Japan’s First Electric Taxi Project Kicks Off

kristy Green Prosperity

Japan?s First Electric Taxi Project Kicks Off

Posted: 14 Apr 2012 09:31 AM PDT

EV Taxi Share Station 1

Japan is getting its first fleet of electric taxis, as Nissan starts an experimental project to solve some of the problems that other EV taxi proponents have faced. The project will run from April 18th to July 20th, after which Nissan will either have a working fleet of zero-emissions taxis or decide that the Leaf is better for private use only.

The project is called the EV Taxi Share Station, and both branches of it are sponsored by Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. One branch is in Kanagawa (that would be Kanagawa Prefecture, part of the greater Tokyo Area), where it?s sponsored by the Kanagawa Prefecture Taxi Association in addition to Nissan. This branch, titled the Kanagawa EV Taxi Project, will be aimed at people in rural as well as more urban areas. The other branch is in Yokohama City (the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture). Named the Yokohama Mobility Project Zero, it will be focusing on a very urban environment.
Alternative Taxi

The advantages of electric cars as taxis are immediately obvious ? super low fuel cost is the first, while less noise, vibration, and a low center of gravity make a comfortable ride an easy second. Low maintenance cost is another point for electric taxis.

The disadvantages, of course, are the same as for an individual owning an electric car ? the range of the car and how long it takes to charge can be prohibitive, especially when the business depends on running the car all over town and beyond. Nissan?s solution is the EV Taxi Share Station.
No, Really, Alternative

The EV Taxi Share station is exactly what it sounds like. Nissan plans to install an extra spot for electric taxis to wait and recharge their batteries next to currently existing taxi stands. Standard gas-driven taxis and electric taxis will alternate in taking fares (hence the word ?share?) so that the company benefits from the low cost of running EVs (when available) and isn?t hurt by potential downtime while the cars recharge.

Nissan hopes that the alternating taxi solution will help promote the normalcy of electric cars into areas where there might not be many. The use of existing taxi stands will hopefully cut down on installation costs and also help electric cars spread out past the city.

Let us know how you think their three-month experiment will turn out in the comments, below!

Source | Images: Nissan

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Not Pretty, but This EV Can Go Over 200 Miles on 1 Charge

Posted: 14 Apr 2012 07:00 AM PDT

Yeah, I have to agree with Chris on this one ? this car isn?t the most attractive car I?ve ever seen. But maybe it?s like that story of the ugly duckling and our sense of automobile attractiveness is too narrow-minded. And 218 miles on a single charge, which the SIM car reportedly offers, is certainly a nice feature. Here?s more from Chris:

Ugly As SIM: An Unattractive EV That Goes Over 200 Miles Per Charge (via Gas 2.0)

While most of the major automakers are doing what they can to make electric cars look conventional, independent companies hoping to earn a slice of the EV market have gone the opposite direction. Just look at Fisker, Tesla, or the latest offering from SIM-Drive, a Japanese company that has just announced?

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Why Eggs Have a Place in Your iPad

Posted: 14 Apr 2012 05:40 AM PDT

Taiwain researchers test egg white (albumen) for electronic transistors The search for low-cost sustainable materials for electronic goods is taking researchers into some strange places, and now a team of scientists from National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan has followed a trail that leads straight to the barnyard. The team has successfully demonstrated that plain, unmodified egg white ? aka albumen ? can function effectively as an insulating material in an emerging class of electronic switches called organic field-effect transistors.
Organic transistors and electronics

Field-effect transistors are the ?main logic units? of daily life in our electronic-based society. From their invention in the 1940?s until recently, they have been made with inorganic materials, primarily silicon. The addition of organic materials to the mix offers the potential for a significant reduction in manufacturing costs, since they can be sprayed over a large area onto a lightweight, flexible base.
A rough road to organic transistors

That sounds great in theory, but in practice using organic materials is not all that simple, as the Cheng Kung team points out:

