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Daniel J Pajak

I am at least happy that you have some hope. I think you could use a little bit more optimism, though. I am just curious, were you that pessimistic regarding the other (Space) X-Prize? I am well aware that the current prize is for something far more complicated than launching a person into space, and returning him or her safely to earth without spending taxpayers' dollars. But the earlier X-Prize seemed to be difficult, as well, and somebody DID win it. As I read your post, though it was not nearly as close-minded as the thoughts of Mr. Charles Duell, head of the US Patent Office in 1899, I was reminded of what he said: "Everything that can be invented has been invented". So perhaps you should be a little more optimistic!

Scott Sanders

I viewed the EPA investigations as Glen Mercer suggested. It came as no surprise that about 30% of these tests occurred in the 1970's. 62% of the evaluations were in the 80's, mostly between 1980 to 1983. The 90's had fewer evaluations on this page, only 7%. Our decade was even more meager with a whooping 1%. Maybe a secret formula eluded engineers for so long because there has been less fuel economy research done since the 70's and early 80's.

David Onstenk

Speaking as an independent inventor (who has been happily tioling away for more than two decades on advanced IC engine designs) I wonder why you would write that the automotive invention tradition has a "dark side": Or that as a group we might be paranoid?

Sure there are no "magic formulas" for converting energy, thermodynamics guarantees that; and of course there is an abundance of unqualified opinions coming from those who feel that because they can work on an engine, they understand it; but really - those thousands of us who are educated appropriately and working diligently to solve the problem can hardly be classified as such. We understand that there is no magic solution or mass conspiracy.

Many of us do understand though that the special interests, politicians and the management of the Big 3 have done a great deal of damage to our environment and future generations by mismanaging their responsibilities. Whether that is evil or just immoral, history will decide. Something as important as this should clearly be funded at many of the major universities where an average citizen could hope to contribute to the solution and hope to benefit from his work.

Currently there are no practical paths for someone with the appropriate technology to bring it to the market; short of giving it away. Even when someone does have a "miraculously efficient engine" the financial obstacles to developing the technology are absolutely enormous: well beyond the capability of 95% of the people out there, and seemingly beyond 100% of those of us who are actually making real advances. That needs to change if we are to bring the right ideas to market in a timely manner.

I am very pleased to finally see this competition and others bringing greater opportunity for those of us who can bring new technologies to the market, but where unable to otherwise develop the funding. Although I imagine there will still be a significant financial hurdle in order to compete in this competition, it might be low enough to allow many more individual inventors to bring their work out of the garage, office or lab where it can do the world some good.

John Acheson, MBA

Your link refers to devices that attempt to increase the efficiency of 1,000 to 6,000 explosions per minute. The ICE is yesteryear and the X is powered by motors, chips and software. Your link has been dead for a decade and those inventors forgot that the Internal Combustion Engine was killed by the electric car until Edison encourage Ford to go off the primitive and unreliable grid at the time. The problem was that gas stations went up a lot faster than power polls.

Gary Greenwell

In 1970 I read about mileage contests where the fuel economy could be tripled by using the "pulse and glide" tactic. That knowledge stayed with me and the fact that it was possible to triple fuel economy while still managing to travel a certain distance in a specific amount of time was entirely possible. The sole reason for the lack of utilization of this operational tactic was the simple fact that it required a continuously fluctuating vehicle speed. In fact in many states it is illegal, especially if you turn off the engine in the glide phase, which was done in the original contest. Today using a Honda Insight the current record is in the 180 MPG range, about 33% better than the figure that was obtained in 1970.
The IC engine is a reciprocating machine, or at least the vast majority are reciprocating. There were designs almost 100 years ago, long abandoned, that were not reciprocating. For the last 6 years I have been looking at the original rotary aircraft engine as a potential solution. This is the design that utilized a stationary crankshaft with the rest of the engine spinning around the fixed crank, which was bolted to the airframe of the plane. This engine is not a reciprocating design. since the connecting rod big ends are rotating around a fixed crank journal, unlike the common reciprocating design, in which the rod big ends do not rotate. The oscillate around a rotating crankshaft. Oscillation of the pistons in the cylinders is due to differential axes of rotation.
I have patents pending on modifications to the original that allow the engine to move the offset crank journal to a position that is identical to the axis of rotation of the mass of the engine, which causes all relative motion of the pistons and cylinders to cease. This allows the engine to become a flywheel, capable of storing energy for short periods of time in flywheel mode, and adding energy to the flywheel mass by reverting to the combustion mode.
Other modifications inclued a closed loop lubrication system, unlike the originals which werew total loss with oil added to the fuel, as well as improvements that address emissions and other sources of concern that did not exist in the early days of aircraft development.
My second patent is for hydraulic in wheel drive system that uses a similar design with further improvements that allow it to replace the friction brakes with a 4 wheel drive and recovery system, which would weigh about the same as the conventional brake system's caliper and brake rotor. Combined with a power source (pick which ever one you desire) you have the capability to operate the power source independently of the vehicle, only in its best range of efficiency, and store the energy in a flywheel or accumulator. Then the power requirements of the vehicle are independent of the engines speed. The engine serves as short duration energy storage, while the vehicle operates from the storage instead of directly from the engine.
It's a shame I wont be able to compete in the X prize. Although the first patent was filed in September 2004, a litany of errors in that beaurocracy has delayed it's review and appeals until now, at a considerably higher cost which now has surpassed $20,000.

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