electric motor uses a twin belt setup to turn
the drive shaft for a 3-blade bronze inboard propeller.
can be charged at home or marina by plugging into a 110 volt outlet. To recharge
the batteries while under way, a 3.5 kilowatt Master Volt Whisper diesel generator
is employed. During the 8-day trip, Springfield said only nine hours were put on
the generator and at 3.8 hours per gallon, they needed less than three gallons of
The Endeavour provided comfortable passage, Frainetti said,
despite record heat during their trip. A full-length canvas top — one that
can fold down and serve as a boat cover when not in use — shades a
“We endured a little weather — but
that’s something boaters are used to handling,” Frainetti said.
“It got a little hot out on Lake Okeechobee Monday, but we managed to
keep it from baking our brains.”
Frainetti said that although the
Endeavour has Eisenglass and air conditioning, they survived without
Frainetti said she saw several manatees during the trip and counted
38 alligators while crossing Lake Okeechobee.
Springfield said the
hybrid technology is receiving a lot of interest from the boating community. He
said that one selling feature is the simplicity of its
“It’s an easy boat to own,” Springfield
said. “It’s very simple — there are no complex systems. All
the electrical components are solid state design. There are no fumes, vibration or
noise. And because you are carrying little or no fuel, insurance rates are
For more information visit www.EndeavourGreen.com or call
|Hybrid boats making waves in South Florida
|Filed Under: Electric Boats
A brand new boat making waves in South
Florida, and it runs on batteries. The Endeavour Green Company, part of the
Endeavour Catamaran Corporation, showed off it's "green" boat. Co-owners,
Nancy Frainetti and Jeff Stringfield, traveled from Saint Petersburg to Stuart.
They did it all on battery power, no gas or diesel fuel needed, unless you want to
use the back-up generator on board. The Endeavor Green Company created the
boat, which is equivalent to a gas or diesel fueled deck boat. The starting cost is
around $42,000. The owners say it's well worth the price, and it helps the
environment. Endeavour Co-owner, Nancy Frainetti, says, "We have no
emissions on the electric propulsion. So, it's as green as can be. What a
The boat is also decked out with a bathroom on board and air
conditioning. It charges up each night, and usually costs only $1.50. Take
that versus a gas or diesel engine that could cost you anywhere from $50 to $75
dollars a day to gas up.
|A new day.. a new bike. Electric Motorsports of California
|Filed Under: Electric Motorcycles
Oakland California USA, Electric Motorsport
Inc. has unveiled its two entries for the June/12th Isle of Man TTXGP. In
the open class is a modified production electric motorcycle called the GPR-S.
The Electric Motorsport GPR-S were the first Production
Electricmotorcycles capable of attaining legal freeway speeds in the
In the Pro Class, the entry is the Electric Motorsport R144.
This conversion is based on an R1 race chassis. This motorcycle utilizes
a high performance electric motor designed and manufactured by D&D Motor
Electric Motorsport is a technology company that specializes in
Light Electric Vehicles and electric propulsion systems.
Electric Motorsport is proud to say they have supplied electric drive
systems and components to many of the TTXGP teams that will be
competing. Why does Electric Motorsport supply its
competitors with hi-performance electric drive components?
Electric motorsport Founder and CEO Todd Kollin says "its mainly to
promote the technology and to have some one to race with, and besides we are
in the parts business. Racing is just the fun part and its not much
fun without competition."
Electric Motorsport Inc has always placed an
emphasis on the Electric motorcycle as away of using renewable energy such as
solar, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal to propel ourselves from one location
to the next. The company has sold 1000's of electric
motorcycle conversion kits. Electric Motorsport even sells books
on how to convert your old gas motorcycle to electric. These
conversions are great if you have a old bike that does not run so well or has a
blown engine. An electric conversion can bring the thing
back to life but without having to deal with oil, gas, noise, fumes, warm ups,tune
ups, gear boxes, clutches.
