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SKIING... Whistler Blackcomb Snow School


December 2007 Newsletter
 

Welcome to our winter update, which could be called the blue-box
issue. This is, more or less, a quarterly publication.

We are getting closer to a series of engineering breakthroughs that
should, in combination with some consumer restraint, significantly
reduce our consumption of fossil fuels. New concepts are being
developed at a dizzying rate, by groups as diverse as research labs,
the military, and traditional vehicle manufacturers. The intense
development cycles of automobile racing have helped in this regard.
These days, diesel power is de rigueur in events like the 24hrs of Le
Mans. Formula One teams are chasing after new ideas, as well as
squeezing maximum efficiency out of the old.

The solutions, both short and long term, are not likely to come from a
single source, such as hydrogen or biofuels. Instead, look for a
variety of choices, as well as useful synergies, including more
sophisticated hybrids, alternate fuels, much better batteries, solar
power and more. The buzzword is energy density, or in simple terms,
how much locomotion you can produce for a given cost.

Hydrogen is at a disadvantage for mobile applications right now, in
part due to the immense infrastructure required to make the fuel
accessible. Newer lithium batteries, as durability issues are dealt
with, look better and better. Today's best diesel vehicles, such as
the upcoming VW Jetta, may beat a Toyota Prius in real-world economy
as well as performance.

Fuel from algae is, apparently, feasible if not yet economically
viable. Green slime as a good thing might be a surprise, especially to
carefree and fridge-challenged single folks. Lab pictures show the
stuff bubbling in vats, and you can almost imagine cackling witches or
crazed scientists stirring the brew. If nothing else, reruns of movies
like The Blob will have a resurgence.

Even for those with no interest in personal transport, all of these
developments will have an effect. Everything is subject to change,
from how we heat our homes to the way we run home entertainment
systems or computers.



**********************************************************************
Air Cars Revisited
**********************************************************************
Our last newsletter made mention of an air-powered vehicle, developed
by MDI, a French company. Word is that the car is scheduled to go into
production in India next year. When will we see it in North America?
This really depends on levels of desperation, from governments,
consumers, and environmentalists. I"m sure this joke has been made
before, but I can't resist it. Maybe the car could be fueled from
blasts of hot air provided by blustering politicians.



**********************************************************************
The World's First Energy-Autonomous Vehicle
**********************************************************************
This one comes from France. That red wine with lunch must stir up a
few creative juices. I love the concept, though in this form, it
wouldn't be much use during a Canadian winter. Still, it serves to
demonstrate what can be done. The power comes from solar panels, aided
by a small roof-mounted windmill.
Low-flying birds could get a rude surprise.

The Eclectic can also be charged in a few hours from a normal AC
outlet.


**********************************************************************
Synergy at Work: VW Space Up! Blue
**********************************************************************
The Space Up!, with a more conventional powerplant, is not that far
from production. For some reason, the company is fascinated with
exclamation marks for this series of concept cars, which does not
detract from a very clever design. The small Volkswagen can be fitted
with an electric motor, a diesel or gasoline engine, hydrogen fuel
cells, as well as various hybrid combinations. It is part of VW's new
generation of compact rear-engined designs. Roof-mounted solar panels
help recharge the batteries.

This configuration makes for great space!(sorry) utilization. Contrary
to popular thinking, getting rid of the front-mounted engine and
transmission make it easier to engineer decent crash safety
characteristics. The Smart is another example of this.

VW engineers admit that despite the functional prototype, with its
advanced high-temperature design, hydrogen fuel cells may not be an
ideal power source. If storage units (batteries) for electric vehicles
reach a high enough energy density, they will be a more practical
proposition.

It is this lack of battery energy density, rather than apathy, oil
company intrigue, or a GM conspiracy, that has been the Achilles Heel
in previous electric car designs.

click here
http://cts.vresp.com/c/?SidorovAdvancedDrive/ce123e5fd2/TEST/c16808013f

**********************************************************************
Solar Carports
**********************************************************************
A tidy design, but quite expensive. Not very practical, at least where
I live, for the winter months. Something with a steeper roof angle,
better able to shed snow, might work better. I imagine someone could
build a version themselves for less money, but it is good engineering
in a turn-key kit.

click here
http://cts.vresp.com/c/?SidorovAdvancedDrive/ce123e5fd2/TEST/fd23d78c2e

**********************************************************************
One Laptop Per Child
**********************************************************************
I really hope this program works. The concept is fantastic, making a
simple computer available to children throughout the world. I was
guest speaker at the MIT media lab some years ago, and have great
admiration for the combined creative energy contained within those
buildings. A laptop that uses minimal energy, can be recharged with a
few pulls on a string, and is weather resistant sounds great for other
uses too. Regular consumers pay full price, part of which will go to
support the project.


**********************************************************************
How to Wreck Almost Anything
**********************************************************************
Safety organizations all over the world are touting the life saving
benefits of stability control systems, which can reduce power and
selectively apply brakes to keep a vehicle from spinning out or
rolling over. In theory, single-vehicle crashes could be reduced by as
much as 30% if all road-going automobiles were to be fitted with the
technology. I would love to see this prediction come true, but it
flies in the face of the human ability to screw up.

You can put the most advanced traction management system in the world
on a vehicle, and all a driver has to do to run the thing into a
guardrail or off a cliff is enter a corner too fast for the available
traction. The laws of physics win every time.

We had a nice little Smart at a recent winter driving school, and I
made sure the participants got to experience the joy of excessive
entry speed. Under normal circumstances, the Smart is hard to fool.
Jump on the throttle, or slam the brakes, and it stays serene.
However, overcooking approach speed means the little car sails, albeit
calmly, off the chosen path and into the shrubbery, or in this case, a
well-placed snowbank. The process is smooth, almost slow-motion, since
it is generally neither a front nor rear-wheel skid. The vehicle
simply moves down the line of momentum.

An advantage to crashing in this fashion is that there is plenty of
time to call your friends, or the paramedics, to let them know what is
happening.

To avoid this sort of incident, stick to the racing rule, slow down
enough before you get to a turn or intersection. Electronic driver
aids do have their place, and can be very valuable. They are no
substitute for good judgement.

click here
http://cts.vresp.com/c/?SidorovAdvancedDrive/ce123e5fd2/TEST/07df7461f7/active_page_id=88

**********************************************************************
Sticks and Stones...
**********************************************************************
According to the latest studies, some twenty percent of drivers read
and send text messages while driving. That number jumps to 33% among
18-34 year olds. This is truly bizarre. We already know that a huge
number, possibly 80%, of all collisions involve distraction. I suggest
to the texting multitudes, and other committed motoring multi-taskers,
could you please do this while hang-gliding or parachuting instead?
The clean-up is usually easier, innocent people are less likely to get
hurt, and if the wind is right, the whole mess gets covered up by the
chute.

click here
http://cts.vresp.com/c/?SidorovAdvancedDrive/ce123e5fd2/TEST/eebe30016b/active_page_id=112

**********************************************************************
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us at Sidorov Advanced
Driver Training.

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