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Competitions Gadgets Technology

Win a Solar Go Go Car to celebrate The Future Car Challenge

Petrol cars have no future. That is a fact, in 50 years time there will be no crude oil left on planet earth (assuming current consumption rates don’t decrease) therefore there will be no oil left to make petroleum or diesel.

Biofuel, hydrogen, LPG and electric cars are the future, there is no doubt about that. Right now there are many hybrid cars which use petrol with another power source, but in the future, petrol from natural oil will be no more.

There are of course other ways you can power cars, using compressed air is one method as is water-cell technology. These are not however currently concepts in mass production. If you follow those two links, you will find posts written by Jonny on the concepts mentioned.

Arguably the greenest option for the future is electric cars. The electricity used to power the cars can be generate from renewable sources, (it isn’t necessarily, but that is an option) and electricity from renewables is a lot less damaging to the planet than energy generated from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels – be it in on the micro scale inside an engine of a car, or on a macro scale in a network of power stations.

Electric cars are starting to look more and more normal, (in the past some have looked somewhat abstract!) and are becoming more efficient every year.

The Future Car Challenge

This year, British Gas (the company who installed Remote Heating Control in my home) became an official partner of The Future Car Challenge. The Future Car Challenge is an annual event, which showcases the latest developments in the electric car industry. This year, members from the British Gas team drove fro Brighton up to London, with the aim of using the least amount of energy as possible, using the latest electric cars. The team included comedian Robert Llewellyn, Ben Collins, (A.K.A. ‘The Stig’), and Commonwealth gold medal swimmer Ross Davenport.

The Future Car Challenge Ross Davenport
Ross Davenport playing his part in the British Gas Future Car Challenge

British Gas are setting up a national charging network, to help increase the viability of electric cars. A charging network is as vital to electric cars as service stations are to petrol and diesel cars. Some electric cars do have the ability to transfer energy generate from breaking into electricity, (as seem in Formula 1 cars) however this alone isn’t enough to power them, so electric recharge points are essential.

Here is a statement from British Gas on their involvement with electric cars:

The Future Car Challenge Robert Llewellyn
Robert Llewellyn taking part in the Brighton to London Future Car Challenge

“British Gas is dedicated to making the world a more sustainable place now and in the future. We are leading the way in providing expertise and charging solutions in the Electric Vehicle market through partnering with Nissan, Renault, Hitachi Capital, Toyota and Vauxhall.

British Gas’ dedicated charging solutions are safer, convenient and more compatible than plugging electric vehicles directly into the mains supply socket at home. Not only do we offer charging solutions that can cut charging times by around a third, but British Gas also offers its customers specially designed tariffs to help them charge for less.”

For more information on The Future Car Challenge, check out this article on British Gas’s blog. The article also has an embedded video of the event.

The Giveaway

To celebrate the event, we have five solar power car sets to giveaway, courtesy of British Gas!

The prize is a John Lewis Solar Go Go Car, (click the link for more info) a cool kit from which you can build your own solar powered car! Okay it isn’t quite as good as an electric car, but it looks great fun, and could make a fantastic Christmas present…

John Lewis Solar Powered Car KitThe giveaway will run for 8 days, from today until the end of next Wednesday (12.00am on Thursday the 13th).

The prizes will be sent out by British Gas to the UK only, so if you don’t live in the UK I am afraid you can’t enter. If you have an address in the UK you can get the prize sent to if you win, you are in!

How To Enter

It is really easy to enter the competition, all you need to do is enter an email address we can contact you on (if you win) in the Rafflecopter widget below. If you like the blog on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or are subscribed to our feed via email, then you can gain some extra entries.

Want a Solar Go Go Car kit? Enter below!

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Winners will be emailed on Thursday the 13th to let them know that they have won, and will be announced on the blog shortly after.

Good luck everyone!

Categories
Environment Science Series

Is cost and pollution free power already here?

In this the fifth post in my series I will introduce some of the inventions that claim to produce free and/or pollution free energy. I would like to make it clear from the outset however that I do not know whether these techniques actually work. Many of them have been patented, some replicated and some demonstrated several times. Some defy the accepted laws of physics. Some have been proven false.

