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Automated pizza ovens and horse-drawn hybrids

An Iranian engineer has come up with an unlikely breakthrough in gasoline-free transportation by creating a hybrid automobile that connects an electric drive train — to a horse.

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In a design that owes more to the Volt than the Prius, the sporty two-seat Naturmobile uses a pony on a treadmill to recharge a bank of batteries. The only existing prototype has achieved speeds up to 28 miles per hour. No word yet on the vehicle’s range.

Closer to home, a Burger King in New Jersey is experimenting with power-harvesting speed bumps that capture energy from cars in the drive-thru lane. In North Carolina, a “green” McDonald’s will become the first such store in the nation to offer an electric vehicle-charging station.

Spying a bigger opportunity, Dallas-based Current Energy has been outfitting chain restaurants with sensors that help them plug energy leaks. For example, a restaurant owner receives a text message whenever a freezer door is left open. Or a pizzeria uses occupancy sensors to shut down ovens when business is slow. Little tricks like these can shave 50% off gas bills, or 20% of total energy bills.

Will these inventions by themselves be enough to solve climate change? Yes, they will. Thanks, science!

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