Energy Inventions News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on new energy inventions
Solar Energy Cells Made of Everyday Plastic. In research published today in Nature Materials magazine, [several researchers] showcase their work on an innovative new plastic (or polymer) solar cell they hope eventually can be produced at a mere 10 percent to 20 percent of the current cost of traditional cells, making the technology more widely available. The price for quality traditional solar modules typically is around three to four times more expensive than fossil fuel. Independent tests on the UCLA solar cell already have received high marks. The nation's only authoritative certification organization for solar technology, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), located in Golden, Colo., has helped the UCLA team ensure the accuracy of their efficiency numbers. The plastic solar cell is still a few years away from being available to consumers, but the UCLA team is working diligently to get it to market.
Note: Why is it that ABC was the only one of the mainstream media to pick up this important article, and even ABC's report appears to belittle the development as much as it gives an optimistic outlook. And why isn't the government pouring funding into this most worthy project?
Goldes, 73, is chief executive of a small company called Magnetic Power Inc., which has spent years researching ways to, yes, generate power using magnets. Within a few months, he says, he might just have a breakthrough to report that could revolutionize where people get fuel. "All we know is that we're seeing more energy output than input. Does Goldes realize what's he's saying -- that he's perhaps discovered a clean, inexhaustible energy source? "That's exactly what it appears to be," he answered. What Goldes believes he's done is produce power from what physicists call zero-point energy. In simple terms, zero-point energy results from the infinitesimal motion of molecules even when seemingly at rest. Normally, I dismiss such pie-in-the-sky pronouncements. But Goldes isn't so easy to shrug off. That's because he's also come up with technology called the UltraConductor. The research was funded in part by the Department of Defense, which invested $600,000 in the project. A handful of other companies worldwide are believed also to be pursuing zero-point energy via magnetic systems. One of them, InterStellar Technologies, is run by a former scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. According to Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine, the Pentagon and at least two large aerospace companies are actively researching zero-point energy as a means of propulsion.
Denny Klein has just patented his process of converting H2O to HHO, producing a gas that combines the atomic power of hydrogen with the chemical stability of water. "It turns right back to water; in fact, you can see the H2O running off the sheet metal." Klein originally designed his water-burning engine for cutting metal. He thought his invention could replace acetylene in welding factories. "No other gas will do this." Then one day as he drove to his laboratory, he thought of another way to burn his HHO gas. "On a 100-mile trip, we use about four ounces of water." Klein says his prototype 1994 Ford Escort can travel exclusively on water -- though he currently has it rigged to run as a water and gasoline hybrid. "Simply speaking, our plan is to end our dependence on fossil fuels." Pete Domeneci is helping Klein take his hydrogen technology patents from a two-room office to consumer markets around the world. The duo is already in negotiations with one U.S. automaker and the U.S. government. Members of Congress recently invited Denny Klein to Washington to demonstrate his technology and his company is currently developing a Hummer for the U.S. military that can run on both water and gasoline. So far, his water-powered engines have passed all performance safety inspections.
Both inventors and investors are betting that flexible sheets of tiny solar cells used to harness the sun's strength will ultimately provide a cheaper, more efficient source of energy than the current smorgasbord of alternative and fossil fuels. Nanosys and Nanosolar in Palo Alto -- along with Konarka in Lowell, Mass. -- say their research will result in thin rolls of highly efficient light-collecting plastics spread across rooftops or built into building materials. These rolls, the companies say, will be able to provide energy for prices as low as the electricity currently provided by utilities, which averages $1 per watt. The companies also say that the printed rolls of solar cells would be lighter, more resilient and flexible than silicon photovoltaics. Solar energy could furnish much of the nation's electricity if available residential and commercial rooftops were fully utilized. According to the Energy Foundation, using available rooftop space could provide 710,000 megawatts across the United States, whose current electrical capacity is 950,000 megawatts. Atluru of Draper Fisher Jurvetson [explains] "Our view is that government can cause big problems, and it is the entrepreneurs who will make the big changes." Current cost of solar energy, per watt: $4-$5. Average cost of energy from traditional fossil fuel sources, per watt: $1. Estimated cost of energy from nanotech solar panels, per watt: $2. Total energy-generating capacity of the United States: 950,000 megawatts. Potential total rooftop solar energy capacity in the United States: 710, 000 megawatts.
