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Rail Transit Project Breaks Ground In Kapolei

February 23, 2011

Hawaii's top elected officials lined up to kick off Oahu's rail transit project.

Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, together with Mayor Peter Carlisle, former Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Lt. Governor Brian Schatz, Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, and a host of State Legislators and City Councilmen stood side by side and poked their o’o into the soil of Kapolei. Oahu’s long awaited, and largest transportation project was officially underway.

Governor Abercrombie was giving testimony at the Capitol on his proposed budget and sent his regrets.

This morning’s ground breaking ceremony for the City’s rail transit project, attracted over 500 attendees along Kaulakai Parkway in Kapolei. It also was attended by a small group of protesters led by twice-failed mayoral candidate Panos Prevedouros.

“Today is a celebration: the beginning of a project that will change how we travel, work, play and live.” said Mayor Carlisle. During his brief speech Carlisle invoked the old Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song; It’s been a Long Time Coming, punctuated with a heartfelt, “Hallelujah!”

The upbeat spirit was continued by Senator Inouye and others, and eventually led up to the ceremonial earth turning with the traditional o’o. This was followed by informal contradulatory conversations among the attendees and hosted refreshments.

The $5.5 billion transit project is a 20-mile elevated rail system connecting East Kapolei with Ala Moana Center. It includes 21 stations in communities including Waipahu, Pearl City, Aiea, Kalihi, Chinatown, Downtown Honolulu, and Kakaako. There will also be stations at activity centers such as UH-West Oahu, Leeward Community College, Pearl Highlands, Pearlridge, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu International Airport, and Honolulu Community College.

The protesters could be heard occasionally from their location on the other side of the highway as they attempted to interrupt the various speakers. Shouts of “you’re in their pockets” and “alternative technology” sprung from people carrying contradictory signs that said “Do Rail Right,” right next to one that said, “No To Rail.”

Latest Electric Bike Technology from Sanyo

February 15, 2011

Sanyo's electric-assisted eneloop bikes coming to Hawaii

HONOLULU, Feb. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — SANYO North America Corporation (SANYO) announces that the award-winning eneloop bike, the SANYO pedal-assist synergetic hybrid bicycle, is available in Hawaii to provide an alternative method of transportation for tourists and locals.  The eneloop bike won the Best of Innovations Award at CES 2010. Collaborating with Assist the World of Green, LLC., SANYO’s eneloop bike will be available in bike rental shops. Two eneloop bikes, the CY-SPA600NA and the CY-SPH600NA, have been available since January 2011 as rental bicycles.

Consumers are looking to continue their eco-friendly ways even while on vacation. One such method that is fun, affordable, healthy and eco-friendly is to ride an electric bike around the islands. The award-winning SANYO e-bike uses a combination of pedal-power and battery-power to help riders go further and easily maneuver hills. The riders experience a unique ‘lighter than air’ feeling offered by the eneloop bike. ‘eneloop’ is a word combining both “energy” and “looping,” and the bicycle is based on the concept of its ‘looping charge function’ that offers regenerative coasting and braking, recharging the battery while in motion. In addition, the synergetic hybrid bicycle is also designed for a safer, more stable ride. Because the rider has to pedal to maintain the battery charge they have a healthier lifestyle option that maintains their flexibility.

“Hawaii is filled with such beautiful scenery, the best way to experience the magic of the islands is to be outdoors among the flowers, greenery, and coastal areas. This experience is enriched by seeing the interior of the islands on a bicycle which makes it easier to pause and enjoy the surroundings,” said Mr. Murata, President of SANYO North America. “It’s also an easy way to save money while on vacation as bike rentals are less costly than automobiles and with no gas to buy,” Murata commented. “Vacationers can work off the extra pounds from all the good food they eat on the island,” he added.

Maintaining the beauty of the islands and clean air is a priority for Hawaiians. One way this can be achieved is by decreasing the number of vehicles on the road. By renting a SANYO eneloop bicycle, tourists and locals can enjoy the island while respecting its environment. Assist the World of Green, LLC. has set up a network of bike rentals where people can rent the bike in one location and return it to another so they don’t have to pedal back to the original rental destination. People who ride bikes such as the eneloop bike can save money, do something good for their health, do something good for the environment and maintain their flexibility.

