My Toyota Prius is getting even better gas mileage than it has in the past. This is a bit of a story but I think it is very interesting.

About a month ago I had to have the main battery replaced. This was with about 91,000 miles on my car, which I would think would make it officially beyond the 8 year/80,000 mile hybrid power train warranty. I have had the car for a little over seven years. My dealership, Leith Toyota in Raleigh, North Carolina, replaced the battery under warranty and provided me a rental car at no charge while we waited for the new battery to come in.

I have to say that this is incredible service and far beyond what I would expect. Needless to say I will be going back there for my next Prius or whatever might be even better when the time comes.

55.4 MPG

Getting 55.4 MPG for the first 67 miles after my last fill-up.

However I have noticed that with the new battery I am now getting in the low 50’s for gas mileage instead of the high 40’s. How great is that! I can only surmise that the new battery, while the same basic technology as before, must have been tweaked a bit. I have noticed that my Prius now is more aggressive about turning off the gasoline engine when the vehicle is coasting to a stop or stopped. That will make a great difference right there.

After my last fill-up I actually was getting 55.4 MPG. It is currently at 53.6 MPG. I cannot complain about that a bit. Although I suppose if it ever does drop back down below 50MPG I will be somewhat disappointed.

Concerned about global warming? Check out a new web site, The name refers to the fact that 350 parts per million (ppm) of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the maximum concentration for a sustainable climate. We are currently at 387 ppm and rising.

A really cool site called engadget has a post about Mercedes-Benz’ attempt to stop producing petroleum fuelled cars by the year 2015. This would be really fantastic. I would buy an all-electric Smart car for tooling around town and commuting to work.

Read the article here.

NanoSolar has announced a new process for printing Photo-Voltaic Cells on sheets of material. The process is… Well here is their own press release.

Dear Nanosolar friend:

We wanted to let you know of a major milestone in solar energy technology we have now achieved:  The solar industry’s first 1GW production tool.

Yes, that’s 1GW of capacity from a single production tool!

You can see it yourself in action in a video we have decided to release and share with you.

Most production tools in the solar industry tend to have 10-30MW in annual production capacity.  So how is it possible to have a single tool with Gigawatt throughput?

This feat is fundamentally enabled through the proprietary nanoparticle ink we have invested so many years developing.  It allows us to deliver efficient solar cells (presently up to more than 14%) that are simply printed.

Printing is a simple, fast, and robust coating process that in particular eliminates the need for expensive high-vacuum chambers as traditionally used to deposit thin films.

Our 1GW CIGS coater cost $1.65 million. At the 100 feet-per-minute speed shown in the video, that’s an astonishing two orders of magnitude more capital efficient than a high-vacuum process: a twenty times slower high-vacuum tool would have cost about ten times as much per tool.

There’s still a lot of hard work to be done for us to bring solar power everywhere.  But at this time we wanted to share with you our excitement about transformational progress happening.

Thank you for your continued support of Nanosolar.  While deployment of our product will focus over the next 12 months on installations with our wholesale customers (which includes the world’s largest utility), we are looking forward to making our products more broadly available! to ever yone in 2009.

Martin Roscheisen
CEO, Nanosolar Inc.

Can it be? Can a car really run on water? I cannot tell you how this might be possible, but here is some video allegedly of a car invented by Genepax in Osaka, Japan, showing its eco-friendly car that runs on nothing but water.

The company hopes to go into mass production with a Japanese manufacturer.

I would like to believe this, but the chemistry of water is well known. Unless you put energy in the form of electricity into it to separate the hydrogen from the oxygen and then use a fuel cell to recombine them to produce electricity, there is nothing that I am aware of in pure water from which to extract energy.

Here is a web site for Zero Pollution Motors which hopes to have a car that runs on compressed air available for sale in 2010. These cars will run on compressed air and will seat six. They are supposed to have a design range of over 800 miles on a single tank of compressed air and a top speed of about 90MPH. Pretty impressive.

Air fill-ups? An on board air pump. Just plug it in to a 110 or 220 Volt outlet to fill up. Pretty cool. It should work with the same infrastructure as any you could put together for plug-in hybrids or all-electric vehicles.

High-tech hybrid cars are now competing directly with 100% gasoline powered cars in 24-hour endurance races. The latest is the Gumpert Apollo Supercar which will race the 24-hour Nurburgring this year from 22 to 25 May.

Wired has a great story at

A hybrid Toyota Supra won the Tokachi 24-hour race last year by 19 laps, well ahead of any other cars in the field. The Tokachi race is less well known than the Nurburgring so this race may change the face of the auto industry.

I remember the year that the Chrysler turbine car nearly won the Indy 500, but broke down two or three laps from the finish line due to a broken bearing in the gear shift box. But it was one of a kind from a third rate auto company and hybrids are already here to stay. What this could do is convince the bozos in Detroit that any and all vehicles can and should be hybrids. And it could convince the American auto buying public that hybrids can save fuel and provide performance at the same time.

The TRIAC electric car is finally supposed to be here in July. It has a 100 mile range  and can go 80MPH. And it is cute.

Link to Triac Electric Car.

Save the environment.

Save the Earth.

Save ourselves.

Duke Energy is exploring a new (for the energy industry at least) a way to provide solar power as a significant power generation method. The model would be to use solar panels installed on commercial and residential roofs as the source of power to reduce (and perhaps someday eliminate??) other types of power generating plants.

The basic idea is that the power company installs the solar panels on your roof and you pay a fixed rate for the power you use for twenty years, locking in today’s rate. The power company pays the up-front costs so the homeowner does not have to. You use the power you need during the day and the excess goes to the grid. At night you get your power from the grid, when less power is needed.

The News and Observer ran this story today.

This is a similar financial arrangement to the one used by The Citizenre Corporation to provide solar power to homeowners. See my post on this, Solar Energy for Everyone?? I wonder if Duke Energy and other energy utilities will use this model to prevent entry to the market for these newcomers?

I do believe that this is truly the future of the energy industry. The power companies will install the generating equipment on the properties with the energy sources, whether solar, wind, geothermal and even small hydro, and use any excess generating capacity to reduce dependencies on coal, oil, and nuclear plants. I can only hope that Progress Energy, which provides our power here in Raleigh, moves in this direction as well. I would sign up in a New York second for this if it becomes available here.

I also believe that there will be no way to completely eliminate those other, dirty types of power generation with the technology we have today, but any reduction at all is a very good thing.