MORE SUSTAINABILITY IN AGRICULTURE


MORE CREATION OF VALUE AT THE FARM


BETTER VEHICLE HANDLING


Summary

With PEAK EVOLUTION we will set a new world record for the highest altitude reached with a vehicle. Currently it’s at 6688 m (21’942 ft.) at mount Ojos del Salado in Chile, which stands at 6893 m (22’614 ft.) high. All past record attempts were done by vehicles with combustion engines. Besides the difficult terrain, their loss of power due to lack of oxygen was the main reason why the vehicles couldn’t reach the top. Other than past expeditions we will conquer the mountain in an electric vehicle. The thin air doesn’t affect electric motors, which is a big advantage. Also we don’t want our expedition to affect the environment so we drive the entire land stretch from our workshop in Switzerland CO2 neutral in the vehicle. 

The vehicle is a multipurpose agricultural tractor, which is used for farming and forestry in alpine terrain. We will convert it to electric drive, using proven components from the automotive industry and construct all the non-existing linking parts.

The Mountain is 270km (170 mi.) away from any civilisation and a long way from the closest power supply. For that reason we will develop a powerful foldable Photovoltaic array that can be stored on the vehicle and spread out during the sunniest hours of the day.

Even if it doesn’t work out to break the world record for vehicles in general we can still break the record for electric vehicles, which is set at 6079m (19’944 ft.).

The goal of the project is to test the equipment under the roughest conditions and gain new insights for the development of a production vehicle, which will help to reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture.



Motivation

In Switzerland the energy required to cultivate the agricultural is among the highest in the world. To produce 1 Megajoule of nutrition, 2.3 Megajoule of primary energy are required. In mountainous regions this ratio can reach up to 1:10. Converted into Diesel fuel this means 1400 Litres (300 gal.) per hectare (100’000 sqft.) and Year. 35% of this Energy comes from Diesel fuel for Agricultural machines. Another 30% come from other fossil sources and 35% come from renewable sources.

Considering the commitment of Switzerland to minimise Climate change it is inevitable to improve these figures. Furthermore the Swiss agriculture is heavily subsidised. For example the fuel for use in agriculture is tax-free which is encouraging the use of out-dated technology. This is very inefficient because there is no state spending multiplier. The money is going straight to oil exporting countries. It also increases the dependence of food production to foreign countries.

We take on these issues by contributing to the development of a serial production, electric multipurpose agricultural vehicle. In combination with solar collectors already installed on many farms it will help farmers to reduce their carbon footprint and be more self-sufficient. This will also increase the value creation and offer a good return on investment. The vehicle will be superior to a conventional vehicle not only from an ecological point of view but also from an economical. Several factors will make up for the higher purchasing price: 

  •  Lower electricity bills by using the vehicle as a buffer battery for the rooftop solar panels to increase the autarky of the building
  • Using bidirectional charging to provide operational reserve for the electric grid and selling it on a daily basis
  • Lower fuel cost
  • Lower maintenance cost
  • Advantage in marketing by providing produce with a smaller carbon footprint


With PEAK EVOLUTION we will show the potential and the availability of the technology by setting a world record.

There are many attempts to set spectacular new records and often the Adventurers justify their project with charitable reasons or raising the awareness for the environment. In many cases the projects end up requiring lots of flights and support vehicles or boats. This contradicts the goal of the project.

That’s why PEAK EVOLUTION will stay true to its goal to boost technological advance and help to reduce CO2 emissions.

We will completely avoid direct emissions by traveling the entire land stretch from our workshop in Switzerland to Mt. Ojos del Salado in our electric vehicle using solar power. The emissions caused by the trip across the ocean on a cargo ship will be compensated by investments in other ecological projects. To avoid flights we will also board the cargo ship on the one-month trip.

By driving to the top of the mountain we can display the superiority of an electric drive in an impressive way. While a combustion engine is struggling with the thin air and the extreme cold, the electric motor isn’t affected at all. Also a regular vehicle’s range is limited by the amount of fuel that it carries which becomes an important factor in a remote area like Atacama desert. An electric vehicle with a powerful foldable solar power plant on the other hand can operate indefinitely. Which leaves more space to store water and food.

To realise this project, PEAK EVOLUTION is supported by many innovative Swiss companies. They provide us with technical components, money and know-how. Our partners can profit from this project by testing their equipment and gathering data during the journey. We will also crate a network of competent suppliers who will in the end be providing the parts for the production vehicle.


Schedule

In January we travelled to Chile for 5 weeks and climbed Ojos del Salado a first time (See pictures here). We checked the terrain and the weather conditions and we discussed our project with local authorities.

We know now that we can handle the lack of Oxygen at around 7000m and we know which equipment we need to handle the weather even in the worst conditions. We know that there is a way to drive with an acceptable incline and without any big rocks that are too big to be moved.

Since we have returned back to Switzerland we have moved in to our new workshop in Sevelen SG where we also live now. We have done some construction inside so it suits our needs. The conversion of the vehicle will start beginning of May.

In autumn of 2020 we would like to do the first test drives. We will practise the handling of the vehicle in heavy terrain and make sure it is reliable enough.