The Katerva Awards are given annually to excellent sustainability ideas and initiatives in 10 categories. Finalists are announced in September each year. A single winner in each category will be selected by a panel of experts in that category and announced in October each year. A grand prize winner will be selected among category winners and announced as the best new sustainability effort of the year.
Regardless of the advancement of communication systems and automated processes, we will always need ways to get things (including ourselves) from point A to point B. This category covers innovations and efforts leading to safe and accessible, low- or zero-carbon transportation forms and efforts to improve current methods of mass transportation.
Nissan Leaf, 2011 Katerva Awards Transportation Winner
The Nissan LEAF is zero-emission, all-electric vehicle with an ambitious mission. The LEAF acronym promises a vehicle that is a Leading, Environmentally-friendly, Affordable, Family car. The Nissan LEAF is one of the first all-electric vehicles to go into production from a major global automobile manufacturer. Given its current price at around $30,000 USD, the LEAF is also one of the first mainstream all-electric vehicles that is affordable to a large segment of the middle class population. The mileage range of the LEAF makes it an ideal commuter vehicle and its 5 door hatchback configuration makes it family-friendly as well. As an all-electric car, the LEAF has no tail pipe emissions, helping to reduce smog and pollution in urban environments. In addition to building an all-electric car, Nissan is also thinking ahead to the infrastructure needed to power it. Nissan has commissioned the company AeroVironment to build and supply 240V home-charging stations which can recharge the LEAF in approximately 8 hours. The ability to recharge the LEAF via a standard outlet or more quickly with a home-charge station will likely speed up its adoption among consumers. The Nissan LEAF represents a next generation all-electric automobile that is highly fuel efficient, currently in production, and reduces CO2 emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.
Edison2, runner up
Rethinking every element of current vehicle design, Edison2 has developed the Very Light Car (VLC), an ultra-efficient, light vehicle with low aerodynamic drag, which was recently named winner of the Automotive X PRIZE. Edison2 is a small team of passionate experts in automobile design, aerodynamics, and racing with experience ranging from engineering and business to architecture and the liberal arts. After winning the X Prize competition and its $5 million prize, they hope to apply their research and design to the production and development of a mainstream car based on the VLC’s design principles. The VLC is innovative because every part of its design and construction has focused on being efficient, lightweight, and maintaining low drag. This car could potentially revolutionize vehicle design by using mainstream materials that would keep it very affordable (with a price tag of $20,000 or less).
VW-XL1, runner up
With a fuel consumption of 261 mpg, the Volkswagen XL1 aims to redefine the automobile industry by becoming the world’s most fuel-efficient hybrid car. The XL1 represents the third stage of Volkswagen’s “1-liter car” strategy—a goal envisioned by Dr. Ferdinand Piëchto, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen, to produce a practical, everyday car that can travel 100 kilometers per 1 liter of fuel. With a fuel efficiency of 100km/.9L, the XL1 has achieved an even better result. Powered by a two-cylinder TDI (Turbocharged Direct Injection) engine and an E-motor supplied by a lithium-ion battery (rechargeable by using a regular household outlet), the XL1 can accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in 11.9 seconds (reaching an electronically-controlled maximum speed of 160km/h or 99mph) while producing CO2 emissions of only 24 grams per kilometer. When running on the E-motor alone, the XL1 can travel a distance of up to 35 kilometers with zero emissions.
WaterIsFuel, runner up
By simply using water, you can improve your car’s mileage, reduce emissions and clean your engine at the same time. GreenFuel Lab has developed Water is Fuel (WIF), an innovative device that converts water into hydrogen. The add-on device takes about 30 minutes to install onto traditional combustion engines. Using only a small amount of electricity from the car’s battery, WIF transforms water into hydrogen gas, which is then pumped into the combustion chamber where it mixes with regular fuel to significantly improve the engine’s performance. California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved testing has shown that WIF can improve fuel efficiency by 25-47%, increase horsepower and reduce harmful emissions. Because the device also helps clean out the engine, it can reduce maintenance costs and lengthen the life of a car. With its universal adaptability, WIF can be used by all type of vehicles, from gas-powered cars to diesel-driven trucks, appealing to both regular consumers and businesses crippled by rising fuel prices.
ULTra PRT, runner up
Passengers at London’s Heathrow Airport can now board their personal ULTra PRT pod and go straight to their destination without worrying about long waits for an airport bus, gridlocked traffic or their carbon footprint. The ULTra Heathrow pod system is the brainchild of Martin Lowson, the President of ULTra PRT Ltd (previously Advanced Transport Systems Ltd) of Bristol, UK and former scientist on the Apollo Space Program. ULTra is an innovative personal rapid transit (PRT) system, which can provide a fast, emission-free transport service between urban destinations. “We believe that our PRT system can transform cities in the 21st century to provide the optimum form of environmentally friendly urban transport, relieving congestion and reducing emissions,” says Lowson.