Latest automotive technology on display at Naperville Test Track
Armando Salazar gets good gas mileage in his compact car but with suburban gas prices again hovering just below $4 a gallon, he says "good gas mileage" just isn't enough.
"I'd be surprised if Libya and these hurricanes don't push it well over $4 before we know it," he said. "And I don't think I'm the only guy here whose dollar isn't going as far as it used to."
Salazar was one of hundreds of people exploring conventional fuel options during the Green Car and Technology Show hosted by Congresswoman Judy Biggert Tuesday evening at Naperville's Test Track.
Biggert, a senior member of the House Space, Science and Technology Committee said she hosted the event for everyone in the same position as Salazar.
"We've got places like Argonne (National Laboratory), right here, making huge strides with hydrogen, solar-powered and electric vehicles," Biggert said. "And Naperville has this great test track facility where we can bring some of the newest technology available to the people and let them try it out."
Attendees could test drive a variety of hybrid, electric and flex-fuel vehicles including the Chevrolet Volt, Acura MSX SUV and the Mazda 2.
Some test drivers like Jane Soleen, of Naperville were impressed with the power and quiet engines of the test cars.
"I just thought electric cars would hum and buzz and be really annoying but I was pleasantly surprised," she said. "For the local driving I do, one of these would be perfect."
Naperville City Councilman Steve Chirico was also convinced what his next purchase would be after taking a drive.
"I have a hybrid now but my next vehicle will be electric, no doubt about it," he said. "The technology is here and it's pretty neat so it's time to start using it."
Several local agencies working on the technology end of these vehicles, including Packer Engineering's display of how the Naperville Green Fuels Depot turns yard waste into ethanol and hydrogen fuels, Argonne's demonstration of how the electric cars figure into the nation's power grid and Lewis University's chemistry department had hands-on demonstrations.
Associate Professor Jason Keleher and his students displayed several pieces of their research on flexible nano-particle based solar cells.
"We're taking finger nail-sized polymers and making bio-inspired solar energy and people stopping by the booth are pretty excited about it," Keleher said. "Essentially we're taking the technology of the typical large solar panels you see and creating the same energy on a flexible surface that be used on or in any of these vehicles."