Vase and Lamp: A Living Table Lamp

This table lamp concept by Miriam Aust beautifully joins the functionality of a lamp and a vase. Known as the “Vase & Leuchte” (which translated from German to Vase and Lamp), the design is an eye-catching yet simple centerpiece. Composed of a clear glass vase, the lamp is filled with water, aquatic plants, and a waterproof light bulb. The effect of the aquatic plants being lit up from below the water’s surface has a curious appeal. I would not be too surprised if the light is intense enough to damage the plant roots, but perhaps they are hardy enough to handle the exposure.

Miriam Aust and fellow designer Hanna Krüger work together at Wird-Etwas, a group that follows a motto that reminds me a lot of my high school physics classes:“Something emerges from something” or in German: “Aus etwas wird etwas“. The designers write: “Everything new that we create as acting people in a certain social context refers to existing materials, objects, and ideas of this world….The emerging is always reference to the existing.”

The next question is naturally, how does the “Vase and Leuchte” relate to the Wird-Etwas motto. Well, the aquatic plants growing inside the vase are warmed by the lamp’s light while still allowing some of the light to disperse into the surroundings. The contrast of the light with the shadow of the roots acts to highlight the plant’s appearance. The form and fragility of the plant is clear to the viewer. I believe the lamp asks passers by to look at the plant and its slow growth. The plant becomes the center of attention rather than a decoration in the corner. Then again, my affinity for plants makes me a pretty biased observer.


Lunar Lamp: Moon in your Hand

Hold the moon in your hand with this amazing lamp. Created by the Japanese designer Nosigner, this little orb is a beautiful spherical lamp that gives its surrounding a distinctly lunar feel. The lamp was inspired by the super moon that shined on the night of March 19th, 2011. The lamp is even topographically-accurate, making use of data provided by the Japaneese lunar orbiter, Kaguya. The soft glow of the lamp comes from the LED lights inside.

Nosigner created the lamp to be a symbol of hope as the devastated Japanese people continue to rebuild their country. “Every one of [the] Japanese who [was] wounded by the earthquake prayed to the super moon,” said Nosigner in a newsletter. Now, Nosigner can carry the moon with him and bring hope to those around him through his art.

Nosigner (NEWSLETTER) via Spoon & Tamago

New Batteries Developed at MIT

Researchers at MIT have developed a new approach to the design of batteries, which could provide a lightweight and inexpensive alternative to existing batteries for electric vehicles and the power grid. Some believe that this technology could even make the “refueling” of such batteries as quick and easy as pumping gas into a conventional car.

The new battery relies on an innovative architecture known as a semi-solid flow cell. Within this cell, solid particles are suspended in a carrier liquid and pumped through the system. In the design, the battery’s active components –the positive and negative electrodes, or cathodes and anodes—are composed of particles suspended in an electrolyte. The two different suspensions are pumped throughout the systems, separated by a filter, such as a thin porous membrane.

The work was carried out by Mihai Duduta ’10 and graduate student Bryan Ho, under the supervision of professors of materials science W. Craig Carter and Yet-Ming Chiang. The battery description was published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials on May 20. The publishing was co-authored by visiting research scientist Pimpa Limthongkul ’02, postdoc Vanessa Wood ’10, and graduate student Victor Brunini ’08.

Although flow batteries have existed for some time, they have used liquids with very low energy density (the amount of energy that can be stored in a given volume). Because of this, existing flow batteries take up more space than fuel cells and require rapid pumping of their fluid, reducing their efficiency.

One unique characteristic of the new design is that it separates the two functions of the battery 0storing energy until it is needed, and discharging that energy when it’s required—into separate physical structures. The new design makes it possible to reduce the size and the cost of a complete battery system to about half the current levels. This dramatic reduction could be the key to making electric vehicles fully competitive with conventional gas- or diesel-powered vehicles.

