• Oct 20th 2007 at 3:44PM
  • 37
Johnathan Goodwin is the patron saint of green cars (although as of yet, this honor has gone unrecognized by the Vatican). Last April, John was the guy behind the Chevy Impala conversion that smoked a Lamborghini in a quarter mile on the Earth Day special of MTV's Pimp My Ride. Arnold Schwarzenegger was so impressed that when he did a guest appearance on the Earth Day Pimp My Ride special, he hired SAE Energy (where John is co-partner) to make his Jeep run on biodiesel. Recently, John made the cover of Fast Company magazine for an article describing a green gearhead's wet dream.

Fast Company visited John's garage and found a 2005 Hummer H3 on jacks. John is going to put a 60,000 PRM, 1985, turbine, jet engine in the Hummer. The turbine engine will run on biodiesel or waste vegetable oil with a hydrogen-injector. John plans to make a series hybrid with this turbine engine. A beauty like that going to waste as a range extender? No, it charges a set of super capacitors in a matter of seconds, giving the car 600 horse power.

That's not all. Jon says "it'll get 60 miles to the gallon. With 2,000 foot-pounds of torque. You'll be able to smoke the tires. And it's going to be superefficient. ... Think about it: a 5,000-pound vehicle that gets 60 miles to the gallon and does zero to 60 in five seconds!" John is not just making drool worthy cars for stars like Neil Young (John is converting a 1960 Lincoln Continental to biodiesel, electric hybrid for him.) John said he wants to make a 100-mile-per-gallon car one day and he is working on a $5,000 conversion kit that make diesels run 50 percent more efficiently and emit 80 percent less pollution. John estimates his bolt-on kit will pay for itself in a year for bigger SUVs and two years for a normal car. He is getting patents hoping to license them to the big carmakers but he thinks automakers can do a lot more right now.

Go below the fold to see how John is using Ace Hardware better than you.

[Source: Fast Company]

John is clearly a genius and SAE Energy is doing really amazing things, but the conversions cost $28,000. I am no defender of the big automakers but I think they played up (just a little) the poor guy from Kansas. Without a high school education, John is a throttling loving environmentalist, showing GM things they thought were impossible at SEMA, and he just might save Detroit's image. John could probably slap together an electric car with parts from ACE Hardware (might not be a big seller, though). I also think the article is a little too hopeful about the future of diesel. Here are some quotes;

"They could do all this stuff if they wanted to. ... The technology has been there forever. They make 90% of the components I use... I've just been messing around and seeing what I can do. ... Everybody should be driving a plug-in vehicle right now. ... I can go next door to Ace Hardware and buy a DC electric motor, go out to my four-wheel-drive truck, remove the transmission and engine, bolt the electric motor onto the back of the transfer case, put a series of lead-acid batteries up to 240 volts in the back of the bed, and we're good to go. I guarantee you I could drive all around town and do whatever I need, go home at night, and hook up a couple of battery chargers, plug one into an outlet, and be good to go the next day."

It does make you wonder why we have not seen at least mild hybrids sooner though. Anyway, John's turbine biodiesel, super capacitor, series hybrid Hummer is freaking cool!

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Pure Hype. And we all want to believe it. Turbines are terribly inefficient at anything but full power, and make a tremendous amount of hot air. much of it used to keep the engine cool. In aircraft the 'by-pass' cooling air adds to the thrust by reaction, not torque twisting the shaft, which in theory woould be turning the generator/alternator. Idle fuel consumption is usually about 70% of full throttle. And the old theory about 'My electric motor can spin the wheels at 60 MPH---not a chance. Lower the polution by 80%??? We are already down to grams and fractions per mile, on a new car the new car smell emits much more hydrocarbons than the fuel system, that is why they take the interiors out when doing evaporative emission testing.

