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Old 08-11-2009, 08:29 PM   #21
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You eliminate the whole variable fuel cost if you stick with gallons and Kwh used for x amount of mileage.
With gas varying in cost from month to month (sometimes by quite a bit) and electricity and gas varying in cost from state to state (electricity to a greater extent as a percentage) I just don't see a way to do it without adding a huge level of complexity.
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Old 08-11-2009, 08:41 PM   #22
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You eliminate the whole variable fuel cost if you stick with gallons and Kwh used for x amount of mileage.
With gas varying in cost from month to month (sometimes by quite a bit) and electricity and gas varying in cost from state to state (electricity to a greater extent as a percentage) I just don't see a way to do it without adding a huge level of complexity.
I think you are right (if I'm following you). So, instead of my suggested table with cost per mile for each scenario, put in KWHrs and Gallons for each scenario?

Quote:
miles per day: 10 - 20 - 40 - 60 - 80 - 100 - sustained driving (no charge available)
There would be the added step of multiplying each by the cost per unit and adding those. That would get closer to an actual cost for a person.

Maybe a combo would be best? Assume some cost, and use that for basic comparison shopping, use the detail for specifics.

Oh, and if I wasn't clear to eridanus's earlier comment, they should give this number for ICE (both diesel and gas and hybrid) also, so that all types can be compared a bit more apple-apples. MPG should be dropped as a relic.

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Old 08-11-2009, 09:04 PM   #23
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So, what happens after you've driven your 40-50 miles and the battery is discharged. Now you have a 100HP engine in a 3400 lb car. Probably 0-60 in something more than 30 seconds. That's gonna make a VW van seem like a hotrod. Even if they engineer some kind of "reserve power" that remains in the battery, it will have a limited capacity and you'll never know when it will run out.
When I pull out to pass that truck, or put my foot down to safely merge into traffic, I want the car to behave the same every time. I'm not sure how they'll make this car behave in a safe, predictable manner. With present IC cars, the performance stays the same until the needle points to "E".
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:20 PM   #24
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I think you are right (if I'm following you). So, instead of my suggested table with cost per mile for each scenario, put in KWHrs and Gallons for each scenario?
Bingo

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There would be the added step of multiplying each by the cost per unit and adding those. That would get closer to an actual cost for a person.

Maybe a combo would be best? Assume some cost, and use that for basic comparison shopping, use the detail for specifics.
I think that would work well, as long as both are always listed. Use the US average for example, to make comparing different areas of the country easier. And I love your 'scale' idea. As everyone has different driving habits I think that would help the customer in a big way.

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Oh, and if I wasn't clear to eridanus's earlier comment, they should give this number for ICE (both diesel and gas and hybrid) also, so that all types can be compared a bit more apple-apples. MPG should be dropped as a relic.
Agreed
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:24 PM   #25
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So, what happens after you've driven your 40-50 miles and the battery is discharged. Now you have a 100HP engine in a 3400 lb car. Probably 0-60 in something more than 30 seconds. That's gonna make a VW van seem like a hotrod. Even if they engineer some kind of "reserve power" that remains in the battery, it will have a limited capacity and you'll never know when it will run out.
When I pull out to pass that truck, or put my foot down to safely merge into traffic, I want the car to behave the same every time. I'm not sure how they'll make this car behave in a safe, predictable manner. With present IC cars, the performance stays the same until the needle points to "E".
My understanding is the ICE is a generator, not an engine. The ICE never powers the car, it is always powered by the electric motor.
As an electric motor is FAR more efficient than and ICE engine, I suspect (but don't know for sure) that you won't have to worry about loosing power when the battery is depleted.
Also, you will know when the power in the battery is close to gone, as the on-board display should have that information.
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:31 PM   #26
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Here we go - this looks simple:

The Chevy Volt Gets 230 mpg? Only if you use bad math. : Good Math, Bad Math
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The honest way to describe it is to say "Up to 40 miles without consuming gas, and then 50 miles per gallon". That's not so horribly difficult, now is it?

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So, what happens after you've driven your 40-50 miles and the battery is discharged.

When I pull out to pass that truck, or put my foot down to safely merge into traffic, I want the car to behave the same every time.
I couldn't find the ref/link I was looking for, but from what I recall, this isn't an issue.

