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Drive To Be Fueled by Sun and Hydrogen from Water
October 29, 2010

Monday, Nov. 1st, Dr. Cliff Ricketts, a 34-year agriscience professor at Middle Tennessee State University, (MTSU) will blaze a unique, 500-plus mile trail across Tennessee.

An alumnus with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee and doctorate from Ohio State University, Dr. Ricketts will drive a specially adapted 1994 Toyota Tercel from Bristol, Va., to West Memphis, Ark. The fuel for the journey: the sun and hydrogen from water.

Dr. Ricketts firmly believes he could make the one-day drive from near Blacksburg, Va., to Little Rock, Ark., with only one refueling stopover at MTSU in Murfreesboro. Traveling mostly by Interstate (I-81, I-40 and I-24), the Tercel will travel at approximately 58 mph.

“In what may be one of the most historic events since the flight of the Wright Brothers in 1903, we will drive the car across the state more than 500 miles on two forces of nature, the sun and water,” he says. “With this system, every commuter could drive on sun and hydrogen from water as the energy sources.”

Joining Dr. Ricketts on this mission is Canada native and hydrogen expert Jo Borck, who attended MIT and graduated from Washington State University with a mechanical-engineering degree.

How does the engine run off sun and water? Dr. Ricketts says the MTSU solar unit provides DC electricity, which is converted into AC electric, and it goes into the grid line. “In essence, the MTSU system is doing the same thing as a hydro dam or coal-powered unit,” he says.

Dr. Ricketts’ ultimate applied-science research goal: To drive from coast to coast, hopefully in 2011, using only 10 gallons of gasoline.

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