|Electric ATV maker hopes to tap farmers market
Barnard, Associated Press Writer
|Filed Under: Golf Cart
ASHLAND, Ore. — Electric all-terrain vehicles
may not impress the dune- and trail-riding crowd that rides for recreation, but a
few small companies expect organic farmers and vineyard growers will pay a
premium to gather cattle and spray vines without the carbon footprint of a gas
While automakers are toiling to produce
electric cars that will fit the demands of American drivers, Ashland-based
Barefoot Motors is on the verge of turning out heavy-duty ATVs that can go 50
miles on a charge costing about 90 cents.
a lot of attention is focused on the more glamorous vehicles -- the cars," said
Chief Executive Max Scheder-Bieschin. "But there are lots of other applications
where the strength of the technology can be focused."
Debby Zygielbaum, vineyard manager at organic Robert Sinskey
Vineyards in Napa, Calif., test-drove an early Barefoot prototype last year and is
eager to be an early adopter when production starts in June. She'd like to haul
her spraying equipment without fogging the vines with exhaust fumes, and the
ATV could get free power from the vineyard's solar panels.
"It's becoming feasible where it will actually become a
working vehicle to use in the field," she said.
|Honda Promises An Electric Motorcycle By 2010
|Filed Under: Electric Motorcycles
Honda is getting into the electric motorcycle biz huh? Well, now we know what
they plan to do with all the engineering talent suddenly available from their now
defunct F1 & AMA
News (via our friends at AutoBlogGreen) says Honda is serious about
building a workable Ebike and selling it to the likes of you and me by 2010. Sure,
that sounds plausible. Honda has the engineering grunt and it pretty much has
the whole motorcycle thing down, so it seems like a lead pipe
But is it?
Not exactly. Honda faces the same hurdles everyone else does:
range and recharge
I spent some time with an outfit made electric scooters and
motorcycles. It was a real geeky operation making scooters and souped-up jobs
custom-built to customers' needs, desires and checkbooks. Once or twice a
year someone with sacks of money would come in and say something along the
lines of "Take my GSX-R and make it
electric." We would, but we'd invariably face the same challenges everyone else
building EVs faces: range and recharge times.
Yeah, we could build an
electric GSX-R that would out haul Valentino Rossi - for about
seven to 10 miles. Then you'd stop. And then you'd have to plug it in for six or
eight or 10 hours. The bike was cool, but not very practical. You couldn't take the
thing up some canyon road on your way out of town to Palm Springs for a three
day weekend. These will be the same limitations that Honda will face, but in a
couple of not so noticeable ways, electric motorcycles play to Honda's
For one, bikes are easy. They're small, light and easy to
work on. You can fab up and try things on two or three test mules in an
afternoon, and that's an order of magnitude or so harder with cars. For another,
Honda is a bike company. Yeah, I know, tell that to Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost and Ron Dennis, but it started out primarily as a
bike company (OK, go back far enough and it started out as a piston ring
company, but still...) then morphed into a car company. What Honda learns from
making an Ebike over the next two years can, hopefully, migrate to
Honda confirms working with bikes is favorable on a number of
"History shows that motorcycles remain strong in a difficult
market environment and have always supported Honda in difficult times," says
CEO Takeo Fukui.
"People showed renewed interest in the value of motorcycles which consume
less fuel for commuting purposes as well as for their easy-to-own/easy-to-use
Good point, Takeo. That's another thing bikes got going
for them: They're cheap.
Pound for pound and dollar for dollar
motorcycles are the best bet for enthusiast fun. Not for me, of course, because I
am comically and frighteningly uncoordinated and that's never a good thing on
a motorcycle. But you get my point.
Think of what Honda is doing as a
real world proof of concept scheme. Make an electric motorcycle. Make it work.
Make it work better. Then import the technology into a car. Repeat the
What could go wrong?
|A Holy Roller
By: Jura Koncius
|Filed Under: NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle)
The pope who wears
Prada has a new set of chic custom wheels.
Pope Benedict XVI, who
has made headlines with his high-style red designer loafers and his Gucci
shades, is tooling around the grounds of Vatican City in an electric car outfitted
in luxurious Natuzzi Italian white leather. His latest fashion statement was
donated to the pontiff by Global Electric Motorcars (GEM), a subsidiary of
DaimlerChrysler, and Natuzzi.
