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Since diving into the deep end when it comes to energy issues, almost every day sees new fascinating concepts, approaches, and technologies.  Fascinating ... exciting ... even hope inspiring at times.  And, as well, as the passion builds, so many of these are truly 'iPod Cool'.  

Today is a launch of a new series, iPod COOL energy, where we can share some of the exciting things that are going on in the energy world.  Today's discussion, after the fold, focuses on two coming options in personal on the road transportation:

  • VentureOne: a three-whealed, tilting, plug-in Hybrid vehicle; and,
  • MiniCAT compressed air vehicles.

Both of these could be on sale and 'on the road' before the end of 2007.

And. Well.  As far as I'm concerned. They're both iPod Cool.

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Daily Kos: Working together to Energize Americafor a better, prosperous, and sustainable energy future.

Within Daily Kos, there is a substantial subcommunity passionate about energy issues and, related, the need to confront Global Warming challenges directly and powerfully.  As I've written, many of us believe Global Warming and Peak Oil are THE Progressive Crises of today ... and the rest of the century.  This passion is driving many of us in our efforts to work together to Energize Americafor a better, prosperous, and sustainable energy future.

In any event, this passion extends to a thirst for learning about and discussing new approaches, new concepts, new products -- whether they be combining solar and wind power or "green" architecture.  And, as with the technologies and approaches discussed in those, much of this stuff is truly iPod Cool for many in the community.

A new approach to personal transportation? How often do we hear that promise?  Well, the two items that follow might actually delivering on the promise.

The VentureOne (note: originally blogged this at Ecotality)

Venture Vehicles has this advertising line:

The VentureOne:  Revolutionary. Radical. Innovative. iPod Cool.

 

iPod Cool: Yeah, it really is.  Venture Vehicles is developing a 2-passenger, flex-fuel hybrid vehicle with over 100 mpg capability. And, well, it look simply "iPod Cool" to drive.
www.flytheroad.com VentureOne
The VentureOne will come in several options, including an all-electric version and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV).  And, that PHEV will be a series engine design.

The system consists of a small internal combustion engine connected to a 15 – 20 kW generator, two in-wheel 25 kW electric motors, a four gallon fuel tank, and a 3 kWh Li-Ion battery pack.

For me, plug-in series hybrids truly are the near term path for massive improvements in the energy efficiency of road personal transportation, revolutionary and even transformational improvements.  

  • Plug-in enables moving a good percentage of road transport to the electrical system. When it comes to gasoline, it is clear that the system will be dirtier (writ large) with every passing day. When it comes to electricity, however, we have at least the opportunity for it being cleaner every passing day -- such as through capturing coal plant smokestack emissions, nuclear power, solar power, wave power, geothermal, etc ...
  • Serial means the potential for a more efficient engine.  The combustion engine is designed to feed power to the battery/electrical system, and the vehicle is electric transport.  Thus, the combustion engine can be set to operate at specific RPMs (such as two: one "base recharge", other "high demand recharge") and thus to be more efficient (and last longer).
  • Hybrid includes not just the combination of some sort of combustion engine with the electrical system, but all the implied technologies/approaches like regenerative braking (capturing (some of) the power from the braking process to be used for operating the vehicle and its systems).

Okay, so the VentureOne is serial. And, that is cool.  But, is that iPod Cool?  How about:

The VentureOne combines the driving style of a motorcycle — leaning into a turn — with the stability of a car.  Venture Vehicles is developing based on Carver Engineering’s "tilting three-vehicle vehicles".  (The NARO is like a four wheel version of the VentureOne.) When driving, carving through a turn, the rear section remains stable while the front section (with the passengers) tilts like a motorcycle, except that the VentureOne’s system works with the driver to ensure stability through the turn (and for the coffee in the coffee holders -- no spills please).

www.flytheroad.com tilting

Well, is it a car or a motorcycle? That is an issue.

Since it has three wheels, the VentureOne is classified as a motorcycle. And while motorcycles must meet far fewer, and less stringent federal standards than those established for traditional automobiles, Venture Vehicles will be designing the VentureOne to meet, or exceed, Federal safety standards established for traditional automobiles.

Though technically "a motorcycle", and as such, free from many of the safety and compliance regulations burdening passenger vehicle development, the VentureOne will come equipped with a full compliment of standard safety features, such as a driver’s airbag, side-impact rails, and a steel roll-cage ...

