This elite group of professionals has over 19 victories at Le Mans, Sebring, and Daytona. The Very Light Car’s shape was designed by Northrop Grumman’s aerodynamics fellow, Barnaby Wainfan, who met Edison2’s Chief of Design, Ron Mathis, while Ron was working for Audi Sport North America on the R10. Five-time Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro will be driving in the competition along side Brad Jaeger, an up-and-coming endurance racer.
Edison2 entered the PIAXP expecting to build an electric or electric hybrid vehicle. Our early analysis of efficiency, however, pointed to the unequivocal virtues of light weight and low aerodynamic drag. Instead of lugging around hundreds of pounds of batteries, Edison2 chose a more realistic and conventional power source for the Very Light Car: an internal combustion engine running on E85.
The Edison2 is twice as efficient as a Tesla Roadster and more efficient than the Aptera.
The Edison 2 weighs about 750 pounds and is super aerodynamic (0.15 drag coefficient rating). It is built safe by race car team veterans.
Gizmag reports that the second Edison 2 vehicle has just completed the 200 mile range test in the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE – with fuel left in the tank. Nothing is official at this stage and some further hurdles remain before the official presentations in September, but given that Edison 2 is the only team remaining in its class and that the successful completion of Monday’s Dynamic Safety testing is almost a formality for the vehicle, it’s likely that Oliver Kuttner and his team will become the winners of the $5 million prize for the Auto X PRIZE Mainstream Class.
The Very Light Car is extremely light. Every component has been evaluated for function and redesigned with an eye to simplicity, strength and low weight. Brakes that usually weigh over a pound only weigh a few ounces; lugnuts are 0.1 ounces instead of 1 ounce.
• Innovations derived from racing enhance safety in the Very Light Car. These advances include collapsible space not available in current cars (such as wheels outside of the main body structure), a shape that deflects impacts, and a lightweight but sturdy steel frame. The nimbleness of the Very Light Car aids in accident avoidance, and low mass is an advantage in single-car or auto-pedestrian accidents.
• At heart, the Very Light Car is a simple vehicle, avoiding the feature creep that has loaded down contemporary vehicles. Design simplicity, low mass and conventional materials result in lower material costs and production time.
• We believe that the Very Light Car is the most efficient auto platform ever built. Edison2’s innovations in auto efficiency apply regardless of power source. The chassis and body will make hybrid or electric cars more efficient, helping solve problems of range and performance.
• The Very Light Car is a more sustainable vehicle. Not just efficient to drive, but cradle-to-grave environmentally responsible. Less mass means fewer material inputs. Energy intensive materials and hazardous or scarce materials are largely avoided in favor of conventional materials, such as aluminum and steel, that are readily available, easily made in volume, and completely recyclable.
The cars weigh less than 750 pounds and have a drag coefficient of 0.15, about half that of some of todays best cars. The cars are powered by turbocharged 250-cc engines (two from Yamaha motorcycles, two of Edisons own design) running on E85 ethanol. To dramatically reduce pumping losses from the internal combustion engines, the team uses exhaust gas recirculation to control engine power. The team has also patented a compact front suspension, which includes feather-weight 6-lb. wheels designed to act as force-absorbing collapsible elements in a crash. This innovation alone may be worth more than the $10 million XPrize. Two identical Edison2 cars were the last vehicles remaining in the four-passenger Mainstream class after the Knockout phase of the competition.
E85 is an alcohol fuel mixture that typically contains a mixture of up to 85% denatured fuel ethanol and gasoline or other hydrocarbon (HC) by volume. On an undenatured basis, the ethanol component ranges from 70% to 83%. E85 as a fuel is widely used in Sweden and is becoming increasingly common in the United States, mainly in the Midwest where corn is a major crop and is the primary source material for ethanol fuel production; however as yet, there are about 1900 filling stations selling E85 to the public in the US,and, until recently, only three in Canada.
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Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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