Move over Saudi Arabia. Here comes Nash and his dad!

June 2, 2011
By Elisa Wood June 1, 2011 As a parent, I don’t expect world changing results when I gripe at my kids. I’m happy if they at least leave a path through the dirty clothes on their bedroom floors. If you’re like that too, you’ll be a little sheepish when you hear the story of inventor and […]
By Elisa Wood
June 1, 2011

As a parent, I don’t expect world changing results when I gripe at my kids. I’m happy if they at least leave a path through the dirty clothes on their bedroom floors.

If you’re like that too, you’ll be a little sheepish when you hear the story of inventor and journalist Pierce Hoover. His 13-year-old son, Nash, kept forgetting to shut off the lights, so Hoover made a very big deal about it, the kind that changes the world.

Hoover took Nash to a local gym to ride an exercise bike that measures energy output in watts. He challenged his son to pedal hard enough to generate enough power to light a 100-watt bulb. Nash found that it took a lot of sweat.

“I wanted to instill in him the awareness that electric power, while inexpensive, doesn’t just flow effortlessly from a socket. Electric energy is the product of a complex infrastructure that runs back through the grid to places where big wheels labor and massive boilers consume natural resources, create heat, and emit waste gasses,” said Hoover in his blog at PopSci.com.

Then Hoover and Nash got an idea. Would it be possible to cross the country peddling their way on just a light bulb worth of energy each day?

With a team of engineer friends, the father-son duo built a human-electric hybrid vehicle with a motor fueled by a battery and kinetic energy generated through pedaling. They leave Virginia June 2 to cross the country to Oregon, a 4,500 mile trip, in the cart-like two-seater, which is powered by a 100-watt battery.

It’s going to be a slow, but scenic trip, reports Hoover who works for PopSci’s parent, Bonnier Corporation. Since the vehicle only travels 25 miles per hour at top speed, they cannot use major throughways. Instead, they’ll follow the TransAmerica Bike Trail, which will add about 1,200 extra miles to their journey.

Rationed at 2,400 watts a day, the father and son will take a three hour rest each day as they recharge their batteries and that of the car, which only holds 1,400 watts.  They expect to travel about 60 miles per day.

What kind of mileage does the cart get? As much as 1,000 miles per gallon, according to a news release issued by Popular Science Magazine, which is sponsoring the trip along with GE. The father and son have dubbed the trip the “Eco Tour” and say they will spread a message of conservation.

“The Eco Tour is a fantastic example of technological ingenuity combined with personal conviction, and we’re thrilled to bring our readers along for the journey,” said Mark Jannot, Editor-in-Chief of Popular Science.

Okay, so maybe the Saudis aren’t quaking at the sight of Hoover and Nash pedaling down the road. But still, Hoover is likely to make not only his son, but a lot of other people, think in a more meaningful way about producing and using energy.

You can follow their journey at www.popsci.com/ecotour or twitter.com/popsciecotour.

See more of Elisa Wood’s work at www.RealEnergyWriters.com

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

Twitter: @ElisaWood

LinkedIn: Elisa Wood

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