Utah salt flats host alt-fuel vehicle tests

Since the 1920s and ’30s when pro racer David Abbott "Ab" Jenkins shattered worldwide land speed records driving his "Mormon Meteor" on Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats, the playa has become one of the world’s most famous raceways, where backyard builders have always raced alongside the finest automotive engineers in the world.

The Bonneville Salt Flats are located about 400 miles northeast of Las Vegas, near the Nevada border in Wendover, Utah. This geological treasure was formed on 159 square miles of salt deposits left behind by the evaporation of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville. The flats’ special surface was first tested in 1912 for automotive land speed racing because the salt lakebed was so flat over such a long distance that a racer could see the curvature of the Earth. Also, the cooling effect and traction of the moist salt on tires allowed for faster speeds to be achieved than on traditional paved road surfaces.

Several organizations have continued to foster Jenkins’ pioneering spirit and record-setting legacy at the Bonneville Salt Flats and, during the last several years, the flats have also been important proving grounds for alternative-fuel vehicle technologies. On Sept. 16-19, the third annual alternative-fuel vehicle time trials will be held at the Bonneville Salt Flats in conjunction with the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association’s World of Speed events.

Ohio State University is an active participant in Bonneville Salt Flats land speed racing, where its student-run electric vehicle engineering programs have set international land speed records. In 2004, an undergraduate student team designed and raced the "Buckeye Bullet" streamliner to a new national land speed record of 315 miles per hour, becoming the first electric vehicle to officially exceed the 300-mph benchmark. The Buckeye Bullet employed a 900-volt rechargeable battery system to drive a 400-horsepower electric traction motor. This new record exceeded the team’s record from the previous year of 257 miles per hour.

The Ohio State University team has also been involved with hydrogen-electric fuel-cell research efforts involving Ford Motor Co., Roush Racing and Ballard Power Systems. During Speed Week 2007, an experimental Ford Fusion 999 equipped with a fuel cell powered by two tanks of compressed hydrogen and helium-oxygen, showed that membrane fuel-cell technology could drive a 770-horsepower electric motor to average 207 mph on the Bonneville test track over two five-mile runs.

A fuel cell can be twice as efficient as an internal combustion engine by converting fuel directly into electrical energy, leaving only water at the its exhaust pipe, as opposed to CO2. However, because of this chemical reaction, there are also many problems to overcome before a hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicle can be put into mass production.

However, research into hydrogen fuel-cell technologies from 2000 to 2008 did provide many new engineering breakthroughs and achievements that have helped auto manufacturers develop better battery-powered and hybrid-electric vehicles. These successful efforts have led the major automakers to continue their research efforts into fuel-cell technology. In addition to the Ford Fusion hybrid product line, the Honda FCX Clarity is currently in testing at fleet locations in Southern California. General Motors Corp. made significant progress in developing the Chevrolet Equinox fuel-cell platform and Daimler Chrysler introduced a Mercedes-Benz F600 Hygenius concept car.

Hydrogen is the most readily available element for fuel usage in the world, as it can be released from water with a simple procedure called electrolysis that applies electricity to bubble the hydrogen out from H2O. Honda has made significant progress in developing a home-based hydrogen fueling station that converts household natural gas into hydrogen gas and can be installed directly to a natural gas pipeline in a home garage.

Smaller hydrogen fuel cells might also make good range extenders for recharging battery-powered electric vehicle battery banks during operation, in place of a hybrid gasoline engine generator. Instead of gasoline, the fuel cell would create electricity from hydrogen without any CO2 emissions. The GM Chevrolet Volt and its Voltec flexible fuels platform allow for this kind of hybrid configuration. Ford has also been actively researching this area by converting an Edge crossover SUV into a plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle that combines a small hydrogen fuel cell and battery pack to extend the range of its hydrogen/EV prototype.

For more information about alternative-fuel vehicle time trials to be held at the Bonneville Salt Flats, e-mail Kent Singleton of the Utah Electric Vehicle Coalition at kent@saltflats.com.


Stan Hanel has worked in the electronics industry for more than 30 years and is a long-time member of the Electric Auto Association and the Las Vegas Electric Vehicle Association. Hanel writes and edits for EAA’s "Current Events" and LVEVA’s "Watts Happening" newletters. Contact him at stanhanel@aol.com.

Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
Neon wraps can light up the night for advertising
Vinyl wrap company 5150 Wraps talks about neon wraps, a new technology that the company believes can boost advertising at night. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nevada on the forefront of drone safety
Dr. Chris Walach, senior director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, talks to a reporter at NIAS's new Nevada Drone Center for Excellence of Public Safety, located inside the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
Motel 8 on south Strip will become site of hotel-casino
Israeli hoteliers Asher Gabay and Benny Zerah bought Motel 8 on the south Strip for $7.4 million, records show. They plan to bulldoze the property and build a hotel-casino. Motel 8 was built in the 1960s and used to be one of several roadside inns on what's now the south Strip. But it looks out of place today, dwarfed by the towering Mandalay Bay right across the street.
Project billed as one of the world's largest marijuana dispensaries plans to open Nov. 1
Planet 13 co-CEO Larry Scheffler talks about what to expect from the new marijuana dispensary, Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Oasis Biotech opens in Las Vegas
Brock Leach, chief operating officer of Oasis Biotech, discusses the new plant factory at its grand opening on July 18. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV Tech Park innovation building breaks ground
Construction on the first innovation building at the UNLV Tech Park is underway. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars Forum Meeting Center
Caesars broke ground Monday on its $375 million Caesars Forum Meeting Center (convention center) just east of the High Roller observation wheel. (Caesars Entertainment)
Technology reshapes the pawn shop industry
Devin Battersby attaches a black-colored device to the back of her iPhone and snaps several of the inside and outside of a Louis Vuitton wallet. The device, installed with artificial intelligence capabilities, analyzes the images using a patented microscopic technology. Within a few minutes, Battersby receives an answer on her app. The designer item is authentic.
Recreational marijuana has been legal in Nevada for one year
Exhale Nevada CEO Pete Findley talks about the one year anniversary of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Young adults aren't saving for retirement
Financial advisors talk about saving trends among young adults. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump’s tariffs could raise costs for real estate developers, analysts say
President Donald Trump made his fortune in real estate, but by slapping tariffs on imports from close allies, developers in Las Vegas and other cities could get hit hard.
Las Vegas business and tariffs
Barry Yost, co-owner of Precision Tube Laser, LLC, places a metal pipe into the TruLaser Tube 5000 laser cutting machine on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Nevada Film Office Connects Businesses To Producers
The director of the Nevada Film Office discusses its revamped locations database and how it will affect local businesses. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Opendoor isn't the typical house flipping company
Unlike most house flippers, the company aims to make money from transaction costs rather than from selling homes for more than their purchase price.
The Venetian gondoliers sing Italian songs
Gondolier Marciano sings a the classic Italian song "Volare" as he leads guests through the canals of The Venetian in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Building In Logandale
Texas homebuilder D.R. Horton bought 43 lots in rural Logandale. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LVCVA CEO Rossi Ralenkotter announces plans to retire
Rossi Ralenkotter, CEO of the LVCVA, on Tuesday confirmed a Las Vegas Review-Journal report that he is preparing to retire. Richard N. Velotta/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Cousins Maine Lobster to open inside 2 Las Vegas Smith’s stores
Cousins Maine Lobster food truck company will open inside Las Vegas’ two newest Smith’s at Skye Canyon Park Drive and U.S. Highway 95, and at Warm Springs Road and Durango Drive. Cousins currently sells outside some Las Vegas Smith’s stores and at Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas home prices to continue to rise, expert says
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, gives homebuyers a pulse on the Las Vegas housing market. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NV Energy announces clean energy investment
The company is planning to add six solar projects in Nevada, along with the state's first major battery energy storage capacity. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
3 Mario Batali restaurants on Las Vegas Strip to close
Days after new sexual misconduct allegations were made against celebrity chef Mario Batali, his company announced Friday that it will close its three Las Vegas restaurants July 27. Employees of Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, B&B Ristorante and Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria, all located in The Venetian and Palazzo resorts, were informed of the decision Friday morning. Bastianich is scheduled to visit the restaurants Friday to speak to employees about the next two months of operation as well as how the company plans to help them transition to new positions.
Nevada has its first cybersecurity apprenticeship program
The Learning Center education company in Las Vegas has launched the first apprenticeship program for cybersecurity in Nevada. It was approved by the State Apprenticeship Council on May 15. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas union members voting to authorize the right to strike
Thousands of Las Vegas union members voting Tuesday morning to authorize the right to strike. A “yes” vote would give the union negotiating committee the power to call a strike anytime after June 1 at the resorts that fail to reach an agreement. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like