Dean Kamen is very rich. In the last few years, he's been focusing some of that fat wad of cash on green cars...and we're finally getting a glimpse at what he's come up with.
He isn't just replacing the fuel that cars will burn...he's replacing the internal combustion engine completely.
Kamen has spent over $40 million in the last decade developing stirling engines which convert heat directly into mechanical energy by use of an expanding and contracting gas inside a cylinder. His stirling engines are already being used in developing countries. There are a couple in India that can power an entire village by burning cow patties. But Kamen started to realize that stirling engines would never be economical until they were mass produced.
Which is when he met the CEO of the electric car company, THiNK, and decided that he'd found his method of mass production. He'd put a stirling engine inside an electric car, and use the engine to recharge the batteries along the road. The range of the electric car would thus be extended by hundreds of miles, and any fuel (gasoline, McDonald's grease, trash, cow poop) could be used to keep the batteries charged.
Kamen also mentions that the engines, once mass produced, could be used to economically feed power into the grid during peak demand as well as power off grid applications in remote or developing areas. As long as his engines are clean and efficient, and the fuel he uses to heat them carbon neutral, I really can't see a disadvantage here. But we're going to have to see some prototypes tested with some different fuels before we'll know whether this is just another awesome technology for a niche market (like both the segway and the insulin pump) or if he's really going to change the world this time.
Via Green Wombat
-Beyond the Segway-
-Think Electric Car Company-
Green cars are difinitely the way to go.
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