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Home to Hollywood, Silicon Valley and an ever-present green movement California is America’s natural habitat for electric vehicles. Residents of the Golden State buy them in far greater numbers than any other people in the U.S.
Hybrid technology isn’t just a Japanese specialty anymore, everyone is jumping on the electric bandwagon from the Detroit three to German automakers. Even the British are investing in cutting-edge batteries and motors.
It’s no secret that Colorado is a fan of alternative energy. The state government offers additional subsidies for people interested in vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt, offering thousands in incentives. Still, it seems far into the future that the state — or anyone, will start fueling cars with feces.
Despite that, there is such a vehicle currently being used at the Denver Zoo. A 20-year-old motorized rickshaw from Thailand, better known as a tuk tuk, has been re-engineered to run on, well, poop.
Mike Dunbar is one of the mechanical engineers working at the zoo who helped engineer the waste wagon, which runs on animal dung and other zoo waste. The vehicle’s power system compresses the material, creating a gas that is then used to generate electricity. That charge is then used to power everything on the rig.
While the tuk tuk is painfully slow, its creators say the point is to demonstrate that it’s possible to run a vehicle on trash. The vehicle is still incomplete, but is expected to be finished by the fall.
“This is not just a zoo thing,” Hale said to the Denver Post. “It can be applied on campuses, in communities and many other environments.”
Once completed, the project currently powering the puttering tuk tuk will be scaled up to generate 20 percent of the zoo’s energy, which translates into repurposing roughly 1.5 million pounds of waste annually.
Watch a video of the vehicle in action after the break.
[Source: Denver Post]
For next year, Toyota will start offering AC electric outlets as an option on the Prius hybrid so drivers can plug in accessories or appliances to their car. Toyota developed the idea through the March 11 earthquake disaster in which people used the Toyota Estima hybrid van (pictured above) as a source of emergency electricity when the power went out.
Toyota eventually wants to add the AC outlet to the entire hybrid line, however the option will only be offered in Japan initially because of concerns regarding different voltages and safety regulations. Toyota demonstrated the option earlier today in the city of Sendai with the Prius was equipped with Japan’s standard 100-volt AC plug. The car was able to power appliances such as a fan, hotpot and refrigerator. Toyota officials noted that with one full tank of gasoline, the Prius can supply power at full output for two days.
[Source: Automotive News]