The same rooftop solar providers that are threatening utility revenues are more than just occupying customer roofs—they’re inside the home, monitoring usage trends and adapting the systems to meet both the homeowner’s needs and their own bottom lines. SolarCity, Sunrun, SunPower, and Locus Energy are amassing billions of points of data in smart home systems that consumers love and that baffle utilities, many of which have no incentive to help consumers manage their power usage more efficiently. While utilities have installed millions of smart meters in homes, they haven’t made use of the data to engage consumers the same way solar providers have, says Neil Strother, a smart-grid analyst. “Utilities are more focused on cutting their own costs than in helping consumers become more efficient,” he says. “They aren’t motivated to reduce demand.” The solar systems, meanwhile, collect real-time data on hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the country that utilities could use to more efficiently and reliably manage their power grids. Nat Kreamer, chief executive officer of Clean Power Finance, says some utilities don’t see the potential benefits of using smart meters to engage with consumers to improve their service or reduce their utility bills. “I asked an executive at one top 10 utility what he was hoping to get from smart meters, and he basically said just to eliminate the meter readers,” Kraemer says.
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Scientists at Sandia National Labs, seeking a means to create cheap and abundant hydrogen to power a hydrogen economy, realized they could use the same technology to "reverse-combust" CO2 back into fuel. Researchers still have to improve the efficiency of the system, but they recently demonstrated a working prototype of their "Sunshine to Petrol" machine that converts waste CO2 to carbon monoxide, and then syngas, consuming nothing but solar energy. The device, boasting the simple title Counter-Rotating-Ring Receiver Reactor Recuperator (we'll go with "CR5") sets off a thermo-chemical reaction by exposing an iron-rich composite to concentrated solar heat. The composite sheds an oxygen molecule when heated and gets one back as it cools, and therein lies the eureka. The cylindrical metal CR5 is divided into hot and cold chambers. Solar energy heats the hot chamber to a scorching 2,700 degrees, hot enough to force the iron oxide composite to lose oxygen atoms. The composite is then thrust into the cool chamber, which is filled with carbon dioxide. As it cools, the iron oxide snatches back its lost oxygen atoms, leaving behind carbon monoxide.
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The federal government is behind the times when it comes to making decisions about advancing the solar industry, according to several solar-industry experts. This has led, they argue, to a misplaced emphasis on research into futuristic new technologies, rather than support for scaling up existing ones. That was the prevailing opinion at a symposium last week put together by the National Academies in Washington, DC, on the topic of scaling up the solar industry. The meeting was attended by numerous experts from the photovoltaic industry and academia. And many complained that the emphasis on finding new technologies is misplaced. "This is such a fast-moving field," said Ken Zweibel, director of the Solar Institute at George Washington University. "To some degree, we're fighting the last war. We're answering the questions from 5, 10, 15 years ago in a world where things have really changed." Industry experts at the Washington symposium argued that new technologies will take decades to come to market, judging from how long commercialization of other solar technologies has taken. Meanwhile, says Zweibel, conventional technologies "have made the kind of progress that we were hoping futuristic technologies could make." For example, researchers have sought to bring the cost of solar power to under $1 per watt, and as of the first quarter of this year one company, First Solar, has done this. These cost reductions have made solar power cheaper than the natural-gas-powered plants used to produce extra electricity to meet demand on hot summer days.
Note: Interesting that MIT has reported this story, but none of the major media picked it up. Solar energy will very likely be cheaper than oil-generated energy in under 10 years. For more on the current state of solar, click here.
