EnviroFit International Ltd., a Colorado non-profit corporation with a mission to develop and disseminate technologies that reduce pollution and enhance energy efficiency in developing countries, today announced that it has received a pledge of $500,000 from the Bohemian Foundation to fund a field test of its clean vehicle technology in Asia. During the field test, a fleet of low-emission, three-wheeled tricycles will operate on the streets of the Philippines in 2005 using technology developed at Colorado State University.
The field test is expected to confirm that the vehicles will achieve the same 90 percent pollution reduction and 35 percent fuel savings as the prototypes developed and tested at Colorado State. The project also will allow the company and its in-country partners to set up manufacturing operations in preparation for widespread production in 2006.
Bohemian spokesperson Cheryl Zimlich said, "While the Bohemian Foundation hasn’t been involved in international projects before, we are excited to support EnviroFit. This project is an example of supporting fellow citizens being involved in the care and improvement of our world."
EnviroFit is focusing on the dissemination of retrofit technology that reduces emissions from two-stroke engines. While powerful and reliable, two-stroke engines are a major source of air pollution, particularly in the developing world. In 2002, a team of students and faculty from Colorado State’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory, or EECL, was researching air pollution from snowmobiles and developed one of the cleanest snowmobiles ever built, using direct-injection technology, which was retrofitted to existing snowmobile engines and reduced pollution by more than 90 percent.
The team’s results attracted the attention of a group of non-government organizations in the Philippines that were looking for solutions to the pollution from over 1.3 million two-stroke tricycles. A tricycle consists of a small, 125 cc powered motorcycle attached to a covered sidecar. The tricycles are used as taxis and can carry as many as 15 people.
"In the city of Manila alone, pollution from these tricycles contributes heavily to 2,000 premature deaths, 9,000 cases of severe respiratory illness and $430 million in economic costs that occur each year as a result of poor air quality," said Bryan Willson, EECL director and executive director of EnviroFit. "On a global basis, the costs are many times these numbers."
In October 2003, student and faculty team members formed a non-profit company to pursue development of the technology. They have made arrangements to license intellectual property from Colorado State and Orbital Engines Corp. of Perth, Australia. EnviroFit is working with several local organizations on this project in the Philippines, including Foundation for a Sustainable Society and SwissContact.
Potential customers of the technology are individual taxi drivers, among the poorest in the Third World. Their low income and lack of financial credit have suppressed interest from traditional corporations, so the engineering team sought out counterparts in Colorado State’s College of Business to suggest alternatives. Paul Hudnut, director of Venture Development at Colorado State’s Entrepreneurship Center and president of EnviroFit, matched the engineering team with a group of the university’s business students for the initial analysis that ultimately led to the establishment of EnviroFit International as a non-profit corporation – a variant of the emerging trend of social entrepreneurship.
"Once EnviroFit’s retrofit technology is established in the field test, it will require an aggressive commercialization schedule in order to have a real impact in Asia," Hudnut said. "We believe EnviroFit will become self-sustaining in its second year of sales in the Philippines, and that can then fund expansion into Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, China and Malaysia. Our goal is convert two million motorcycles, which would reduce air pollution by millions of tons."
EnviroFit was established jointly as a private, non-profit corporation by the College of Engineering and College of Business, with initial funding from private donors and the founders. In addition to the Bohemian Foundation’s pledge, three Philippine foundations have collectively pledged to invest $200,000 toward the local partner costs involved with the field test.
EnviroFit International is a Colorado non-profit corporation formed in October 2003. It is currently seeking tax-exempt status under IRC 501(c)(3) as a tax exempt charity. The EnviroFit mission is to develop and disseminate technologies that reduce pollution or enhance energy efficiency in developing countries, thereby enhancing the environment and public health, fostering economic growth and alleviating poverty. Its business model is to develop and license environmentally friendly technology and to supply the technology, components and know-how to local organizations which will implement the technology. For more information, visit www.EnviroFit.org.