Yasushi Harada, President of Assist the World of Green, LLC., commented, “As we opened this rental bicycle business we carefully considered and compared products from several major companies. We selected the ‘eneloop bike’ because the brand is well known to tourists from Japan and SANYO is the only Japanese company that sells a hybrid electric pedal-assist bicycle that conforms to US-standards. Also, because SANYO also has some of the world’s leading energy solutions with solar panels and large-scale industrial-use battery technology, we feel that there is the potential to preserve the natural beauty of Hawaii as we focus on environmental conservation through environmental business opportunities.”

About the SANYO eneloop bike

The eneloop bike features a regenerative charging system similar to hybrid automobiles, which allows the bike to re-generate energy, replenishing part of its power needs through regenerative coasting and braking. The bike is equipped to not only generate energy but to store energy as well, thereby eliminating emissions and encouraging the preservation of the natural environment. The power available from its engine is also powerful enough to assist weaker riders on hills and steep inclines, allowing for a light and pleasant riding experience. The eneloop bike, CY-SPA600NA won the Best of Innovations award at CES 2010, receiving the highest overall score in the Eco-Design & Sustainable Technology category.


Nissan’s Leaves Are Changing

February 13, 2011

Nissan demostrates that driving an EV can be...well, electric!

Rolle, Switzerland, February 10 /PRNewswire/ — It may be a concept, but the Nissan ESFLOW electric sports car proves it’s possible to remain environmentally sympathetic without having to give up the joy of driving.

It looks like a sports car, handles like a sports car and performs like one too. Using technology pioneered in the award-winning Nissan LEAF, the EV concept shows that driving can still be as much fun tomorrow as it is today.

At a glance

  • ESFLOW – a pure EV sports car concept
  • Rear-wheel drive two-seater
  • Two electric motors, each driving a rear wheel
  • Laminated lithium-ion batteries mounted low for best weight distribution
  • Dramatic styling with wraparound windscreen for unobstructed visibility
  • 0-100km/h in under 5 seconds
  • Over 240kms on one charge

The Nissan ESFLOW

Nissan has a reputation for creating some of the most exhilarating sports cars on the market. Nissan has also developed the world’s first practical Zero Emission family car, the Nissan LEAF.

Now Nissan has put that expertise together. It has captured the excitement of a sports car and the environmental benefits of an electric vehicle and blended them into one dramatic two-seater concept: ESFLOW.

ESFLOW has been created from the ground up as a pure electric vehicle, to give an idea how a Zero Emission sports car of the future might look. Living ecologically has often been seen as an act of austerity – to save one’s environmental conscience sacrifices must be made. ESFLOW is here to address that misconception.

Owning an ecologically sound car does not have to come at the expense of driving enjoyment. The briefest glance at the ESFLOW is enough to tell you what kind of car it is: a long bonnet leading into a steeply raked, wrap around windscreen, the compact cabin placing the occupants bang on the car’s centre of gravity, hunched arches over ultra-low profile tyres wrapped around six spoke wheels. ESFLOW is unmistakably a sports car, and those in the know will recognize its heritage – hints of classic and contemporary Nissan sports cars abound.

Vitally, ESFLOW is not an existing ICE (internal combustion engine) powered vehicle that has been adapted to run on electricity, but a sports car that’s been designed from the outset as a Zero Emission vehicle. This means that Nissan’s forward thinking designers have had free rein to place the power train and batteries in the optimum positions to benefit the car’s handling and performance and enhancing the thrill of driving.

The Car

The ESFLOW is based on existing technology, implemented in innovative ways. An attractive, head turning composite body covers an aluminium chassis, incorporating its own roll cage. The powertrain unit, which employs the same technologies installed in the Nissan LEAF, is tuned to offer a sporty driving experience.

The Powertrain

ESFLOW is rear-wheel drive and it runs on two motors. The car’s graceful proportions allow the twin electric motors to be placed above the axis of the rear wheels, in a mid-ship position,. These motors independently control the left and right wheels, and so the torque is optimized to ensure outstanding vehicle stability and control as well as efficient power regeneration. The motors produce enough torque in an instant for it to reach a 100kph in under 5 seconds.

Power for the motors come from the same laminated lithium-ion battery packs used in the Nissan LEAF, but in ESFLOW the packs are located along the axis of the front and rear wheels. This centralizes the mass of the car, and thus its rotation point, close to the driver’s hips. These cleverly positioned batteries enable the car to travel over 240km on one charge.

