Green Cars

Critical List: IPCC says humans causing bad weather; physics causes cyclists to breeze by stop signs

The IPCC is officially saying that human-generated emissions are screwing up the weather. Fukushima rice that was supposed to be safe has unacceptably high levels of radiation. Energy Secretary Steven Chu survived five hours of questioning from Congress about Solyndra. Can we let it go now? The Green Car of the Year is the Honda Civic Natural Gas, which still lets you burn fossil fuel, but a cleaner, cheaper variety. Forget Dixie cups. Now disposable, compostable cups previously marketed to businesses are available to us normal people at Bed, Bath & Beyond. There's a reason you don't stop at a …

‘Solar forests’ charge your car while looking awesome

If electric cars are really going to compete with the gas-guzzling kind, we're going to need new infrastructure — mainly charging stations so people can juice up when they're on a road trip. And if you have to dot the country with new charging structures, doesn't it make sense to make them awesome-looking? The "solar forest," a concept from designer Neville Mars, does that while also being extra-efficient. The solar "trees" don't just look great — they also move around to maximize sun exposure, plus they keep the cars below shaded and cool.

How your Prius is hurting the planet

Hybrid cars like the Prius emit less carbon than conventional cars. But they also depend on rare earth materials to make their engines work. And the mining of rare earth extracts a heavy toll on the environment in other ways. China has most of the world's easily accessible rare earth (which isn't actually rare, just hard to find in concentrations that make extraction profitable), and it recently decided to cut off supply to other countries. But the United States is also jumping into the business. Here's the big environmental problem, as Mother Jones explains: Rare earths occur naturally with the …

Renewable Energy

How electric vehicles can give a boost to local clean energy

A plug for plug-ins.This post originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s New Rules Project. The Northwest could get an additional 12 percent of its electricity from local wind power if one in eight of the region’s cars used batteries. That’s the conclusion of a study [PDF] from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories investigating how electric vehicles can help smooth the introduction of more variable renewable energy into the grid system. The study examines the Northwest Power Pool, an area encompassing roughly seven states in the Northwest. With around 2.1 million electrified vehicles, …

Green Cars

It’s not dead yet! The electric car makes a comeback, again, maybe

There are a couple of things you ought to know about the new film Revenge of the Electric Car, director Chris Paine’s sequel to his 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? First, this would be more aptly named The Running Saga of the Electric Car, or better yet, How The Electric Car Gets Its Ass Kicked Over And Over, But Keeps Crawling Back for More. The second thing you should know is that this is a movie made to appeal to car freaks — read: most Americans — but even if you consider yourself above all that, as you …

One-wheeled electric motorcycle is like a Segway, but cool

Sure, the RYNO looks like the hideous progeny of a motorcycle and a unicycle (nobody likes to talk about that night behind the circus tents), but it could be your new means of urban transportation. It runs off a lithium-ion battery that recharges in 90 minutes, has a smaller footprint than a Vespa, and is easily maneuvered even in a group of pedestrians. With a top speed of 25 miles per hour and a top incline capacity of 30 degrees, its range and capabilities are pretty similar to a bike. But come on, some days you're just tired.

Hybrid power plant turns wind directly into automotive fuel

Enertrag is a new hybrid power plant whose parent company invites you to "drive to [your] local petrol station and fill up with 50 litres of wind … !!!" Three exclamation points! Renewable energy has made Germans so adorable. Their website even has a picture of German chancellor Angela Merkel showing off a tank of hydrogen gas like it's a baby panda. The idea is simple: Use tried-and-true methods to transform wind power into electricity, which is used to electrolyze water and strip out the hydrogen, which can then be used as automobile fuel or burned in a combined heat …

Why does ABC News hate electric cars?

Elon Musk, billionaire founder of Skype, wants to revolutionize the landscape of American cars with his Tesla Motors Model S sedan. He's already got a contract with Toyota, and he's been lauded by every outlet that knows what the hell it's talking about. So why does ABC News want to smear Tesla as the next Solyndra? "The cringe-worthy fail [begins] in the intro, which sets the segment’s tone and frames the subsequent reporting," writes Mike Orcutt in The New Fuelist.  Host Terry Morgan leads with this: Two and a half years ago President Obama pushed a $787 billion stimulus bill …

Solar airship is most efficient way to fly, ever

How can you carry huge amounts of cargo thousands of miles with no fuel and no infrastructure? By combining an airship with an airplane, of course. The resulting wing-shaped blimp requires less helium than a conventional dirigible, but has a shorter takeoff than an airplane. Hybrid Air Vehicles has been proposing this for years, but upstart Solar Ship has taken the additional step of designing a craft that can be powered entirely by the sun. It's intended to service remote areas without roads, where fuel and even runways aren't available. It comes in three sizes. Caracal class Solar Ships are for …

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