Batteries have a very flat discharge curve, and then drop off very sharply. To get long life, they run EV batteries in a pretty limited range - not fully charged and not fully discharged. So yes, there is reserve power there. And the generator kicks in before performance degrades much. IIRC they go to 80% charge, then down to 30% and the generator kicks in, then stops when it hits 40% (so that when you get home you actually charge from 40-80% from the socket).

This thing is still in development, so we will see.

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Old 08-11-2009, 10:37 PM   #27
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Well, unless he/she drives less than 40 miles per day (most do).

Sign me up! Quick, before they are all gone!

94.6% of the USA is rural open space.
2.6% is urbanized areas and urban clusters
2.8% is lower population density "other"

Without better battery and charging technology, and a huge infrastructure investment, this is a option for city folks only. If you want to go anywhere farther than the local mall, you are SOL. Who wants to stop for a charge every 40 (or even 100) miles? That won't even get a lot of rural folks to the next gas station, or many suburbanites to the closest urban area. If you run out of juice in a remote area, you can't bum a gallon of KW's to get you to the next charging station so you can sit for three hours waiting for the da#n thing to charge up so you can get back home.


I believe I'll pass until we get to the (fifth or sixth?) generation technology. GM completely scrapping the first generation is pretty telling- We aren't even close to being commercially viable yet, IMHO.
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:44 PM   #28
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Western, while it is true most of the land in the USA is rural, just where do you think most of the population lives?
80% of Americans drive less than 40 miles a day. So yes, a vehicle limited to 40 miles a day only has 80% of Americans as potential customers.
However, that really is irrelavent as this is NOT an option for only those folks. We are talking about the Volt here which can power get power from Gas as well. So you have an extended range of 300 miles and can refil it just like any other car.
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:58 PM   #29
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Western, while it is true most of the land in the USA is rural, just where do you think most of the population lives?
80% of Americans drive less than 40 miles a day. So yes, a vehicle limited to 40 miles a day only has 80% of Americans as potential customers.
However, that really is irrelavent as this is NOT an option for only those folks. We are talking about the Volt here which can power get power from Gas as well. So you have an extended range of 300 miles and can refil it just like any other car.
Why use an EV if you have to carry a backup ICE to travel more than 40 miles?
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Old 08-11-2009, 11:53 PM   #30
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Western, while it is true most of the land in the USA is rural, just where do you think most of the population lives?
80% of Americans drive less than 40 miles a day. So yes, a vehicle limited to 40 miles a day only has 80% of Americans as potential customers.
However, that really is irrelavent as this is NOT an option for only those folks. We are talking about the Volt here which can power get power from Gas as well. So you have an extended range of 300 miles and can refil it just like any other car.
I'd like to see your reference for the 80% driving less than 40 miles/day. When I've looked this up in the past the average commute in the nation was 16 miles each way. I suspect most people drive at least an additional 8 miles most days (errands, etc). I'd be very surprised if the 40 mile limit doesn't become an issue with the Volt.

Edit: Never mind, I see the stat comes from Rob Peterson, the manager of electric vehicle technology communications for GM. I'm sure he's correct. What possible reason could he have for fudging the numbers.

What he actually says is that 80% commute less than 40 miles/day. That's very different than total miles driven/day. IMO.
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Old 08-11-2009, 11:59 PM   #31
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My understanding is the ICE is a generator, not an engine. The ICE never powers the car, it is always powered by the electric motor.
As an electric motor is FAR more efficient than and ICE engine, I suspect (but don't know for sure) that you won't have to worry about loosing power when the battery is depleted.
Also, you will know when the power in the battery is close to gone, as the on-board display should have that information.
The ICE is an internal combustion engine. It drives a generator (or alternator, with an accompanying inverter). This produces electricity which goes into the battery and/or powers the electric motor that drives the wheels. Every time energy is converted in form, there are losses. Thus, at least on the face of it, this little car with its multi-conversion drivetrain stands to be less efficient, when it is burning gasoline, than if that little ICE were hooked directly to the wheels. Now, there are some other mitigating factors (the ability to operate the ICE at a constant efficient speed, regenerative braking, etc), but there are also some exacerbating ones (hauling around hundreds of pounds of dead-weight discharged batteries).
When this 3400 lb car heads up a 20 mile long uphill grade with its discharged battery pack and a whopping 100HP, something's gotta give.
Whereas it was a sprightly performer when fully charged around town, now it is an entirely different vehicle. The pretty displays and soft warning voices are not gonna be enough to keep drivers safe when they hang their little pink bodies out into traffic and try to pass.