"It was a very special project and an
honor to be involved in it," said Daniel Tranchini, chief global sales and
marketing officer for Natuzzi, the world's largest manufacturer of leather
upholstery, calling us from the International Furniture Fair in Cologne,
The car, which bears a vague resemblance to a golf cart,
has the papal seal on the front and back and was made for short hops behind the
walls of Vatican City. No word on whether there is a papal putting green out
|Electric Golf Carts Becoming Car Alternative
|Filed Under: Golf Cart
Dozens of communities across the US have recently passed
ordinances allowing golf carts to share the road with cars. The electric powered
carts are turning into a viable transportation alternative for people feeling the
strain of expensive gasoline. A few communities around the country have
even created dedicated cart lanes. With top speeds of approximately 20 mph and
a very informal safety system, these tiny vehicles are only appropriate on roads
with lower speed limits. New laws are going to have to be put in place to deal
with safety concerns as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does
not yet recognize golf carts as on-road vehicles.
USA Today: “More Golf Carts Leaving The
|Buchanan calls for bipartisan effort to convert nation to "green" energy
By: Domenick Yoney
|Filed Under: NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle)
Vern Buchanan (R), the Congressman
representing the Sarasota, FL area, is one politician who sees the "green" light.
While visiting with solar and electric car maker, Cruise Car Inc,
whose manufacturing and sales operation is in his district, the lawmaker made a
plea for a national bipartisan effort to make the switch from fossil fuels to more
environmentally-friendly energy sources. Speaking to the company's employees
and assembled media, Buchanan said, "My sense is we've been misled as
Americans in many ways for the last 25 years in terms of our energy and where
we're going to get it. Solar, alternate energy, all that stuff is possible; it'll create
jobs, it'll make a difference."
Proof of that difference was all around
him. While obviously not the transportation solution for everybody, Cruise Car is
doing a booming business. There's a 60 to 90 day waiting list for some of their
vehicles, which can go up to 62 miles on a charge and are powered by the sun,
though they can be plugged in for extra charging if necessary. The company is
doubling its 10 employees this year and will be moving to a new facility (and
doing more hiring) to keep up with an exponential increase in demand. Hopefully,
more of our representatives will open their eyes to the many benefits of a greener
economy and make the changes needed to speed things along.
[Source: Bradenton Herald]
|Go Karts: 7 Advantages of Electric Go Karts Over Gas
|Filed Under: Go Kart
Deciding to buy your child a go kart can be a difficult decision to
make. If you have already decided to take the plunge, then you may be trying to
decide whether gas or electric go karts are the better choice. Electric go karts
have a number of advantages over karts powered by gas. This article will share
with you those advantages.
Electric go karts are usually much cheaper than their gas counterparts. Karts
powered by gas normally start around $400 or $500. You can find a lot of electric
go karts that will only cost you a maximum of $200.
Go karts that rely on gas for power can be
dangerous due to the fact that gasoline is extremely flammable. Most parents
wouldn't be too thrilled with having their kids handling gasoline. Even kids can
safely handle the batteries required by electric go karts. Also, most electric karts
have some form of speed control so that parents can control how fast their kids
are able to go.
Everyone knows that burning gas releases toxic fumes into the atmosphere.
For the environmentally conscious parent, electric go karts are the perfect
solution. In addition to helping save the Earth, your kid won't be breathing in any
poisonous fumes while he's having fun in his new toy
The engine of gas powered go karts make a
lot of noise when running. If you live in a relatively quiet neighborhood, this may
cause problems with your neighbors. Electric karts make considerably less
for go karts powered by gas can add up quickly. You will need a constant supply
of fuel. In addition to this, gas engines are more susceptible to breakdowns and
oil leaks. With electric go karts, you can simply recharge the battery time and time
again. Also, they have much less moving parts, so they are far less likely to break
Electric go karts
usually have more efficient engines than gas go karts. They easily outperform
gas powered karts in handling and performance. Also, they are virtually
impossible to tip over while cutting sharp corners like gas go karts are
vulnerable to doing.
Easier to Start
|Phillipine police roll on patrol in a NEV
By: Domenick Yoney
|Filed Under: NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle)
The price of gas is getting out of hand everywhere. Ok, maybe not
Venezuela, where its cheaper than our bottled water at ¢15 a gallon, but
almost everywhere else, it's expensive. In the Philippines its so costly ($4.50
gallon in a country where, according to the Philippine National Statistics Office, the
average household income is about $4,000 USD a year) that the Philippine
National Police (PNP) has started testing neighborhood electric vehicles (NEV)
with the goal of putting them into regular action.
vehicle can accommodate 4 adults and comes with a police light bar and "Polis"
markings. There are no gears to shift, so operation is simple. With a top speed of
30 km/h (slow) they won't be involved in any high-speed chases but they're still
adequate for routine patrols and providing police visibility. The force is also
considering implementing bicycles.
|Nemo found near old Camaro factory site
|Filed Under: LSV (Low Speed Vehicle)
The recent lifting of the low speed vehicle (LSV) ban in Quebec has shone the
light of discovery on another electric vehicle manufacturer
getting ready to go gangbusters. In Ste.-Therese, Quebec, very close to where
the Chevrolet Camaro plant was once located, sits the home of Nemo. Locally designed and
manufactured, their vehicle, the Must HD2 has garnered interest from 50
municipalities within "La Belle
Province" as well as from individuals. Company president, Jacques
Rancourt, says they've sold 15 trucks in the past week and a half since their
legal status changed and now expects to move 500 units this year.
The Must HD2 sells for around $20,000, is built on an aluminum chassis and
can handle a 1,000 lb payload. Being an LSV, it's limited to 25 miles an hour but
has a 70 mile range. Since it's made in the North, it does has a robust heater and
many options ranging from lithium ion batteries to an AM/FM radio with CD
player. We think it's a pretty cool looking truck, seemingly capable of handling a
range of chores and so we wish the makers of this little brute, "Bonne
|How to: Build a Fuel-Less, Solar-Powered Vehicle
Dunn, Corvallis, OR, USA
|Filed Under: General DC motor
TreeHugger has recently covered the Solar
Sailor and solar-powered electric bike, but we've never seen anything quite like this. For the
serious DIYer, SolarVehicles.org
offers info, resources, advice and even blueprints for building your own solar-
powered vehicle. Most of the models are somewhere between a scooter and a
golf cart, and, according to the pictures on the site, they even work! It may not be
the kind of thing you'd want to take on the highway or even a busy street, but
they seem perfect for putting around town. Once built, the three and four-
wheeled vehicles go between 25 and 40 km/h (about 15 to 25 mph) depending on
the load/cargo and grade of the road. The site has all the info you'll need to build
your own, from wheels to solar cells to frames, so you can get yourself around
using the power of the sun.
|Who Souped Up the Electric Golf Cart?
By: Jeff McIntire-
Strasburg, St. Louis, MO
|Filed Under: Golf Cart
When reader W.T. Stonehill passed along news
about a new article in The Economist concerning 3-4 million "souped
up" golf carts hitting the roads and off-roads in the US, we, like him, we're pretty
excited -- perhaps it was another sign that the electric car hadn't yet been killed.
Apparently, since 1996, a large number of DIYers have been buying up old golf
carts and modifying both the engines and bodies to turn them into "mini-
Hummers." This would be great, except for one fact that the article buries at the
end: "Most golf carts are electric and clean. But the souped-up ones have petrol
engines and are fast."
While we won't go deeply into the Freudian
implications of one golf cart modifier's claim that his raised, 36-bolt electric golf
cart "makes me feel like a man,” we'd love to hear about tinkerers that are
keeping their carts clean and green while exercising their mechanical prowess
and creativity. The golf cart is a great
a> for short-distance electric transportation, and we'll bet that they can be
souped up while still running on batteries. ::The Economist
|An Electric Hybrid Truck Designed For Utility Fleets
By: Ucilia Wang
|Filed Under: Electric Vehicles
If you can soup up a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, what features would you want? For some fleet managers, turning plug-in hybrids into a source for powering up construction tools or buildings during a blackout is high on the list.