      For years my job was to check the lunatic fringe claims--and they truly creative. PAFF had a special gaseous fluid that expanded in bright light, all you had to do was change the sparkplugs for light bulbs, Turn them on, the gas would expand, piston go down, off, and the piston would be 'sucked' back up as the gas contracted. Parr, Ogle. Bourke. Moody, just to name a few. On the other hand, the gummint does measure the fuel consumption by measuring just part of the exhaust, and with the hood up, and on 100 Octane gas with 19,200 BTU per pound, not at all like the '87' octane alchol enriched (and water diluted) 16,000 btu per pound swill we must use.

      The old trick of 'I've only used 1.2 gallon of gas to go xxx number of miles, they always neglect the hydrogen and the electricity. One fellow who claimed wonderful mileage for his diesel was adding propane to the inlet. Of course he didn't calculate that into the fuel mileage.

      Another thing--2,000 ft pounds of torque?? Not with the standard gearbox!! Or 'U' joints either. Welcome to the land of the painfull truth.

      Your comments welcome, as always,

      • 7 Years Ago
      This guy is no dummy, he is the co-founder of SAE energy. He is NOT going to make outlandish claims because it would make a negative impact on the company.

      I think some people are missing the point, but other have already state that. Also controls for the turbine would not be a nightmare, unless you were a bad controls engineer; everything has lag.

      I dont know why he uses a turbine instead of a small diesel engineer, because gas turbines are less efficient than diesel, when looking at the carnot cycle. The reason why turbines are used in aircraft is because they have a higher energy to weight ratio.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Chrysler built a turbine powered car in the early 60's... they built 50 cars for real-world evaluation. Supposedly they were going into production in the 70s but Chrysler almost went down the tubes about then so they cancelled the program.
      And if you go to the Union Pacific museum in Ogden Utah, there is a turbine powered locomotive. They built two of them, and actually used them for a time. They were so shatteringly LOUD that they took them out of service very soon.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I am currently promoting a product/process that lowers emissions, adds power to engine output, and extends mileage of my '02 Jeep Liberty, up around 19-22 mpg in town, and 24 ~ 26+ highway. The product I use only cleans the cylinders and allows fuel to burn efficiently, thus lower emissions and power increase.
      In the city, I drive for high mileage and I get it. Highway, the same. I have found a few techniques that get me great mileage at highway speeds and stop/go driving.

      I'm havin a site developed at the moment but you are welcome to veiw what I have so far. It seems I'm ALWAYS in a learning curve somewhere!

      • 7 Years Ago
      I think almost anything is possible with enough research and development, keep arguing we will find solutions. In the past 50 years the U.S. spent at least one trillion dollars in atomic bomb research, now include all the money that is spent to protect foreign oil resources, its not about democracy and constitutional rights, our biggest trade partners are China and the Arab states, uhh what kind of government do they have????
      • 7 Years Ago
      Brett, This is a series hyrbid, so the lag in the turbine is irrelevant because the motors are providing the motivation.

      The idea of turbines is not new at all, Chrysler tried it in the 60's for quite some time, but like someone previously stated, the economies of scale just weren't there. The Otto cycle engine was well entrenched and there was no real need for change, like todays oil market is necessitating. The nature of turbines do not make for good direct drivetrains in autos because of the lag, however, turbines are far more efficient than any engine in use in todays vehicles because they can achieve theoretical efficiencies greater than 50%, whereas any engine with cylinders can not. They also thrive at constant revs, suiting it perfectly for series applications. They can also be made very inexpensively (take a look at the RC market, there are many low volume producers of 20-40 HP turbines that can do it for under $1K.) And honestly they are very easy to repair as they are fairly simple machines.

      And lastly the best benefit... They can burn just about anything.

