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MAX Update No. 20: The Most Real Green Car at the EG

12/23/2008 11:10:34 AM

Tags: MAX, Auto X Prize, The EG, roof, 100 mpg

The EG was a hoot and I'm so glad I went. 

EG stands for Entertainment Gathering, as far as I can tell — I was in way over my head. It featured the most eclectic group of presenters I've ever seen in one bunch. My personal favorite speaker was Teller, of Penn & Teller, who spoke of how knowing how something is done does not lessen one's appreciation of the act, even if the act is magic on stage.

Many other presentations were inspiring: One laptop per child? Good idea. Digital motion control in the arts? I'll use those lessons to make MAX's next body. Peter Diamondis of the X Prize Foundation? Heck yeah, but he'd already inspired me. International goofy dancing? The world's not such a bad place, is it? But Teller renewed my dedication to open sourcing the MAX project. If there's anything about MAX I'm not telling you, it's not because it's a trade secret, it's because I haven't figured it out yet.

 

MAX at EG 
Photo by Jack McCornack
 

MAX was well-received, partly because (as a commenter predicted in MAX Update No. 19: A Roof Over Our Heads) it was the only Auto X Prizer that got there on its own steam. The Physics Lab of Lake Havasu folks brought their “Green Giant” SUV, but they brought it on a trailer. ZAP brought a scale model of their much-anticipated Alias trike, which they maybe brought in a hatbox. Both companies have loftier goals than Kinetic Vehicles, and if the cars were being judged by projected performance, MAX would have been the loser. Instead, I was giving rides during the breaks and MAX was getting bonus points for being real.

During my talk, I described my design philosophy as minimalist, and got a good laugh with my definition: A pessimist says the glass is half empty. An optimist says the glass is half full.  A minimalist says “We're using about twice as much glass as we need here.”

The trip down to California was good fun. I used about 8 gallons from MAX's 9 gallon diesel tank and a gallon from its veggie oil tank to go the 600 miles from Grants Pass, Ore., to Monterey, Calif., via Los Banos, Calif. The conference was fabulous fun. The trip home, not so fun. I'll bet you can guess why ...?



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Cheryl _2
1/1/2009 3:03:12 PM
I agree with B R Clark, if I had enough money I would do my own research. I am tired of waiting for companies and others that could make it possible to come up with alternative energy to power automobiles. I too have waited many many years for something to become available to all of us. Europe is so far ahead of us with tech like this. I am ashamed. We could break our dependence on fuel from foreign countries. B R Clark's comment: To me the ultimate hybrid would be a plug in EV with a very small and efficient combustion engine to run a generator to extend the range indefinately. And why isn't the roof of every EV/Hybrid a solar panel? You could drive it to work, park it in the sun for 9 hours and let mother nature recharge your batteries. I wish I had the money to conduct my own such experiments. I'm looking for a golf cart to modify as such and let the kids drive it around the farm to see how well it works. I heard the prius was looking at such a mod. But I've been asking why for 10 years!

Brian A. Stewart
12/29/2008 3:00:39 PM
I'm curious as to why you used more gallons of diesel than vegetable oil? That seems backwards to me. (Some day I would like to convert an old school bus into a motor home running on waste vegetable oil primarily, and bio-diesel for starting and stopping, since that should be cheaper and more renewable.)

B R Clark
12/29/2008 11:16:42 AM
Jack, I just want to know if yo're hiring?? I've always been a conservationist minded fellow, and wondered why many things aren't implemented into basic transportation. I swear to you, I had an idea for "regenerative braking" long before anybody ever mentioned it. I didn't know what to call it, or how to implement it, but if it's all about energy, why can't we turn rolling energy into something besides heat when stopping? To me the ultimate hybrid would be a plug in EV with a very small and efficient combustion engine to run a generator to extend the range indefinately. And why isn't the roof of every EV/Hybrid a solar panel? You could drive it to work, park it in the sun for 9 hours and let mother nature recharge your batteries. I wish I had the money to conduct my own such experiments. I'm looking for a golf cart to modify as such and let the kids drive it around the farm to see how well it works. I heard the prius was looking at such a mod. But I've been asking why for 10 years! Keep up the good work Jack. I hang on every work! I guess I should've went to engineering school so I could save the world.....

