Last week I had the opportunity to drive Ford's latest hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Based on a Focus sedan, it was remarkable for being unremarkable in operation during my maybe 5-mile test drive on city streets. The interior was devoid of the obviously added-in cables, specialized instrumentation, and switches of an engineering prototype, and the car was exceptionally smooth in operation--not surprising, considering that with an electric motor, a transmission is not required. It wasn't completely quiet, as the compressor for the fuel cell's hydrogen system made a whine like a jet engine on the taxiway, but … Read more
Want to see a bunch of alternative-fuel vehicles? Going really fast? Head to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, near Monterey, Calif., this weekend, October 17 to 19, for the final races of the 2008 American LeMans Series (ALMS) calendar.
Don't look for "Gasoline Alley" at the track. The cars run on E10, 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline; E85, 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline; or clean diesel. The ethanol part of the E85 of choice is celluosic, made from waste wood, not corn, and the diesels are among the quickest cars in the world.
ALMS … Read more
As has become increasingly obvious over the last few years, games are being used more and more as tools for helping people and organizations work their way through all kinds of problems and scenarios.
That's been the reasoning behind the steady growth of initiatives like the serious games movement, whose practitioners promote the idea of deploying games in education, government, military, and other sober institutions that need new ways to resolve troubling issues.
And now it appears that an august group of futurists is hoping that they can employ large numbers of people to play collaborative games in search of solutions to some of the world's most vexing problems.
That was the word Tuesday from the Institute for the Future, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based think tank that focuses on identifying the directions that mankind will take down the line. … Read more
No doubt about it: the Apple iPod Nano is an excellent MP3 player. It's ultraslim, generally easy to use, and has a high-quality feel and appealing extras such as a tilt sensor and a smart playlist feature called Genius. However, like all MP3 players, it's not perfect. Sound quality isn't great, there's still no user-definable EQ, and adding voice recording and an FM tuner requires that you drop more of your hard-earned cash. Luckily, if you're not convinced you want to hop on the Nano bandwagon, there's a handful of worthy alternatives, and most … Read more
Bought one too many duty-free vodkas from the airport and wonder just what to do with the stash? Well, eco-friendly company Horizon has the answer. Not quite in the league of the trash-to-fuel De Lorean in Back to the Future, the Horizon fuel cell Bio-Energy Kit is, after all, only $99.
But it will chug down any alcohol for fuel, albeit diluted first with water, and then distill this cocktail into pure electricity. The makers claim it's good enough to power small devices such as an iPod or a fan nonstop for days. Shipments begin September 5.
Drinkers may … Read more
What do you get when you mix Al Gore, global warming, whacky environmentalists, skyrocketing oil prices, lots of venture funding, and irrational exuberance? An alternative-energy bubble.
What, you don't believe that there's an alternative-energy bubble? Then you're just not paying attention. It may not be the biggest bubble in the history of technology--yet. And it may not be ready to burst--yet. But it's a bubble, all right. All the signs are there.
In solar energy alone, hundreds of millions of dollars of venture funds have been poured into the likes of Nanosolar, SoloPower, OptiSolar, HelioVolt, eSolar, SolFocus, Solel, Miasole, GreenVolts, Hydro Green, Infinia, Sopogy, Cyrium, SkyFuel, BrightSource Energy--the list goes on and on.
All the usual suspects are in the game: big-name venture capital firms, investment banks, private-equity firms, energy companies, technology companies, individual investors, a new batch of investment companies focused primarily on energy, and even a hedge fund or two.
There are lots of recognizable names, as well, including Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Microsoft founder Paul Allen, and Sun Microsystems founder and ex-Kleiner Perkins partner Vinod Khosla.… Read more
Editor's note: What with the price of gasoline near record highs, attention increasingly focuses on the race to deliver battery-driven automobiles. But even with advances in this and other alternative technology areas, this remains a work in progress. As they say, we're likely going to remain dependent on oil for the foreseeable future. Apropos, I recently came across a provocative column by Greentech Media's Michael Kanellos, which I'm reposting as a guest column. Might his look-back scenario have worked out? We'll never know. Still, it's a good read. What's your take? Leave your … Read more
Earlier this month I was in Israel moderating a panel on the myths and realities of alternative energy. The good news to report is that technologists are making steady headway in so-called green alternatives like solar and wind. The bad news is that governments aren't yet providing enough investment support for their ideas.
So it's been more than slightly amusing to watch the media circus around the discovery by the United States Geological Survey that the Arctic may hold around one fifth of the planet's future oil and natural gas reserves. Since that Wednesday announcement, every talking … Read more