The Chassis

An aluminium chassis has been built around the drive train, taking full advantage of the opportunities that Zero Emission electric propulsion provides. Power cells are incorporated in such a way that they benefit ESFLOW’s strength and poise, not detract from them. Indeed, unlike a conventional fuel tank, batteries do not get lighter as they provide energy, so the car’s weight distribution remains constant throughout a drive.

The high waistline afforded by the ESFLOW’s classic sports car proportions allows strong, yet unobtrusive roll bars incorporated in to the structure behind the seats to safely take the entire load of the car in the event of a roll over, negating the need for obtrusive, thick, reinforced A-pillars and the blind spots they inevitably create.

This almost unobstructed view ahead will not be unfamiliar to fighter pilots, and just as such pilots speak of “strapping their planes on to their backs”, we hope ESFLOW owners will also feel the car to be an extension of their bodies, reacting to their slightest whims. The driver must be at the centre of the sports car both physically and metaphorically.

The Body

The ESFLOW is undoubtedly an attractive car. Crisp, clean lines not only convey the purity of its sporting potential, but suggest the clarity of electric power. The colour scheme chosen for the concept car is inspired by glaciers – highly reflective solidified liquid with blue tints in its shadows. Like its ZEV concept forebears and contemporary stable mate the ESFLOW’s headlights and Nissan emblem are tinted cool blue. The six spoke wheels contain blue carbon inserts while the same material adorns the side sill, roof mounted lip spoiler and lower rear bumper.

Blue LEDs accentuate the futuristic lights slashed into the bodywork both front and rear. Where the Nissan LEAF’s protrusive headlights are used to guide airflow around the door mirrors, this is not needed on ESFLOW as the mirrors have been replaced with minute rear view cameras at the base of its A-pillars. The ESFLOW’s front lights do protect a secret of their own however: flip out charging points built in to the air ducts beneath.

The Interior

Ecological minimalism need not come at the expense of luxury. The cabin of the ESFLOW is clean and open and weight saving has been a priority throughout its design, but it is still a comfortable and pleasant place to sit. By far the heaviest components in modern cars’ interiors are the steel framed, thickly upholstered and increasingly motorized seats. In ESFLOW the seats are sculpted into the rear bulkhead of the car, negating the need for a heavy frame. This of course means that they are immobile, but this is of no consequence as the fly-by-wire steering and pedals adjust electrically to the best spot to suit each individual driver’s size and preferred driving position.

The seats themselves are upholstered in gold leather and perforated gold suede while the doors are trimmed in dark blue leather and suede. The blue and gold motif, the colour of sparks, is continued across the dashboard, which is also adorned with silver carbon trim, and features four multifunction illuminated LCD displays.

Micro Solar For High Tech Camping

February 5, 2011

Keep your electronic gadgets, from iPods to cell phones to radios, fully charged

Solar power systems are starting to come in some pretty compact packages.  The prototype MicroSolar Camping Kit can provide your tent with all the high tech accessories you could ever want, and keep them all happily supplied with electrical power for quite a while.

The base unit will have an array of adapter plugs for most popular cell phones and handheld electronics.  It utilizes a solar panel powered battery charger capable of handling multiple sized metal hydrid batteries.  We tested it with four 5000 mAh C-sized batteries that showed no signs of being depleted after powering an array of 6 volt gizmos.  The system uses off-the-shelf USB components designed for laptop computers including: a 10″ extension cable, a 4-socket USB hub, an LED light bar (that lights up the whole forest), a single LED map light, and a spunky little fan.

The lights and fan are on long flexible metal “goosenecks” that allow them to be twisted in virtually any position and mounted by simply twisting a loop in one and snapping a clip on it.  The 10 ft. extension cord keeps the battery pack and solar charger outside under the sun where it belongs.

Needless to say this is a luxury item for the long range backpacker, but  it is not much to carry for a sustainable power supply for lighting and a cell phone charger, which are both essentials.

MICRO SOLAR features: A. Solar panel and battery pack, B. USB hub, C. LED light bar, D. fan, E. accessory charger, F. map light

First Public Meeting on Proposed Interisland Electrical Transmission Cable

February 3, 2011

The first of a series of public meetings was held at McKinley HS to discuss the proposed interisland electrical transmission system. Photo: Keith Rollman

Honolulu, February 2, 2011–The first of four initial public meetings on the Hawaii Interisland Renewable Energy Program (HIREP), an interlisland electrical transmission cable system linking the islands of Maui County and Oahu, was held last night at McKinley High School in Honolulu. The meeting was the beginning of the EIS process for the project, which requires a period of public discussion and information.