The world's first commercial power plant converting the energy of sea waves into electricity [has] started working off Portugal's coast ... in a project that should be expanded nearly 10-fold over the next few years. Three articulated steel "sea-snakes" moored to the seabed three miles off Portugal's northern coast, each about the length of a nuclear submarine, generate a total of 2.25 megawatts, enough to supply 1,500 households with electricity. "It's logged into the national grid, which makes it the world's first commercial wave power project," said Anthony Kennaway, a spokesman for Babcock and Brown investment firm which runs the Agucadoura project in northern Portugal. "We hope that in 15 years wave power will be where wind is now, that is extremely competitive. Portugal could be for wave power what Denmark was for wind," Kennaway said. Renewable energy, including water dams, accounts for 40 percent of power consumption in Portugal. Some experts say wave energy could meet up to 20 percent of the country's needs in the future. A total of 25 semi-submerged "sea-snakes" should be installed in the next few years, boosting the ... capacity to 21 MW, Kennaway said. The machines, each 140 meters (yards) long and 3.5 meters in diameter, are positioned head-on towards the waves so that its sections move with the waves. Each joint ... contains a hydraulic pump, which pumps high-pressure liquid through motors that in their turn drive power generators. The energy is then transmitted to a substation on shore via subsea cables.
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Shai Agassi, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, pledges that he can beat the spiraling cost of gasoline with the world's first mass-produced electric car. In January, Israel's government endorsed the Palo Alto businessman's ambitious joint venture between his startup company - Project Better Place - and Renault-Nissan. Agassi says he raised $200 million to get the $500 million dollar project, which will include a network of charging and battery-exchange stations by 2010, off the ground. Project Better Place also has signed an agreement with Denmark to begin a similar operation by 2011. In Denmark, a pioneer in developing wind power, batteries are expected to be recharged using wind-powered turbines. Agassi is banking on his electric-powered sedan revolutionizing life on the roads, cleaning up the environment and reducing dependence on oil. The cars are expected to have a range of up to 140 miles per charge and a top speed of 68 mph - the speed limit in Israel. Last month, he invited reporters to test-drive a prototype that looks a lot like the Renault Megane, a four-door sedan. The car is noticeably quiet and has no exhaust pipe, an electric socket in place of a gas cap and a dashboard gauge that measures the charge of the vehicle's 450-pound lithium-ion battery. In the United States, Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle has said she is interested in her state becoming the first to embrace the electric-car network. Mayor Gavin Newsom also has reportedly expressed interest in making San Francisco the first U.S. metropolis to place electric cars on city roads.
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A remote drilling rig high in the Mackenzie Delta has become the site of a breakthrough that could one day revolutionize the world's energy supply. For the first time, Canadian and Japanese researchers have managed to efficiently produce a constant stream of natural gas from ice-like gas hydrates that, worldwide, dwarf all known fossil fuel deposits combined. "We were able to sustain flow," said Scott Dallimore, the Geological Survey of Canada researcher in charge of the remote Mallik drilling program. "It worked." For a decade now, Dallimore and scientists from a half-dozen other countries have been returning to a site on Richards Island on the very northwestern tip of the Northwest Territories to study methane gas hydrates. A hydrate is created when a molecule of gas – in this case, methane or natural gas – is trapped by high pressures and low temperatures inside a cage of water molecules. The result is almost – but not quite – ice. It's more like a dry, white slush suffusing the sand and gravel 1,000 metres beneath the Mallik rig. Heat or unsqueeze the hydrate and gas is released. Hold a core sample to your ear and it hisses. More significant is the fact that gas hydrates concentrate 164 times the energy of the same amount of natural gas. And gas hydrate fields are found in abundance under the coastal waters of every continent. Calculations suggest there's more energy in gas hydrates than in coal, oil and conventional gas combined. Last month, the Mallik team became the first to use that method to get a steady, consistent flow. "That went really well," said Dallimore. "We definitely demonstrated that these hydrates are responsive enough that you can sustain flow. We were able to take conventional technologies, modify them, and produce. That's a big step forward."
