One of the last times I had talked about Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and their inventive professor Dr. Clifton Ricketts was in April 2007. At that time Dr. Ricketts was figuring out how to break his own land-speed record for hydrogen cars at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
This time, however, the goal is a little different. Dr. Ricketts along with some students a MTSU are converting a Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid vehicle to run on hydrogen, solar power and cellulosic ethanol.
During Spring Break this year while other students are headed for Daytona Beach, these students will be taking a road trip from Savannah, GA to Long Beach, CA.
According to the Farm Credit Services website, “The trip will begin in early March in Savannah, GA in a converted Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid. On each 750-mile leg of the trip, the first 100 miles will be powered by solar energy, followed by 200 miles of hydrogen gas power. The next 350 miles will be fueled by 85 percent cellulosic ethanol, with the last 100 miles coming from on-board regeneration of the solar-powered batteries.”
Now, when we are talking about solar power we are also talking about hydrogen power since ¾ of the Sun is made up of hydrogen gas (the rest is helium plus trace amounts of other elements). So, this car in essence is doubly powered by hydrogen.
So, what is next for Dr. Ricketts? In 2013 he plans to make the same trip in a vehicle powered by hydrogen from water and solar energy without the use of ethanol.