June 1, 2009

Grand Canyon rafters want electric motors

The companies that run raft tours in the Grand Canyon say they're getting some impressive ideas from college students designing an electric outboard motor.

Mark Grisham, executive director of the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association, tells The Arizona Republic it might still take five years to develop an electric outboard powerful enough to push the big rafts along the Colorado River.

When you try to bring electric power to a white-water environment "¦ well, it is not easy, Grisham said. You have to protect the batteries, have them last longer than batteries now last and have them produce a considerable horsepower.

Development of a non-polluting motor is part of the association's new agreement with the National Parks Service that allows raft trips through the canyon.

The association provided grants to three Arizona universities and the University of Utah to see what their engineering students could come up with. Grisham said the results were thus far innovative, the newspaper reported Monday.