Jan 5, 2014

CSU ECOCAR2 Car Guy Envy

I don't want people to get the wrong idea here on where I stand regarding fuel efficiency; I'm against it.  I prefer a car that accelerates so biblically fast that a hole in the ozone follows it around like a crow follows the son of satan.   BUT... there is no denying that it has gotten pretty damn expensive to drive a Hemi Cuda from NY to LA lately. 

This blog isn't about building efficient cars.  It's about building the car guys of the future.  I was invited to meet a few of these car guys and they are some smart, cool dudes.  I'm jealous of what they are doing, even if it isn't all taking place at the Bonneville Salt Flats or Pikes Peak. 

Okay car guys, be honest... your fingernails just are not as dirty as they used to be, right?  Your only true quality time with your automobile is waxing.  Okay, maybe you shop in the Griots Garage catalog while in the bathroom, but you fondly remember the days when you really got involved. Well, what if this photo below was your classroom back in college? I bet you'd have grease under your nails then!

What did you expect? A Tesla? You've got to start somewhere and small, practical
cars pay the bills.  Then, with your profits you can manufacture something stupid
fast and irresponsible.

Now, you rationalize that you are still a car guy by reading obscure blogs written by other "wanna-be" car guys.  If only you'd ignored those college advisors and your parents.  If only you'd done your physics homework.  Maybe joining mathletes might have been wiser than wrestling or soccer.  Blame your parents; they should have known better. Either way, your best bet is to read this and learn something before your kids leave the nest.  There's still a chance for your offspring to be cool, even if it's too late for you and me. 

Personally, when I look back into my alternate existence, like in one of those movies where you do it all over again.... the life these car guys are living is what I see. 

Instead of one enormous hydrogen cell like in the mass transit buses of England, 
     you'll  see multiple smaller,  albeit less efficient, cells here in CSU's Chevy Malibu.
  It proved a pretty smart  decision because it still makes plenty of power and fits nicely under the hood.  Though, come to think of it, they should have loaned this car to me for some drag racing road tests, I need a lot more road tests in this job.  

It's amazing what some $10 Vistaprint business cards can do.  Someone at Colorado State University got the mistaken impression that I write a blog that people actually read.  I took advantage of the misconception and accepted an invitation to tour the facility and met the students working on their ECOCAR2 Challenge.  I tried to hide my jealousy and actually be happy for them. It wasn't easy. My wife came along and took these photos. I think she came to be sure I actually returned home... I can loose track of time in such situations.

No, they won't explode you moron. They worried about that Hindenburg problem already.  
 The tanks are tougher than a diesel engine block and it's safer than that Accord you're in.
Oh, and stop your complaining - you know damn well you'd buy a car without trunk space 
if it was cool enough. Hell, the Shelby Series One didn't even have a trunk.

Basically these lucky bastards (ok, it's not all luck) here at CSU work on some pretty interesting stuff.  The ECOCAR2 challenge (link)  enables them to work on this hydrogen cell powered car for credit.  Explanation? Go get a degree and explain it to yourself.  Oh, and for the record, that's not the only stuff they work on, see the EAC cars below.. hehe.

Ram Racing.  No cars development is proper w/out some connection to racing.  
No matter how small, I think its essential for the two to mingle in some way. 
Even if its simply making your engineers go to 24 hours of Daytona, just don't separate 
the two completely.  If you don't understand what I'm saying then you probably aren't
fond of the Porsche 918 RSR (link).  Which means you're stupid.

Okay fine, I'll take my  prestigious BA in Chemistry (2.0 GPA) and translate for you laymen:

  • Simply put:  H2 (in the tank) + O2 (in the air) = (via the hydrogen cells) Electricity + water vapor as the only waste product.   
  • Add electric motor, an extension cord and rechargeable battery and you get a FCPHEV (fuel cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicle)

Sure, they don't sell hydrogen at the Safeway fuel station, yet.  But that isn't these student's problem.  They have chosen this system as FCPHEV to the typical gas or diesel hybrids that nearly all the other chicken-shit universities have chosen.  Way to go guys.   

Okay a little suggestion here.  Even though the tailpipe (for water vapor) is small,
 you could still use some oversized chrome here guys.  Just my 2 cents.

Still not sold on alternate fuel vehicles?  How about this: The less fuel others use, the more fuel will be left for you.  So get behind it.

They work on Saturdays, willingly, on cool shit.  Stuff like fuel cells, carbon fiber, user interfaces, dynamometers, EFI computers, hydrogen cells and even motorcycles.  All while people like you and I are raking leaves, walking dogs, or tiling our kitchens.  Sad isn't it?

It's not all ECOCAR2 competition either.  
Check em out, Ram Racing here (link).  
I might have mentioned this before :)

While you posted the names of your favorite car movies on Facebook, these kids worked on optimizing the performance of their Malibu. They utilize the kind of intellectual and fabricating resources we “retail car guys” can only dream about.  They get goodies for free that we would, or have, killed for.  Hell, they have an extra F1 car hanging from the goddam ceiling.  What do you have hanging from your garage ceiling?  Yeah, I've been to your house... it's a Walmart mountain bike!

Most F1 cars can drive inverted at 70 mph due to the wing design.
This one is better, and can actually drive on the ceiling at zero mph.

While you tweeted photos of parking lot cars this morning, they built carbon control arms on their race car.  While you washed the dog, they repaired an eddy current dynamometer. I guess this brings up the important question: are you really a car guy at all?  Which we will need to discuss in a future blog. Don't worry, I think you are. Really.

This is the part makes time travel possible. or was that a DeLorean?

You’ve got a good life and hopefully have a shiny sports car in that 3rd garage space.  But is that job your true calling? Shit no jack! You should have been working with Tesla or tinkering with McLaren by now.  These kids will be doing just that in a few years. Those lucky bastards!  Hell, I know I would have done my homework if I'd met these folks 20 years ago. I could have designed the Pinto-II for Carroll Shelby or something.

You'd smile too if this stuff was your weekend work.

Yep, they've got it better than you and I for sure. I, myself, have digested my envy for now and have even found a moral to this story:  Don’t hate these guys. Rejoice! For they are living our dreams.   

PS:  You'll see the big manufacturers offering this very sort of hydrogen cell concept very soon.  Toyota Honda and Hyundai have recently announced intentions on this very concept.  (link)

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