5 Alt-Fuel Vehicles We Liked at the New York Auto Show (video)

May 5th, 2014 | By Amy Leibrock

Last week, the Sustainable America staff took a field trip to the 2014 New York International Auto Show to check out the latest in alternative-fuel vehicles. From concept vehicles that defy categorization to practical, road-ready cars with ever-improving gas mileage, we were excited to see the range of innovations at work in the auto industry. Check out our video recap of what caught our eye at the show.
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Sewage to fuel

Jun 7th, 2012 | By Aubrey Yee

Exit the 405 Freeway at Euclid Ave and you’ll find the very first hydrogen fueling station that is converting sewage to fuel. This fueling station is located at the Fountain Valley sewage treatment plant, part of the Orange County Sanitation District’s wastewater treatment system.

On opening day in August of 2011, director of the program Scott Samuelson called it “a paradigm shift” explaining that “We’re taking an endless stream of human waste and transforming it to transportation fuel and electricity. This is the first time this has ever been done.” (source) The fuel comes from ‘digesters’, bacteria that break down the human waste into a biogas.

With shiny, new white and green gas pumps, the station is capable of fueling 30 cars a day currently. It also produces some 250 kw of power for use by the wastewater treatment plant. The on-site nature of the system takes any transportation logistics out of the equation making it a truly sustainable alternative.

As part of California’s goal to create a ‘hydrogen highway’ the station is part of a 3 year demonstration project. If it goes well, you can expect to see these rolled out in more locations across the state.

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A snail to produce electricity?

Jun 1st, 2012 | By Aubrey Yee

When you think of ‘energy’, ‘snail’ is not usually the next word that comes to mind. But researchers at Clarkson University aim to change that. They have implanted a living snail with a biofuel cell that creates electricity using the snail’s natural glucose as fuel. Really, we’re not making this up!

The snail lives its life as usual with some electrodes implanted in its body and then connected to an external circuit. PETA may not love the technology, but the scientists involved in the study maintain that the snails live a happy and mostly uninterrupted life.

While the technology is admittedly in its infancy, the eventual idea is to create robotic life that can internally power itself. It’s no

surprise that the Department of Defense is very interested in the research. They have been looking for ways to increasingly remove live humans from battle and replace them with different types of robots.

This research, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, is not the only paper dealing with electricity produced by living creatures. A similar study was just conducted by Daniel Scherson at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. In his study, the creature of choice was a cockroach. Just imagine, your house could someday be powered by a  hoard of wild cockroaches. Ew!

Photos: Clarkson University

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