      Combining this with capacitors and motors is genious, and although he's not the first one to think of it, I hope he's the first one to pull it off and that it gains popularity as a great alternative for a range extender. Heck, maybe Chrysler should dig out it's old files and brush the dust off and come to market with it first.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This is not a new idea people. Nikola Tesla was championing the idea of using the ICE as merely a driver for an electric generator and use the electric motor as the prime mover. By 1908 he had already convinced the navy to use electric motors rather than the customary huge clunky diesel engines that were in use at the time.
      Electricity has to be the main engine to drive our vehicles. The power source could be an electric generator powered by and Internal Combustion Engine or other future generating device, but we must move away from gasoline as our prime mover.
      • 7 Years Ago
      If they powered it with coal-diesel instead of bio-diesel it would be greener...

      And coal-diesel puts up 2x the emissions as normal diesel.
      • 7 Years Ago
      A hybrid uses two or more power sources to directly power the wheels.
      Then you say Trains are series-diesel/electrics because they don’t use batteries to power the wheels.
      @Tim "series-diesel/electrics" is a new term to me. AFAIK a series hybrid is the use of two energy forms to power motion. I don't think there is any requirement for them both to be energy sources. Even without batteries the diesel electric is still regarded as a hybrid powertrain. And for the record that means the series hybrid can come in more than one flavor. By the way an electric trolley bus has batteries so it can perform U-turns where overhead wiring doesn't permit, does the availability of two power sources now make it a hybrid ? I don't think so.

      The Prius system could be made functional without the use of its expensive NiMH battery if there was the will. The current system only allows 10kw of regen. braking. Without this battery a superior replacement Regen braking system could utilise a braking resistor with a 50Kw 10 second rating instead. Finally MG1 is not a small helper motor in fact it provides 42Hp of energy to the main traction motor MG2. That's quite some help ! For comparison the Camry hybrid uses a 100Hp "helper" to power MG2. That's where some of the 105kw needed by MG2 is coming from. Impressive Eh!

      This turbine is going to need some really good control algorithms it'll be interesting to see how this turns out.
      • 7 Years Ago
      To those who say this is impossible, THAT makes it a GOAL. Think outside the box.

      But this is where government SHOULD be helping... Offer 10 million to someone who can double the fuel efficency of any car with a straight forward upgrade costing under $3000.

      I read the original article. He mentions that using hydrogen to blend with the fuel reduces the fuel consumption by half, creates water, and cools things down in the process. Natural gas can do the
      same thing...

      I agree with being skeptical. But lets open our eyes and try something different.

      Gee, I would a few thousand to add a Natural Gas hookup that double my gas mileage... Cut our dependency on foreign oil in HALF!

      I read he already has this Hummer running about 30MPG, and it started at 9!!!! (Nine, no typo).

      What other ways can we GET 1/2 way there TODAY.
      For me, that has always been the magical problem.
      It usually makes solving the problem easier.

      The resource issue comes into play. Eventually, waste oil will cost $3/gallon :-)

      • 7 Years Ago
      Of course the big automakers can do this if they want to. But that's just it, they don't want to. If wouldn't be profitable for them. Bio-diesel hasn't taken off like it should because the real owners of major corporations, (our politicians), haven't cornered the market yet on Bio-Diesel yet, like they have on Big Oil.

      Right now, they're too busy, trying to set up major ethanol corporations, making deals with Brazil, and other ethanol rich countries. That's why there's only a few mom & pop ethanol stations.

      Until the politicians set up there companies, they will make every effort to scutinize and turn down applications and permits to use these resources.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This in impossible.

      A hummer has a .51 drag coefficient and 32.9 square feet of frontal area. that means at 60 mph you would have 350 lbs of drag. to maintain 350 lbs of drag at 60 mph, you would need 34.1 horsepower at the wheels. that is much different that 34.1 horsepower at the crank. assuming the the engine is mechanically linked to one wheel, at it's operating effecieny peak, and no frictional losses such as tire deflection or wheel bearings, it would be possible with ONLY 77.5% effeciency, the same as, well, nothing runs much over 50% including heavy power plants with near unlimited footprints for better energy conversions.
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