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ODU Student's Green Vehicle Invention Featured in Washington Post Story

Nick Turner is the kind of guy who's always been into building things. It started with Lego. Even today, the 21-year-old Old Dominion University engineering student is happiest when he's making things with his hands.

"Ever since my parents got me a Lego set, I've just built stuff," said Turner, who is in his first semester of study in mechanical engineering technology after transferring to ODU.

His parents surrendered the space under the deck at their home in Loudon, Va., where Turner can use tools to fashion his creations.

Lately, that interest in invention has been accompanied by another passion - finding a way to get smaller and more energy-efficient cars on the super-crowded roads in and around Washington, D.C.

"I started thinking about the hundreds of millions of cars that are on the road around the world. I wanted to come up with a vehicle to do my part to alleviate that," Turner said.

With a little ingenuity, some elbow grease, pedal power and a small electric motor, Turner now drives around his hometown in his own green vehicle.

He designed and built the vehicle, which he calls the Tuhart B-2, at home in Loudon. He used the emergency brake from an old Honda Civic, a go-kart steering wheel and parts of a pink girls bike, along with items such as a lawn chair from Home Depot, welding it all together in a steel frame in his makeshift, under-deck shop in his parents' backyard.

The Tuhart B-2 is a three-speed, two-seat car that runs on pedal power and an electric motor. With a top speed of 23 mph, the vehicle is meant for driving around town on slower roads, but Turner plans to add a shell and safety features and hopes someday to turn it into a marketable vehicle.

He couldn't have gotten much more of a marketing boost than he did when a journalist from The Washington Post saw the Tuhart B-2 last month in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven. A small story and photo essay on Turner's creation ran shortly after in the newspaper. (See the Washington Post story here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/loudoun-inventors-green-car-strikes-chord-with-leesburg/2011/08/26/gIQAdvjilJ_story.html.)

Turner is excited to continue tinkering with the Tuhart B-2, hoping to make it go faster so that it will be able to travel on more roadways. But he also likes to look beyond his own invention, envisioning a world where everyone makes their own contribution to a greener planet by cutting down on commuting emissions.

"Most of the 'future' vehicles out there aren't much different from regular vehicles," he said. "We need people to keep trying things, keep innovating, and the public to demand these types of vehicles, because we can't keep putting more and more cars on the road forever."

This article was posted on: September 14, 2011

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