Public comment on the project can be made directly online at: the HIREP project Website or emailed to

Presenters included the State Department of Economic Development, The federal Department of Energy and AECOM, the contractor actually performing the environmental impact statement (PEIS).

HIREP is a proposed renewable energy generation, transmission and delivery program that works to realize the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative’s goal of achieving 70 percent clean energy by 2030 with 30 percent from efficiency measures and 40 percent coming from renewable energy sources. HIREP would produce renewable energy from sources such as wind turbine technology on one or more islands and share the electricity generated with other island via undersea cable for subsequent transmission and distribution to consumers.

The basic concept is to be able to produce energy from alternative sources like wind, solar and geothermal where they are abundant on the Neighbor Islands and move the electrical energy to the large market of Honolulu. For more information read Wiring the Islands For the Future.

Hawaiian Electric Powers Up First Utility-Scale Biofuel Generator

January 29, 2011

HECO’s Kahe power plant was the first to use 100% biofuel.

Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) has successfully powered up Kahe #3’s ninety-megawatt generator to full capacity using 100 percent sustainably produced palm oil. This demonstration was the culmination of a series of tests that HECO has been conducting in advance of its commitment to adopt biofuels in support of Hawaii’s renewable energy goals.

This is a giant step forward for Hawaii, which has remained dependent on imported petroleum for 90% of its energy needs.  By switching to renewable fuels HECO is encouraging the rapid growth of local producers and suppliers of biofuels.

“We believe this is the first time a utility-scale steam unit has fired on 100% biofuel at 100% capacity,” said Robbie Alm, Hawaiian Electric executive vice president. “This successful test confirms that biofuels – locally grown to the greatest extent possible – can be an important part of Hawaii’s clean energy future, along with energy from the sun, wind, ocean, waste-to-energy, hydro and geothermal.”

The test uses sustainably produced crude palm oil blended with palm stearin, an inedible by-product of palm oil refining usually used to make candles and soap. The oil for the test run was suppled by Sime Darby, a Malaysian multi-national corporation.

HECO’s demonstration showed that not only did the palm oil fuel perform well operationally, but also burned cleaner producing less visible emissions and lower nitrogen oxide (NOX) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) levels than the previously used low sulfur petroleum fuel oil.

Testing will continue and be expanded to evaluate continuous 24-hour operation on Hawaiian Electric’s energy management system. Results will assess the possible use of sustainable biofuels in Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawai‘i Electric Light companies’ other steam generating units.

In April 2010, Hawaiian Electric also issued a Request for Proposals for a long-term supply of biofuels made from feedstocks produced and processed within the state of Hawaii for use on Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii Island.

Hawaii now has many new prospects for replacing not only generator fuel oil, but diesel and aviation fuels as well from locally produced, renewable fuel crops.  There has been significant investments made in the cultivation and production of algae oil as feedstock for biodiesel that can be blended with green waste and cellulose derived alcohols (ethanol).

The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative set an ambitious goal of 70% renewable energy by 2030, and achieving it seems more promising than ever.

VW Unveils 250+ mpg Wonder

January 26, 2011

VW's long-awaited concept car is now a reality.

No other hybrid car powered by an electric motor / internal combustion engine combination is more fuel efficient. The prototype will be unveiled in a world debut at the Qatar Motor Show (26 – 29 January).

Conceptually, the XL1 represents the third evolutionary stage of Volkswagen’s 1-litre car strategy. When the new millennium was ushered in, Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Piëch, who is today Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG, formulated the visionary goal of bringing to the market a production car that was practical for everyday use with a fuel consumption of 1.0 litre per 100 km.(about 260 mpg). In the new XL1, Volkswagen is demonstrating that this goal is now within reach.

The most efficient car in the world

The new XL1 shows the way forward for extreme economy vehicles and clean technologies. It also demonstrates that such cars can also be fun. The feeling when driving the XL1 is truly dynamic – not based on pure power, rather on its pure efficiency. Two examples: 1) To travel at a constant speed of 100 km/h, the prototype only needs 6.2 kW / 8.4 PS – a fraction of the performance of today’s cars (Golf 1.6 TDI with 77 kW and 7-speed DSG: 13.2 kW / 17.9 PS). 2) In electric mode, the XL1 needs less than 0.1 kWh (82 Wh/km) to complete a one kilometre driving course. These are record values.

