I have always been fascinated by the stories of people that have invented some fantastic fuel only to have the major oil companies suppress the invention by buying the patent or even killing the inventor. The fascination comes from the fact that I have heard these stories all my life but have never seen any product that might have been invented by such a person. That proves that the oil companies have been successful at suppressing the inventors….or it proves that such stories are simply lies. Using Plato my research software tool, I thought I would give it a try. The results were far beyond anything I could have imagined. I think you will agree.
I set Plato to the task of finding what might be changed in the fuel of internal combustion engines that might produce higher miles per gallon (MPG). It really didn’t take long to return a conclusion that if the burned fuel had more energy in the burning, it would give better MPG for the same quantity of fuel. It further discovered that if the explosion of the fuel releases its energy in a shorter period of time, it works better but it warned that the engine timing becomes very critical.
OK so, what I need is a fuel or a fuel additive that will make the spark plug ignite a more powerful but faster explosion within the engine. I let Plato work on that problem for a weekend and it came up with Nitroglycerin (Nitro). It turns out that Nitro actually works precisely because its explosion is so fast. It also is a good chemical additive because it is made of nitrogen, oxygen and carbon so it burns without smoke and releases only those elements or compounds into the air.
Before I had a chance to worry about the sensitive nature of Nitro, Plato provided me with the answer to that also. It seems that ethanol or acetone will desensitize Nitro to workable safety levels. I used Plato to find the formulas and safe production methods of Nitro and decided to give it a try.
Making Nitro is not hard but it is scary. I decided to play it safe and made my mixing lab inside of a large walk-in freezer. I only needed to keep it below 50F and above 40F so the freezer was actually off most of the time and it stayed cool from the ice blocks in the room. The cold makes the Nitro much less sensitive but only if you don’t allow it to freeze. If you do that, it can go off just as a result of thawing out. My plan was to make a lot of small batches to keep it safe until I realized that even if very small amounts, it was enough to blow me up if it ever went off. So I just made up much larger batches and ended up with about two gallons.
I got three gas engines a lawn mower, a motorcycle and an old VW Bug. I got some gas of 87 octane but with 10% ethanol in it. I also bought some pure ethanol additive and put that in the mix. I then added the Nitro. The obvious first problem was to determine how much to add. I decided to err of the side of caution and began with very dilute mixtures one part Nitro into 300 parts gas. I made-up just 100 ml of the mixture and tried it on the lawn mower. It promptly blew up. Not actually exploded but the mixture was so hot and powerful that it burned a hole in the top of the cylinder and broke the crankshaft and burned off the valves. That took less than a minute of running.
I then tried a 600:1 ratio in the motorcycle engine and it ran for 9 minutes on the 100 ml. It didn’t burn up but I could tell very little else about the effects of the Nitro. It tried it again with 200 ml and determined that it was running very hot and probably would have blown a ring or head gasket if I tried it for any longer. I had removed the motorcycle engine from an old motorcycle to make this experiment but now I regretted that move. I had no means to check torque or power. The VW engine was still in the Bug so I could actually drive it. This opened up all kinds of possibilities.
I gas it up and drove it with normal gas first. I tried going up and down hills, accelerations, high speed runs and pulling a chain attached to a tree. At only 1,400 cc, it was rated at only 40 HP when it was in new condition but now it had much less than that using normal gas.
I had a Holly carb on the engine and tweaked it to a very lean mixture and lowered the Nitro ratio to 1,200 to 1. I had gauges for oil temp and pressure and had vacuum and fuel flow sensors to help monitor real-time MPG. It ran great and outperformed all of the gas-only driving tests. At this point I knew I was onto something but my equipment was just too crude to do any serious testing. I used my network of contacts in the R&D community and managed to find some guys at the Army vehicle test center at the Aberdeen Test center (ATC). A friend of a friend put me in contact with the Land Vehicle Test Facility (LVTF) within the Automotive Directorate where they had access to all kinds of fancy test equipment and tons of reference data. I presented my ideas and results so far and they decided to help me using Special Projects funds. I left them with my data and they said come back in a week.
A week later, I showed up at the LVTF. They said welcome to my new test vehicle a 1998 Toyota Corona. It is one of the few direct injection engines with a very versatile air-fuel control system. They had already rebuilt the engine using ceramic-alloy tops to the cylinder heads that gave them much greater temperature tolerance and increased the compression ratio to 20:1. This is really high but they said that my data supported it. Their ceramic-alloy cylinder tops actually form the combustion chamber and create a powerful vortex swirl for the injected ultra-lean mixture gases.
We stared out with the 1,200:1 Nitro ratio I had used and they ran the Corona engine on a dynometer to test and measure torque (ft/lbs) and power (HP). The test pushed the performance almost off the charts. We repeated the tests with dozens of mixtures, ratios, air-fuel mixes and additives. The end results were amazing.
After a week of testing, we found that I could maintain a higher than normal performance using a 127:1 air fuel ration and a 2,500:1 Nitro to gas ratio if the ethanol blend is boosted to 20%. The mixture was impossible to detonate without the compression and spark of the engine so the Nitro formula was completely safe. The exhaust gases were almost totally gone even the Nox emissions were so low that a catalytic converter was not needed. Hydrocarbon exhaust was down in the range of a Hybrid. The usual problem of slow burn in ultra-lean mixtures was gone so the engine produced improved power well up into high RPMs and the whole engine ran at lower temperatures for the same RPM across all speeds. The real thrill came when we repeatedly measured MPG values in the 120 to 140 range.
The rapid release and fast burn of the Nitro allowed the engine to run an ultra-lean mixture that gave it great mileage while not having any of the usual limitations of lean mixtures. At richer mixtures, the power and performance was well in excess of what you’d expect of this engine. It would take a major redesign to make an engine strong enough to withstand the torque and speeds possible with this fuel in a normal 14:1 air-fuel mixture. Using my mix ratio of 120+:1 gave me slightly improved performance but at better than 140 MPG. It worked. Now I am waiting for the buyout or threats from the gas companies.
July 2010 Update:
The guys at ATC/LVTF contacted my old buddies at DARPA and some other tests were performed. The guys at DARPA have a test engine that allows them to inject high energy microwaves into the combustion chamber just before ignition and just barely past TDC. When the Nitro ratio was lowered to 90:1, the result was a 27 fold increase in released energy. We were subsequently able to reduce the quantity of fuel used to a level that created the equivalent of 394 miles per gallon in a 2,600 cc 4-cyl engine. The test engine ran for 4 days at a speed and torque load equal to 50 miles per hour and did that on 10 gallons of gas a test equivalent of just less than 4,000 miles! A new H-2 Hummer was rigged with one of these engines and the crew took it for a spin from Calif. To Maine on just over 14 gallons of gas. They are on their way back now by way of northern Canada and are trying to get 6,000 miles on less than 16 gallons.
The government R&D folks have pretty much taken over my project and testing but I have been assured that I will be both compensated and protected. I hope Obama is listening.