The development of the technology was partly funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The goal of the team’s ongoing work is to have, by the end of the grant period, “a fully-functioning, reduced scale prototype system,” says Chiang. Then, hopefully, the batteries will be ready to be engineered for production as a replacement for existing electric-car batteries.

Source: MIT


Biofuel Plane Takes Flight

Elektra One, a biofuel-powered plane designed through PC-Aero, has just successfully completed its first and second test run flights in Augsburg, Germany. The plane, developed by Calin Gologan, endured a 30 minute emission-free flight. The Elektra One climbed to a height of 1,640 feet at 400 feet per minute. According to the test pilots Jon Karkow and Robert Lorenzen, the plane handled the ascent very well. The plane expended three kilowatt-hours of the total storage of six available kilowatt-hours.

©Jean-Marie Urlacher

Gologan created the Elektra One as a part of a zero emissions flight plan. Gologan also designed the solar-powered hangar used to house the aircraft, which has a 28 foot wingspan is covered with 215 feet of solar cells. The hanger has been dubbed the Green Village Airfield. With the combination of solar and electric power, the Elektra One can fly around 300 hours a year.

The plane is ultra light, weighing just 220 pounds, plus an additional 220 pound battery pack. The plane has a 660 pound weight capacity, allowing room for more than just a pilot.

©PC Aero

Furthermore, Gologan developed the Elektra One with noise restrictions in mind. The plane is almost completely silent-its propeller spins at only 1,400 RPM at cruising altitudes.

Once the Elektra is fully tested and perfected, Gologan plans to develop two and four seat models. The Elektra One, hanger, and power pack will sell for around $140,000 for the entire package.

PC-Aero via Inhabitat

Powering Cars with Hydrogen “Micro Beads”

Between the social unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, raising concerns over our reliance on foreign fuel, and the earthquake in Japan highlighting the dangers of nuclear power, we are reminded of the need to diversify our energy sources. Hydrogen has been promoted as being one of the most promising replacements for conventional transport fuel for years now, but until recently, logistics involved in storing and transporting the gas has presented many barriers. Just after winning $64,000 worth of funding from Shell’s low-carbon technology contest, UK-based Cella Energy has revealed an innovative, inexpensive, and safe method for storing hydrogen. Cella has used nanotechnology to create ‘micro beads’—30 times smaller than a grain of sand—which can trap and release hydrogen when heated. Because the beads are small enough to flow as a liquid, refueling could be done at any gas station.

At the price of $1.50 per gallon, and one tank being able to power an average car for 300-400 miles, Cella Energy’s hydrogen fuel seems like a perfect fuel source.

“In some senses hydrogen is the perfect fuel,” claims Professor Stephen Bennington, head of the scientific team behind the fuel. “It has three times more energy than gasoline per unit, can be used in standard combustion engine, and when it burns it produces nothing but water.” Furthermore, the micro beads can be used as an additive to conventional gasoline. Because of the amount of hydrogen produced at oil refineries, it would be possible to integrate Cella’s new technology into the supply chain of conventional fuels.

Because the only by-produced of burned hydrogen is water, once the first commercially viable technology is ready, it will revolutionize the world’s transportation industry. It is estimated that over the next 20 years, a 90% increase in the oil demand will come from the transport sector. Stephen Voller, Cella Energy boss, believes that this micro bead technology could be sold at gas stations in less than five years, keeping the world’s already declining oil reserves deep underground where they belong.


Floating Solar Power Plants

When it comes to solar energy systems, there are two major weaknesses: they must use a large amount of land in order to be built, and the cost related to the solar cells fabrication and maintenance is relatively high. However, a new technology has emerged which may overcome these and many more challenges: floating solar power plants.

