The Food Cart Just Turned Green

One hundred of the first carts will be funded by MOVE and reserved for disabled veterans, and the remaining 400 will go to vendors who sign up—at no cost to them, because the pilot program will be sponsored. PHOTO:  Today's the Day I

One hundred of the first carts will be funded by MOVE and reserved for disabled veterans, and the remaining 400 will go to vendors who sign up—at no cost to them, because the pilot program will be sponsored. PHOTO: Today’s the Day I

Food carts are an iconic part of New York City’s street life. NYC has over 5,000 licensed trucks and carts, and an estimated 3,000 unlicensed ones on the streets. Cart operators, representing diverse ethnicities and cuisines, serve approximately 1.2 million customers every day. A food cart can be started with little capital and improved with sweat equity. However, until now, this industry has had no choice but to rely on smoke-spewing carts and their antiquated technologies that are dirty and unsafe. But hold on, the MRV100 is here.

Most food carts run off a diesel generator that’s designed to run only a few hours. Vendors run them for stretches of up to 14 hours, leading to a high output of greenhouse-gas emissions such as carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, and particulate matter. You can see the smoke with the naked eye, but the hard facts are even more frightening: The research and consulting firm Energy Vision found that each cart produces the same amount of nitrous oxide as 186 cars on the road.

A new pilot program between the city and a Queens-based company called MOVE Systems aims to cut down on that pollution by at least 60 percent. For the past year, MOVE has been fine-tuning a new kind of food cart—called the MRV100—that’s powered by a mix of battery-generated electricity and solar energy, instead of dirty gas. The plan calls for getting a fleet of 500 new carts up and running by the summer of 2016, with the first 100 slated to roll out this summer.

Read more on how the MRV100 works here.

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