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Archive | Energy conservation

Shipping container farms for locally-grown produce

cropbox

Produce can now be grown hydroponically with LEDs in completely self-contained Freight Farms or Cropbox shipping container farms, controllable from by smart phone. Crops include lettuce, kale, chard, arugula, herbs, and other small vegetables. Cropbox can also be used for microgreens and feed for horses, with a strawberry version coming soon. Both use dramatically less water than conventional growing, can be put anywhere including big cities , and are stackable. Also, LEDs produce practically no heat, greatly reducing cooling expenses, as compared to halogen.

Thus, a restaurant could grow produce in their parking lot and bring it directly to the tables, the ultimate in locally grown food. Or containers could be stacked several high in urban warehouses and supply many restaurants and farmer’s markets.

Cropbox claims that their systems also use up to 90 percent less water than traditional growing methods. For lighting they used LED lights, which keep the energy expenditure to a minimum. There is space to grow 3,000 plants in one of their containers.

The Freight Farms shipping container farm features separate spaces for different stages of plant growth, such as seedling and germination area, which is large enough to support 2,500 plants. They also have 256 vertical towers which offer enough space for more than 4,500 mature plants.

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Market share of hybrid cars falls, market share is tiny

hybrid-car-market-share

Even with increasing numbers of hybrid models on the market, 47 in the US, market share for hybrids is falling and is now at a minuscule 3%. It may be that hybrids won’t ever be more than niche vehicles.

I am the original owner of a 2001 Toyota Prius. It’s been a great car and I’ll drive it until the wheels fall off. The electric motor battery needed replacement at 105,000 miles and was just out of warranty so it cost $2,700. Other than that, there’s been nothing but routine maintenance.

Technological improvements in gas, diesel, plug-in hybrids, and EVs have eroded the MGP advantage of hybrids, which probably accounts for the decline in sales. Everyone else has caught up with hybrids. 45 MPG isn’t that big a deal now.

Hybrid cars have always been seen as “transitional” vehicles, and I’m certainly not ready to say the market has already moved past them. But now that there are more options in the diesel, EV, and compact market that appeal to MPG fanatics, the glossy sheen of hybrid cars may be finally wearing off.

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Toyota iRoad. Getting home after using public transport

Toyota-iRoad

Public transportation is a great idea. Sometimes though, you may live a few miles from the stop. Why drive a car when you can drive an iRoad? This is the niche Toyota wants to fill.

The iRoad is similiar to a motorcycle, offers protection from the elements, and has an electric engine. Plus it could be shared, like in bike sharing programs now. It’s being tested in Toyota City in Japan and soon in France.

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Walmart experimental WAVE truck is energy efficient

Walmart-Wave-truck

Walmart, love them or hate them, is a leader in energy efficiency and reducing waste. They do this because it saves money. Their new WAVE truck (Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience) weighs two tons less than comparable semis, has superb aerodynamics, and a turbine engine. They want to double big rig MPG to 10, saving potentially $25,000 per year per truck. They have 6,500 big rigs in their fleet so the potential savings is $162,5000 a year (plus a whole lot less pollutants in the air.)

The Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience, or WAVE, concept truck is the latest in our fleet efficiency program. The one-of-a-kind prototype offers a whole package of firsts. The tractor has very advanced aerodynamics and is powered by a prototype advanced turbine-powered, range-extending series hybrid powertrain. The trailer is made almost exclusively with carbon fiber, saving around 4,000 pounds which can then be used to carry more freight.

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Airflow Truck design doubles mileage for big rigs

airflow-bullet-truck

Smart changes in the aerodynamics of semi-trucks results in doubling their mileage. An Airflow Truck with a 65,000 lb. load averaged 13.6 from Connecticut to California, way up from the average 6 mph average. The truck has an aerodynamic nose, covered wheels, LCD readouts, hybrid air conditioning, and video cameras instead of mirrors. Replacing the mirrors with cameras alone resulted in a huge gain in MPG. Perhaps one day, all new vehicles will have cameras not mirrors. Think of the gas that could be saved.

Most truckers get a flat rate for a haul and pay for fuel themselves. Trucks like this are money in their pocket. Diesel currently averages $3.33 a gallon nationwide. A 3,000 mile cross country trip would use 220 gallons at 13.6 mpg vs. 500 gallons at 6 mpg – a savings of $932.

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