That’ why Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has been helping VIA Motors to convert new General Motors trucks into plug-in hybrids with the ability to export a large amount of power. The utility, the largest in California, envisions sending a bunch of these trucks into the field for routine maintenance work and to deal with emergencies. The amount of exportable power here will be large enough to run hydraulic lifts to send workers up the powerlines to do repairs or serve as backup power for homes while workers fix faulty circuits or transformers, said Dave Meisel, director of transportation services at PG&E.
Hybrid cars offer fuel savings over time – the price of gasoline has risen and will continue to increase at greater rates than the price of electricity – as well as environmental benefits such as lower emissions, he said. As federal andstates introduce stricter fuel economy and emission standards, businesses must comply by buying vehicles with more fuel-efficient engines or ones that run on cleaner sources of fuels. But alternative-fuel vehicles also tend to cost more partly because they aren’t made in large volumes, and fleet managers very much focus on the payback period of their investments.
Adding the exportable power feature creates additional savings for fleet owners like PG&E, Meisel said. It eliminates the need for buying portable generators that run on fossil fuels, for example. Using the hybrid trucks to reduce the length of a blackout also is an attractive proposition for utilities, which face fines if their customers experience a high number of outages or if they can’t restore power quickly.
“We are looking at broader savings that a lot of people are not looking at,” Meisel said. “When I look at the total operational savings, including fuel savings, the math starts to look really nice.” PG&E has about 9,000 vehicles in its fleet, and roughly 3,100 of them run on alternative fuels, such as natural gas, electricity and biodiesel.
PG&E has been field-testing two VIA trucks since last year and giving the car company feedback about its experience and suggestions for improvements. The utility estimates that the trucks could deliver annual fuel maintenance savings of $7000 per vehicle compared with conventional trucks, said Greg Pruett, senior vice president of corporate affairs at PG&E, during a press event at the Detroit auto show earlier this month when VIA discussed its plans to launch not just hybrid trucks but also hybrid SUVs and vans. VIA plans to convert only GM models, such as the Chevy Silverado, for now.
VIA has developed a powertrain that includes a 24 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, which can last up to 40 miles per charge. The gasoline engine is for generating electricity to run the electric motor, which moves the wheels. The company is putting its technology in brand new vehicles only, not used cars. When VIA Motors showed up at the Detroit auto show, its executives rattled off a list of things that people can do with vehicles that double as power generators, such as catering to outdoor parties and running outdoor concerts.
“Think of a 3-day camping trip where you have unlimited power with the car you drive into the woods with,” said Bob Lutz, a member of VIA’s board of directors and the former vice chairman of GM, during a press conference at the auto show.
The two VIA trucks PG&E has been trying out cost about $400,000 total, Meisel said. The trucks are the early version of what VIA plans to produce commercially later this year, Meisel said. The price for the trucks at “low volumes” should be in the $70,000 range, and it should continue to drop as production increases, he added.
VIA isn’t the only company PG&E is turning to for converted hybrids with exportable power. The utility also is considering vehicles from Electric VehicleInternational, which turns beefier pickup trucks to plug-in hybrids. VIA’s truck delivers 15 kilowatts of exportable power and is working on boosting that to 50 kilowatts while Electric Vehicle International is working on trucks with 100 kilowatts of exportable power. Figuring out a good way to cool the equipment that generates and routes the power becomes a greater hurdle as the size of exportable power increases.
PG&E and other fleet owners are turning to companies that can do after-market conversion for now partly because major automakers have yet to introduce the plug-in hybrid version of the trucks that the fleet owners want to buy. But that day will come if consumers continue to show interest in electric cars (and the prices for them drop). When that happens, companies such as VIA Motors may find it difficult to compete, said Kevin See, an analyst with Lux Research.
