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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hybrid Electric Scooter Runs On Anything That Burns

Segway inventor Dean Kamen is developing a hybrid electric scooter that can run on almost anything that burns.

According to the patent, the bike has a small two-piston Stirling engine right under the seat. Though with an engine of that size, it really isn’t going to provide much juice - not much more than 5bhp.

A Stirling engine is based on tech which predates internal combustion engines by almost 100 years. It’s kinda like a steam engine in the sense that it uses external combustion. They use pistons for the crankshaft, but unlike the alternatives they have no valves for no gas ever enters or leaves the cylinders.

Since there is no need for a fuel to be injected, it can run on almost anything that burns - everything from wood chips to old Barbies. This really opens the door for renewable fuel technologies and the standards they would have to meet.

With the engine’s low output, it won’t provide much of the bike’s performance on its own. But it can keep the rechargeable battery packs, which are located in the floor of the bike, topped off. Those reserves can be used for an extra kick in the pants!

Multimillionaire Kamen has already sunk more than $50 million into developing the Stirling engine technology.

A prototype of the bike has yet to be seen unlike Kamen’s Stirling-engined car. Though, rumor has it that Kamen rides one around his own estate.

A version of the Th!ink City also uses a Stirling Engine

But Kamen isn’t the only one looking at the Stirling as a viable solution. Honda has patented concepts using the Stirling to extract more power from a conventional internal combustion engine. Yah, say that three times fast. Other applications include autonomous robots for the US military that can “feed” themselves to remain active for years.

Um, anyone else thinking…SkyNet?

Source: Gizmag