Regarding the logo--yes, very dumb. I saw "23", too, not "230." This logo idea is a sign of one of two things:
- The New GM is as inept as the Old GM
- The marketing guys in Government Motors are doing what they can to assure this Congress-pleasing money-losing car flops as soon as possible so they can redirect their energies to building vehicles somebody might want to buy.
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Old 08-12-2009, 07:21 AM   #32
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samclem - your points all have merit, however the plan is that those negatives are offset by the expected high % of time that the car is running from cheaper/cleaner socket power. We will see if those become reality.

I suspect that it is still too early for an EV of this type. I doubt the pros will offset the cons for all but EV enthusiasts, and maybe some people anxious to make a "green" statement, and they will brag about it being "zero pollution".

It is a drawback to carry an ICE around that is seldom used. It is a drawback to run the ICE through a generator to a motor (though most locomotives do this 100% of the time I think). But since batteries are not "there" yet to provide the range most Americans need from time to time, it seems to be the best way to get to a car that runs mostly on electric power. I don't think that the current "best" is going to be good enough though.

I'd take a 20 mile range to cut the battery cost in half. I'd still be running on socket power a very high % of the time for my driving. But I'm pretty sure that the amount of batteries they are using were required to give decent acceleration - the 40 mile range is a result of that, not a design goal. Consider the Tesla - ~ 6x the range of the Volt and amazing performance. But cut the range to 1/6th, and I'd guess that the resulting 1/6th performance (plus carrying the weight of an ICE) is the minimum we expect from our regular cars.

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Old 08-12-2009, 07:38 AM   #33
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The Volt will be proclaimed a huge success, similar to giving away a billion dollars in 4 days, another tough job. However, at $40,000 a copy it is going to be a tough sell for lots of people. My guess is it will be real popular in Hollywood.
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Old 08-12-2009, 08:25 AM   #34
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Stupid logo not withstanding, GM will sell every Volt they can make. Just like the Toyota Prius, you can't justify the extra cost of the hybrid if you are just trying to save fuel cost. Right now with gas at $2.60/gal it would take (4) years to break even on the Prius. Then you can start saving money. Based on what I know (or don't know) right now, I would hate to drive either vehicle outside the warranty period.
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Old 08-12-2009, 08:37 AM   #35
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Stupid logo not withstanding, GM will sell every Volt they can make. Just like the Toyota Prius, you can't justify the extra cost of the hybrid if you are just trying to save fuel cost. Right now with gas at $2.60/gal it would take (4) years to break even on the Prius. Then you can start saving money. Based on what I know (or don't know) right now, I would hate to drive either vehicle outside the warranty period.

I would hate to (have to) drive either vehicle, period.
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Old 08-12-2009, 08:38 AM   #36
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Why use an EV if you have to carry a backup ICE to travel more than 40 miles?
Personally, I agree with you. I was simply addressing your point about the limited range. The Volt has no such limit because of the added ICE generator.

Harley, I heard it from the same source, as well as from other sources which gave smaller numbers. However, I prefer to go with more moderate numbers as the extremes tend to be biased.
Another way is to simply take the average distance traveled each year reported by insurance companies, the DoT and other sources. I believe that is around 15,000 miles a year?
15,000/365= 41.1 (approximately).
So 41 miles a day as an average doesn't seem that far fetched.

Sam, those are good points. No matter how efficient the electric motor you are getting a cut in efficiency due to both the ICE and electric motor running. However, besides ERD50's points, you also have the fact that the car is still using the battery as well as the ICE.
I don't know what the performance hit will be, but I am not willing to assume that it will be miserable until I test drive it, or I hear a lot of reports from customers. Likewise, I am not willing to assume it will be a negligable hit to performance.
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Old 08-12-2009, 09:09 AM   #37
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My commute is 15 miles, round-trip. My average miles/day for the past ten years has been 33. The Volt would, on most days, never use the ICE.

But really, it's all smoke-and-mirrors; let's all drive Suburbans. 'Cause, god dammit, we're Mercans...
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Old 08-12-2009, 09:27 AM   #38
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One interesting aspect to a design like the VOLT (technically a series hybrid), is that the engine only needs to run at one constant speed/power. It is essentialy "decoupled" from the rest of the car.

