Ice Vehicle Success Gives Boost to Bio-Fuels


This Should “Encourage Everyone in Taiwan Who Understands the Importance of Energy Independence”

TAIPEI, DATE – Winston Wong, sponsor of a major international expedition that made a successful land crossing of the Antarctic continent last winter, said the performance of the lead vehicle in that expedition confirms that bio-fuels can perform well even under the most extreme temperature conditions, which could hasten the commercial production of such fuel. “This should encourage everyone in Taiwan who understands the importance of energy independence,” he said. [While Taiwan’s moderate temperatures are nothing like those in Antarctica, Taiwan did experience one of its coldest winters in history this past year, according the Central Weather Bureau.]

“Vehicle fuels must perform under a variety of conditions, from extreme hot to extreme cold, without breaking down, turning into vapor or hardening,” Dr. Wong said. “This important expedition, which I was pleased to sponsor, helped demonstrate that bio-fuels are a practical transportation fuel even in extreme cold. This is important to entrepreneurs and investors who are looking at the prospects of commercial production of such alternative fuels. This is also important to the people of Taiwan, as we seek to become less dependent on imported fossil fuels.”

Professor Wong, a physicist, named energy independence among Taiwan’s highest priorities in his 2008 book, “Taiwan – The Lost Country,” and mentioned bio-fuels – along with nuclear power and other sources of alternative energy – as one of the most promising sources.

Transantarctic Expedition

The 10-man Moon-Regan Transantarctic Expedition, led by veteran polar travelers Andrew Moon and Andrew Regan, left Union Glacier on Nov. 25, 2010, and arrived, via the geographic South Pole, on the Ross Ice Shelf on Dec. 9, 2010. The team then retraced its route, returning to Union Glaciar on Dec. 17, 2010 – completing the first-ever “there and back” vehicle crossing of Antarctica. The 4,000 kilometer, or 2,400 mile, trip took 20 days, 12 hours, 30 minutes.

Dr. Wong, eldest son of the late industrialist Yung-Ching Wang, was the primary sponsor of the expedition, in cooperation with his alma mater, Imperial College of London, where Wong was educated – and later taught.

The lead, or “scout” vehicle in the expedition, was named the Winston Wong Bio-Inspired Ice Vehicle (BIV). It was powered by E85 ethanol fuel. Most such fuel is now made from corn and sugarcane, though a variety of companies are experimenting with fuel from other plant stock, from garbage, and from algae, which could have special significance for a maritime country such as Taiwan, Dr. Wong said.

In addition to the ice vehicle, two other vehicles were used to transport the crew and their gear – and for scientific experimentation. The scientific research included evaluation under extreme temperatures of a new health-monitoring device developed by the Imperial College Institute of Biomedical Engineering; evaluation of the BIV’s performance and whether there were any problems with the bio-fuel in the extreme weather; the mapping and photography of meteorites; and the collection and analysis of snow samples.

The Institute for Biomedical Engineering is located within the Winston Wong Center for Bioinspired Technology, another charitable enterprise Dr. Wong supports.

Public Invited to View BIV

As a public service, Dr. Wong recently brought the historic Bio-Inspired Ice Vehicle to Taiwan for public education purposes. The vehicle will be on display at the Magic School for Green Technology through the end of August at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan.