Dave Muyres — opening speaker at Autoweek Design Forum in Detroit

Muyres-AWDF-Wide-shot-with-KC-Crain_4-650x387

David Muyres recently addressed a gath­er­ing of design­ers dur­ing the press week at the Detroit AutoShow.  The AutoWeek Design forum annu­ally brings together top design­ers from around the world to dis­cuss the future of the car indus­try.   This year the focus was on Design Renais­sance, and David Muyres was cho­sen to open the event with a pre­sen­ta­tion on the emerg­ing role of the designer.  David chose to broaden the focus from car design to how Detroit could develop new and prof­itable busi­ness mod­els while still solv­ing people’s need for mobil­ity. David strongly believes that Design Think­ing is the key to devel­op­ing fun, excit­ing and sus­tain­able alter­na­tives to today’s over depen­dence on the car as our main form of trans­porta­tion in the United States.  You can see more at:   http://www.autoweek.com/article/20100114/CARNEWS/100119935

Suzanne on CHIBAS board of directors in Haiti — They are OK

Last year I joined the Board of Direc­tors of CHIBAS, a non-profit research cen­ter on bio-energy and sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture based in Haiti.  I was enor­mously relieved to find out that the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor and Research Direc­tor, Gael Pres­sior and his fam­ily and col­leagues are all fine after the earth­quake. We are work­ing with col­leagues at a vari­ety of orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing LAC-CORE, to facil­i­tate the rapid deploy­ment of renew­able energy tech­nolo­gies for light­ing, heat, elec­tric­ity, water purifi­ca­tion, and other crit­i­cal needs.

CHIBAS is work­ing to develop and pro­mote the use of mul­ti­pur­pose crops that could con­tribute to job cre­ation while improv­ing both the food and energy secu­rity in Haiti. CHIBAS has strong research capa­bil­i­ties and highly qual­i­fied per­son­nel in both agron­omy and genetics.

CHIBAS is set to become a Regional Bio­fu­els Tech­ni­cal & Knowl­edge Cen­ter that will serve the bio­fuel sec­tor by devel­op­ing energy crop tech­nolo­gies and vari­eties, with an ini­tial focus on jat­ropha and sweet sorghum. These tech­nolo­gies will be use­ful not only to Haiti but will be avail­able for all of the Latin Amer­i­can and Caribbean coun­tries. More­over, CHIBAS will pro­vide the bio­fuel agro-industry and other stake­hold­ers the tech­nolo­gies and tech­ni­cal sup­port nec­es­sary for the devel­op­ment and suc­cess of the bio­fuel agro-industry in the region.

Deutsche Bank’s carbon counter available as a widget!

Deutsche Bank has designed a Car­bon Counter wid­get to be down­loaded to your desk­top in order to allow you to have an accu­rate, real-time dis­play of the esti­mated amount of green house gases in our atmos­phere.  The num­ber is the same fig­ure which is dis­played on the 70 foot tall Car­bon Counter near Penn Sta­tion in New York City. It’s a bit like a tick­ing time bomb, but if we’re suc­cess­ful in our efforts to com­bat cli­mate change, the num­ber will sta­bi­lize and even­tu­ally start to decline…

Carbon Nation — An upcoming documentary about solutions

Carbon-Nation-Pic

Last week I had a fan­tas­tic sur­prise.  A friend and col­league invited me to see a film in the mid­dle of the after­noon. I was just return­ing from Berlin and was jet-lagged and fig­ured, why not?  But won­dered, why is this movie show­ing dur­ing the work day?  It turned out be a pre-screening of the upcom­ing doc­u­men­tary “Car­bon Nation” for some of the amaz­ing peo­ple inter­viewed in the film so that they could give input on how they were por­trayed, check the facts, and give gen­eral input. Accord­ing to the film’s Direc­tor, Peter Byck, “Car­bon Nation” is an opti­mistic (and witty) dis­cov­ery of what peo­ple are already doing, what we as a nation could be doing and what the world needs to do to pre­vent (or at least slow down) the impend­ing cli­mate cri­sis.  The good news is we already have the tech­nol­ogy to com­bat most of the worst case sce­nar­ios of cli­mate change, and it’s also very good busi­ness. Other good films have been about the prob­lems, “Car­bon Nation” is a film that focuses on the solutions.”

Byck gives us a humor­ous, and some­times intensely per­sonal, peek into the extra­or­di­nary lives and work of peo­ple who are pio­neer­ing vital solu­tions.  I won’t give away too much about the film but one of the main char­ac­ters isDan Nolan who is help­ing to save fuel, money and lives in Iraq and Afghanistan by help­ing the mil­i­tary reduce and sub­sti­tute their fuel needs. Other stars include Jim Woolsey, Van Jones, Amory Lovins, and Janine Benyus.

Keep an eye out for this must-see film!

“Aquatic Biomass: Sustainable Bioenergy from Algae?”

I will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in the inter­na­tional work­shop enti­tled “Aquatic Bio­mass: Sus­tain­able Bioen­ergy from Algae?” in Berlin, Ger­many Novem­ber 2nd. The work­shop will bring together key rep­re­sen­ta­tives from coun­tries active in research and devel­op­ment of algae-based bioen­ergy. They will present and dis­cuss the cur­rent sta­tus and future options for algae use, intro­duce rel­e­vant tech­nol­ogy prospects and dis­cuss envi­ron­men­tal and devel­op­ment issues. To see the full descrip­tion and agenda click here.

Upcoming speaking engagements: David Muyres

Dave Muyres will be speak­ing about the role of design in craft­ing a new vision for trans­porta­tion in the United States at the fol­low­ing events:

Mov­ing Minds: The Next Trans­porta­tion Infra­struc­ture
Novem­ber 9–12, 2009 at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan in Ann Arbor
http://um-smart.org/resources/conference09/overview.html

Oppor­tu­nity Green Busi­ness Con­fer­ence at UCLA 
Los Ange­les, CA   Novem­ber 7–8, 2009
http://www.opportunitygreen.com/

Pod­car City Con­fer­ence
Decem­ber 9–10 in Malmo, Swe­den
http://www.podcar.org/cop15/index.htm

New Windmill at Hunt Country Vineyards!

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Our new Wind­spire ver­ti­cal axis wind tur­bine is up and spin­ning on the hill at Hunt Coun­try Vine­yards! I will be at the win­ery on Octo­ber 9th for the ded­i­ca­tion of the Wind­spire. We will also be intro­duc­ing the newest win­ery addi­tion, which fea­tures heavy insu­la­tion, in-floor heat­ing capa­bil­ity, auto­mated tank cool­ing, and energy effi­cient light­ing, and has already resulted in a sub­stan­tial drop in energy usage.
Our 30 foot tall Wind­spire pro­duces 1.2 kW of power. Mariah Power man­u­fac­tures Wind­spires in Michi­gan, in a refur­bished auto parts plant employ­ing for­mer autowork­ers using Amer­i­can mate­ri­als. The tur­bine pro­duces 110 volt 60 cycle cur­rent, which feeds directly into the res­i­den­tial grid.  It has an auto­matic safety fea­ture whereby it can­not pro­duce power unless the grid is oper­at­ing. As one of the first Wind­spire mod­els in oper­a­tion in New York State, it will be used to demon­strate not only its unique advanced design, but also that small wind tur­bines can be a grace­ful part of the farm land­scape and can con­tribute to local self-reliance and regional sustainability.

If you are not famil­iar with vertical-axis tur­bines (VAT), they have sev­eral appeal­ing attrib­utes: they can pro­duce energy in lighter and shifty air and at less cost than the more com­mon hor­i­zon­tal axis pro­peller tur­bines, they are very quiet, and they are not haz­ardous to birds as the turn­ing blades give the appear­ance of a solid object for birds to avoid.

Futurama II Transportation Whitepaper Released

We are please to announce the recent pub­li­ca­tion of the OnGo­ing­Trans­porta­tion White Paper, titled Futu­rama II Mobi­liz­ing America’s Trans­porta­tion Rev­o­lu­tion.  The White Paper was co-authored by David Muyres, for­merly a Vice Pres­i­dent at the Art Cen­ter Col­lege of Design and Exec­u­tive at John­son Con­trols Inc. and now with Hunt­Green LLC, and Geoff War­dle, the Direc­tor of Advanced Mobil­ity at the Art Cen­ter Col­lege of Design.  OnGo­ing­Trans­porta­tion is a siren call for a bold new approach to the future of Amer­i­can trans­porta­tion. The OnGo­ing­Trans­porta­tion ini­tia­tive calls for the cre­ation of a team of the best and bright­est minds to develop a new long term vision that will  serve as a blue­print for the next 50 years of trans­porta­tion needs in the U.S. The vision will inspire well-designed, envi­ron­men­tally and eco­nom­i­cally sus­tain­able options  as part of a totally inte­grated national trans­porta­tion sys­tem. The blue­print will inform sound, long-term pol­icy and leg­is­la­tion, facil­i­tate inno­v­a­tive tech­nol­ogy and financ­ing, and encour­age entirely new busi­ness mod­els, allow­ing Amer­i­can entre­pre­neurs to cre­ate jobs and lead the world in trans­porta­tion solu­tions. To down­load the paper click here.

 

Deutsche Bank Launches Carbon Counter

carbon counter

On June 18th Deutsche Bank launched a 70-foot bill­board with a red car­bon counter tick­ing upwards as the amount of car­bon in the atmos­phere increases (data sup­plied by MIT) and a mes­sage read­ing “Cli­mate Change Affects Everyone”.

Climate-altering pol­lu­tion — nor­mally invis­i­ble and out of mind — will now be highly vis­i­ble to hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple in NY City near Penn Sta­tion and Madi­son Square Garden.

I made sure to go to the launch and lun­cheon since the project was man­aged by a friend and col­league on the Deutsche Cli­mate Team. It was great to see the finan­cial com­mu­nity dis­cussing cli­mate change and its impli­ca­tions for busi­ness in depth and with urgency.

Now I’d like to see banks all over the US and the world have the Car­bon counter on their signs next to the date, time and tem­per­a­ture.  And… I’d like a per­sonal car­bon counter app for my iphone. I just looked, and yes, they already exist!

Gigaton Throwdown

Today the “Giga­ton Throw­down” results were released pub­licly in Wash­ing­ton DC with a num­ber of the Obama Administration’s clean tech and green gurus (namely John Hol­dren – direc­tor of the White House Office of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Pol­icy, Van Jones – Obama’s Green Jobs Advi­sor, Cathy Zoi – Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Energy for EE and RE, and David San­dalow – Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Energy for Pol­icy and Inter­na­tional Affairs) and their staff in atten­dance.  But with a name like “Giga­ton Throw­down”, this is obvi­ously not a Wash­ing­ton ini­tia­tive.  It was con­ceived of by a group of Ven­ture Cap­i­tal­ists in Sil­i­con Val­ley who won­dered – beyond whether their invest­ments would make the money – would they make a dif­fer­ence?  So they enlisted the help of other investors, entre­pre­neurs, exec­u­tives and lead­ing aca­d­e­mics, to ana­lyze which clean tech­nolo­gies have the poten­tial to lower green­house gas emis­sions by 1 bil­lion met­ric tons (a giga­ton) per year by 2020.