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A few small companies and maverick university laboratories, including ... one at U.C.L.A. run by Seth Putterman, a professor of physics, are pursuing quixotic solutions for future energy, trying to tap the power of the Sun — hot nuclear fusion — in devices that fit on a tabletop. Dr. Putterman’s approach is to use sound waves, called sonofusion or bubble fusion, to expand and collapse tiny bubbles, generating ultrahot temperatures. At temperatures hot enough, atoms can literally fuse and release even more energy than when they split in nuclear fission, now used in nuclear power plants and weapons. Furthermore, fusion is clean in that it does not produce long-lived nuclear waste. Dr. Putterman has not achieved fusion in his experiments. He and other scientists form a small but devoted cadre interested in turning small-scale desktop fusion into usable systems. Although success is far away, the principles seem sound. Achieving nuclear fusion, even in a desktop device, is not particularly difficult. But building a fusion reactor that generates more energy than it consumes is far more challenging. Impulse Devices, a small company in the small town of Grass Valley, Calif., is exploring the same sound-driven fusion as Dr. Putterman, pushing forward with venture capital financing. Its president, Ross Tessien, concedes that Impulse is a high-risk investment, but the potential payoffs would be many. “You solve the world’s pollution problems,” Mr. Tessien said. “You eliminate the need for wars. You eliminate scarcity of fuel. And it happens to be a very valuable market. So from a commercial point of view, there’s every incentive. From a moral point of view, there’s every incentive. And it’s fun and it’s exciting work.”
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There is a
man who fills up his tank once every two months. One tank of gas, literally,
lasts him two months. He is freezing the price of gas by freezing something
else. David Hutchison is a Cryogenics expert. He built this Cryo-Process himself.
A few years ago he began an experiment on his hybrid Honda, freezing the engine
components. The results were a fuel-efficiency dream. A hybrid Honda typically
gets really great gas mileage anyway, around 50 miles to the gallon, but David
Hutchison's cryogenically tempered engine has been known to get close to 120
miles a gallon. Racers have picked up on David's trick of cryogenically
freezing car parts. It is now widely accepted among NASCAR and Indy-car racers.
Note: Why isn't this front-page headlines with rapid development for use by us all?
It might sound surprising, but all-electric vehicles are already on American roads. They just haven't quite made it to the highway yet. A growing cottage industry of Neighborhood Electric Vehicle [NEV] manufacturers is spurring the development of cars like the Zenn, which has reached a state of vehicular enlightenment so advanced it doesn't even need a tail pipe. "We saw this car in May of '06, and all of us were just freaking out: 'Finally, a car!'" said Steve Mayeda, sales manager at Seattle-based MC Electric Vehicles, which sells 30 percent of Zenn's U.S. inventory, in addition to electric vehicles made by Columbia, Canadian EV, E-Ride and Miles. "Zenn was the first neighborhood electric car that actually looked and felt and drove like a real car. Everything else before that was either a converted golf cart or a car that was built from the ground up." NEVs are silent, have no tailpipe emissions (or tailpipes, for that matter) and plug into electrical outlets like vacuum cleaners. They come in two varieties: Low-Speed Electric Vehicles, which have a top speed of about 25 miles per hour and are restricted to roads where the speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less; and Medium-Speed Electric Vehicles, which reach 35 mph and are allowed on roads with a posted speed of up to 45 mph. They're exempt from federal safety regulations that mandate impact-absorbing bumpers and airbags. But to be street legal, NEVs must have three-point seat belts, windshields with wipers, headlights, brake lights, rearview mirrors and turn signals.
Note: Note: For a fun, six-minute video demonstration of the Zenn, click here.
Note: We usually limit ourselves to information from sources known and respected by the public. For this message, we're making an exception. Jeff Rense of rense.com is a radio personality and researcher of major cover-ups with no strong credentials other than a large following of people convinced of the quality of his work. His popular website receives millions of visits a month. Below is vital information everyone should know.
Royal Raymond Rife was a brilliant scientist born in 1888 and died in 1971. He received 14 major awards and honors and was given an honorary Doctorate by the University of Heidelberg for his work. By 1933, he had ... constructed the incredibly complex Universal Microscope, which ... was capable of magnifying objects 30,000 times their normal size. With this incredible microscope, Rife became the first human being to actually see a live virus. In 1934, the University of Southern California appointed a Special Medical Research Committee to bring terminal cancer patients ... to Rife's San Diego Laboratory and clinic for treatment. The team included doctors and pathologists assigned to examine the patients - if still alive - in 90 days. After the 90 days of treatment, the Committee concluded that 86.5% of the patients had been completely cured. On November 20, 1931, forty-four of the nation's most respected medical authorities honored Royal Rife with a banquet. But by 1939, almost all of these distinguished doctors and scientists were denying that they had ever met Rife. The last thing in the world that the pharmaceutical industry wanted was ... a painless therapy that cured ... terminal cancer patients and cost nothing to use but a little electricity. It might give people the idea that they didn't need drugs. Medical journals, supported almost entirely by drug company revenues and controlled by the AMA, refused to publish any paper by anyone on Rife's therapy. Rife technology became public knowledge again in 1986 with the publication of The Cancer Cure That Worked, by Barry Lynes, and other material about Royal Rife and his monumental work.
