This week at Treehugger: Forget about "legacy" taxis and limousines, OZOcar is the high-tech car service of the 21st century: each vehicle comes loaded with satellite radio and long-range high-speed wireless internet access through a iBook; check out compressed air engines, the too-often-forgotten really cool (they even run underwater) alternative to internal combustion engines; anyone with a LED-flashlight on his cellphone knows that the light is still very blue-ish, but that's about to change thanks to an accidental breakthrough in LED technology. And finally, a request for help from an anthropologist who needs to carry his gadgets where there is no electricity.
OZOcar is launching in New York with a fleet of Toyota and Lexus hybrids. The aim is to please the modern man or woman with all the high-tech accessories necessary to avoid feeling cut off from the world. It is all about travelling in style in a pleasant ride while being more responsible toward nature than in a V8-powered stretch Crown Vic or huge Limo (and much less expensive too). "Each OZOcar comes equipped with high-speed wireless Internet access, an Apple iBook and over 150 Sirius satellite radio stations in the back seat. Passengers will also enjoy the OZOcar Arrival Pack, which offers a selection of exclusive all-natural amenities and treats."
In a recent post about the 2006 Honda FCX fuel cell car, we mentioned that despite the progress made by hydrogen fuel cells, we shouldn't put all our eggs in the same basket and should put more efforts into R&D for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids... How could we forget the air cars? Why does everybody always forgets about the air cars? The most interesting of them also have electric motors, so they are in fact hybrids: The compressed air technology (CAT) engine is used whenever the car needs lots of energy (to start up and accelerate), and the electrical drivetrain is used to maintain velocity and cruise, requiring a lot less onboard batteries than an all-electric cars. Who knows what else will be powered by compressed air in the future? It is, after all, just another way to store energy.
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are almost the perfect artificial light source: They last a long time (50,000 hours), are very shock resistant, don't produce much heat and are very energy efficient. Originally, they only produced red, yellow and green light. Then came the blue LEDs which were made to produce more or less white light, but nothing very pleasant to the eye. But all of this could change thanks to an accidental invention by a graduate student. He was trying to make quantum dots when he discovered a way to make LEDs produce white light. This could have pretty big implications from indoor lighting to electronic gadgets, and at the same time save lots of energy: "The Department of Energy estimates LED lighting could reduce U.S. energy consumption for lighting by 29 percent by 2025."
And finally Gizmodo readers, something a little special: This week, we wish to enlist your vast combined knowledge of electronica to solve a curly question. Mark J, a Treehugger reader, seeks your help. He writes 'Dear Treehugger, I am an anthropologist preparing for a fieldtrip of several months in eastern Nicaragua. I hope to be able to take an Apple i-Mac or G4, an i-Pod or X-Clef (for recording interviews, etc.) and a digital camera. There is no electricity (or at least no reliable supply) and I am looking for something portable which would be able to recharge the batteries of all the above. A friend gave me your website address and suggested that you might have something like a wind-up battery recharger. Do you have anything like that? Or any advice? Yours sincerely.' Drop you answers into our suggestion box at: Q&A Remote Portable Power.
Treehugger s EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.