October 11, 2012
The picture you see here is the generator system we have come to after 5 years of experimenting. It was recommended by AVL in Orange County, an electric car design and prototype world leader, involved with many of today’s electric cars from the beginning. Lincvolt’s generator system wasn’t always as beautiful as this, or as efficient and powerful.
We had some large conceptual physics and math problems wrong in the beginning and spent years working on an underpowered solution. Starting with the idea of a small bio diesel engine turning a 75KW UQM electric motor, we quickly moved to a Mazda rotary engine to replace the diesel. We had thoughts of using an alternative fuel source, hydroxy gas, created by using electricity and water. This concept took about a year or more of our time and we experimented with no success.
Then we changed the fuel source to natural gas. T. Boone Pickens was giving the fuel a lot of exposure and we bought the story that natural gas could be the answer, so we changed to it. We ran the Rotary on compressed natural gas and it actually worked but it was so noisy, dirty and inefficient that we abandoned it in favor of a more environmentally safer fuel. The methods of extracting the natural gas fuel from the earth were not responsible in our opinion and we did not want to support the fuel.
We then experimented with a mixture of Ethanol and steam in the rotary and that was a failure that we dropped after a few months of testing. Ethanol was a fuel that was interesting to us though because it was readily available and domestic, reduced national security risks, created jobs, and was better for the environment than gasoline or other fossil fuels.
At that point we evolved to a Turbine to turn the 75KW UQM electric motor we were still using. The turbine ran on gasoline but burned it very cleanly, reducing GHG. We were about to evolve to bio diesel fuel in the turbine when disaster struck our project. A team member was charging the car with an unproven charger. A grave human error occurred when the car was left alone overnight with the unproven charging system left on. The system failed to shut off when the car was fully charged. The resulting fire was completely avoidable had normal safety standards been adhered to. It was not the fault of the car, or electric cars in general but the result of human error. The car should have never been left alone in that state with an unproven system engaged. The car was destroyed.
We rebuilt the car from the ground up with the help of Brizio Street Rods and AVL. AVL supplied the power train design. Ford Motors came to our aid with a Ford Atkinson 4 cylinder motor specially tuned to run on cellulosic ethanol. A 123 Batteries supplied us with a state of the art 23KWH battery pack made in the USA. Our previous batteries had been Thunder Sky, made in China. Every aspect of the new system was designed and implemented by AVL to the highest standards. We replaced the underpowered UQM 75KW electric motor with a 145 KW model. The Ford Atkinson turns the UQM 145 to give us enough power to create more than Lincvolt uses at speeds in excess of 80mph. We learned that the UQM 75 KW we had been using to that point would be adequate to power a Mini Cooper, not a Lincoln Continental built in 1959. That is how far off we were with our original calculations.
We stayed with it. We worked and stayed focused on success, trying to make a big car fast, clean and responsible. We did this because big cars are here for quite a while, as are pick-up trucks. They need to be more environmentally responsible, create jobs, and not be a threat to national security. The world needs a lot of energy and we can’t just go on the way we are, burning fossil fuel. A transition to clean energy is imperative for future generations. By 2050, the world will need 17 Terra Watts more energy than it is now using. This energy must be clean or it will ruin our environment. The sun is our best source of energy and that is where we need to place our bets for the future.
Plants are batteries that store solar energy. Converting plants to fuel makes sense. Capturing Solar energy directly from the Sun makes sense. Biofuels are part of the future. That is why we have partnered with POET Ethanol, a forward-looking American company that has developed a pilot plant for producing Cellulosic Ethanol from biomass. The POET pilot plant is right next to a conventional POET Ethanol plant and uses the waste from the conventional plant as biomass to make Cellulosic Ethanol. The process of creating this new fuel in the pilot plant creates a gas that is re-circulated back to the nearby conventional plant, where it replaces natural gas as a fuel. This endless cycle is the reason why POET Cellulosic Ethanol provides a net 111% reduction of GHG emissions compared to gasoline. POET Cellulosic Ethanol is our fuel of choice in Lincvolt’s Ford Atkinson motor. We are generating electricity to charge Lincvolt’s batteries with this fuel of the future, making Lincvolt one of the cleanest cars in the world, regardless of size.