Articles Posted in the Transport category

Fossil fuel-free rally from Vic Falls to Cape Town

July 30, 2008
Posted in Transport

Are you the proud owner or developer of an electric, solar, hybrid, biofuel or hydrogen vehicle? Here’s a chance to show it off in a 4,000km rally from the Victoria Falls in Zambia, through the Caprivi and down through Namibia to Cape Town.

Zero Rally Africa says the event will be one of the “greatest demonstrations of sustainable transport in one of the most dramatic settings on Earth”. The route is certainly spectacular, besides the Vic Falls and Cape Town, the rally will go through the Caprivi Strip, which is rich in wildlife, particularly elephants, and has no fences so the animals roam freely between Namibia, Botswana and Zambia. It also crosses the Etosha National Park, and passes the Namib desert.

The aim of Zero Rally Africa is to highlight the importance of renewable energy and, in particular, carbon neutral transport. It is open to any non-fossil fuel vehicle and runs from January 28 to February 8 2009.

Interested? Go to Zero Rally Africa‘s website for more information on entrance requirements.

Via :: Treehugger

Put your hands in the air and gimme all your chip fat!

July 14, 2008
Posted in Transport

Rising oil prices have had a profound effect on the world, but one of the weirdest stories I read lately was in the New York Times about the rise in used cooking oil theft from fast-food outlets in the United States. In April a “bandit” was caught with 9,500 litres of cooking oil in his truck apparently stolen from the rubbish outside a number of restaurants in Northern California. One restaurant owner said he was thinking of installing a surveillance camera to watch over his used oil barrel because theft was becoming such a problem.

As strange as it seems, used cooking oil is traded on the commodities market and its value has reached historic highs because of high fuel prices. Known as yellow grease, its price has risen from 15 cents a kg in 2000 to more than 60 cents a litre last month. So, as the New York Times pointed out, the bandit’s 9,500 litre haul would have been worth $6,000. The used cooking oil is converted into biodiesel.

Fuel consumption figures at your fingertips

July 14, 2008
Posted in Transport

Here’s good news for anybody out there who can still afford to buy a new car and is more interested in fuel consumption than how many seconds it takes to reach 100km an hour or whether your car is bigger than any of the others on the road. All new vehicles will now have to be labelled with their fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions at the point of sale.

The New Vehicle Comparative Fuel Economy Labelling System was launched on July 1. All new vehicles are now tested under the same conditions to determine fuel efficiency and the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) has compiled a comprehensive list of the fuel efficiency levels of more than 1,200 cars sold in South Africa.

Once upon a time, before the fuel prices began their giddy ascent, people used to go for diesel vehicles because they were more fuel efficient. But things have changed apparently, with diesel now more expensive than petrol, people don’t think it’s worth paying the extra  “R20,000 or R40,000” for a diesel model, said a motoring editor quoted in the Sunday Times this week. Diesel vehicles get more kilometres per tank in long-distance driving, but they don’t make much difference when driving around town, the editor said.

Fuel consumption and emissions data are available on the Naamsa website – although not as a comparative table which would allow you to compare cars. You have to select cars by the make and model and then only can you see the data.

Much more useful, though limited, is the table the Sunday Times [please note that this link no longer works] printed this week showing the 17 top fuel savers and 12 biggest gas guzzlers. The (cheapest) petrol car with the lowest fuel consumption is the Citroen C1 (4.6 litres/100km) , according to the table. At the other end of the scale are the Jeep Grand Cherokee 6.1 (16.1 litres/100km) and Range Rover (16 litres/100km).

Toyota spends millions on solar power in Durban

April 29, 2008
Posted in Business, Renewable energy, Transport

Toyota‘s manufacturing plant in Durban is installing solar energy in a R3.5-million project that is expected to save the company R95,000 a month on energy costs, according a media release.

The car manufacturer had already installed 150 solar panels by June 2007 and has plans to install another 120 of them. So, by the end of 2008, Toyota will have installed 270 solar panels into its Durban plant, says the release.

It does not specify how much electricity the solar panels will generate or what percentage of the plant’s total electricity consumption the solar power will replace. But it does say that “the company’s Prospecton plant in Durban used electricity and gas to heat water, it will now use energy converted from the sun as a source of heat.”

The solar panels will allow the car manufacturer to lower its carbon dioxide emissions by about 1,350 tons a year.

It will also help to reduce the impact of Eskom’s “load shedding” on the company’s operations.


