Thursday, January 26, 2006

Beluga Shipping to Try “Wind Hybrid” Kite Propulsion Assist for Cargo Vessel

Here's an interesting idea:  Attach a large kite to a cargo vessel, using the kite similarly to a sail.  It will decrease the fuel required to move the ship.  With decreased fuel you have decreased pollution, especially important as ocean ships tend to use the dirtiest of diesel fuel available.

Now, why use a kite?  Why not use a regular sail?  First, this system can be retrofitted onto existing ships very easily.  Second, there's a technical advantage in that a ship using a kite does not "heel" in heavy wind, keeping the ship and crew safer.

See: Beluga Shipping to Try “Wind Hybrid” Kite Propulsion Assist for Cargo Vessel

Company: Skysails

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Suzuki to Bring Subcompact Swift to North America

Suzuki to Bring Subcompact Swift to North America: The idea is to capitalize on the interest in high gas mileage vehicles. What with the high gas prices last year, and that this year will continue with high gas prices, the American Public will certainly be primed for a vehicle like this. The specs quited are impressive, such as a 39mpg fuel economy for the gas version, and 51mpg for diesel.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

EV World: Five Chinese Cities Test Clean Hythane Fuel in Buses

This story: Five Chinese Cities Test Clean Hythane Fuel in Buses (, Jan 3, 2006) discusses how Hythane has an agreement with five cities in China to test their fuel in city buses. They're getting ready for the 2008 Olympics to be held in China. What's Hythane? That's a good question, because this is the first I've heard of them, but the answer is very interesting.

Hythane ( makes a fuel by adding hydrogen to natural gas. They explain it best:

Hydrogen and methane are complimentary vehicle fuels in many ways. Methane has a relatively narrow flammability range that limits the fuel efficiency and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions improvements that are possible at lean air/fuel ratios. The addition of even a small amount of hydrogen, however, extends the lean flammability range significantly. Methane has a slow flame speed, especially in lean air/fuel mixtures, while hydrogen has a flame speed about 8 times faster. Methane is a fairly stable molecule that can be difficult to ignite, but hydrogen has an ignition energy requirement about 25 times lower than methane. Finally, methane can be difficult to completely combust in the engine or catalyze in exhaust aftertreatment converters. In contrast, hydrogen is a powerful combustion stimulant for accelerating the methane combustion within an engine, and hydrogen is also a powerful reducing agent for efficient catalysis at lower exhaust temperatures.

In other words it makes natural gas a better fuel. Hmmm...

Seems to me this gives an interesting adoption advantage over other systems. A battery EV or a fuel cell vehicle both require a wholesale switchover. It's hard to simply make a few changes to an existing vehicle to turn it into a battery EV or fuel cell EV.

On the other hand, vehicles running on compressed natural gas (CNG) are common. And a gasoline engine is very similar to the one which run's CNG. And finally it would allow reuse of the infrastructure that provides gasoline.