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The next big thing in motors

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  • The next big thing in motors

    Just read an on-line article in Fast Company magazine about a guy named Johnathan Goodwin, self-taught uber-mechanic from Kansas with the biodiesel engine of the future. Maybe you folks already know about him?

    He was on MTVs "Pimp my Ride" program. Converted a 1965 Chevy Impala to biodiesel, increasing the horsepower to over 800, doubling the fuel mileage, and reducing emissions by 80%. Oh, and he smoked a Lamborghini in a drag race with it.

    He's got a Hummer H3 with a hybrid electric motor. A jet turbine provides near-instantaneous recharge of the supercapacitor storage cells for the electric motor. 60 miles to the gallon, 2000 pounds-feet of torque (no, that is not a mistake), 600 horsepower and 0-60 in 5 seconds. In a 5000 pound Hummer. Burning chicken fat.

    Is this for real? The electric car fraternity say he's the Messiah. Detroit doesn't seem to know what to make of him. What do you think, is this IT?

  • #2
    This site, well known for objectivity, thinks it may be a fraud:

    Probably W's fault.


    • #3
      I'll bet it runs great on that pure snake oil.


      • #4
        Originally posted by dp
        This site, well known for objectivity, thinks it may be a fraud:

        Probably W's fault.
        Well, it's well known that reality has a liberal bias.

        - Bart
        Bart Smaalders


        • #5
          The DailyKos article does not by any means prove in any way that this man is a fraud - even the author of the diary entry doesn't claim this. All he does is imply, rather broadly, that the man is a fraud because the author couldn't find any relevant patent applications under his name. Evidence? Maybe. Proof? No.

          At least DailyKos, which is just some guys' blog that has gained traction over the years, invites its readers to fact-check for themselves, cross reference, share knowledge and try to get to the bottom of things. They have a liberal bias, you bet. But I'd like to see Town Hall or Free Republic or The Weekly Standard be equally open-minded and careful with the facts - which they are almost contemptuous of, and oblivious to self-criticism.

          I remain open-minded on this. That the technology exists is beyond dispute. That it does all that is claimed for it - this is what I want to know.


          • #6
            The 60 miles to the gallon part doesn't sound plausible to me. If that's not including the energy used to charge the battery, maybe, but the fuel for that jet turbine ought to be included in any calculation.
            Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
            Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
            Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
            There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
            Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
            Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


            • #7
              It's pretty well known that the "jet turbine" in general isn't as efficient as other prime movers such as a diesel, without a lot of "extras". I happen to have a connection to a cogeneration company that is using a turbine, and they have to go to extremes to get the efficiency up (they make the turbines).

              The turbine has other advantages, which tend to offset the problems.

              When one says "jet turbine" one implies a converted aircraft unit. That would be likely to be sub-optimal unless used as designed, in an aircraft at aircraft speed.....

              If it is a different type, then it is more possible.

              However, the self-taught mechanic types tend to be very good at what they know, but often are quite weak on the physics end. Hence all may not be as it seems.

              Keep eye on ball.
              Hashim Khan


              • #8
                Originally posted by grannygear
                He's got a Hummer H3 with a hybrid electric motor. A jet turbine provides near-instantaneous recharge of the supercapacitor storage cells for the electric motor. 60 miles to the gallon, 2000 pounds-feet of torque (no, that is not a mistake), 600 horsepower and 0-60 in 5 seconds. In a 5000 pound Hummer. Burning chicken fat.

                Is this for real? The electric car fraternity say he's the Messiah. Detroit doesn't seem to know what to make of him. What do you think, is this IT?

                All I can say is theres no free lunch, And the more systems you add and the more you have to go through there is a price that you have to pay in all the conversions,
                Off the top of my head the hummer sounds like a nightmare, first off he's starting out with a very poor choice for efficiency, the jet turbine, then he's not going direct with it, He has to run a massive generator --- more losses and I might add weight as well, supercapacitor storage cells, more losses and weight, to finally the electric motor, more loses and weight...

                just my two cents.


                • #9
                  Isn't it amazing how many prople can ignore the realities of physics?
                  The "news" reporters are among the most notorious and the ones
                  that post things like this on news groups are almost as bad. :-(


                  • #10
                    Not the full story at best, a hoax at worst.

                    Consider if he has made something new and patentable, he's sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars. When someone verifies his claims, I'll be interested. Until then, no way.


                    • #11
                      Here is a page with the Hummer rolling resistance and aerodynamic drag:

                      The H2 requires ~550 N just to overcome rolling resistance. Force required to overcome aerodynamic drag would be 1.58 * velocity (in m/s) or 3.53 N per mph or speed. At 60 mph, an H2 requires 761.8 N of force just to maintain speed, which would require ~73.6 MJ to go an hour.

                      Biodiesel has an energy density of up to 35.7 MJ/L or 135.1 MJ/gallon...

                      73.6 MJ/135.1 MJ * 100% ~ 54.5% efficient on turbine combustion? That is a stretch for me to accept...


                      • #12

                        The way the patent system works these days, it makes little sense for an individual inventor to file one: It costs a couple kilobucks to obtain the patent, then the MINIMUM retainer most intellectual property lawyers demand to prosecute an infringement action is about $10,000 cash upfront, and you can easily run into the megabucks defending a patent.

                        Back when I was in highschool, I read a biography of Lee deForest, who invented the triode, amplifier and the optical movie soundtrack amongst other things. Basically all his money for decades went into patent suits.

                        The situation is even worse today: Back in deForest's day there were very few companies which could string out the process the way AT&T did with him. Today there are hundreds, if not thousands.