The Franco-Israeli partnership developed this solar power technology, which introduces a new aspect to solar energy production. Solar energy has been a popular alternative to other energy sources which emit large amounts of greenhouse gases, and is considered to be a clean and efficient source of energy and electricity. The design phase of the floating power plants was finished in March 2010, and the implantation of the plants will take place in September 2011. The tests will take place at Cadarche, located in the South East of France. This site is positioned on the French electric grid and is close to a local hydro-electric facility, providing the water surface necessary to be used for the installation of the plant. For nine months, the plant will operate, and assessments will be taken on the system’s performances and productivity throughout the seasonal changes and water levels. By June 2012, the research team will hopefully have the information necessary to allow the technology’s entry on the market.

The Franco-Israeli partnership team has identified the untouched potential of solar installations on water. The water basins to be used are industrial water basins already in use for other purposes, not natural reserves, tourists’ resorts, or the open sea. Furthermore, the developers were able to reduce the costs linked to the implementation of the technology by reducing the quantity of solar cells used due to a sun energy concentration system based on mirrors. This sun energy concentration keeps a steady amount of power being produced. Another cost reducing initiative the team used was creating a cooling system using water on which the solar panels are floating. The photovoltaic system uses silicon solar cells, which often experiences problems linked to overheating and need to be cooled down in order to allow the system to work correctly. By using these types of solar cells, a higher efficiency is produced than with standard cells, achieving both reliability and cost reduction.

The system is designed in such a manner that on a solar platform it is possible to assemble as many identical modules as needed for the power rating desired. Each model then produces a standard amount of 200 kiloWatt electricity, and more power is achieved by simply adding more modules to the plant.


Energy Efficient Greenhouse

The Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development has created an air-conditioned greenhouse which uses alternative energies to reduce the costs of energy while also improving the energy efficiency and increasing crop yields. The greenhouse uses a biomass boiler and thermodynamic solar panels to reach an optimum temperature for crop growth without using fuels derived from petroleum oil or gas.

The boiler uses wood and other organic waste as fuel, along with thermodynamic panels to air condition the greenhouses used for intensive crop cultivation. By doing this, the Basque Institute has managed to reduce the costs while producing seasonal crops to be harvested throughout the year. The Institute seeks to find an alternative to the usual diesel or heating oil boilers, which emit a high amount of CO2 into the atmosphere and are costly to the farmer due to the high price of petroleum oil-derived fuels.

The project has been undertaken at a greenhouse in Neiker-Tecnalia located in Deniro, in the Basque province of Bizkaia and near Bilbao. A biomass boiler produces 400 kW power and is the largest boiler in Spain to use air-conditioning in greenhouses. The boiler also uses thermodynamic panels. The combination of both energies work together to heat the water which circulates in tubes located a few centimeters above the floor and below the crop in order to heat the roots.

The tubes are distributed throughout the entire surface of the greenhouse and transport water at an average temperature of 80 degrees centigrade. Once optimum air-conditioning for the greenhouses has been achieved, the plants grow in their natural production period. By producing seasonal crops all year round, the price of the final product is reduced. The thermodynamic panels generate energy due to the difference in temperature between the cold gas which circulates through a closed circuit and the ambient air temperature. These panels are able to function without sunlight, thus producing energy throughout the day and the night. Furthermore, the panels reduce the emissions of CO2 in the atmosphere, while heating the water to 45 degrees centigrade. The cost per kilowatt consumed is less than 60% less than the cost generated by conventional diesel or heating oil boilers. The expenditure in fuel for the biomass boiler is 55 cents per kilowatt use: a price well below the 92 cents of a euro needed for petroleum oil-derived fuels, natural gas, or propane boilers.

Neiker-Technalia also uses a technique known as ‘hydroponic soil’ which involves placing plants on substrate nearly ten centimeters above the hard floor of the greenhouse. The method enables the roots to be heated by pipes through which water circulates at an average of 45 degrees centigrade. Heating the roots reduces the overall temperature of the greenhouse and uses less energy overall. Furthermore, the system involves a network of sensors that regulates the temperature of the garden throughout the greenhouse. These sensors gather data in real time about the temperature and humidity of the crop zone, and this data is sent to the computer which uses software to increase or reduce the temperature of the greenhouse, while also fixing the most appropriate hours for heating the house.

