It’s been really busy at Double Helix headquarters in the last few weeks. We’ve moved office, to the CSIRO Discovery Centre in Canberra. There are lots of cool things at our new workplace, including a whole museum of CSIRO science! And when CSIRO staff need to zip into town or out to a research station, we get to drive around in brand new electric cars.
Most cars burn petrol, releasing pollutants into the air including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide. Electric cars run on electricity, stored in batteries. They don’t directly emit any gases into the air – they don’t even use tailpipes!
Although electric cars can be super-efficient and high tech, they aren’t completely clean. These cars run on electricity, usually from the same electricity grid that everyone uses. And, at the moment, most of Australia’s electricity comes from burning fossil fuels.
To counteract this, CSIRO is installing solar panels here in Canberra, and at other sites in Australia. Although this will be more than enough to generate power for our cars, these panels won’t charge the vehicles directly. After all, we want to use the cars during the day and charge them overnight. Instead, the solar power will be be fed into running equipment or facilities on the CSIRO sites.
One last thing – there’s CSIRO tech hiding inside our cars! CSIRO, Nissan and the CAST Cooperative Research Centre worked together to invent a machine part called CASTvac. Using CASTvac makes it easier to create the parts used in our Nissan Leaf cars. So there’s a bit of CSIRO inside each of our new cars and indeed inside Nissan Leafs in other parts of the world.
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