Thursday, July 26, 2007

Driving Green: The English Eco One Speedster

We continue this week's Green Theme, and today's topic is Eco One, an English racing machine that uses E85 fuel, environmentally friendly "oil," and goes from 0-60 in four seconds. This car is a serious, high level engineering effort designed at Warwick University in England.

The Eco One features natural, renewable materials, including potato starch in the tires, and cashew nut shell brake pads. The chassis is made from steel and aluminium which can be recycled.

No Pinan Farina wannabe, the styling will surely appeal to those who fondly rememember the Pinewood Derby and the Big Wheel. For a close-up look, though. you will have to travel to London, where it will be on display at the National Science Museum from August 28-30.


Blogger El Rider said...

The car looks like an early '60s Lotus or Cooper Formula 1 or 2 car. Other than the large roll hoop, F1 (and F2) didn't rally care about safety back then. The E85 issue is interesting, I wonder if they even have much E85 (15% gas, 85% ethanol) over there. I wrote about one E85 issue in April of 2006 on Flying Debris when some folks I know built a Ford 429 engine for one of their daughters. Interestingly the big carburator company Holley had no E85 application although as a supplier to many big drag racing teams they have a large number of alchohol applications.

The completed and de-bugged engine was put on a dynometer and everybody was surprised that the power and torque levels were only about 5% less on the E85 engine. We had all expected a larger drop (maybe that's why they used a 429) as E85 contains about 1/2 the BTUs as gasoline. That dyno pull convinced us that even the modern, efficient gasoline engines lose much of their power through heat loss. The heat loss is of course expelled through the radiator(s).

For an air-cooled racer (see Porsche) that could be great news, less heat wear in the engine and less need for heavy fans, or in a modern car less need for heavy radiators. It may even be worth the 5% power loss in an endurance race. A number of auto racing series are currently using E85 as fuel and both Audi and Peugeot hae diesel race cars that race in the FIA Le Mans series'.

Jul 26, 2007, 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

Thanks for this very interesting info, el rider. I imagine that one of the most important side effects of racing is the improved technologies used slowly work their way into passenger vehicles and everyone benefits. I had never thought (or known about) the BTU issue with E85, but I think I read it is much higher octane which I would think could increase performance. Surely there must be a way to use that heat siphoned off by the radiator.

The car certainly is devil-may-care for safety, but not a bad job for a college student.

My personal dream is the American Farmer generating enough fuel for our cars that we could completely walk away from foreign oil. I suppose that isn't terribly realistic with gas prices today, but it is a wonderful dream.

Jul 26, 2007, 10:37:00 PM  

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