Porter County Sheriff's Department

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Solar Powered Vehicle

Sheriff David Lain had a chance encounter with Mr. Marcelo da Luz of Toronto on June 13th. Marcello and his support crew were stopped in Valparaiso to recharge the batteries on his solar powered vehicle that morning. Marcelo, who is not an engineer had a dream two years ago to build and drive a solar car just to prove that it can be accomplished by average people. He has been driving the car all over North America (including to the Arctic Circle) for the last year.

The car was given a police escort down Route 30 to the county line. Marcelo’s destination that day was Chicago.


Learn more at www.Xof1.com

Toronto man going far with his green dream

By Phil Wieland NWI Times | Tuesday, June 16, 2009


VALPARAISO | It might be easier to be green than some people think, but it's still not cheap.
Marcelo da Luz, of Toronto, Canada, has spent the past year driving around North America, from Buffalo, N.Y., to the Arctic Circle and back and several other places in between, in a home-made solar-powered car to demonstrate the feasibility of green technology over dependence on fossil fuels.
For him, it's living a dream he's had for more than 20 years, but it hasn't been easy.
"I always wanted to do my share for the environment," da Luz said while waiting for the sun to "refuel" his car during a stop at the Bob Evans over the weekend.
The heavy overcast meant it took longer than on a sunny day, but it was still possible.
"We are all hypocrites waiting for the government or someone else to save the planet for us. There is clean technology available for us today."
As a child, he asked his teacher why people pollute. The teacher told him it was the price of progress.
"That's far from the truth," he said. "In fact, it's quite the contrary."
His love of solar technology originated with a news story in 1987 about an international race for such cars.
"I thought 'How cool is that? That's the future, and I want to be a part of it.' Then reality set in."
With no money and no one to sponsor such a project, the idea remained an idea for the next 12 years. Finally, his roommate became tired of hearing da Luz talk about solar powered cars and gathered a bunch of information from the Internet showing it would take about 50,000 man hours to build a car.
Instead of deterring da Luz, it motivated him.
Using the rules on the design requirements from the 1999 race and with the assistance of volunteers from all walks of life, he spent 2 1/2 years building his dream car. He estimated the total cost at $500,000. He financed it by using up all his savings, mortgaging his house twice and then, when he finally began his cross-country tours, his credit cards.
He lost his job as a flight attendant two years ago, but it hasn't stopped him from spending the past year on the road with the help of volunteers and donations whenever he can get them. He's covered almost 18,000 miles in the three-wheeled vehicle, which he says is twice the previous distance record for a solar-powered car, and he's still going.
The foam and Fiberglass vehicle weighs only 470 pounds and can go from 0 to 50 m.p.h. in six seconds. It has a top speed of 70 m.p.h. and can travel up to 300 miles at night on its batteries. The down side is that it doesn't have a heater or air conditioner. Traveling through the mountains on his way to the Arctic Circle, he had to wrap himself in a sleeping bag to keep warm.
He's been featured on the Discovery Channel several times and is doing a documentary of his travels. He often visits schools during his travels to make presentations to the students and would like to try a journey from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America.
"I'd like to keep driving as long as I can get support for it," he said. "It will be a challenge going through Central and South America because they have not heard of something like this. So, it could open doors and inspire people and change the world. That's what I'm trying to do." Anyone wanting to follow the adventures of Marcelo da Luz and his solar powered car or donate money to support his tours can go to his Web site at www.xof1.com.

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