terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Air-powered car coming to the US? February 25, 2008

Filed under: alternative, cars, energy — terra @ 7:00 am

aircarMDI, a 15-year old French company has invented a car that runs on compressed air. The Air Car will be distributed in the US starting in 2009 or 2010, and will cost approx $17,000. That’s about the same as a small or mid-sized gas car.

The car does require a small bit of gas to get the air-engine working, but it will go 95mph with a range of over 900 miles per tank.

If you can, imagine a vehicle that runs on air, achieves over 100 gas-equivalent mpg and over 90 mph, has zero to low C02 emissions, seats six, has plenty of space for luggage, cuts no safety corners, and costs no more than an average economy to mid-size vehicle.

These new, more energy-efficient cars are smaller, but they take safety seriously. It looks pretty cool too!



Ohio is “Focused” on reducing emissions, spending January 31, 2008

Filed under: cars, government — terra @ 7:00 am

focusOhio government workers will be driving the smaller and more fuel efficient Ford Focus (24/35 mpg), as part of an effort to reduce the state’s spending. Previously, state workers drove mid-size sedans, which are more expensive and emit more pollution than the economy-sized Focus.

The switch to a Focus fleet will save the state $242,000 this year alone, and the dollar figures go up as more economy cars hit the fleet.

That savings is just in purchasing the car. The gas savings will make the Focus an even better decision.

According to Autoblog, some state employees aren’t thrilled about the conversion, but Ohio has to do what it can to save money these days. The folks at Autoblog said they liked the Ford Focus, despite the exterior design.

(I like the “no parking” sign in the picture)


Trev, the renewable energy car January 28, 2008

Filed under: alternative, cars, electric car, solar — terra @ 7:00 am

trev-green-carStudents at the University of South Australia have created a two-seater renewable energy car. The lithium ion polymer battery lasts over 150 km between charges, making it the longest-lasting electric car. When charged at home, the Trev costs”$1 AUD per 100km to run, using what is said to be 1/5th of the energy of conventional car.” (that’s $.88 per 62 miles)

The Trev carries two people and two large bags. If people use solar or wind energy for their power, it is truly a renewable energy car.


It makes petrol look silly. -UniSA


Clean School Bus USA January 22, 2008

Filed under: cars, conserve, local — terra @ 7:00 am

Join the EPA’s Anti-idling campaign, Clean School Bus USA. The goal is to reduce children’s exposure to diesel exhaust and pollution.

Clean School Bus USA is a new initiative sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help our communities reduce pollution from school buses.

Clean School Bus USA is also a call to action for communities to join the partnership to begin work at the local level toward three important goals:

  • Reduce school bus idling time and adopt smart driving practices.
  • Retrofit the current school bus fleet with new technologies and introduce cleaner fuels.
  • Replace the oldest buses with new
  • ones that meet stringent pollution control standards.

Not only does the program help make our air cleaner, but it will also save communities and taxpayers thousands of dollars per year.

Here are some idling myths, debunked by the EPA. Knowing these could help your car be more efficient too.

Myth: It’s important to warm up the engine with a long idle period, especially in cold weather.
Fact: With today’s school bus engines, bus and engine manufacturers routinely suggest a warm up time of less than five minutes. In fact, running an engine at low speed (idling) causes significantly more wear on internal parts compared to driving at regular speeds.
Myth: It’s better for an engine to run at low speed (idling) than to run at regular speeds.
Fact: Running an engine at low speed causes twice the wear on internal parts compared to driving at regular speeds.
Myth: The engine must be kept running in order to operate the school bus safety equipment (flashing lights, stop sign). It’s impossible to run this equipment off the internal circuitry of the bus because the battery will run down.
Fact: Safety equipment can be operated without the engine running through re-wired circuitry for up to an hour with no ill-effects on the electrical system of the bus.
Myth: Idling is necessary to keep the cabin comfortable.
Fact: Depending on the weather, many buses will maintain a comfortable interior temperature for a while without idling. Idling is also not an efficient way to keep the cabin warm. Bus routes should be timed so children and drivers do not need to spend a lot of extra time on the bus when it is not en route, particularly in hot or cold weather. In addition, auxiliary heaters can be purchased and installed to keep the cabin comfortable.
Myth: It’s better to just leave the engine idling because a “cold start” produces more pollution.
Fact: A recent EPA study found that the emission pulse measured after the school bus is restarted contains less carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants than if the school bus idled continuously over a 10-minute period. The analysis indicated that continuous idling for more than three minutes emitted more fine particle (soot) emissions than at restart.

If you drive a school bus, send your kids to school, know a teacher or school bus driver, or like to write letters to your local paper, let’s all encourage districts to join the EPA’s Clean School Bus USA program and ask school bus drivers to shut their engine off while they’re waiting to pick up their students. It will keep the air cleaner, for the air’s sake, and kid’s sake.


Solar Carport January 17, 2008

Filed under: cars, electric car, solar — terra @ 7:00 am

carportMy favorite type of car is electric. An electric car is very practical for someone like me with a very short daily commute. In fact, most Americans drive less than 40 miles per day, making electric cars very sensible. It would be great to have an electric car (powered with clean energy), and a hybrid or some other lower emission car for longer distances.

Unfortunately, electric cars are not ideal when we’re tied to a coal-based power grid. The best option is to use renewable electricity. Currently, that’s hard to come by, but now you can charge your car or your home with the LifePort Solar Carport. LifePort has built a carport with a solar roof that provides enough power to charge your car, for free! (that sounds like a commercial, but I think it’s pretty cool) You can even hook the carport up to your home, and power your home during the day while your car is with you at work.

Here are some specs on the LifePort Solar Carport, taken from their website. Someone could even insulate the carport and turn it into an office or rec room. The price is high to start, but the return on investment based on increased property values is outstanding. Not to mention the environmental benefits… never having to buy gas again… lower electric bills… the list of benefits goes on and on with renewable energy.

LifePortTM Structure with 4.8 kW DC System: $45,199


(over 25 year life term of system)
142 tons, equivalent to 284,000 automobile miles


They don’t make ‘em like they used to January 11, 2008

Filed under: cars, energy — terra @ 7:00 am

honda_crx.03The 1988 Honda Civic CRX got 57 mpg! That’s better than any car on the road today, hybrids included. And it didn’t take any special research or new technology. It was just efficient. Plain and simple.

The ‘88 Civic had optional air conditioning, but a/c doesn’t account for a 30+ mpg loss of efficiency. By my estimations (through watching my gas mileage average), you lose less than 5 mpg by running the a/c. So why the change? Because Americans want more, more, more. (but they don’t want to pay more at the pump)

Honda says that a small car like the CRX wouldn’t stand up to today’s crash testing. However, the Smart car gets a 4 star crash test rating because of its more durable design. Check out this video of a smart crash. And a video of an ‘07 Civic. Neither look fun, but you can see that the Smart’s frame stays in shape. Small cars, with thoughtful design, can be safe.