This means that the "engine" could be anything - gas, diesel, stirling, turbine, free-piston, nuclear reactor, ... whatever. And it doesn't require a redesign of anything else. The power unit is like a lego "module".

I think they will stick with ICE for now so as not to increase risk and the "non-normal" factor. But I find it hard to believe that a more-less standard automotive ICE which evolved to handle a fast response to a wide range of speeds and power ranges is really the optimum solution for this thing which only needs constant speed/power.

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Old 08-12-2009, 10:03 AM   #39
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Y'all need to drive a hybrid for a week or two.

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The ICE is an internal combustion engine. It drives a generator (or alternator, with an accompanying inverter). This produces electricity which goes into the battery and/or powers the electric motor that drives the wheels. Every time energy is converted in form, there are losses. Thus, at least on the face of it, this little car with its multi-conversion drivetrain stands to be less efficient, when it is burning gasoline, than if that little ICE were hooked directly to the wheels. Now, there are some other mitigating factors (the ability to operate the ICE at a constant efficient speed, regenerative braking, etc), but there are also some exacerbating ones (hauling around hundreds of pounds of dead-weight discharged batteries).
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Sam, those are good points. No matter how efficient the electric motor you are getting a cut in efficiency due to both the ICE and electric motor running. However, besides ERD50's points, you also have the fact that the car is still using the battery as well as the ICE.
I don't know what the performance hit will be, but I am not willing to assume that it will be miserable until I test drive it, or I hear a lot of reports from customers. Likewise, I am not willing to assume it will be a negligable hit to performance.
Yep, conversion losses suck. A plug-in car seems more "efficient" (more MPG) on battery because vehicle manufacturers don't have to care how the electricity got to the plug. As far as they're required to show, the electricity goes straight from the battery to the motor-generator to the transmission and to the wheels. The real "performance" difference is that the electricity is cheaper than gasoline, not more efficient. No car manufacturer wants to have to list how much atmospheric carbon was generated to produce the electricity that's at the plug. Or maybe a utility plant is more efficient than an ICE. I don't know.

The fact is that a hybrid without a plug is less efficient on battery because it has to burn its own gas, make electricity, store it in the battery, and then suck it back out of the battery to spin the wheels. That doesn't save gas. The vast majority of the hybrid's gas savings come from not having to idle the ICE all the time.

In fact a number of American Prius owners (me among them) are pissed off that when the engine is cold, the car's ICE runs for 45 seconds after startup. There's absolutely no engineering reason for this-- it's to warm up the engine (and catalytic converter) to qualify for the the EPA rating as "practically zero emissions". Non-American Priuses have dashboard buttons (as does the American 2010 model) to circumvent this bureaucratic nonsense, and some American Prius geeks (not me) wire in their own buttons.

Toyota actually tries to keep the engine hot when the car is parked. After a Prius is turned off, a small pump puts the hot radiator coolant into a thermos storage bottle, which can avoid the engine warmup upon startup after a short parking period. Some Prius owners in warm climates (again not me) actually install engine block heaters and turn them on 20 minutes before they start the car-- it satisifies the car's microprocessor controller that the catalytic converter is hot, so it avoids the 45-second warmup. But again the electricity to the engine block heater costs less than the gas. It's not necessarily more efficient.

IIRC Volkswagen used to make a high-MPG diesel car engine that shut down when the car was coasting. (It apparently freaked out drivers who worried about accelerator-pedal lag.) That VW would always use less gas than a Prius hauling hundreds of pounds of batteries.

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When this 3400 lb car heads up a 20 mile long uphill grade with its discharged battery pack and a whopping 100HP, something's gotta give.
Whereas it was a sprightly performer when fully charged around town, now it is an entirely different vehicle. The pretty displays and soft warning voices are not gonna be enough to keep drivers safe when they hang their little pink bodies out into traffic and try to pass.
The car's always hauling around a battery pack with its whopping 100 HP. There's nothing to give in the first place. It's no more a "sprightly performer" when fully charged than when almost discharged. There's no acceleration performance difference between fully charged and fully discharged, any more than a conventional car's acceleration performance changes when the gas tank is nearly full or nearly empty. The Prius looks cute in the ads, but in terms of weight & volume it's more the size of a Ford Taurus station wagon than a sedan.