Al Stockton
12/27/2008 9:21:36 AM
I live in Upper Peninsula Michigan. The closest town is 12 miles, but that is not a town that you can get everything that you need. We try to make our trips count but it still adds up. When gas was $4 a gallon, it hurt us really bad. We looked to ways to save money. Mass transit is unavailable here. When I was in Germany you could get on a train and go any where, at any time. The American people are spoiled, they do not want to be bothered with any body's schedule but their own. This mind set has caused us to be one of the biggest users of energy. There is no end in sight, unless we find viable options to reduce our use of energy. The first thing we must do is look at our own attitudes toward energy. Are we looking for the golden goose, to save our way of living or are we willing to change our ways and live simply?I commend you for your electric hybrid, I feel that is a start. If we could apply this technology to tractors I'll listen. Keep up the good work.

Frank Miller_1
12/27/2008 5:04:48 AM
I read Max all the time and as many articals as I can on electric cars. I always hear the problems with electric is the batteries. Why not use a small diesel with a high output generator and run most of the time without batteries just use them for startup or don't use them at all. The Chevy Volt is close to this why don't they try it. Frank

dlewish
12/26/2008 7:54:49 PM
Jack,I just recieved the latest edition of Diesel Progress magazine and was pleased to see an article about Max.The word is spreading.Thank you for sharing your project with us. Duane Hyson

WINTER Star
12/26/2008 5:03:26 PM
**snipped** Solving problems is usually best, one at a time. But issues facing us are such broad range, more must be solved concurrently. We CAN do better; can solve this; but NOT on old corporate models. It must spread via decentralized grassroots efforts. New, successful alternatives, placed in the hands of billions of people as fast as possible, will get it going. Let's get viable alternatives to where the largest carbon footprints are, first. MAX is one of those viable alternatives.

Jack McCornack
12/26/2008 3:09:46 PM
I'm with you, George, and that's my main motive for making MAX out of recycled parts. It's also a major motive for making MAX lightweight--even new, it takes two thirds less energy to make an 1100 pound car than a 3300 pound car--and part of why I chose mild steel as the primary structural material; steel is relatively inexpensive per pound, energy-wise, and it recycles well. Also, the energy/environmental cost of production is one reason I'm a bit ho-hum about electric vehicles and hybrids.

George Works
12/25/2008 7:25:26 AM
There's an inconvenient fact about cars that isn't discussed much, but one day our car culture will have to face up to it. A new car (green or otherwise) requires a lot of energy to build, and a lot of CO2 is emitted. In fact, a typical production car requires about 100 barrels of oil equivalent (4300 gallons of gasoline) to manufacture. If the car gets 25MPG and lasts for 100,000 miles, about half of the energy use and emissions occur at manufacture, and half from the fuel it burns. If we really want to go green, we have to quit buying new cars. America's transportation system is based primarily on private cars which spend most of their time parked. Public transportation vehicles -- trains, buses, taxis, etc. -- spend most of their time moving people, so they deliver a lot more transportation for the emissions created from their manufacture. They are a far greener alternative, and a better choice for a century of scarce energy.

Tony Kelman
12/24/2008 10:05:50 AM
Merry Christmas Jack. I worked in the same office as a few X-Prize foundation people summer of 06, was just catching up on the entrants. I love your Locost kit-car approach, from what I could tell of the entrants list you were the most garage-tinkerer type of them all. This morning I've read your entire blog on Kinetic's website and now here. Looking forward to your next post (on drag's connection to oil pressure, I'm hoping) and what MAX has in store for the new year!

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