Of the nine tech­nolo­gies they stud­ied — Bio­fu­els, Build­ing effi­ciency, Con­cen­trat­ing solar power, Con­struc­tion mate­ri­als, Geot­her­mal, Nuclear, Plug in Hybrid elec­tric vehi­cles (PHEVS), Solar pho­to­voltaics, and Wind – they found that seven are “ready to scale up aggres­sively today.” Wind is on track to pro­duce a giga­ton reduc­tion in GHG emis­sions by 2020 at its cur­rent growth rate, but the other tech­nolo­gies would require a 3x expan­sion in invest­ment, bring­ing clean energy invest­ment up to the cur­rent level of invest­ment in fos­sil fuels. They point out that many of these tech­nolo­gies have been widely deployed and proven, but rapid scal­ing will require sta­ble pol­icy sup­port and long-term think­ing on the part of the government.

They deter­mined that these tech­nolo­gies would then be able to meet more than 60% of global energy demand and the scale-up would cre­ate more than 4.5 mil­lion jobs, a vibrant new sec­tor in the U.S. econ­omy, and a clean energy pol­icy that ensures domes­tic security.

The full report and addi­tional mate­ri­als are at: http://www.gigatonthrowdown.org

Viking Road Rally

In 2007 I went on a month-long road rally across the US, Mex­ico, and most of Cen­tral Amer­ica using waste grease and biodiesel. Pic­tures and descrip­tions from our vis­its to sus­tain­able biodiesel pro­duc­ers along the way can be found here. One of my fel­low trav­el­ers was Bjorn Kruse, the advanced vehi­cle spe­cial­ist for the Nor­we­gian envi­ron­men­tal non-profit orga­ni­za­tion “Zero”.  Bjornar decided to orga­nize a shorter rally for high tech Zero Emis­sion Vehi­cles in Nor­way.  Ford Motor Com­pany and the Hynor Group spon­sored myself and race car dri­ver Leilani Munter and pro­vided us with a Hydro­gen fuel cell Ford Focus, and on May 10th we were in Oslo and ready to go. Unfor­tu­nately the vehi­cle had been dam­aged in trans­port and we went to sleep think­ing that we were out of the rally.

Twenty min­utes before the start our car arrived and we were off.  At one of the first stops we were greeted by a num­ber of car fanat­ics with their clas­sic vehi­cles and repli­cas like the one shown here of the first elec­tric vehi­cle.

suz and leilani EV large

Dur­ing down time we also checked out some of the other vehi­cles in the rally like the EV called the Buddy made by a Nor­we­gian com­pany, and this electric-pedal car pro­duced in Germany.

The rally was designed to test both the dri­vers and the vehi­cles, but prov­ing that these cleaner tech­nolo­gies can be as fun and high per­form­ing as con­ven­tional cars was a key goal.

roadrally_collage

Unfor­tu­nately the drive shaft that was bro­ken in trans­port and only par­tially fixed, failed dur­ing the slalom course, tak­ing us out of the competition.

break down

For­tu­nately the mechan­ics were able to patch it up again enough so that we could “limp” to the fin­ish line. The bright side was that on day three, because we were no longer com­pet­ing, we were able to have Sabine Flanz, the head Research Engi­neer, for Hydro­gen Fuel Cell Tech­nol­ogy for Ford in Europe, ride with us which gave us a lot of time to dis­cuss the ins and outs of fuel cell tech­nol­ogy, H fuel cells ver­sus EVs, etc.  While the EVs could charge up any­where they could plug in an exten­sion cord, their range was quite lim­ited and charg­ing requires sev­eral hours, so the H fuel cell cars had a huge advan­tage with range and speed of re-fueling (about the same as refu­el­ing a con­ven­tional car).  The down­side is of course the need for spe­cial­ized H pro­duc­tion, dis­tri­b­u­tion, and refu­el­ing infra­struc­ture.  In Nor­way the grid is 100% renew­able, so the H was pro­duced from green electricity.

Leilani Munter posing for press shots.

Suzanne, Leilani, and Sabine