The magnet motor promises free endless power

The following examples are just a few drawn from dozens found on the internet.

The patenting of machines that claim to harness energy directly from the atmosphere has a long history. At the turn of the 20th century Nikola Tesla registered several patents for inventions of this type. One particularly simple device is known as his ‘aerial device’. It is something like a large insulated sheet of metal with a capacitor and transformer attached below it. The metal plate vibrates, possibly due to static and the capacitor is charged. The transformer lowers the voltage and the current can be fed into the system. It works day and night and the size of the metal sheet determines how much power is produced. Tesla’s biography is here.  As you see he was not a crank, without his work we would probably not have computers today.

Tesler’s invention might be described as producing free energy, and this is certainly one aim for inventors of these types of objects. Another objective however is to build a machine that produces more power than it uses to operate it. Simple enough, I use 10 units of power to make the machine work, and the machine provides me with 11 units of output, or more. There are several machines that claim to succeed in this goal. It even tells you how easy each project is to construct, how well it is likely to work and how reliable the ideas upon which it is based are.

First to free energy. The internet is full of demonstrations of magnet motors and how to build them. This video is an example. The builders claim that using only magnets they can build a motor that spins without any external force being applied. A quick search will find plans and detailed explanations of materials needed and results expected. The only problem seems to be that the results are ‘physically unexplainable’ and many people say impossible. Are these machines fraudulent? I would love to know, because if they are not then it looks like clean electricity is possible today.

Other systems involve using different types of fuel from those conventionally thought of. A current example is the claim made about recent successes in what we in the non-science world call ‘cold fusion’ and is correctly termed a low energy nuclear reaction.

Early last year engineer Andrea Rossi and Physicist Sergio Focardi built a machine in Bologna Italy that they claim can produce huge amounts of power without polluting or causing radiation using only nickel as a fuel. The nickel is turned to copper during the process (proof of a nuclear reaction taking place) but only tiny amounts of fuel are used. There is however an undisclosed secret ingredient to the operation, and Rossi will not divulge his secret to anyone, including Focardi. The two demonstrated the machine on at least 2 separate occasions last year and are currently constructing a huge version for trials later this year. See this article on the Bassetti Foundation website for a fuller explanation and links to a video of their demonstration.

The water powered car is another thing to look at, and has been in existence for many years. There are several videos on the Internet demonstrating converted internal combustion engines that run on water. In this video inventor Paul Pantone demonstrates his “GEET Plasma Reactor Motor”, explaining how it works and showing it running. Here we get into conspiracy territory however, as the video states that after posting the video on Youtube the inventor was arrested and denied medical therapy while under arrest. There is an implicit claim that those in authority did not want his invention to be made public, but this is not backed up by any evidence however.

A related story is of the guy who invented a car that ran on water in the 1980’s.  Stanley Meyer built a sort of dune buggy and the Pentagon reportedly showed interest in his invention.  He died in strange circumstances however in a car park outside a restaurant in Ohio in 1998, probably poisoned. Some (as this video demonstrates), go as far as to say that he was murdered by the state but again without providing evidence, but the conspiracies abound once more. Several other sites claim that his car was then stolen along with all of his plans and technology, although there are several long videos and rediscovered tapes on Youtube in which he explains how the car works. As the photo below demonstrates, modern versions do exist today. This water powered car was built in Japan, watch the video on this website.

Japanese water powered car

And here to the thorny matter, many of these machines are available to buy today, well the plans are at least. The Hojo motor promises free electricity for example, but at a price, and what if you buy the plans to discover that you can’t get the thing to run?

This article describes how the Federal Trade Commission investigated allegedly false claims by a well-known inventor and character in this field named Denis Lee. They found that the promoters ‘are marketing a product that cannot exist and function as claimed’ and allowed complaints to be filed. Pseudo-science and marketing at its best we might say.

If you want to read more about these devices the free energy website will keep you occupied for days. Chapter 16 should be your stating point.

I would love to hear from anyone that has either constructed or seen any of these machines in real life. Next week I will conclude the series so speak now, of forever hold your peace!