University of Missouri professor Bin Wu is planning to park his car for good.
Instead, Wu can be seen driving around campus in a self-made electric tricycle that he created for $500, the Columbia Missourian reports. He calls the solar-powered cruiser a “horse that doesn’t need feeding.”
“It’s literally and technically true because the motor that I have is 750 watts,” Wu said. “That is exactly equivalent to one horsepower.”
It all started when Wu was teaching a class on energy efficiency and began using the solar trike as a hypothetical example. But it’s part of Wu’s policy to not only talk the talk when it comes to energy conservation but also to “walk the walk,” as he told the Missourian.
The tricycle has a roof that shades Wu when he is driving. It is also covered with solar panels, which charge its batteries. Additionally, he can plug the vehicle into an outlet to juice up when he needs extra power.
The batteries can take up to four hours to charge. Given Wu’s daily use and charge routine, he expects them to last 16 years.
On a flat road, the trike goes about 20 miles per hour and has a 35-mile range on a full charge.
“If the sun is out and with a little pedaling, this range is much extended,” he said.
He won’t be hitting the Autobahn, but the vehicle is perfect for his daily use and for zipping around campus.
“I just jump on it, and I ride on the trail and listen to the birds,” he told the Missourian. “There’s no tension, no traffic, no noise. It’s very meditative and tranquil.”
The vehicle is perfect for travelers who have regular, short commutes, which is most people. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, half of all daily drives cover less than three miles.
Wu’s creation shows what’s possible with a little creativity. He wants others in the community to think outside the box when it comes to sustainable energy.
Solar power is often assumed to be costly and inaccessible to many people. But other options, including community solar programs, are becoming available to provide cheap solar energy.
Or, with a bit of creativity, it’s possible to commute throughout the day on solar power. All you need are some old bike parts and a little know-how, which can be picked up online.
“It’s really my wish to let them know what is possible and how wonderful it is,” Wu told the Missourian. “You do not have traffic, your mind is totally free, it’s an enjoyment, and you don’t have to pay for gas.”
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