Summer 2009: The One Gallon Challenge

one gallon challenge 2011
Summer 2009: The One Gallon Challenge
The Microcar Concept
Why three wheels?
Why Not Electric?
Street Legality
Test Drives
How to Build Moonbeam
photos 1 and 2
Photos 3 and 4
Photos 5 and 6
Photos 7, 8, and 9
Some more Pictures
Improvements you might make
How you may use this information
Links and Videos to Check Out
Maine to Santa Monica at slow speed
Report from Santa Monica's Altcarexpo
Progress Report Jan 8, 2009
Moving On! August, 2011
The Sequel to Moonbeam: Sunbeam

A Good look at ultra-economical cars in action
For lots of pictures of the event, plus interviews
  with the 6 contestants, see:


 Ten!...Nine!....Eight!....the spectators shouted the count-down until Nancy Hazard
dropped the checkered flag in front of six unusual cars.  Without the screech of tires,
the One Gallon Challenge began in stately, fuel-conserving style, as each car set
out to drive the 100 miles  from Greenfield, Mass. to Boston on one gallon of fuel.
  As the cars pulled into the Greenfest festival in downtown Boston later that afternoon,
after blisteringly hot weather and many adventures, each had proven some aspect
of our complex evolution to ultra-economical transportation:
    Dirigo--a sleek diesel 3 wheeler clocked in at 88MPGe with a running cost of 2.9 cents per mile--showed
the importance of good aerodynamics. This car had no backup, but was driven 550 miles on its own tires!   
With a sigh of relief, Bill Buchholz finally pointed the hood ornament toward  Maine:


    The wood-gas powered truck from 21st Century Motor Works breezed in at 27.7 MPGe
and an amazing 1.7 cents per mile travel cost, showing the viability of using a local,
carbon-sequestering fuel source: ordinary cord wood.

     MIT's Electric Vehicle Team drove their  Porsche at an amazing
164 MPGe (plug-to-wheels) and 75MPGe (wells-to-wheels) efficiency.
   Once our  electricity grid becomes more
earth-friendly, this technology may surpass all others.  
Many spectators, used to lead-acid technology,  were awed as these
students drove, with 18 automotive-sized
Lithium-ion batteries donated by Valence Technology,  from Cambridge
to Greenfield on a single charge, then charged up at the Ford dealership, and merrily drove back home.
  Without a doubt, the miracle battery we all
dreamed of decades ago has arrived.


     The Roopod, poster-child of the event, was not quite drivable at race time,  but was pushed symbolically
across the start, and was on display  in Boston.  This ultra sleek and light
14 HP diesel-powered wonder will be a car to be reckoned with next year.


  Dripping with sweat,  Jory Squibb drove his gas-powered three-wheel Moonbeam
across the line at 93 MPGe and 2.7 cents per mile cost.   Built as a grocery-getter, it had never been
driven far from Camden, Maine; but finished the race without incident,  blasting its heater to keep
the engine cool in the 90 degree heat.

     Though they were weary after interacting with the thousands of attendees at  the  two-day Greenfest,
all participants agreed to return next year with exciting improvements and face an even larger
field of next-generation vehicles.  





Here are the placards displayed at the greenfest, and the way the efficiency was calculated: 






THIS REPRESENTS AN EQUIVALENT GASOLINE  EFFICIENCY OF                                     ________MPG



                  CAR DETAILS:
Built by ____________________________
Interesting details__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

      If you used gasoline,  simply divide miles by gallons
      If you used diesel, divide miles by gallons and multiply by 0.95
    If you used electricity, divide KWH used by 33.7 to get equivalent gas used.
Then, divide miles driven by this equivalent gas used.  This will give you a plug-to-wheels figure.  This plug-to-wheels


does not account for the resource consumption (and carbon generation) of electricity.  Multiplying the plug-to-wheels

figure by .46 will adjust
for the relative efficiencies

of supplying electricity-to-plug vs gasoline-to-pump.  See below for details
     If you used wood and gasoline take pounds of wood you used and divide it by 13.   This  converts

wood energy to gasoline gallons.  Then add the gallons ofgasoline you used.  Divide the miles driven

by this total gasoline to get MPGe. 
    In energy conversions, the major losses occur where the fuel burns. Thus, in generating electricity,

the major losses are at the power plant.  In a gasoline-powered car, the major losses are in the car

engine.  Averaged over all sources, and throughout the US, electricity is generated, and distributed

to wall outlets, at 38% efficiency. Gasoline is refined and transported to the pump with 82% efficiency.
.38/.82 =.46, an adjustment

figure for the relative efficiencies.
Because electric motors are highly

efficient, electric cars are still very

efficient after applying this adjustment.

(courtesy Ken Fry)

  Ricker Truck, also 900cc diesel-powered, clocked in at 70 MPGe and showed the advantages of using laminated foam construction for safety and light weight.  This car was finished only hours before the race, yet apart from overheating problems, made Boston in fine form