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A View from Kristina Grifantini

Second Annual EurekaFest Showcases Young Innovators

Students unveil an enclosed electric motorcycle.

  • June 26, 2008


Credit: Lauren Rugani

At today’s second annual EurekaFest, top high-school innovators from around the country gathered at MIT to demonstrate their inventions. One of the most notable was a motorcycle designed to be both safer and greener than the average ‘cycle: it’s electrically powered and built with an enclosure fitted with compressible brackets–“crush zones”–in case of a collision.

The motorcycle operates on five lithium-ion batteries and can recharge in three hours from a standard wall outlet. It weighs only about 220 pounds and is designed with a low center of gravity for stability. It can reach about 60 miles per hour and can go 40 miles without a recharge, which can be done onboard. The first prototype cost around $12,000 to build, but the team that invented it, from Saint Thomas Academy, in Minnesota, expects that subsequent models will be about half the price, since part of the cost was designing and developing custom molds.

This year’s $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize, around which EurekaFest is organized, will be presented tonight to Joseph DeSimone, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who has done work developing polymers for medicine, particularly drug delivery, and green manufacturing. Martin Fisher, CEO of KickStart, won the $100,000 award for sustainability research for his work on human-powered irrigation pumps.

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