“There may be a short-lived window for them to make their mark,” See said. “I wouldn’t expect their businesses to be long-term because of the competition that will enter the market.”
|Electric vehicle owners can get a ‘charge’ in Media now
By: Susan L. Serbin
|Filed Under: Electric Vehicles
Media Borough has created another reason to make “Everybody’s Hometown” a destination. This time an initiative will make downtown the hometown for owners of electric vehicles (EV).
As only the third known location in Delaware County, Media has inaugurated a charging station in the municipal parking lot next to the Media Fire Department, across from Media-Upper Providence Library and one block from all that State Street has to offer.
The borough is participating in a pilot project for EV charging powered by 100 percent Pennsylvania wind energy. Borough officials and Community Energy, Inc. had the ribbon cutting recently, with attendance by representatives of the energy firm, Mayor Bob McMahon, Councilman Eric Stein, Environmental Advisory Council Chair Walt Cressler and several other borough staff member.
While the technology includes several cutting-edge elements, charging station operation is fairly simple: pull into the dedicated parking space (lot is between Jasper and Front streets just east of Jackson Street); plug the electric vehicle (EV) into the charger; dine, shop or attend to other borough business. In the span of an hour or two, EVs can be charged enough for at least several dozen miles.
“We are pleased to be partnering with Media Borough and the Media Fire Company as this becomes one of the first charging stations in the county,” said Jay Carlis, Vice President of Retail Marketing for Community Energy, Inc. based in Radnor. “This pilot project, funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, comes early in the electric vehicle transition. At the government level, Media has been a leader in environmental sustainability. This is a great location for residents and visitors.”
Carlis said there are charging stations in Radnor and Wayne and only a handful in the state, placing the borough in the forefront of the technology. To kick off the enterprise, he drove a Chevrolet Volt and hooked it up to demonstrate the virtual plug, charge and go technique.
Representatives from Thomas Chevrolet brought a second Volt. Amy Ercolani of Thomas said the dealership has sold several Volts, has one in stock, and expects the manufacturer to supply a small but steady stream of the model, which has a gasoline back-up capability. EVs are available from other automotive manufacturers as well.
Running at a 240-volt service, the public station works twice as fast as a charge from, for example, a home outlet which is generally half the volts. An hour charge is expected to cost $3.50 with Community Energy paying a fee to the borough for the actual electric used. The mileage value of a charge varies depending on vehicle and road conditions, not unlike gas mileage. Not surprisingly, there are “apps” which can monitor the charge from mobile devices.
In the borough’s view, the station sends multiple signals about the alternative energy commitment which already includes a solar energy grid and wind-generated electricity purchase.
“I’m a strong supporter of renewable energy. I have solar energy at my home, so I’m not just talking theoretically,” said Stein, liaison to the Environmental Advisory Council. “It’s good for the economy, and good for the environment.” Continued...
|General Motors and Iberdola to study EV charging infrastructure in Spain, UK
By: Sam Abuelsamid
|Filed Under: Electric Vehicles
General Motors will be
collaborating with Spanish energy company Iberdola on a feasibility study to
determine the infrastructure needs to support plug-in vehicles in Europe. Similar
studies are underway already between automakers and utility companies in the
United States and elsewhere. The two companies have a relationship through
other projects being run by EPRI. Under examination will be the needs for
private, residential, and commercial customers as well as for publicly-accessible
vehicle plugs. Among the issues that need to be resolved are how rates will be
determined for vehicle charging and billing mechanisms. The study will be
focused in Spain and the UK.
|Chrysler Unveils Dodge EV
By: Ray Wert - Jalopnik.com
|Filed Under: Electric Vehicles
A Tesla-Like All-Electric Sports Car
Today on CNBC, Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli revealed a Tesla
-like all-electric performance sports car called the Dodge ev along with three
other vehicles operating either partially or entirely on an electric powertrain. The
four vehicles are Chrysler's ENVI electric car program, and include an extended
-electric Chrysler minivan, a new "gated community" electric called "the peapod"
and a Jeep Wrangler four-door. The ev, the first of the four unveiled, not only
operates entirely on plug-in power like the Tesla Roadster and
appears to have similar performance numbers, also has some striking visual
similarities with the Tesla. And why shouldn't it? While the Tesla's built on the
Lotus Elise, the Dodge ev appears to be based on the Lotus Europa.
|Utilities: Grid can handle influx of electric cars
|Filed Under: Electric Vehicles
Which draws more juice from the electric grid, a big-screen plasma television
or recharging a plug-in hybrid car?
