CORVALLIS, Ore. – The type of advanced technology that is moving electric automobiles from a curiosity to a working reality will be on display Wednesday, April 8, at Oregon State University.
OSU is hosting a visit by the Renault-Nissan Alliance of its new “zero emission vehicle,” a full-size, all-electric car powered by a lithium-ion battery that can go 100 miles on a single charge and will cost less for fuel than gasoline-powered vehicles.
It’s expected to be marketed in the United States by 2010, and will be available for a sneak preview from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the northwest corner of the Kelley Engineering Center on the OSU campus. Other student-built solar cars will also be on display. The event is free and open to the public.
Nissan representatives will be available to answer questions and explain the features of their company’s new automobile and its capabilities, such as quick charging and low maintenance costs.
OSU already has a working relationship with Nissan, as part of Oregon Gov. Kulongoski’s initiative to develop a charging network for electric vehicles and move the state toward a greater commitment to green transportation.
“Electric vehicles are clearly going to be important in the future of American automotive transportation, and OSU will be both a research and educational leader in creating that future,” said Ron Adams, dean of the OSU College of Engineering. “We’re already heavily committed to various research projects in this area, we have world-class testing facilities to help create optimal technologies, and we will train the engineers and other experts who will make this happen.”
OSU has engineering programs in disciplines related to transportation vehicles and systems, and a range of multi-million dollar research initiatives on alternative transportation. Some relate to battery-powered vehicles, and others to electric cars that could be powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The two primary obstacles to making hydrogen fuel cell cars more practical are the cost of hydrogen and new technologies needed to store it, and OSU is working in both arenas.
The university is also a leader in new and innovative forms of nuclear power, which could provide the electricity needed for battery-powered electric cars. And one type of “super hot” nuclear reactor now being studied at OSU has the potential to directly separate water into its hydrogen and oxygen components, which could provide low-cost hydrogen to power automobile fuel cells.
Smaller electric and hybrid electric vehicles are already in heavy use at the OSU Motor Pool, and are the most requested vehicles in the fleet. Use of high mileage, hybrid vehicles has been a major cost saver for the university, officials say.