Note: For excellent video documentaries, including interviews with Royal Rife: http://www.rifevideos.com. For an excellent website focused on Rife's work, click here. For more reliable, verifiable information on health cover-ups, click here.
Scientists may have created the very first solar battery. Researchers have succeeded in combining a battery and a solar cell into one hybrid device, which could be huge in terms of renewable energy capture and storage. "The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy," said Yiying Wu, one of the researchers, in a news release. "We've integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost." The key to the new device is a mesh solar panel, which allows air to enter the battery. There's also a special process for transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode; inside the device, light and oxygen enable different parts of the chemical reactions that charge the battery. "Basically, it's a breathing battery," said Wu. "It breathes in air when it discharges, and breathes out when it charges." The mesh solar panel forms the first electrode. Beneath the mesh is a thin sheet of porous carbon, which acts as the second electrode, and a lithium plate, which acts as the third electrode. Between the electrodes are layers of electrolyte to carry electrons back and forth. During charging, light hits the mesh solar panel and creates electrons. Then inside the battery, electrons are involved in the chemical decomposition of lithium peroxide into lithium ions and oxygen. The oxygen is released into the air, and the lithium ions are stored in the battery as lithium metal after capturing the electrons. The findings could be huge in terms of creating sustainable energy for powering a variety of devices. Currently, the researchers are continuing to move forward in improving the efficiency of the battery and the amount of power the panel can absorb and convert. The findings are published in the journal Nature.
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NASA has tested a microwave thruster that seemingly violates the law of conservation of momentum. Originally reported by Wired, the technology bounces microwaves around to create thrust. British engineer Roger Shawyer designed the original and dubbed it the Emdrive. If the Emdrive actually works, it could be a game changer in the spacecraft business because it doesn't require propellant. Propellant is heavy, and once a spacecraft runs out of it, it loses the ability to change direction. Space historian Amy Shira Teitel makes an interesting point on the website Motherboard: "If a spacecraft, say a deep space probe like New Horizons, which is less than a year from its encounter with Pluto, didn’t need propellant, that extra weight and space could be devoted to scientific instruments, larger solar arrays, or a larger power source." Last year, a Chinese team made an Emdrive and reported that they had created enough thrust to move a small satellite. NASA spent eight days testing an Emdrive that was built by Guido Fetta, an inventor based out of the Philadelphia metropolitan area. The lab detected a thrust of 30-50 microNewtons, about 1/20 of what the Chinese team measured. On a side note, the NASA lab doing the testing is the same one that is trying to develop the Alcubierre warp drive, another pie-in-the-sky idea. We'll know more once NASA publishes everything (right now, only the abstract is available) and outside experts weigh in on the experiment and data.
Designed by students, the small blue house wedged onto a corner of the Santa Clara University campus generates all the electricity it needs. And it needs very little. Solar cells blanket most of the roof. A separate solar array heats water. Pipes in the ceiling circulate cold water to keep the house cool. A mobile phone app controls the lights and windows. Dubbed Radiant House, the building is the university's entry in this year's Solar Decathlon, an international student competition to create energy-efficient houses that run their systems and appliances on sunlight. To win, the houses can't just be a collection of technologies. They have to feel inviting and livable. Judges grade them on comfort and curb appeal in addition to innovation. This year's decathlon culminates next month in Orange County, when 20 university teams present their homes to judges drawn from the fields of architecture, development and renewable energy. First held in 2002, the Solar Decathlon runs in two-year cycles, giving teams enough time to design, finance and build their creations. This year, students from two Bay Area schools - Santa Clara and Stanford University - will compete against teams from as far afield as Austria and the Czech Republic. The contest rules require that the houses can't be larger than 1,000 square feet and must produce at least as much energy as they consume over the course of a week. Solar panels donated by Bosch Solar Energy coat the central room's tilted roof and can generate up to 7.14 kilowatts of electricity, more than a typical home array. The panels rest on a new type of rack, made by startup company Sunplanter, that is integrated into the structure of the roof.
