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2004 World Technology Awards Winners & Finalists

Alec Brooks

Please describe the work that you are doing that you consider to be the most innovative and of the greatest likely long-term significance.

I have been involved in three related areas over the last 25 years that have the potential for long term significance to personal transportation. In the late 80’s I initiated research into design of a modern electric car, culminating in GM’s approval for the Impact electric vehicle prototype. I was the project manager and chief engineer for building the Impact. Virtually everything for this vehicle from the tires up was purpose-built. The Impact was the inspiration for GM’s production electric car, the EV1, and its existence helped prompt the California Air Resources Board to adopt their ground-breaking Zero Emission Vehicle mandate in 1990. (for details, see chapter 2, The Car that Could, Michael Schnayerson, online at http://www.acpropulsion.com/car_that_could.htm )

Later, I initiated research into integration of electric drive vehicles into the electric power grid. I ran a research project that demonstrated how an electric vehicle could perform valuable grid ancillary services under remote control while not being driven. The benefits to the grid and to the economic viability of future electric drive vehicles could be large. I coined the term ‘V2G’ (Vehicle To Grid) as a shorthand way to describe this field. The area has grown with research at EPRI, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, University of Delaware, and with a V2G patent issued to Hydrogenics. For details, see “Vehicle-to-Grid Demonstration Project: Grid Regulation Ancillary Service with a Battery Electric Vehicle”, online at http://www.acpropulsion.com/Veh_Grid_Power/V2G%20Final%20Report%20R5.pdf

The third area is work in public policy as it relates to hydrogen and fuel cells for transportation. Fuel cell vehicles are the latest fad, with incredible hype and hoopla. Yet these vehicles and the energy implications of using hydrogen as a transportation fuel are widely misunderstood. The policy pronouncements from the highest levels of federal and California governments are well intentioned, but based on little to no understanding of the fundamental issues. Several years ago I saw a real need for communicating basic information to compare hydrogen powered vehicles with other alternatives; California’s air quality regulators were making new vehicle regulations that favored fuel cell vehicles without any understanding of the energy implications. Through testimony and white papers, I presented some basic facts in an easy to digest format. I showed that a fuel cell vehicle powered by hydrogen made with electrolysis uses FOUR times as much energy per mile as a similar-sized electric vehicle (EV); I showed that EVs with current battery technology can have double the driving range of fuel cell vehicles. Finally, I showed that the widely held belief that fuel cell vehicles will have two to three times the fuel economy of gasoline cars is wrong. Fuel cell hybrid vehicles have demonstrably LESS fuel economy than gasoline hybrid vehicles. For details, see “Perspectives on Fuel Cell and Battery Electric Vehicles”, online at http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/zevprog/2003rule/1202wkshp/brooks.pdf “CARB’s Fuel Cell Detour on the Road to Zero Emission Vehicles”, online at http://www.evworld.com/library/carbdetour.pdf

Brief Biography

Alec N. Brooks

Education: Ph.D., Civil Engineering, California Institute of Technology, 1981 Thesis topic: Finite Element Solution of Navier-Stokes Equations M.S., Civil Engineering, California Institute of Technology, 1977 B.S., Civil Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, 1976 Executive Program in Management, Anderson School of Management, UCLA 1993

Professional Experience:

AeroVironment 2003 to present Chief Engineer

Current position involves systems engineering of propulsion systems for high altitude long endurance aircraft and optimization of vehicle configurations

AC Propulsion 1999 to 2002 Chief Technology Officer

Vehicle-to-grid Starting with AC Propulsion’s technical capability to feed power from a vehicle back to the power grid, I initiated research into deploying this capability for the benefit of the power grid. I presented papers on the subject at five conferences.

tzero The tzero is a very high performance electric sports car. I initiated development of handling refinement, better regenerative braking, and prepared a thorough plan for achieving compliance with federal motor vehicle safety standards in preparation for production.

AeroVironment 1981 to 1999

Final position: Chief Technology Officer

GM Sunraycer I was the project manager, chief engineer, and one of the race drivers for the GM Sunraycer, which won the solar car race across Australia in 1987.

GM Impact Following the Sunraycer, I initiated research into design of a modern electric car, culminating in GM approval for the Impact electric vehicle prototype. I was the project manager and chief engineer for building this vehicle. Virtually everything for this vehicle from the tires up was purpose-built. The existence of this car later prompted CARB to adopt the Zero Emission Vehicle mandate in 1990.

Pterodactyl replica I was project manager and chief engineer for development of a wing-flapping flying replica of the largest-ever flying creature, the Quetzalcoatlus northropi.

Solar aircraft I developed a comprehensive simulation program for high altitude solar aircraft analysis, wrote display software for a telemetry ground station, and designed the propellers for the aircraft.

Other: In the 1980’s I was the co-designer and builder of the Flying Fish, the world’s first human powered hydrofoil boat. It still holds the world record for the fastest time for a single person on water over a 2000 meter course.