?Biomaterials have many advantages for use in organic, carbon-based electronics and have garnered considerable attention in recent years. Not only are they biodegradable and biocompatible, but they also tend to be environmentally friendly and do not require chemical synthesis. They have the potential to cut the cost of organic electronics and to simplify manufacturing processes?However, the materials are not always easy to handle and can require many extraction steps.?
Smoothing the way with egg white

The researchers? key finding was that egg white in its natural state could perform as effectively as a conventional polymer material, or plastic. The researchers layered a thin film of raw, unpurified egg white onto an indium tin oxide substrate, then gradually heated it to about 140 degrees Centigrade. Once the white was cooked, they fabricated the rest of the transistor. Test results showed that the egg white performed well as a dielectric (insulating) component.

The researchers also tested the egg white dielectric on flexible substrates and found that the transistor maintained its output while the substrate was bent, indicating a good potential for use in portable, flexible electronics.

That?s good so far but the real proof will be in the pudding, when the team puts albumen through durability tests including temperature and moisture tolerance.

Follow Tina Casey on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.

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Pretty Castledockrell Wind Farm Video

Posted: 14 Apr 2012 04:00 AM PDT

A reader shared this pretty Castledockrell Wind Farm video in the comments of a post this week and I thought it would make for a fun weekend post, so here it is:

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Corkscrew Wind Turbine Now Powering Cleveland Indians Stadium

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 04:33 PM PDT

wind turbine cleveland indians stadium

This is an interesting one. A newly patented ?corkscrew? wind turbine designed by Cleveland State University (CSU) mechanical engineering professor Dr. Majid Rashidi is now helping to power the Cleveland Indians? stadium. It was put in place about one week ago.

What?s up with the corkscrew design? I?ll let Dr. Rashidi explain:

?The easiest way to explain it is this: there are two wind turbines hanging on both sides of the spiral,? Dr. Rashidi says. ?When air passes by the spiral, it gently deflects the wind towards the turbines to power them. If the spiral were not there, the air molecules would typically miss the turbines entirely.?

And this isn?t the Cleveland Indians? first groundbreaking renewable energy project. The Indians was also the first Major League Baseball (MLB) team to incorporate solar panels into its stadium design, which it did back in 2007.
Clean Energy Can Create Jobs

Of course, this new technology being homegrown, the team, the local community, and Dr. Rashidi hope it?s a sign of economic growth to come.

?The kind of expertise we have in Northeastern Ohio can bring manufacturing back,? Dr. Rashidi says. ?It helps the economy by thinking outside the box, trying to do something bold and creating something that no one has thought of yet.?

After being designed at CSU, the wind turbine was actually manufactured and installed by regional companies.

?I absolutely see Cleveland as a potential center for wind-energy technology,? Rashidi says. ?This is truly a Cleveland product.?
Cleveland?s Wind Power Roots & Innovations

Interestingly, Cleveland?s got some deep wind power roots. Back in 1888, Charles Brush reportedly developed the first wind turbine designed for energy generation. He did so at his Euclid Avenue house in Cleveland.

Dr. Rashidi actually has two patented wind turbines now. The other is located on top of CSU?s Plant Services Building. That wind turbine is similar but uses a cylindrical rather than corkscrew/spiral shape in order to capture and deflect wind. Dr. Rashidi and his team will be monitoring the performance of both to see how they compare.

While the new corkscrew wind turbine, projected to generate 25,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, isn?t expected to make a huge dent in the stadium?s need for power from other sources, that?s not its main purpose.

?It is an educational statement for the younger generation,? Dr. Rashidi says. ?What the ballpark is doing is to have kids from elementary school through high school see that we are being innovative and trying to design something that can have an impact on the economy around the country.? CSU president Ronald M. Berkman has focused on the project?s ?engaged learning? aspect, as in the fact that the research project actually has a real-world application. Several master?s students helped to design the wind turbine.

If this demonstration project goes well, the hope is that they can improve the design of the turbine to make manufacturing it cheaper.