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A year ago, hundreds of people flocked to a 100,000-square-foot former factory building in Wauseon's industrial area where a Napoleon, Ohio, inventor promised to begin building engines that would travel more than 110 miles on a gallon of E85 gasoline. But time and the economy have not been kind to Doug Pelmear's plan to revolutionize the American automobile. The factory today is largely dark and empty, Mr. Pelmear's dreams of putting northwest Ohioans back to work are still constrained within two file drawers full of job applications, and his hopes of mass-producing his HP2g engine have fallen victim to a lack of funding. "We can't get the banks to look at us," Mr. Pelmear said yesterday. Mr. Pelmear said he hasn't sought money from more traditional capital sources such as investors, selling stock or bonded indebtedness, because such sources would likely cost him control of HP2g LLC - something he's unwilling to provide. A partnership Mr. Pelmear forged with Revenge Designs Inc., a Decatur, Ind. specialty carmaker that had planned to use his engine in its upcoming "Verde" supercar, dissolved this spring.
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If not for the Finnish American Reporter, Steve Lehto would never have eaten barbecued chicken in Jay Leno's garage after taking a ride in a car that sounds like a vacuum cleaner. Also, Lehto wouldn't have finally found an agent for his book [Chrysler's Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit's Coolest Creation] about the Chrysler Turbine. The Chrysler Turbine was essentially a stylish, bronze-colored, four-seat sedan with a jet engine. It could run on gasoline, kerosene, or just about anything else, including Chanel No. 5 and tequila. Of the 55 that Chrysler produced, none were sold to the public, and all but nine were destroyed when the experiment ended. A collector in Indiana owns one. Museums have five. Chrysler had three -- and now one of them is [Jay] Leno's. "He offered to let me drive it if I was ever in town," Lehto says, "which I just happened to be, as soon as I could get tickets." Yelps and cheers from bystanders as they cruised the streets of Burbank. Cuisine from a grill in one of Leno's garages. Another ride in a steam-powered 1907 White. More yelps and cheers. Also, an offer from Leno. If it'll help sell the book, he'll write a [foreword]. It does help; a New York agent has agreed to shop it around. Lehto is still in car-buff heaven. "I was 3 feet across from Jay Leno," he marvels, "having lunch."
Note: This amazing engine could run on vegetable oil and more. Why didn't it get more publicity? For lots more fascinating information on the engine, click here. For why it never got developed, click here.
Norwegian automaker Think Global said Monday it planned to sell low-priced electric cars to the masses and will introduce its first models in the U.S. by the end of next year. The battery-powered Think City will be able to travel up to 110 miles on a single charge, with a top speed of about 65 mph, the company said. It will be priced below $25,000. Oslo-based Think said venture capital firms RockPort Capital Partners and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers had made investments to fund its entry into the U.S. under the auspices of Think North America. "This is not a toy," said Wilber James, RockPort managing partner. "This is a serious car that we expect to sell." Although technology for electric cars has been advancing -- and consumer interest has been rising amid growing concern over gasoline prices and greenhouse gases -- few vehicles have come to market. Last month, San Carlos, Calif.-based Tesla Motors began production of its Roadster, an electric vehicle that costs $100,000. The Think City "is a mass-market vehicle," said Kleiner managing partner Ray Lane, dismissing comparisons to the Roadster. Tesla's car is being produced in relatively small numbers, with roughly 300 expected by the end of this year. "Our desire is to be selling 30-40-50,000 of these cars in a couple of years." Think Chief Executive Jan-Olaf Willums said the company would bring test vehicles to the U.S. in the coming months. The Think City runs on sodium batteries, but future versions could use lithium ion batteries, Willums said. The Think City, a two-seater that can be fitted with two additional seats for children, has a mostly plastic exterior and is 95% recyclable. Willums said a convertible was in development. "Women want to buy it immediately," he said.
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