Basque Research

Five Elements of Passive Solar

Passive solar technologies use sunlight to get energy without the use of active mechanical systems. Passive solar systems convert sunlight into usable heat and cause air-movement for ventilation. As contrasted to active solar systems, which use a significant amount of conventional energy to power pumps or fans, passive systems tend to us a small amount of conventional energy for the use of controlling dampers, shutters, or other devices which enhance the solar energy collection, storage, and use.

A home’s windows, walls, and floors can be designed in such a way to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat during the winter and reject solar heat during the summer months. Some passive solar homes are heated almost entirely by the sun, while others are designed with south-facing windows which provide some fraction of the heating load. The design of a passive solar home is what distinguishes it from a conventional home.

In order to design a completely passive solar home, the incorporation of the five elements of passive solar design is necessary.

Source US DOE

The first element is the aperture, the large glass area, usually a window, through which sunlight enters the building. Typically, the aperture faces within 30 degrees of true south and should avoid being shaded by other buildings or trees between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day during the heating session. The absorber, a hard, darkened surface of the storage element, is the second element of the design. The surface sits in the direct path of the sunlight, which hits the surface and is absorbed as heat. The third element is the thermal mass: the materials that retain or store the heat produced by the sunlight. Unlike the absorber, which is in the direct path of the sunlight, the thermal mass is the material below or behind the absorber’s surface. The distribution, the method by which solar heat circulates from the collection and storage points to the different areas of the house, constitutes the fourth element of solar design. In a strictly passive design, three natural heat transfer modes will be used: conduction, convection, and radiation. However, in some applications, fans, ducts, and blowers help with the distribution of the heat throughout the house. The final element of the design is the control. During the summer months, roof overhangs are used to shad the aperture. Other elements can be used to control the under- and/or overheating include electronic sensing devices, operable vents and dampers, low-emissivity blinds, and awnings.

While other elements go into the designing of a passive solar home, such as the window location or air sealing, these five elements constitute a complete passive solar home design. Each element serves its own function; however, all five must work together for the design to be successful.

Source (Info and Images): US Department of Energy

VW’s Electric Golf Blue-E-Motion

Finally the electric car is becoming more prominent on the car market and in styles that are going to catch the eyes of the general public. The Toyota Prius certainly travels a long way on a single tank, but in a consumer culture that is more image conscious than eco-friendly, it isn’t going to convince everyone. This year’s Detroit Auto show featured Volkswagen’s Golf blue-e-motion, an electric car that is sure to be as energy efficient as it is practical. A good step away from the flashy electric and hybrid sports cars that catch a lot of the media’s attention, this eco-friendlier (until cars are made out of bamboo, they will never be environmentally conscious) automobile has a sleek body and energy-efficiency technology that the everyday consumer is sure to gravitate toward. If the blue-e-motion looks familiar to you, that’s because it is the electric version of Europe’s most popular car, the Volkswagon Golf.

Now for the numbers: This gasoline-free car has a high-performance electric motor under the hood that is capable of a maximum torque of 270 Nm, a maximum power output of 85kw/115 PS, and a continuous power output of 50 kw/69 PS. Now if you are like me and thus the torque and power output mean nothing to you, here are the more common sense numbers: The blue-e-motion has a top speed on 84mph, can do 0 to 60/mph in 11.8 seconds, and the lithium-ion battery has a driving range of 93 miles (Again, lithium-ion batteries are not environmentally friendly, but they are the most energy dense batteries on the market and are a whole lot better that burning dinosaur remains. For now, they are the best alternative). Volkswagon reports that by the time the car makes it to the production lines, the car’s range rating will be even higher. Obviously, 93 miles isn’t going to get you coast to coast, but with the popularity of flying and the frequency of families that own more than one vehicle, 93 miles a day should be more than enough to commute to work and pick up groceries.