Pimp my Prius

April 11, 2008
Posted in Lifestyle

New York psychiatrist and Star Trek enthusiast Willie Yee is in the process of converting his 2007 Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle into a Federation shuttlecraft, the Toyota Open Road Blog reports. Adjustments made so far include custom graphics, “spun-alloy Moon hubcaps”, blue undercar LED lights that flash in “a cool pattern”, and new seat covers. He’s set it up so that the car’s screen “displays the vehicle’s phasers and its warp-drive system, and provides all the appropriate sound effects”. Oh, and on his wish list is a “custom-painted front bumper that displays phaser cannons on its corners”. Read more on the Toyota Open Road Blog.
Photograph from Willie Yee’s website. To see more pics of the car click here

Diesel fumes may damage your brain

March 11, 2008
Posted in Green News

A team of Dutch researchers did an experiment to test the effects of exposure to diesel fumes on the brain by putting 10 volunteers into a room filled with exhaust from a diesel engine for one hour, reports Reuters. The volunteers’ brain waves were monitored with an EEG. The level of fumes was similar to that found on a busy road or in a garage. After about 30 minutes, the brain wave patterns displayed a stress response, which suggests changes in information processing in the brain cortex. More research is needed to determine the clinical effect of this stress and whether it has any long-term effects. Previous studies have found very small particles of soot are able to travel from the nose and lodge in the brain.

Via :: Planet Ark

Plug-in cars may need too much water

March 11, 2008
Posted in Transport

Hybrid plug-inVehicles that can be plugged in to the electricity grid and recharged overnight are seen as the green cars of the future. But a new study has shown that replacing petrol cars with plug-ins could put strain on water resources. That’s because electricity comes from large steam-turbine generators and nuclear reactors, which must be cooled with water, writes ScienceNow.

In a report to be published in the June issue of Environmental Science & Technology researchers estimate that if by 2015 there were 10 million plug-in cars on the road, power plants would require an additional 1.1 percent of water to generate the electricity they need. This has implications for water-scarce regions. And, says an environmental scientist, it shows that perhaps more attention needs to be paid to water demands when capital investments are being made in the electricity industry. (See Sunday Times article on Eskom’s potential water crisis.)

Renewable energy may offer a less thirsty solution. For instance, Google has a project on the go using solar power to recharge plug-in vehicles. See Google harnesses the sun

Via :: ScienceNow

Solar traffic lights a hit in Cape Town

February 29, 2008
Posted in Renewable energy

Solar traffic lights in Cape Town, South AfricaSouth Africa’s first set of solar-powered traffic lights in the Cape Town suburb of Ottery have received positive feedback from everyone from the municipality to motorists, Delivery magazine reports.

The lights have been such a success that people have been asking for them to be installed elsewhere, said the National Energy Efficiency Agency’s Barry Bredenkamp. The Central Energy Fund announced earlier this year that it did indeed have plans to install solar traffic lights in major cities around the country to prevent the traffic chaos caused by Eskom’s “load shedding”. More than 2,000 critical intersections have been identified in Johannesburg alone. One set of solar traffic lights has already been installed in the commercial suburb of Braamfontein. Durban, Port Elizabeth and Nelspruit have also been earmarked for intervention. The National Energy Efficiency Agency will manage the project, the local government magazine reports.

The Ottery lights cost of about R150,000 to install, Bredenkamp said. But if solar traffic lights were to be installed in larger quantities the price of a set of eight lights could come down to R110,000, he said. A conventional set of eight pole traffic lights consumes as much electricity as “a family of four occupying a three-bedroom house”, he said.

Theft of the solar panels and batteries has been a source of concern, but Bredenkamp says that the panels are located high up on street poles and the batteries are in a concrete casing at the bottom of the poles to prevent vandalism, so theft hasn’t been an issue. The lights also have a control mechanism that alerts the service provider if they are being tampered with.

Around the world in a solar-powered taxi

December 5, 2007
Posted in Renewable energy, Transport

The head of the UN Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, will be picked up from the airport by a very special solar-powered taxi when he arrives in Bali for this month’s big climate change conference, Reuters reports.

The taxi has stopped off in Bali as part of a 50,000km round-the-world trip.

The director of the Solar Taxi tour, Louis Palmer, set off from Switzerland in July and is now a third of the way along his planned trip. The 35-year-old Swiss school teacher told Reuters that the car had already driven 14,400km through 17 countries without a drop of petrol.
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