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Nature Coast Technical students convert car from gas to electric

During a year-long project, Nature Coast Technical High School career technical education teacher Joe Wright and his students converted a Toyota Celica GTS from gasoline combustion power to electric. Some of the energy foundations students on the project, clockwise from front, freshman Logan Siefert, junior Sean Bobbert, freshman Erik Carlson and sophomore Dylan Hartman show the car’s battery storage area.

Photo by PAULETTE LASH RITCHIE

During a year-long project, Nature Coast Technical High School career technical education teacher Joe Wright and his students converted a Toyota Celica GTS from gasoline combustion power to electric. Some of the energy foundations students on the project, clockwise from front, freshman Logan Siefert, junior Sean Bobbert, freshman Erik Carlson and sophomore Dylan Hartman show the car’s battery storage area.

BROOKSVILLE

The silver 2002 Toyota Celica GTS used to be like every other Celica on the road. Someone drove it to a gas station, filled the tank, and off it went.

No more.

The car was revamped this past school year by Nature Coast Technical High School energy foundations students who removed the gas engine and put in an electric motor that attaches to the original transmission.

Career technical education teacher Joe Wright said it has a control unit to control the speed of the car.

The car uses 43 3.2-lithium polymer batteries, creating a 144-volt DC system. "It plugs into a regular 110 outlet," Wright said, and takes between six and seven hours to charge. It can travel about 70 miles on one charge and can go up to 80 miles per hour.

The project was financed through a $23,000 grant from Progress Energy, secured by Eric Williams, grant writer for the Hernando School District. Wright used the money to buy the car and other supplies.

Next, Wright would like to work with his students to add wind generators, which would work while driving, to keep up the car's charge.

If the innovators can find the funding, Wright and his students may drop the batteries into the wheel compartment to make more trunk space. The Celica lacks air conditioning, but that can be added. It would, however, lessen mileage.

The students who worked together on the car conversion were freshmen Joe Cafra, Logan Brown, Logan Siefert and Erik Carlson; sophomore Dylan Hartman; junior Sean Bobbert; and seniors Taylor Schram, Jacob Staatz, George Jackson, Tyler Forand and Shannon Parks.

Hartman considered the benefits of electric cars.

"I think that it'd make the world a cleaner place and it's going to cut down on fuel costs," he said. "I have a car and I know what it takes."

Wright also sees value in the option. "I think these are a viable thing for the future. It's a great around-town car," he said.

Nature Coast Technical students convert car from gas to electric 06/22/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 3:02pm]
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