The Golf blue-e-motion is set for release by 2014 (I’m so happy to see a release date that isn’t “sometime in the next 10 to 20 years”). Since the car is electric, the instrument panel will probably look a little different than people are used to. A kW gauge will replace the traditional tachometer (the RPM reading) so that drivers will be able to maximize the range of the vehicle by understanding how their driving behavior (particularly acceleration and aggressive driving) affect the energy demand and performance of the engine. The car will also feature four different regenerative braking settings. The lowest setting, D, will allow the car to sail, just as a normal car continues to roll freely after the accelerator is released and slow only as it losses inertia. The highest level of regenerative braking, D3, recovers as much energy as possible by beginning to slow the vehicle as soon as the driver’s foot is off the accelerator. The Golf blue-e-motion even provides three different driving options, Normal, Comfort+ and Range+, based on the driver’s need or preference.

If you are looking for an electric vehicle, but the sporty Tesla Roadster is neither your style nor in your budget, the VW Golf blue-e-motion could provide the ideal alternative energy option come 2014.

Volkswagon via Inhabitat

Stickwork – Natural Art

Truly living art is a rare accomplishment, by branch-bending expert Partick Dougherty has made it a central part of his life’s work. I’ve collected a variety of pictures that represent just a sample of some of Dougherty’s many masterpieces. While sifting through pictures, I cannot help but image the childhood fantasies that might have inspired the works. He has fashioned human-sized nests houses by meticulously weaving living trees into the shapes he sees. The plants are carefully and thoughtfully shaped into huts, cocoons, water pitchers, and people. Describing the artwork as cool does not give justice to the years worth of time and attention that must go into each creation.

After decades of traveling the world and perfecting his craft, Dougherty’s portfolio now boasts over 200 beautiful and living sculptures. The world calls it art, but he merely calls in “stickwork.” Check out the natural creations and get a glimpse into this man’s imagination.


Villa Welpeloo: A Salvaged Home

There is more to this ultra-modern home than first meets the eye.  Named the Villa Welpeloo, this eco-home is located in Enschede, The Netherlands. The home’s creators went to great lengths to assure that the project made a clear statement of utility and sustainability. While the beautiful design and natural look are sure to catch the eye of passersby, the most significant characteristic of this home is that it is constructed from almost entirely salvaged materials. To decrease the carbon footprint even more, all the materials were sourced within a nine mile radius of where the home now stands. Through a process the architects call recyclicity (rather than the more commonly used term of salvaging), 60% of the exterior and nearly 90% of the interior are composed of reused and repurposed materials. For the construction industry, that is an incredible accomplishment made possible only by the environmentally conscious minds of its creators.

In many ways, the designing and building of Villa Welpeloo was done backwards. The architects started off with a giant heap of scrap materials from local factories and warehouses and then went about building a structure that best utilized the resources. The team also used maps from Google Earth to locate any abandoned lots or building near the build site in the hopes of finding reusable materials. The efforts paid off and Villa Welpeloo’s exterior is covered with wooden boards salvaged from 600 cable reels that were heat-treated to better weatherize them and maintain their integrity. The home’s framing is comprised of steel taken from abandoned machinery in an old textile mill; turning old into new again.

The interior design certainly lives up to the goal of sustainability and repurposing by turning old advertising signs into cabinets and broken umbrella spokes into low-voltage lighting. Sunlight provides most of the buildings lighting and walkout decks invite occupants to live both inside and outside of the home. The villa is a beautiful achievement and a perfect example of how reusing building materials can reduce the waste in landfills and our demand for natural resources. Personality and creativity can turn the abandoned buildings of the past into the structures of the future.

