Archives for May, 2013

On a recent late night at the office, I got a warning from the cleaning woman: “You know the lights all shut off at 10 o’clock, right?” Fortunately, I had never stayed at National Geographic late enough to learn that fact. But I had noticed before that at 8:00 p.m., my computer sends a message…

We generally complain that action on climate change is mired in polarized partisan politics and thus nothing can be done.  True to an extent, but let’s hold on a bit. In terms of generating important discussion about the clarity that exists around the conclusion that the scientific debate over climate change as an anthropogenic process…

In the Amazon you don’t need to burn wood for a forest to contribute to energy production. Once Upon a Time… People thought the worth of a forest was determined by the value of its timber. We now know that leads to a gross undervaluation. Forests, like most ecosystems, provide a host of services whose…

Iraq is longing for renewable and sustainable energy solutions, National Geographic Explorer Thomas H. Culhane found out. It just takes a little extra time to don body armor and get through security when you’re packing food-waste grinders, solar panels, water pumps, and bio-gas systems. Culhane filed this report from his travels to Iraq, a place…

U.S. Representative Lamar Smith’s strutting his science cred. Smith, a Republican, represents the 21st District of Texas, which includes his hometown of San Antonio, and chairs the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. I met him a few weeks ago at a hearing on climate held by the Subcommittee on the Environment. He was the consummate…

For several years running, French engineering students from two neighboring Loire Valley schools, Polytech Nantes and La Joliverie, have shared engineering and effort to build rocket-shaped vehicles that captured top prizes at Shell Eco-marathon Europe fuel efficiency race. But the students began to feel there was something lacking in their cars’ perennially award-winning profile. “It…

In his first official remarks as Energy Secretary Tuesday, Ernest Moniz focused on an aspect of energy policy that lends itself to consensus perhaps a bit more easily than others:  the need for greater efficiency. Speaking at the Energy Efficiency Global Forum in Washington, Moniz noted it was fortuitous that the annual event followed his…

A mere few days after Shell Eco-marathon 2013, everyone from Eco-Runner Team Delft is still in a whirl. The team did a great job getting second place in the hydrogen prototype class. Even though we fought and hoped for first place, second is still a great achievement. The week started perfectly. The Ecorunner managed to…

After a really hard night, with some very last minute tweaking, we installed a Kinetic Energy Recovery System on our car at Shell Eco-marathon Europe. Even though the KERS system was pretty untested, we still chose to give it a chance, since we already had already set a new record of 612.3 kilometers on one…

A lot of the debate over energy and climate change has focused on changing how people live. But in a lot of ways, where someone lives is as important as how they live. Not all parts of the United States are the same when it comes to how much and what kind of energy is…

A hot pink wind turbine turned above one paddock at Shell Eco-marathon Europe this year; it was the stall of the team from Inholland University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. The students, all studying aeronautical engineering, have designed a vehicle with a detachable rear end that can be changed in few minutes and converted…

Kağan Meijer of Celal Bayar University in Turkey explains the changes made to the vehicle to conform to new rules for Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2013. Celal Bayar’s car last year, Tarzan, had large over-hanging solar panels, but this year, the  solar panels needed to be smaller to be integrated into the body of the vehicle.…

Hungary’s Kecskemét College had an amazing second-place run in last year’s Shell Eco-marathon Europe, and the team was determined to kick up its performance this year. The gasoline-powered engine is now 45 cubic centimeters, about a third larger than last year’s engine for the car, nicknamed Megameter, which achieved a performance of 2,695.5 kilometers per liter…

What if you could pack and assemble a car like Ikea furniture? Students at Aston University aimed for lightweight portability and sustainability in the wood car they designed and built for Shell Eco-marathon Europe. Their project manager, Christian Mclening, explains the innovative plywood composite chassis and “flat-pack” design in the video below. In addition to…

Dana and Lorena Ruisi of Universidad Cardenal Herrera’s Idea Ceu Team from Spain explain that their team took inspiration from nature for the shape of their car entered in Shell Eco-marathon Europe. Their vehicle is shaped like a rain drop. They believe falling rain is one of nature’s most efficient means of movement, and they…

As a college athlete (track and field), I understand the desire to put on a good performance while on one’s home turf. So when I was talking to high school students from Team Ubbo Emmius from the Netherlands at Shell Eco-marathon Europe, I expected them to feel the same way about “home field advantage” giving…

More than 3,000 high school and college students from 24 countries are gathered in the port city of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, this weekend for a race for fuel efficiency. More than 180 cars are entered in Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2013, where students design and build super-low-mileage vehicles, and then prove them on a 10-mile (16.3-kilometer)…

Often times in the heat of competition, you lose sight of the things that matter. Saving the world is a serious issue, and energy conservation is a subject that should be tackled aggressively. But when you’re competing with others in something like Shell Eco-marathon, it is always important to step back and have some fun.…

At Shell Eco-marathon, many things go into the inspiration behind the design of the cars. One of the most popular things that influence car designers is the culture from their country. I was able to speak with members of the Ubicar 13 crew from Portugal’s Universidad de Corilha and talk about the pieces that made…

The first official test sessions has now been completed, and DTU Roadrunners have used the opportunity to thoroughly test the car under racing conditions. (See previous post: DTU Roadrunners 2013: Focusing On Evolution Instead of Revolution) The test session was carried out in poor weather with a wet track and a fair drizzle. The practice…

DTU Roadrunners 2013: Full-on optimization. In the 2012 edition of Shell Eco-marathon, the Danish team DTU Roadrunners and their ethanol powered Urban Concept car Dynamo won their class of the competition for the fourth time in row, with an average fuel consumption equivalent to 611 km/l if driving on ordinary petrol. This year the team…

Before competing at Shell Eco-marathon 2013 in Rotterdam, the Polyjoule team decided to go to the Educ Eco in Colomiers (France). Here is our story day by day. (See also: “Team Polyjoule 2013: New Car, New Category.”) Day 1 The whole team arrived at Colomiers in the south of France on May 8 for the…

Sometimes it is not easy to be the first. Our team at Kharkiv National Automobile and Highway University is the first one from Ukraine to build a fuel-efficient car and take it to Shell Eco-marathon. It’s very important for us, citizens of a young state, to convey information about our country, our history, our culture,…

The last week before Shell Eco-marathon 2013 in Rotterdam starts has finally arrived. Since September 2012, we have been constantly working to achieve our goal. Long days and late nights are starting to become more frequent as the start of this year’s event draws closer. Last week we were finally able to do our first…

Smart meters are just one aspect of the new electric infrastructure generally known as the smart grid, but for consumers, they are the most visible. Utilities in California, Texas and other states have led the way on installing the meters, which can relay information about a household’s energy use back to the grid. A new…