As our society becomes increasingly aware of a need to create things that are less harmful to our planet, possibly no industry has received more scrutiny than the auto industry. In spring 2006 our sustainability class decided to embark on a mission to design cleaner, more environmentally sound transportation. And hence, the Stauro project was born. The criteria were:
- “Local” resources, we chose a realistic, 500mi radius.
- Materials recycled and/or recyclable as possible.
- We ruled out gasoline ICE, electric/solar and hydrogen power cell as possible power sources.
- We wanted our concept to be futuristic, yet still 100% feasible.
Astounding to even our seven person team, we were able to hit most all of these criteria beyond our wildest dreams! In the Stauro section I will give you an overview of what we found and what we designed.
Obviously, our biggest concern was power. Having ruled out some of the most prevalent possibilities available today, it wasn’t an easy task, we even considered petal power and compressed air. Finally, we found a solution that we could all get behind. Steam. It might sound antiquated, but really, steam is a very powerful, reliable and efficient option. Used mainly in industrial settings these days, steam was quickly eclipsed by gasoline Internal Combustion Engines for use in civilian transportation.
However, it is making a comeback. Harry Schoell’s modern steam engine is almost ready for prime time. As a true flex-fuel, external combustion engine, not needing a transmission, cooling, or complex exhaust system, it has many advantages over the motor that is currently in your car. Oh, I forgot to mention, it is very powerful as well. If you’re still skeptical, this might prove to be an informative watch.
In our search for all things recyclable we happened upon 3form’s eco-friendly plastics. While it didn’t exactly fit our 500mi criteria, they do have an Atlanta office. The Stauro team determined that 3form materials could be utilized not only for body panels, but in many other places we find plastics in modern automobiles.
Sourcing aluminum for the “exoskeleton” wasn’t much of a problem. There are plenty of aluminum producers, suppliers and manufacturers within our 500mi search zone, one of the largest and best known producers of course being Alcoa. We chose Aluminum for its light weight and outstanding recyclability, as well as for its aura of performance and exclusivity in automobile manufacturing.
Nothing says exclusive like a space age aluminum exoskeleton.
The Stauro team decided to design a three wheeled transportation solution. The intent was that actually getting this concept on the road would be much easier because any vehicle under four wheels is classified as a motorcycle, and therefore not restricted by the gauntlet of standards four-wheeled vehicles are.
Stauro was designed and a rapid prototyped 1/6 scale model was built over a ten week quarter in the Spring of 2006. I would still love to see the Stauro (or something very close to it) on the road someday. I might just have to build it myself.