                        I do have to admit 60mpg sounds improbable for a two and a half ton Hummer. Maybe on highway 56 from Wichita to Liberal, but. . . I've seen alternate fuel advocates only count the fossil fuel consumption in their mileage, thus claiming 100+mpg on a diesel golf that gets 48mpg anyway.


                        • #13
                          We were given a price of about 2 million to attack a worthless patent. AND we were told that it would do no good, as the applicable court NEVER overturns patents without the exact same words in a textbook......

                          That said, a patent is often the door-opener to investment. The magic words "intellectual property" are the key to the money room. A patent is one of the most demonstrable forms of intellectual property.

                          Therefore a patent is still worth getting IF you expect to need/get investors.

                          Keep eye on ball.
                          Hashim Khan


                          • #14
                            I admit my understanding of the thermodynamics might be a little weak here, but I thought that one of the essential advantages in this biodiesel system that he has is that it is not, strictly speaking, a fuel/air mixture. It's fuel/hydrogen/air, or fuel/methane/air, or fuel/ethane/air. A number of different volatile gases can be used to boost the combustion efficiency substantially, with a corresponding decrease in particulate emissions.

                            Of course what are the true efficiencies, when you factor in the processing and transportation costs for the different fuels? It's not yet viable commercially - but I was surprised by how much more power can still be wrung out of this raw material.


                            • #15
                              "Sustainable resource" is a poor term being applied to all sorts of things and not just "Fringe Fry oil".They are not a replacement for FF derived fuels and cannot be produced in large enough quanities to supply the masses.At best they are just a novel use for a product that was previously considered waste.At the worst they are just another source of a new type of polution.

                              Bio-diesel made from reclaimed vegetable oil may or may not be at an energy density close to that of traditional diesel.The manufacture of said fuel requires a fair amount of energy,some chemicals and does produce waste by-products of it's own.

                              A local near here has a diesel pickup and several diesel tractors so he decided to buy a kit sold in The Mother Earth Foilhat magazine for about $1150.It showed up as a few fairly good sized poly tanks,a few pumps and brackets,some process heaters and of course instructions.This unit when assembled would produce actual bio-diesel from waste vegtable oil that could be burnt straight with no dilution in any diesel engine(more on this later).

                              He got the thing put together and off to town he went to find some fry oil which he found plenty.Back to the farm,filter it off and into the first vat,add some caustic soda aggitate and heat for several hours and then transfer to the settling tank,a few hours later watch as the bio-diesel seperates from the glyceride fats and drains into a collection tank.........wait,what was that about glyceride fat?Oh,turns out that's the white gooey stuff in the bottom of the settling vat that looks a lot like candle wax,but burns the skin when touched because of all the caustic.Oh well we'll cross that bridge when we come to it,but WOW! look at all the diesel we got off 150gallons of fry oil!Okay,a fair amount of work and expense to yield 60 gallons of diesel.

                              But wait,60 gallons of fuel from 150 gallons of oil?Yep we have 90 gallons there about of waste(waxy fat,soap,caustic).At this point I see a problem,but he doesn't.Not to be discouraged he figures up his cost of production for his 60 gallons and it works out to about $.65/gallon(this was when diesel at the pump was $1.80/gallon)Never mind about the waste issues that was a pretty good deal for some diesel.

                              Good deal until.....people with burnt veggie oil started charging for it.See word got out that he and others were home brewing and like the good business people resturant owners are they responded to the demand and began charging for the oil.$.75/gallon was the last price I heard back when I cared.So much for cheap diesel,now it was just"cheaper diesel".Until......he found out the pittfalls of running straight bio in modern highspeed diesel engines,seems the old CAV,Stanadyne and Roosamaster injection pumps depended on the sulphur in the diesel to lubricate the pump plungers.Slowly over a period of months one pump on one tractor after another started laying down.$600,$900 and $1600 later this "cheaper diesel" wasn't so cheap afterall.

                              Remember back when I mentioned diluting bio?Well most people who have learned the hard way have come to realise that mixing 20% bio with regular diesel is the way to go.You only have to heat the oil to wring the water out and filter it before adding.This way your pumps last and there is no annoying 3,000lb blob of shortening left over.Is it cost effective?No.Is it saving the enviroment?No.Will it produce more HP from the same volume of fuel?Asolutely not.

                              What it will do is sell books,kits and chemicals and get some air time for people wanting to be famous.The local guy is still pondering what to do with 1500 gallons of vegatable grease,most times while he is on his way to town to buy diesel for his tractors.

                              If he could find a use for his by-product(it's how chemical companies make a profit) he would probably still do okay cost wise,but not so long as the goo remains.

                              Will bio-diesel be the answer?No,there is no way to produce enough of it.It sounds good and sells books,but it will always be a Fringe Fuel.

                              There are a ton of links to be found on Google refering to the work of Johnathan Goodwin.Several of them elude to his methods,thou none produce any real numbers or offer a look at his operating principals.

                              There was one link to the PMR(Pimp My Ride)episode in question where the Lambroghini was supposedly "smoked"by the bio-powered Caddy.The 12 second 1/4 they refered to must have been refering to the exhuast from the diesel "smoking" up the track because a Lambroghini on the back of a drop deck wrecker would STILL make a 12 second 1/4.

                              Tony mentioned the billions of dollarsthat could be made if his invention were brought to market.That is the best devining rod for which technologies are at least pluasible enough to survive,it is an absolute of capitalism that if it could make billions it would be making billions.
                              I just need one more tool,just one!