What does this mean, in addition? Well, for one, does this mean that anyone who wants to plunk down the $18k for a VentureOne will have to get a motorcycle license and, well, wear a helmet?

But, looking at the video of test runs ... do you care.  After all, it truly is iPod Cool ... Forget the music, this is what I want for my birthday!

So, do you agree that the VentureOne is iPod Cool?

How about the potential for running your car off air?

The Air Car (also noted at Ecotality)

MDI is developing several cars that will be operating with compressed air as the power source to operating the vehicle. (For the French language website: MDInternational.)  (Other compressed air engines.) Very basically,

Tata Motors, India, signed a deal for the compressed air engine earlier this year. Actually, this is also a hybrid variant as the compressed air engine is optimize for urban driving -- below 50 kmh (e.g,, about 35 mph) within a city. The internal combustion engine running off a fuel kicks in above that level (and recharges the pressurized air).  This is, basically, like a plug-in hybrid where the air compression is the storage device rather than a battery.  With this combo, MDI (Moteur Developpment International) claims:

With the incorporation of bi-energy (compressed air + fuel) the CAT Vehicles have increased their driving range to close to 2000 km [1300 miles] with zero pollution in cities and considerably reduced pollution outside urban areas

Now, that is pretty amazing. An environmentally friendly car that can go well over 1000 miles between refuelings (or repressurizings, should we say).  And, at least when driving beneath 35 mpg, you could breathe through the "exhaust", since normal air is all that should come out. That is cool, way cool. But, is it iPod Cool?  Maybe not, but consider where MDI is taking this.  

As MDI describes it, they are building "A car to dress an engine." They claim that

The end product is a light weight vehicle that can reach speeds up to 220 km/h (even though the legal limit is 120.)

Re the weight, by the way ... lightweighting is a major path toward improved performance which, when done right, can actually improve safety. (After all, think about Formula One cars -- under 900 pounds and able to have the driver walk away from 200 mph crashes.)

A product that does not pollute like twentieth century vehicles and does not take a lifetime to pay off. Essentially, MDI has developed a modern, clean, and cheap car that meets most peoples needs.

To be honest, the MiniCat fits with European requirements and current usage far more than American ... but ...

www.theaircar.com

But ... still pretty amazing to consider.

When there is no combustion, there is no pollution. The vehicle's driving range is close to twice that of the most advanced electric cars (from 200 to 300 km or 8 hours of circulation).

www.theaircar.com recharging
What are some its features?

  • Recharging through air pressure systems -- whether at a gas station or through the internal compressor that can be hooked into an outlet and recharge -- both in minutes.
  • Air exhaust at 10-32 degrees fahrenheit (0 to -15 C) which can be recycled for air conditioning in hot weather. [Thus, air conditioning shouldn't reduce fuel efficiency significantly.]
  • Fully computerized control ...
  • 100% fiberglass bodies (light weight key)
  • Radio system control within the car (reducing weight through eliminated wires by over 40 pounds)
  • Compressed air must be filtered ...

Carbon filters are used to eliminate dirt, dust, humidity and other particles which, unfortunately, are found in the air in our cities.

This represents a true revolution in automobiles - it is the first time that a car has produced minus pollution, i.e. it elimates and reduces existing pollution rather than emitting dirt and harmful gases. The exhaust pipe on the MDI cars produces clean air, which is cold on exit (between -15º and 0º) and is harmless to human life. With this system the air that comes out of the car is cleaner than the air that went in.

Wow .. air actually cleaner leaving the car than when it entered?

Are we iPod Cool yet?  Hmmm. Got to be getting pretty close.

How about, less than $1 for 60+ miles driven?  

Okay, this is starting to sound iPod Cool ...

Okay, next year for my birthday, someone give me the air compression engine variant of the VentureOne.  Now, that would be massively iPod Cool!

NOTE:

As this diary is already so long, if you want another iPod Cool transportation option, news item, check out the hydrogen-powered EcoBus: "a mobile classroom powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology and has zero emissions."

www.ecotality.com

By its nature, the iPod Cool diaries will, as per the above, sound like boosterism.  Just trying to spark dialogues about interesting things going on in the energy arena that can help shape the path foward to a sustainable and prosperous energy future.

Further Notes:

Originally posted to A Siegel on Wed Feb 28, 2007 at 01:29 PM PST.

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