The battery can be charged from a conventional household electric outlet. Naturally, battery regeneration is also employed to recover energy while slowing down and store as much of it as possible in the battery for re-use. In this case, the electric motor acts as an electric generator.

When the full power of the hybrid system is engaged, the Volkswagen prototype accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 11.9 seconds; its top speed is 160 km/h (electronically limited). Yet these numbers alone do not tell the whole story: Since the XL1 weighs just 795 kg, the drive system has an easy job of propelling the car. When full power is needed, the electric motor, which can deliver 100 Newton metres of torque from a standstill, works as a booster to support the TDI engine (120 Newton metres torque). Together, the TDI and E-motor deliver a maximum torque of 140 Newton metres in boosting mode.

Plug-in hybrid concept

With the new XL1, Volkswagen is implementing a plug-in hybrid concept, which utilises the fuel efficient technology of the common rail turbodiesel (TDI) and the dual clutch transmission (DSG). The TDI generates its stated maximum power of 35 kW / 48 PS from just 0.8 litre displacement. The entire hybrid unit is housed above the vehicle’s driven rear axle. The actual hybrid module with electric motor and clutch is positioned between the TDI and the 7-speed DSG; this module was integrated in the DSG transmission case in place of the usual flywheel. The integrated lithium-ion battery supplies the E-motor with energy. The high voltage energy flow from and to the battery or E-motor is managed by the power electronics, which operates at 220 Volts. The XL1’s body electrical system is supplied with the necessary 12 Volts through a DC/DC converter.

Interplay of E-motor and TDI engine: The E-motor supports the TDI in acceleration (boosting), but as described it can also power the XL1 prototype on its own for a distance of up to 35 km. In this mode, the TDI is decoupled from the drivetrain by disengaging a clutch, and it is shut down. Meanwhile, the clutch on the gearbox side remains closed, so the DSG is fully engaged with the electric motor. Important: The driver can choose to drive the XL1 in pure electric mode (provided that the battery is sufficiently charged). As soon as the electric mode button on the instrument panel is pressed, the car is propelled exclusively by electrical power. Restarting of the TDI is a very smooth and comfortable process: In what is known as “pulse starting” of the TDI engine while driving, the electric motor’s rotor is sped up and is very quickly coupled to the engine clutch. This accelerates the TDI to the required speed and starts it. The entire process takes place without any jolts, so the driver hardly notices the TDI engine restarting.

When the XL1 is braked, the E-motor operates as a generator that utilises the braking energy to charge the battery (battery regeneration). In certain operating conditions the load shared between the TDI engine and the electric motor can be shifted so that the turbodiesel is operating at its most favourable efficiency level. The gears of the automatically shifting 7-speed DSG are also always selected with the aim of minimising energy usage. The engine controller regulates all energy flow and drive management tasks, taking into account the power demanded at any given moment by the driver. Some of the parameters used to realise the optimum propulsion mode for the given conditions are: accelerator pedal position and engine load, as well as the energy supply and mix of kinetic and electrical energy at any given time.

Two-cylinder TDI uses mass production technology: The 0.8 litre TDI (35 kW / 48 PS) was derived from the 1.6 litre TDI, which drives such cars as the Golf and Passat. The 0.8 TDI exhibits the same data as the 1.6-litre TDI common rail engine in terms of cylinder spacing (88 mm), cylinder bore (79.5 mm) and stroke (80.5 mm). In addition, the XL1’s two-cylinder and the mass produced four cylinder share key internal engine features for reducing emissions. They include special piston recesses for multiple injection and individual orientation of the individual injection jets.

The excellent, smooth running properties of the common rail engines were transferred to the two cylinder engine. within addition, a balancer shaft that is driven by the crankshaft turning at the same speed optimises smooth engine running.

Meanwhile, the TDI’s aluminium crankcase was constructed to achieve high rigidity and precision, which in turn leads to very low friction losses. With the goal of reducing emissions, exhaust gas recirculation and an oxidation catalytic converter as well as a diesel particulate filter are used. Equipped in this way, the 0.8 TDI already fulfils the limits of the Euro-6 emissions standard.


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