2012Architects via Inhabitat

Morerava Cabins on Easter Island

These low-impact Morerava Cabins are nestled on Easter Island and offer an environmentally-conscious retreat on the already remote island. The low-tech structures make good use of simple design strategies, sustainable construction practices, and some prefab techniques. Like any truly sustainable housing, the cabins function on little water and even less electricity, making the most of the surrounding natural resources without damaging the natural environment. While water taps are available, each cabins employs rain harvesters to provide the majority of the water needs. Solar batch water heaters offer a low-cost alternative to burning imported fuel.

Easter Island is a land of very scarce natural resources. To protect the islands local resources and to avoid damaging the native flora and fauna, the cabins are initially built on the Chilean mainland. The structures are then carefully placed on piers (any moisture damage to the floor system during transport can compromise the lifespan of the cabin) and transported to the island. Because of the moderate climate in the region, there is no need to insulate the cabin walls. This cuts down on construction costs and dramatically increases the eco-friendly character of the buildings. Plus the lightweight frame, the exposed scissor roof, and the zinc steel roof add a certain rustic elegance that all cabins should employ.

Nine cabins currently reside on Easter Island. Each is intended to accommodate six people and due to some clever design work, occupants can enjoy a comfortable level of privacy despite the small space. As an enthusiast of responsive design and a proponent of cookie-cutter solutions, one of the coolest characteristics to me is how the cabins work with their surrounding environment to provide light and control climate. Glass panels are intentionally positioned to eliminate direct lines of site into the residential space while still providing adequate indirect light. The windows provide cross-ventilation and maintain the livable interior climate. Offsets in the roof allow hot air to escape while preventing rain from entering the space.

These cabins are a beautiful example of sustainable design put into practice. They take advantage of the natural resources available (rain, sun, and warm temperatures) and curb the dependence on imported fuel and electricity generation: low-impact at its finest.

AATA Associate Architects Via Plataforma Arquitectura

EVs in the Midwest

In mid-December, 2010, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (the guy with the green pants) took the keys  and test drove one of 15 THINK vehicles made in Elkhart, Indiana. These charcoal-colored all-electric cars contain lithium-ion batteries manufactured by the Indianapolis-based Ener1. The cars come from THINK’s plant in Elkhart and are a part of a fleet of cars used by state employees to test the impact of plug-in vehicles. THINK, a car company which develops and produces electric vehicles in Oslo, Norway, plans to have built 300 electric cars at the Elkhart plant by the end of the year. THINK has been working on electric vehicles since the beginning of the 1990s.

Ford Motor Company invested in THINK during its early stages, contributing to major upgrades of the organization. During the four years as the company owner, Ford invested $150 million USD in the company. Ford decided to pull out of the electric vehicle sector in 2003 and sold out completely of the THINK. In recent years, the increasing environmental and climate changes have made the focus on creating a market for electrical vehicles a high priority. Indiana parks workers, among other state employees, will use the cars, which have a range of nearly 100 miles per charge.

THINK via green.indy

IVy Solar Car Breaks the World Record

The “IVy,” the fourth solar car built by the Sunswift team from the University of New South Wales in Australia, has beaten the world record for the fastest solar car in the world with a speed of over 88km/h (about 55 miles per hour). Solar cars fit into a special niche of transportation technology that, rather than finding an energy source that can force a one ton vehicle down the road, is determined to redesign the automobile to run on incredibly low amounts of energy.

The IVy is more likely to be considered a solar panel on wheels than a car, but there is no denying that this thing moves. And most amazingly, this solar electric car runs at 1200 watts, about the same energy demand of the average toaster, microwave, or hair dryer. Imagine your morning commute consuming the same amount of electricity as preparing a couple Pop Tarts. Then again, can anyone tell how you get in this thing?

The solar car was designed and built entirely by students, is powered only by the silicon solar cells, and produces about 1200 watts under sunny conditions. The IVy is Sunswift’s fourth solar car project (hence the play on Roman numerals) and though Sunswift’s cars are usually driven by students during competitions, a professional race car driver took control for the team’s world record attempt. Judges from the Guinness Book of World Records were present at the moment the solar car speed record was beaten and have awarded the Sunswift team their official certificate. Even if this car wasn’t a record beater, the compact and futuristic design is cool enough for me.

