Renewable Energy in Transportation
Conventional automobiles are a primary source of fossil fuel emissions, yet only ~30% of fuel consumed is used for mobility. Even as homes and commercial installations move towards renewable energy sources, approaches for more efficient transportation have proved challenging. Discussions regarding electric vehicles have centered on safety issues and cost; however, it is really the limited range, unavailability of charging stations, and significant time necessary to ‘refuel’ that have deterred uptake of this and other renewable technologies in the transportation sector.
In this focus area, S-lab emphasizes research into more sustainable transport including electric vehicles and biofuels, incorporating a life cycle perspective. Formula Slug, whose focus is building an electric race car, is also developing a portable solar charger that can be adapted to charge other electric vehicles as well as torque vectoring, which can improve vehicle efficiency. In collaboration with the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development, S-lab supports student innovations around other forms of electric transportation, including electric tractors, bicycles, and skateboards. These facilities in conjunction with training modules (see Power Systems and Prototyping and Fabrication), provide the tools for students to realize their designs; whether it is developing apps for more efficient traffic management/biking/parking or building their own non-carbon based alternatives to traditional transportation.