Articles Posted in the Transport category

Hydrogen cars could be just 10 years away

December 12, 2008
Posted in Transport

Hydrogen-powered cars may be in mass production in the next decade, a New York Times article reported recently. Car makers and energy companies in the United States have begun to step up their efforts to develop hydrogen cars and the fuelling infrastructure needed to keep them on the road.

Honda is planning to have a hydrogen model in mass production by 2018, says the article. Ford, Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen are also working on prototypes.

“Hydrogen was forever 20 years away, but now, for the first time, you see some of the milestones moving closer, not away anymore,” Mike McGowan, the chairman of the US National Hydrogen Association, told the NYT. “There is now almost a sense of urgency about the infrastructure.”

There’s been something of a stalement, with car makers arguing that there’s no point rolling out hydrogen cars if there isn’t a network of fuelling stations for them and  energy companies arguing that there was no point in spending vast sums on creating the fuelling infrastructure when there are hardly any cars on the road.

But now, thanks to the volatility of the oil price and the threat of climate change, there’s a new urgency to develop alternative energy technologies. Cars and fuelling stations are to be introduced in “clusters” in urban centres such as Los Angeles, Berlin and Tokyo.

For example, in Southern California, Shell has introduced a hydrogen pump at one of its service stations and more are apparently on the cards. At the same time, Honda is leasing about 200 of its FCX Clarity cars over the next three years to selected customers in the region, who will be able to fill their cars up at the Shell service stations.

The cars are reportedly being leased for about $600 a month – far less than they would cost to buy. But, encouragingly, there was a huge public interest in the leasing programme.

The United States’s National Research Council estimates that there may be two million hydrogen-powered vehicles on the road by 2020. This would represent only 1 percent of all vehicles on the road in the US, but the numbers are expected to rise dramatically after that.

Read the full article here

Solar cars line up in Pretoria for start of first race around SA

September 26, 2008
Posted in Transport

On Sunday, six solar cars will set off from Pretoria on an epic, two-week race around South Africa. The competitors in this Solar Challenge, which include teams from India, Japan, and South Africa, have built their own cars and designed their own engineering systems. They’re now ready to test them on some of the most demanding terrain that solar cars have ever known, say the race organisers.

The six weird yet wonderful vehicles will make their way from Pretoria to Cape Town, then drive along the coast to Durban, before climbing the steep Drakensburg Mountains on their way back to Pretoria and the finish line at the Innovation HUB on October 8.

“This event brings together the technologies students and the public need to understand when building and using electric cars and alternative energy solutions,” say the organiser. They are feats of engineering that combine technologies like electric motors, batteries, solar energy and hydrogen fuel cells. Read more

Hydrogen car tour over, but don’t expect them in showrooms soon

August 26, 2008
Posted in Transport

The Hydrogen Road Tour 08, a 13-day trip across the United States by hydrogen cell cars is complete. Nine car makers took part in the groundbreaking zero-emissions tour. There were sections where the cars had to be carried on the back of flatbed trucks because there were no hydrogen fuelling stations, but apparently one of the points of the road trip was to highlight the need for more fuelling stations in the US. Reuters reports that the US has 60 hydrogen fuelling stations, but only two are open to the public. There appears to be a great deal of public interest in the vehicles, and car makers are spending vast sums of money developing them, but a study by the US National Research Council found that even in a best-case scenario, car manufacturers will only sell about 2 million electric vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells by 2020.

Via :: Planet Ark

Hydrogen cars go on tour in America

August 14, 2008
Posted in Transport

In Who Killed the Electric Car, US President George Bush said hydrogen was the transport fuel of the future. Who’d have thought that five years after Bush issued a challenge to innovators to develop hydrogen technologies that a fleet of hydrogen vehicles would be touring America?

Nine car manufacturers have hydrogen-fuelled cars taking part in a whirlwind tour across the United States. The 13-day Hydrogen Road Tour ’08 started on Monday in Portland, Maine, on the east coast, and will end in Los Angeles, California, on the west coast on August 23. The companies taking part are General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen and BMW. The BMW Hydrogen Series 7 burns hydrogen in an internal combustion engine. Read more

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

Boeing tests manned hydrogen-powered plane

April 7, 2008
Posted in Renewable energy, Transport

A manned hydrogen-powered plane has made three successful test flights in Spain, the BBC reports. The small propeller-driven craft was developed by Boeing. This was the first flight to have a human pilot on board.

According to the BBC, Boeing said it did not believe fuel cells could be the primary power source for large passenger aircraft. But it could be used as a secondary source of energy for large planes, according to Nieves Lapena, the engineer responsible for the test flights, but this may take some time to develop – about 20 years.

The hydrogen fuel cells combine oxygen and hydrogen to produce electricity to power the plane’s propellors. The only exhaust products are heat and water, the report says.

See a video clip of the plane in flight on the BBC website