H20 and Go!
Dr. Cliff Ricketts
MTSU’s “Davy Crockett of science” travels from ocean to ocean on only sun and water
Though the sun is 93 million miles away, its light—solar energy—travels to earth in a mere eight minutes. Most of the earth’s surface is the source of another continuously renewed cycle of energy—H2O.
Sun and water. Both are essential to life. And both are relatively free and abundant. Dr. Cliff Ricketts, a longtime School of Agriculture faculty member and an alternative fuels researcher, has a dream that one day people will drive their vehicles using only the natural energies of sun and water. He’s worked for 25 years to figure out how to make that dream a reality.
“My whole passion is sun and water,” says Ricketts, a farmer who fashions himself a modern-day Davy Crockett of science, or “frontiersman with energy.”
In March 2013, Ricketts and a team of current and former students made news nationwide when they successfully drove a modified Toyota Prius from the Atlantic at Tybee Island, Georgia, to a Pacific beach near Los Angeles—a five-day, 2,600-mile driving expedition—powered exclusively by hydrogen made from sun and water. Two hydrogen storage tanks attached underneath the car (along with tanks added to the backseat and hauled by a trailer) equipped Ricketts and team with the fuel necessary to complete the coast-to-coast trip.
“Putting a man on the moon has more ‘wow’ factor,” Ricketts said at the end of the long and successful journey. “But as far as helping people for hundreds or maybe thousands of years to come, I think this is planting seeds that will help [hu]mankind.”