Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rethinking Charity

I've always thought that the best charities were the ones with the lowest overhead cost. This Ted Talk helped me to understand why that may not always be the case.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Air-Powered Car

When I first heard about the idea for a car that uses compressed air instead of gasoline I wondered, "why isn't this everywhere?!" The answer? There are a number of problems with using compressed-air to power a car.

One thing that the article above does not seem to take into account is the problems associated with batteries that can be avoided with compressed-air. In order to reach the high level of efficiency that we have in electric vehicles we use Lithium-Ion batteries. These batteries contain very toxic and corrosive materials that cannot be easily recycled or disposed.

Because of the problems associated with batteries a company is currently working on developing a hybrid car that uses compressed-air instead of batteries to assist a combustion engine and store energy captured from regenerative breaking. Unfortunately, this car is still in the development phase and won't be available for quite some time.

Two Indian researchers are also working on  a compressed-air powered scooter to reduce carbon emissions in urban areas. The drawbacks: the scooters can only go about 18 miles before being refilled and only produces 7 lb-ft of torque. Another drawback that is not intrinsic to the technology is the fact that India's power plants are largely fueled by coal and thus the electricity used to compress the air in the scooters will still come from burning fossil fuels.

A more promising alternative-energy mode of transportation is the all electric motorcycle from Zero Motorcycles. It can go 60-miles for 60 cents worth of electricity and produces 60 lb-ft of torque. Even better, these motorcycles are actually available to purchase right now.