Traveling the Highway to a Renewable Energy Future: A Look At Innovation in Transportation
RenewableEnergyStocks.com – ZAP, DynaMotive, Alchemy Enterprises, DaimlerChrysler and Honda Motor Look to the Emerging Alternative Energy Transportation Market
As oil consumption patterns are targeted for change, the market turns towards innovators who are getting behind the wheel to produce new energy solutions. With the growing level of support of alternative transportation technology steadily gaining momentum from a corporate, government and consumer level, innovations such as cleaner fuel sources, and energy efficient automotive technology continue to result. Working to build on the emerging clean energy opportunities in the transportation market are technology providers such as
ZAP (AMEX: ZP), DynaMotive Energy Systems Corporation (OTCBB: DYMTF), Alchemy Enterprises (OTCBB: ACHM), DaimlerChrysler (NYSE: DCX), and Honda Motor Co. Ltd (NYSE: HMC).
Reducing our dependence on foreign oil has placed the use of alternative transportation models into the limelight. Clean Edge Inc., a San Francisco based research and consulting firm reporting on the clean technology industry, reports, “Since roughly two-thirds of the oil used in the U.S. is for transportation, energy security advocates are focusing on hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles to save gasoline, and on biofuels — ethanol and biodiesel — as key means to replace it. U.S. biodiesel production tripled in 2005 to 75 million gallons, domestic ethanol output continued its steady growth to nearly 4 billion gallons, while U.S. hybrid car sales grew 144 percent to more than 205,000.”
In light of the current market environment, Steven Schneider, Chief Executive Officer and Director of ZAP (Zero Air Pollution) (NYSE: ZP) explains, “Anyone that is producing an alternative energy vehicle at this moment in time is certainly in a sweet spot. The concern over fuel prices and oil, combined with environmental issues, global warming and all types of weather conditions and climate change, including the unrest in the Middle East, has put so much focus on companies who are coming up with another solution.” ZAP is the only company who currently provides full performance electric vehicles for sale online and through licensed dealers. They also sell Smart Cars and the soon to be released Obvio Ethanol gas hybrid.
Alchemy Enterprises, Ltd (OTCBB: ACHM) is developing a magnesium based Electric Power Cell that will be able to provide power for vehicles using reusable, renewable materials. The company is targeting a prototype to be functioning in the first quarter of “07 in a full sized city bus, currently under construction in conjunction with Designline of New Zealand, an international producer of hybrid buses and vehicles.
The Electric Power Cell being developed by Alchemy uses magnesium – one of the most common minerals on earth - as its catalyst material. Given the further fact that the magnesium is “rechargeable” it is the perfect answer to the twofold problem with combustion engines, and petroleum in particular: pollution and non renewable source, fuel.
Alchemy’s CEO Jonathan Read explains, “We expect that the very nature of our Electric Power Cell will provide a significant alternative to the potentially flawed hydrogen fuel concepts that are being tested at this stage. Our objective is a fuel system that is clean, renewable and reusable. Instead of highly pressurized and leak prone hydrogen systems, our system provides power on demand – hydrogen on demand – and is a model for sustainable affordable long-term power systems”
“Our first prototype is being developed for the public transportation sector as it is the easiest to control and monitor given their centralized nature. We hope to then expand to fleet applications, and will be entertaining automobile joint ventures,” adds Read.
Alchemy is developing their Electric Fuel Cell in a full development contract with NASA and its Jet Propulsion Labs and Cal Tech in Pasadena, CA. It has announced that this contractual relationship may result in Cal Tech taking an 8% stake in the Company.
The Hybrid and Plug-In Route
Cost is all too often seen as a primary barrier, when it comes to presenting a hybrid alternative to the eternal combustion conundrum. According to CNW Marketing Research Inc., “One of the reasons hybrids cost more than non-hybrids is the manufacture, replacement and disposal of such items as batteries, electric motors (in addition to the conventional engine), lighter weight materials and complexity of the power package.”
From another angle, Nick Cappa, Manager of Advanced Technology Communications for DaimlerChrysler (NYSE: DCX) says, “At this point there is no silver bullet for reducing our dependency on foreign oil. Hybrids will play a role but how significant a role depends on the customer. The premium for a hybrid must meet expectations.”
