An Environmentally Friendly Hummer?

Compared to your normal Humvee, Johnathon Goodwin's modded 2005 H3 Hummer is simply amazing. It gets 60 MPG (compared to 16 for your normal H3), runs on biodiesel (or almost any other oil/fuel available), achieves over 600 Horsepower (instead of the H3's standard 300), goes from 0-60 in five seconds, and uses a "Hydrogen Injection" hybrid system to cut the already low biodiesel emissions in half.

His secret? Combining small military grade turbines (jet engines) with new supercapacitor batteries. His next project is to convert Neil Young's 1960 Lincoln Continental to a hybrid supercar that gets over 100mpg. Wow.

You can read the entire neat story behind Goodwin's conversions at Fast Company. Pic via AutoblogGreen

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Hi Sid,

Again, I don't disagree. I think we just see the potential in this project differently: I see as more conceptual, a means of raising awareness about the kinds of issues that are popping up on these posts. Would it have made more sense for him to start with a more rational vehicle? From an engineering standpoint, certainly. But would it have been written up in "Fast Company" and posted on this blog if he had? Probably not.
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I've got no arguments from the guy doing whatever he wants ... until he starts looking making outrageous technical claims, looking for investors, and suggesting Preston Tuckeresque style "big auto company" conspiracies against him. That's when I denounce him as being full of crap.

And, I know where you are going with your Hummer comments. I'm not advocating being a game-changer by cajoling people into all driving microcars. But so-called "light duty trucks" (which includes the H2) in the US are way way overweight. There has never really been much attention paid to getting their weight down. If you want to have sweet fuel economy and performance, neglecting the chassis mass is a major oversight. The guy is dreaming up a magic powertrain. As a powertrain engineer, I wish it was that easy. Gotta work on the whole system. Take a look at a Honda Insight. Yeah, it's a hybrid with a funky powertrain, but they also worked like hell to get the mass down AND reduce the rolling resistance AND reduce aerodynamic drag. The guy should work on a truck that's a real full sized truck, but acknowledges these as well. Lot's of (relatively) low hanging fruit in terms of mass. He's still thinking Monster Garage engine swaps. Ain't gonna happen.
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Well, Sid, now you've gone and disarmed me with an entirely thoughtful response (although I do have to say that I predicted your "door-handle engineer" comment with startling accuracy). I happen to agree with much of what you said, at least as much as I'm qualified to understand (I had a bit of engineering in college, but not much). Again, I'll let the guy prove himself wrong. It seems like he's done some pretty amazing stuff so far – stuff I certainly haven’t seen before – so he gets my encouragement.

I think I do disagree with your statement that it's "dumb" to start with a Hummer. I think it's actually quite brilliant, because it demonstrates the power of the technology without alienating people who love their big, ridiculous truckzillas. Changing people's perceived "need" for massive, overly powerful vehicles isn’t his game, which is fine. He’s doing what he’s interested in, and good at, and that’s a net gain all around.
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Hah hah... I had to laugh at your last comment. I actually was a GM R&D engineer (Powertrain too, not windshield wipers) for 12 years, and I have little cause to doubt the quality of their engineers, especially GM R&D and the Powertrain guys.

If you read the article, GM isn't doing ANYTHING based on this guy's work. The closest it comes is 2 guys (and who knows what kind of GM engineers they were-- doorhandle release engineers?) at a hotel saying "nice job on the engine swap". Whoopee. I'm pretty sure very few people in GM Powertrain or GM R&D have ever heard he stuffed a Duramax into a Hummer H2. And getting it to work on biodiesel is frankly no big deal. The U.S. auto industry has been already moving (too slowly in my opinion) towards diesels (especially for trucks) because it's an instant sizable improvement in thermal efficiency and thus fuel economy. Additionally, the diesel combustion cycle is a whole lot less fussy than the Otto cycle regarding fuel specifications. As diesel carries an unfair public perception of high emissions (not true), touting up the "biofuel capability" is smart marketing. It's the same with the whole "Live Green Go Yellow" GM ethanol campaign -- everyone knows that very very few of those vehicles will ever see a drop of E85, but it's good PR (and it gives the manufacturers huge CAFE fuel economy credits).

Don't get me wrong - the guy can probably do very nice one-off engine transplants... quality Monster Garage type work. But his alternate engine statements are frankly goofy and anyone with knowledge in the industry will see that right away. As a lot of other folks have stated, if you want to "change the world" with good fuel economy and performance, starting with a way way too heavy Hummer is a dumb way to do it. That doesn't mean you need to use a SMART or Honda Insight, but how about a pickup engineered to be large and utilitarian, but (relatively) *light weight*? Mass is the killer of fuel economy, emissions, and perfromance. Anybody who tries to solve these three without tackling mass is windmill jousting.

Straight talk from Sid.
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