Inside the plan to drive to the South Pole in a hybrid Hummer

Inside the plan to drive to the South Pole in a hybrid Hummer

A pair of heavily-modified Hummers are key to an attempt by a former software engineer, to drive all the way to the South Pole without using a drop of fossil fuels.

Nick Baggarly is no stranger to epic roadtrips. He's already driven from Beijing to London in 78 days, as well as longitudinally through South America, Australia and Burma. But his latest project is a bit more ambitious.

He's using two "Polar Traverse Vehicles", custom-built from the frames of a pair of Hummer H1s. Both have been given triangle-shaped 18-inch wide tracks that spread the vehicle's five-tonne weight over a wider surface area, as well as extreme insulation.

A global desire

But the real magic is in the hybrid engines - which are powered by an aviation biofuel with a freezing point of -54C. That fuel charges a series of batteries, kept warm in an insulated box, which in turn power up a pair of 150kW motors that drive the treads. In every step, redundancy is built in - and the cars should still be able to function even after several mechanical failures.

"We will bring our audience with us on a modern-day, polar adventure that relies on the latest hybrid-electric technology to power a team to the South Pole", wrote Baggarly on the team's website. "And in doing so, we will spark a global desire to recycle, reuse, repurpose and rethink the world we live in."

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.