At the moment he says, “hybrids make up less than .5% of the North American market. That percentage is expected to be around 4% by 2012. DaimlerChrysler will introduce its first hybrid to market in 2008 with the 2-Mode Full Hybrid Dodge Durango. We see hybrids as a growing market. Other technologies will also have an affect on fuel consumption. “
As far as plug-ins and the Company’s own plans for innovating are concerned, Cappa says, “Although DaimlerChrysler is the only auto manufacturer building and testing plug-in hybrid technology, we have made no plans for mass production of plug-in technology. By combining diesel hybrids with lithium ion battery technology we stay on the cutting edge. The data collected will go towards future hybrid vehicle and system design.”
Presenting the industry with electric alternative vehicles, ZAP is the only company who markets electric vehicles online. Schneider says, “interest is coming in on a global basis. As a company we’re focusing on getting the vehicles to the North American region first and as we perfect the infrastructure here in North America, we’ll be rapidly expanding to other parts of the world.”
“I believe that plug-in vehicles have a rapidly growing niche in the market that most of us don’t quite yet understand, but will very soon. Further to this, he says, “the bench tests are showing a longevity of 9,000 cycles- that’s like 9,000 refills of your gasoline car, which is 10-15 years depending on how much you actually drive. This makes it very convenient for a consumer to make a choice between gasoline powered vehicles or plug-in vehicles because the time to plug in and the time to fill up is about the same,” concludes Schneider.
In an attempt to help promote energy independence, U.S. automakers General Motors, Ford and Daimler Chrysler, recently expressed their public support of an energy plan from the Energy Future Coalition. The plan titled “25 by 25” entails that 25 percent of the energy supplies for the U.S. would come from a combination of ethanol and other renewables by the year 2025. E85, an alternative fuel consisting of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, has become a key focus in the quest for cleaner domestic sources of fuel and through plans such as “25 by 25” and other clean energy proposals, steps can be taken to increase the availability and distribution of this fuel.
Alexander Muller, Assistant Director-General for the Sustainable Development Department of the FAO has instilled the overall impression that, “The gradual move away from oil has begun. Over the next 15 to 20 years, we may see biofuels providing a full 25 percent of the world’s energy needs.” With this in mind, more of a spotlight could be placed on biofuels, as it becomes more evident that this is a viable alternative for the mass market.”
DynaMotive Energy Systems Corporation (OTCBB: DYMTF) has been developing advanced fuels made from cellulosic biomass for some time. Andrew Kingston President and CEO affirms that, “With the escalating cost of fossil fuels and the dependence on crude oil as the primary source of energy for automobiles, it has become increasingly important to develop sustainable fuels from local resources, thus diminishing the reliance on foreign energy.“
Describing the dynamics of BioOil conversion to synthetic gas, Kingston says, “We’ve successfully converted BioOil to syngas, with the objective to establish that syngas can be further reformed to synthetic diesel.” For future transport applications he says, “Synthetic diesel can be used as transport fuel in diesel engines without modification, including automobiles, trucks, and buses. When comparing the performance of engines operating on Syndiesel to engines operating on conventional diesel, the results are equal or better. Synthetic diesel, or Syndiesel, is a renewable greenhouse gas neutral fuel that can replace diesel produced from crude oil.”
Kingston further stated, “There is also a promising approach to ethanol production from the reformation of BioOil to syngas utilizing a variance of Fisher Tropsch process, which DynaMotive is exploring.” Currently, the Company’s product BioOil is used as an industrial fuel and can be used in gas turbines, boilers, kilns and stationary diesel engines.
Chris Martin, spokesman for Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) says that the progress made in the hybrid market has been, “a slow evolution over time. It’s really difficult to predict where the market is going to go.” Martin says that in addition to hybrids, the Company’s Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) technology, which shuts down the cylinders not being used during vehicle drive times, is also part of their line.
A Honda Civic GX, which runs on natural gas, also plays a key part in their line of alternative energy solutions. Martin says that for this car, “the infrastructure to refuel your natural gas vehicle is already in place, because many American homes are already supplied with natural gas.” The Phill home refueling station, offered by Honda’s partner Fuel Maker, offers at-home natural gas refueling for owners of the new Civic. A map showing where the Californian natural gas refueling stations are located is online at:
As the nation continues to drive forward towards energy alternatives through government, business and legislative support, the transportation industry is experiencing an evolution towards greater efficiency, environmental preservation and an improved ability for domestic producers to help establish energy independence. Resulting from this push is a variety of innovative clean energy technologies that are helping to solve many of the needs felt by today’s transportation channels, turning yesterday’s challenges into today’s market opportunities.
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