10 Green Ideas That Will Change the World
June 4th, 2012
Oregon Business has named the top ten ideas promoting sustainability. Number four on the list is the Mobility Revolution, or “Reinventing the car,” as Drive Oregon’s Executive Director Jeff Allen deems the 21st century transportation mantra. The goal is to move away from the car as we know it- four wheels, internal combustion engine, personal ownership- and instead embrace the function of ”mostly trying to get around without getting wet or sweaty or carry a bag of groceries.”
Oregon electric vehicle start-up companies Arcimoto, BOXX, and Green Lite Motors are building small-scale motorized scooters or three-wheel vehicles with either hybrid or electric engines. The Green Lite system also includes a 100 mpg capability and a hydraulic balancing system.
In terms of personal car ownership, second-generation car-sharing companies are growing in popularity. Getaround, a San Francisco-based peer-to-peer service, allows car owners to rent out their own car. The smart car-based service Car2Go does not require reservations or round-trips. Both companies are operating in Portland. There is also a yet-to-be named vendor for Portland’s bike-sharing program, approved by the city council this spring.
The average driver does not need the size or expense of most cars out there today, not to mention the pollution factor. ”The transformation you’re seeing is about giving people more reasonable choices for how they travel,” says Jennifer Dill, a PSU urban studies professor and director of the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium.
Electric vehicle technology is continuously improving, especially in battery development. ”There’s a perpetual race between the things we want our electronics to do and the batteries we have to power them,” says Allen. ”It’s a huge driver for the electric vehicle industry.” Portland based company ReVolt is currently developing a zinc air battery that is reusable, recyclable- and energy dense. The goal is to create a battery that lasts longer and that is also a more eco-friendly alternative to the commonly used lithium ion battery, which is susceptible to explosions, depends on toxic metals and lacks sufficient storage capacity to charge a car for long distances.
“Whether it’s a completely new kind of battery or a dramatically better lithium battery, ” says Allen, “there’s going to be some kind of radical transformation.”
America uses 25% of the world’s oil, but is only 4.5% of the world’s population.