The answer is the car. But the
electricity draw by plasma televisions is easing the minds of utility company
executives across the nation as they plan for what is likely to be a conversion of
much of the country's vehicle fleet from gasoline to electricity in the coming
Rechargeable cars, industry officials say, consume about four
times the electricity as plasma TVs.
But the industry already has dealt
with increased electric demand from the millions of plasma TVs sold in recent
years. Officials say that experience will help them deal with the vehicle fleet
So as long as the changeover from internal combustion
engines to electric vehicles is somewhat
gradual, they should be able to handle it in the same way, Mark Duvall, program
manager for electric transportation, power delivery and distribution for the
Electric Power Research Institute, said Tuesday.
added to the grid the equivalent of several years' production of plug-in hybrids,"
Duvall said at a conference on electric vehicles in San Jose. "The utilities, they
stuck with it. They said, 'All right, that's what's happening. This is where the
loads are going, and we're going to do this."'
Automakers, such as General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. , are planning
to bring rechargeable vehicles to the market as early as 2010. But speakers at the
Plug-In 2008 conference say it will take much longer for them to arrive in mass
numbers, due in part to a current lack of large-battery manufacturing
|A New (Good) Look for Electric Cars
By: JACK LOSH / LONDON
|Filed Under: Electric Vehicles
Electric cars have been around for almost 170 years, but it's not
just the limitations of battery power that have thwarted their more widespread
use. Since Scottish businessman Robert Anderson pioneered the first electric
carriage in the 1830s, most electric vehicles have lacked one of the key markers
of auto success: good looks. Just take a look at La Jamais Contente, designed
by Belgian Camille Jénatzy in 1899, or Billard and Zarpe's space-age
oddity, the Elektra King (1961). Even today's models — the REVA, or Zap!'s Xebra — are proof that the best adjective to
describe most electric cars remains quirky.
Now two new
models show that green can be given a devastatingly cool makeover. Britain's
GT and the U.S.-built Tesla Roadster both reach 60 m.p.h. in 4 seconds or less,
their makers claim, with top speeds approaching 130 m.p.h. The Lightning GT
— unveiled at London's International Motor Show last week and set to be
available from the end of 2009 — sports an impressive, sleek and sexy
design, drawing on Aston Martin's classic British look. Tesla, which launched its
hot, little open-top two-seater a couple of years ago, has already sold out of the
2008 model and is eagerly taking reservations for 2009. Battery power has rarely,
if ever, looked this good.
|Converting gas-powered cars to electric
By: Curt Merrill - CNN
|Filed Under: Electric Vehicles
Larry Horsley loves that he doesn't buy much gas, even though
he drives his '95 Chevy S-10 back and forth to work each
Horsley, a self-described do-it-yourselfer, simply plugs his truck
into an electric wall outlet in his Douglasville, Georgia, garage and charges it
overnight, instead of buying gasoline refined from mostly imported
"If I can keep a dollar from going overseas, I'll spend two dollars,"
he said. The whole conversion, including the truck, cost him about $12,000,
which parts dealers say is about standard.
tinkerer, David Kennington, converted his Honda Civic del Sol from gasoline to
electric for a different reason: "I'm a raging greenie," he said.
Horsley and Kennington are fed up. They're among a growing number of
Americans who are refusing to wait for big-car manufacturers to deliver
mainstream electric vehicles, called EVs. Not
only have they rebelled against the status quo by ripping out their gas-guzzling
engines and replacing them with zero-emission electric motors, they say just
about anyone can do it.