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Grantee Research Project Results

Grantee Research Project Results

Electric Vehicle Conversions Using Alternative Energy To Drive Alaskan Rural Communities

EPA Grant Number: SU834704
Title: Electric Vehicle Conversions Using Alternative Energy To Drive Alaskan Rural Communities
Investigators: Wies, Richard
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: August 15, 2010 through August 14, 2011
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2010)
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , P3 Challenge Area - Energy

Description:

This proposal concerns sustainable transportation in rural Alaskan communities which are not part of a road or electrical network (off grid). In most off-grid communities, the road networks generally are less than 50 square miles, so transportation needs are limited. This limited travel generally is done with "four-wheelers", an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV). In the larger off-grid 'hub' communities such as Bethel, Nome, and Dillingham, commuting with cars and trucks are more common, with the average vehicle consuming between 4 and 12 gallons of fuel weekly. Thus, in rural Alaska, transportation fuel is a significant cost; for example, Winter 2008-09 fuel prices ranged between $6.40 to $8.00 per gallon. The annual cost could range between $2,000 to over $5,000. This is in addition to other fuel uses such as heating homes and snowmobile use. To address this cost issue, our project proposes to study the feasibility of converting non-running four-wheelers already in rural Alaska into transportation assets by removing the combustion engines and replacing them with electric motors.

Approach:

Alternative energy will power the Electric All Terrain Vehicles (EATVs) using a combination of wind and solar energy. Additionally, existing diesel power plants will be utilized during non-peak times. Challenges addressed by this study will be the efficiency of batteries, the velocity of an EV, and charging EVs so that they can be used daily (for short distances). Results will be assessed by setting up a pilot project in the rural community of Dillingham at the Bristol Bay Environmental Science Laboratory (BBESL) in cooperation with the University Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) College of Engineering and Mines (CEM). BBESL has been progressive in developing the technology for rural EV use in that it has initiated a sustainable energy program. In this program, a non-running Subaru Loyale was converted to an EV. A 4 kW solar voltaic system is currently installed on site and is grid connected. The major components for the electric four-wheeler study will be in place and can be tested. This project will complete an electric transportation system by engineering the system, testing components, and training local residents in maintenance.

Expected Results:

If electric vehicles are successfully utilized, they have the potential to decrease pollution in the air, land and water. They may also reduce energy consumption, use fewer materials, and have a lesser impact on the local ecosystems. Using cutting-edge affordable Lithium batteries and rebuilding used vehicles in remote areas should alleviate any concerns that this novel invention would not benefit the environment.

Supplemental Keywords:

Alternative Propulsion, Lithium-ion, Zero-Emission Vehicles;

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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