Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Real GEM

We just picked up a GEM electric vehicle from a generous donor. It runs on 6 deep cycle flooded lead acid batteries (72 volts), and they have run through their expected life cycle (read: dead). We are currently looking at the possibility of replacing them with a new type of battery from a company in Santa Fe Springs, California. The batteries are designed specifically to work with renewable energy sources. The bigger idea is to set this vehicle up with a solar charging system. With the last two weeks of the semester staring us in the eye, it may be necessary to wait until the middle of December to start the design process. I've always had a problem leaving "well enough" alone, and most of our students share that same sentiment. We will bring them into the design and implementation process in January when the spring HEV class starts. If you are interested in joining our class, it runs from January 16th through May 5th, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Check out NMC's website at or email me at 


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Power Up!

The upcoming spring semester marks the start of our second Hybrid Electric Vehicle class. The class will not only be learning to rebuild HEV batteries, but also learning about installing plug-in HEV (PHEV) conversions. This is the process of installing additional batteries with their own 110 volt charging system. The extra energy storage is capable of boosting mileage to almost 100 MPG and lowers emissions even further. Hopefully, we will be installing such a system in our trainer vehicle. More information may be found at

On another note, a local resident has donated a GEM electric vehicle to our program. I will post pictures when the vehicle arrives. This generous donation will provide yet another facet to our training program.