Whereas diesel engines have made great strides in the European auto markets, here in the U.S., gasoline still dominates. Apparently, the prospect of much higher fuel mileage and lower CO2 emissions from diesels doesn't overcome the objections of U.S. environmental regulatory authorities concerned mainly about local air quality issues. I suspect that, even if (when?) these objections are overcome by continued refinement, diesels will still find it difficult to win market share in the U.S., largely because of the wider availability of gasoline.
Highlights from my week: a hybrid Mack dump truck, foldable solar panels, biomass pellets to replace coal, and a speech by President Bush.
The first Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) 2008, which ran from Tuesday to Thursday, brought together ministers from 119 countries and a trade show floor full of businesses.
The headline event, without a doubt, was a speech delivered by president George Bush on Wednesday morning where he said America has to "get off oil."
Industrial giant General Electric has invested approximately $4 million into Think Global, the Norwegian company that specializes in electric town cars.
The investment exists, in part, to aid another investment by GE in lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems. GE has invested $20 million into A123, which is working with General Motors on the Chevy Volt. Think, which has been getting its lithium-ion batteries from a company called EnerDel, has now signed a deal to also get batteries from A123.
Update July 19, 2008: Escape from Berkeley is now scheduled for Oct. 10-13, 2008.
Now this is something that I wish I could see.
Over the coming Fourth of July weekend, the folks who organize the Power Tool Drag Races will be putting on an entirely new kind of competition: Escape from Berkeley (by any non-petroleum means necessary), a race of alternatively powered vehicles from the liberal Bay Area town to Sin City.
"This 4th of July weekend, NASA scientists and junkyard fabricators once again square off in the perennial battle of engineering prowess and creative excess, this time … Read more
Updated 2:30 p.m. PST with funding amount.
Khosla Ventures, the venture capital firm of Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla, has invested in Pax Streamline, maker of turbines, heating and air-conditioning systems, and aerospace technologies.
Khosla and Pax Streamline CEO Jay Harman did not disclose the amount of the investment, which was formally announced Friday, but Harman said the funding is "substantial." According to a source familiar with the deal, Khosla invested an estimated $6 million in a series A round of financing; and if the company meets certain business goals, the VC firm will put in … Read more
Microsoft's chief environmental strategist, Robert Bernard, spoke publicly for one of the first times this week, giving some insight into Microsoft's "green" strategy.
Bernard was named to the position about four months ago after working with Microsoft for 10 years on partnerships with other IT companies.
While other IT companies have launched "green IT" initiatives, Microsoft has been relatively quiet.
For example, IBM's Big Green Innovations, launched last year, is focused on data center energy efficiency but also includes consulting activities, such as advising companies on how to reduce carbon emissions within their … Read more
Is making machines more efficiently as simple as folding paper cranes? Industrial Origami is betting that its technologies for folding sheet metal will help manufacturers cut costs and waste on the factory floor.
Industrial Origami's metal forming techniques work with existing manufacturing equipment but slash costs by 70 percent, said president and CEO Rick Holman. It offers a software add-on for CAD design systems.
Industrial Origami focuses on car parts and home appliances as well as heating and air conditioning system. It licenses its fold-and-cut technologies to Whirlpool and Eaton Electric, which makes enclosures for electric equipment.
Key to … Read more
Driven by fears of laptops and cell phones spontaneously bursting into flames, the U.S. government this year banned checking loose lithium batteries in luggage on flights. But that won't be an issue if Nanoexa has its way.
The company is taking a closer look at lithium-ion batteries to design a better, more stable breed. It's eyeing the growing energy storage market, especially for batteries used in hybrid and electric cars.
Nanoexa's software examines the ingredients of batteries at the atomic level. Computer modeling scrutinizes the contents, such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel, to determine the safest … Read more
The Department of Energy announced on Wednesday its choice of three venture capital firms to send promising clean-tech entrepreneurs to collaborate with national laboratories.
The government's new Entrepreneur in Residence plan is designed to speed the development of the green technology sector.
"Government has to cultivate the conditions for these technologies to thrive," U.S. assistant secretary of energy Alexander Karsner told attendees of the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco. "We felt very strongly we had to build bridges over the commercialization valley of death."
The venture capitalists include Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, and Byers to … Read more