There's no noticeable difference in Prius acceleration between motor generator and ICE. That MG provides plenty of torque. Certainly (ahem) more than enough to peel rubber and more than the average teen driver expects (or can handle). The nice thing about the car's propulsion train is that you can just stomp on the pedal without having to coordinate shifting gears or waiting through automatic transmission downshifts. A CVT is way better than any transmission I've ever driven before.

Another nice difference about a Prius is that when you accelerate from a stop, you punch it. You actually do a jackrabbit start. It's more efficient (more MPG!) than slowly accelerating on battery. The reason is that the car's microprocessor controller immediately spins up the ICE with the MG and then gases the ICE. The ICE wasn't wasting gas at idle, and it begins operating at its most efficient speed without any inefficient burning of gas to get up to that speed. The car immediately begins operating on its most efficient means of propulsion, and fewer battery amps are wasted to get the car up to speed before starting up the engine. Feels kinda strange to teach your kid to drive by saying "Punch it!"

Jackrabbit starts would be bad on plug-ins. The plug-in goal would be to never run the ICE because its fuel costs more than the battery's receptacle plug.

I think a week or two behind a hybrid wheel would be worth a thousand words. If you feel that you need plenty of reserve to be able to pass uphill or accelerate into traffic... well... you either need to drive a car that makes you feel safer with a higher thrust-to-weight ratio or you need to change your driving habits. Our teen always has far more acceleration than she needs for whatever she thinks she's doing. Me, I just try to avoid accelerating. I'm no hypermiler but a Prius dashboard display gives plenty of information to make a driver less wasteful of fuel, whether it's gasoline or electrons.

Now let's talk about "efficiency" when a plug-in hybrid is charged from a photovoltaic array!
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Old 08-12-2009, 10:18 AM   #40
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This means that the "engine" could be anything - gas, diesel, stirling, turbine, free-piston, nuclear reactor, ... whatever. And it doesn't require a redesign of anything else. The power unit is like a lego "module". -ERD50

For the conspiracy theorists among us...the answer is out there...

The Richard Clem Engine - 07/05/96

A few months back, we got a call from a friend who had heard of this incredible motor that was said to run itself and generate excess useable power. The details were unclear at the time and our friend gathered more details and we met for lunch to discuss what he had found out. This file with diagram is listed on KeelyNet as CLEM2.ZIP.
As we understand it, inventor Richard Clem died of a heart attack soon after the deal was signed with the coal company. His workshop was raided by law enforcement officials and all his notes and drawings were removed.

The story as I was told by our unnamed friend :

A local man (Dallas) developed a closed system engine that was purported to generate 350 HP and run itself. The engine weighed about 200 pounds and ran on cooking oil at temperatures of 300 F.

It consisted of a cone mounted on a horizontal axis. The shaft which supported the cone was hollow and the cone had spiralling channels cut into it. These spiralling pathways wound around the cone terminating at the cone base in the form of nozzles (rimjets).

When fluid was pumped into the hollow shaft at pressures ranging from 300-500 PSI (pounds per square inch), it moved into the closed spiralling channels of the cone and exited from the nozzles. This action caused the cone to spin. As the velocity of the fluid increased, so did the rotational speed of the cone.

As the speed continued to increase, the fluid heated up, requiring a heat exchange and filtering process. At a certain velocity, the rotating cone became independent of the drive system and began to operate of itself. The engine ran at speeds of 1800 to 2300 RPM.

Immediately after the inventor had the heart attack and the papers were removed, the son of the inventor took the only working model of the machine to a farm near Dallas. There it was buried under 10 feet of concrete and has been running at that depth for several years.

In later conversations, our contact says the engine had been tested by Bendix Corporation. The test involved attaching the engine to a dynamometer to measure the amount of horsepower generated by the engine in its self-running mode.

It generated a consistent 350 HP for 9 consecutive days which astounded the engineers at Bendix. They concluded the only source of energy which could generate this much power in a CLOSED SYSTEM over an extended period must be of an atomic nature.

Construction of the engine was from off the shelf components except for the hollow shaft and the custom cone with the enclosed spiral channels.

Richard Clem worked with heavy machinery for the city of Dallas and had noticed that certain kinds of high pressure pumps continued to run for short periods after the power was removed. His curiosity into this phenomenon led to the development of the Clem Engine.
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