?One of the aspects I have claimed in our patents is that we can make the corkscrew as a large, inflatable balloon and secure it with bungee chords,? he says. ?The only thing the spiral does is deflect wind, so it doesn?t need to be heavy. I want to figure out how to make the spiral lighter and at a lesser cost.?

Interestingly, the opening game the wind turbine was installed at ended up being the longest opening-day game in MLB history. Unfortunately, for the locals, Cleveland lost.

Source: USA TODAY College
Image Credit: Cleveland State University

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Looking for Help Crowdfunding an Eco or Social Enterprise?

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 12:47 PM PDT

We promote cool projects looking for crowdfunding support from time to time here on CleanTechnica. But I?m sure there are many more out there that I never even see. Sister site Ecopreneurist is looking to give such projects a boost and has specific details on how to get its support. I?m happy to do the same here for projects related to our focus. Check out Ecopreneurist?s post below and if you ever pitch it a project, feel free to drop us a note with the same information as well (but just via our contact form linked at the top of our website).

Before sharing that Ecopreneurist post, though, I?ll just note the first project Ecopreneurist is helping out. It?s not on one of our normal topics but it?s on a project well worth our support. It?s an opensource permaculture project. Click the link for more info.

Now, here?s the original Ecopreneurist post on its crowdfunding support series (I?ll be looking to repost crowdfunding projects related to cleantech, but if you?d like to keep up to date with all the projects Ecopreneurist features, be sure to start following that site):

NEW Series: Crowdfunding For A Social or Eco Enterprise? Feature Your Project Here (via Ecopreneurist)

Got a cool eco or social project you want crowdfunded? We can give you a leg up and feature your Kickstarter or Indiegogo project story here for some extra love. So go ahead and send us that email. But first, some instructions! The Hows: Send the editor (me) an email at [email protected]?

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Pricing Pollution (Implementing Full-Cost Pricing) & Reducing Income Taxes ? Why Not?

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 12:13 PM PDT

One of the fundamental problems in the current energy economy, a problem that those still in love with fossil fuels don?t want to admit, is that fossil fuels receive nearly invisible but hugely expensive public health and safety subsidies. Proper, full-cost pricing of electricity is highly needed to correct the market.

As I mentioned in a previous article a month or so ago, one conservative economist, the chairman of George W. Bush?s Council of Economic Advisors, wrote in Forbes recently that we should cut taxes on things we want (i.e. income taxes ? taxes on work and jobs) and put or increase taxes on things we don?t want (i.e. pollution). This gets to the same point as the above, and it?s clearly a proposal that liberals (who are often highly supportive of policies to cut pollution, stop global warming, and improve public health) would also get behind. Apparently, the idea also has the support of some 2,500 economists, including 9 Nobel Prize winners in economics.

As noted below, the current full societal cost of gasoline is about $12 per gallon more than what we pay at the pump. So, for the many places approaching or now at $4/gallon, that number should really be about $16/gallon. Hard to swallow, perhaps, but this is the actual, full cost of gasoline.

For all those up in arms about minimal subsidies to clean energy (subsidies similar to the subsidies fossil fuels have been getting for generations), for those who think nothing should be subsidized by government because the ?free market? is perfect, it?s important to recognize that there are failures in the market, in the pricing of some products, that should be addressed. The true cost of a product should be internalized by companies selling it so that its price in the market isn?t 4 times lower than its true cost. In very real terms, without correcting these failures, we are creating an environmental bubble that will blow up in our faces and/or those of our children in ways we really don?t want to see.

In this Earth Policy Institute post below (via sister site sustainablog), Lester Brown gets into these issues in more detail and perhaps a bit more elegance. Enjoy the post!

Full-Cost Pricing: Getting the Market to Tell the Truth (via sustainablog)

by Lester R. Brown Moving the global economy off its current decline-and-collapse path depends on reaching four goals: stabilizing climate, stabilizing population, eradicating poverty, and restoring the economy?s natural support systems. These goals?comprising what the Earth Policy Institute calls?

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