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E-bike program among local grant winners

Friday, April 18, 2014
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— Three Capital Region companies received nearly $1 million from the state this week for environmentally friendly transportation projects.

One company, Alta Planning + Design, is working to get an electric bike-share program going in the Capital Region. The state awarded $325,000 to the Saratoga Springs company for its proposal to offer electric bikes as an alternative to traditional bike-share programs, which it says are limited by a user’s fitness and comfort level, especially on longer rides.

The project would design and deploy e-bikes that have a wireless recharging system so they can automatically charge once docked. Alta, which is known for its bicycle and pedestrian planning, design, traffic analysis and bike-share programs, has locations throughout the country. It operates bike-share programs in Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston and other locations with wireless bike-share stations.

The e-bike program was one of just 17 transportation projects across the state to win a portion of $4.3 million doled out this week by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The awardees are proposing clean-energy technologies for everything from controlling airplane traffic at major airports and improving truck aerodynamics to finding ways to cut down on the amount of time an ambulance idles.

“By investing in innovative new energy technologies, we are continuing our progress in building a cleaner New York,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a news release. “These projects will have a far-reaching impact on our environment and economy by spurring major improvements in our modes of transportation, reducing pollution and our reliance on fossil fuels, and ultimately fostering healthier communities statewide.”

Actasys, a startup at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Flow Physics and Control, was awarded $500,000 to develop technology to cut down on the aerodynamic drag of tractor-trailers, reducing fuel use by up to 10 percent. The devices, small air-jet actuators, will be tested on Price Chopper trucks. The startup will be working with the Schenectady-based supermarket chain, as well as DPR Consultants, of Albany, on the motors.

Ecovative Design of Green Island was awarded $110,000 to develop bio-based car insulation foam. The company was founded by two RPI students back in 2007 who had stumbled upon a way to use mushrooms to manufacture packaging material.

The mushroom packaging has attracted increased attention over the years, in part for its quirkiness, but also because it’s a viable, eco-friendly alternative to plastic foam packaging.

 
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