Check our Sunswift’s website for more details about this and past projects.

Sunswift IVy via Physorg

Redesigning the Plastic Bottle

The use of plastic bottles, containers, and utensils has become a serious pet-peeve of mine because these products perpetuate the clearly flawed idea that we have an unlimited supply of plastics. The concept of disposable products, which is incredibly popular in the United States, is the absolute antithesis of sustainability. While SOME plastics CAN be recycled, as discuses in The Thing About Plastics…, the vast majority of plastic food products are used one time before ending up in landfills. Even when plastics are recycled, the chemical breakdown in the material means that every subsequent reuse produces a material of poorer quality. Our careless use and waste of plastics is a hallmark of the unsustainable lifestyle we have created for ourselves.

A product design student by the name of Andrew Kim came up with the redesigned plastic bottles shown here, called the Eco Coke Bottle. It would be foolishly Utopian of me to even hope that people will stop using disposable plastics before the end of the cheap energy age. So instead, it would be cool to see companies redesign the way they package and transport their products in order to reduce the carbon footprint (by that I mean the amount of fossil fuel used to get the product from the production location to the consumer).

The key features of Kim’s square bottle design are that the flattened sides should improve the efficiency of transport and the collapsible bottle, the efficiency of recycling. By making the bottles easier to stack, Kim believes he can decrease the carbon footprint of the plastic bottles. The square bottle design would require a massive redesigning of bottling and distribution centers. Also, the reason that bottles are cylindrically shaped is to allow for the even distribution of internal pressure (caused by the carbonation) and thus the least amount of material is needed. On top of that, the soda bottle is as iconic as it is functional. Basically what I am saying is that neither Coca-Cola nor Pepsi plans on changing the shape of their bottles any time soon. Nonetheless, Kim certainly did an impressive job in completing his product design, taking full advantage of Adobe Photoshop’s capabilities. I thought his design was the real deal when I first saw the square bottles.

Source Design Fabulous

Kalkhoff’s Electric Bicycles

The Germany bike company Kalkoff has recently begun importing many of their electric bicycles, or e-bikes, for sale in the U.S. Though Kalkoff has been manufacturing top-of-the-line bicycles since 1914, they first introduced their electric power assist line in 2005. Kalkhoff USA is quickly becoming known for distributing some of the best made e-bikes on the market. Instead of using the mounted hub motors that have become the standard of electric bike conversion kits, Kalkoff continues to favor the use of motors that apply the force directly to the bike chain. The brushless and centrally-located motor offers smooth acceleration and allows you to climb hills that would leave the average rider gasping for air.

These pre-built electric bikes are going to offer a much better weight distribution than conversion kits by placing the battery and motor beneath the rider instead of over the rear wheel. This will result in better performance and a much more natural feel. When the battery pack is mounted over the rear wheel, it makes the entire bicycle awkward and unbalanced, especially on turns. By placing weight distribution (center of gravity) between the wheels, the bicycle will be safer and easier to handle.

The Pro Connect Sport 250, Kalkhoff’s high-performance model, moves at around 25 mph on flat services. With one of these e-bikes, average riders will be able to zip around town without feeling like they are overexerting themselves. The electric bicycle can allow people to commute in an environmentally way that doesn’t require them to break a sweat.

Anyone could throw out fact after fact about electric bicycles, but you really have to try one yourself to understand how much easier it makes biking. Forget about shifting gears or long hills, electric bicycles allow you to pedal at a comfortable pace and still be moving quickly. Bike conversions are best for people concerned about price since pre-built e-bikes can easily cost between $2000 and $5000. But if you can afford a top-off-the-line electric bicycle to replace/decrease your dependence on your car, these vehicles are an environmentally conscious alternative.