Green Grand Prix Showcases Alternative Transportation Technologies
Submitted by Shawn Reeves
Watkins Glen, NY
May 3, 2008
Today, dozens of enthusiasts and educators attended the Green Grand Prix, a competition and festival of efficient vehicles and alternative fuels. This was the fourth annual event of this name here.
In the morning, street-legal hybrid and alternatively fueled vehicles rallied along a 97 km route of scenic highways around New York's Finger Lakes region, at legal highway speeds. Some non-hybrid gasoline vehicles traveled as much as 17 km/liter, while the leading hybrid vehicles attained around 23 km/liter. One biodiesel-powered motorcycle from Massachusetts attained an astounding 43 km/liter, a converted Harley Davidson. Keep in mind that all these rallyists had to keep pace with highway speeds, since they would lose points if they didn't make checkpoints by certain times.
In the early afternoon, several speakers presented diverse topics in the auditorium of Watkins Glen Elementary School. Dr. Lawrence Abrahmson explained research by a team of scientists at State University of New York's school of Environmental Science and Forestry, research into the viability of shrub willow as a source of biofuel for heat, electric power,and chemicals.
A representative of Lexus, the luxury brand of Toyota, explained why and how Lexus developed three high-performance, hybrid-electric-gas vehicles.
Terence Davidovits, a graduate student at the Engineering School of Cornell University, presented his team's entry in the Progressive Automotive X-Prize, a challenge to build a mass-producible car that would use less than 23 liters of gasoline per 1000 kilometers (or greenhouse-gas emitting equivalent in other fuels).
And the final speaker, Tim Treadwell, of Juice Energy, explained how renewable electric power is traded in our semi-regulated markets.
All afternoon there were dozens of vehicles and informative displays on exhibit outside on a lawn and parking lot next to the elementary school.
As rally cars returned to the site, attendees got a chance to see gas-electric hybrids, a 1933 Ford running on propane, E-85 vehicles, two hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles from GM and Honda, natural-gas vehicles, a wood-chip fueled mini-SUV, a solar car, a solar bicycle, biodiesel trucks and a motorcycle, and a 94-year-old electric sedan.
Attendees oohed and aahed over the X of 1 solar car from Toronto, a nearly silent, sleek electric vehicle covered in flexible solar cells, here seen with it's top lifted so the driver can climb out. Note the LED headlights and trim lights.
Students of the New Vision Renewable Energy course at Wayne Technical and Career Center, Williamson, NY, showed off a trailer with 460 Watts of solar panels, a small wind turbine, a light-bulb demonstrator, battery, charge-controller, and inverter, assembled with the help of instructor Jim Buck. Mr. Buck had obtained a certificate from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners to properly install and oversee work on the energy system in the trailer.
Two high school teams showed off their one-seaters they built for the New York State Electrathon.
More than 250 elementary school students submitted designs of alternatively fueled vehicles with colorful descriptions, from carrot-cars to formula-one racers running on fish.
You can learn more about the Green Grand Prix, see results of the competition, find out about sponsors, and see photos of unique vehicles at their web site: