The goal of our project is to offer an affordable, open source solution for converting Internal-Combustion-Engine-cars into electric vehicles by using standard industrial components. The scope of our endeavour includes not only the delivery of detailed plans and lists of necessary components but also the development of a reliable backup generator that runs on regenerative resources. With this we would like to make a contribution to our ultimate vision: a sustainable, decentralized power-grid in which cars become mini-power stations that supply electricity at peak demand and act as a buffer when there is too much supply.

Background for our Vision: There is no doubt that electric cars make sense from an environmental perspective - especially here in New Zealand where about 70% of the electricity is generated sustainably. Unfortunately though, many people still don't make the transition because they argue that
a) the initial investment is too costly for them and b) the risk of getting stuck with empty batteries is too large. The first problem we are trying to address by making our affordable and high quality design open source. The second problem is commonly addressed by supplying the car with a diesel generator as a range extender which unfortunately entails again noise, pollution and the reliance on fossil fuels. The Rankine Cycle Engine (a particularly efficient external combustion engine, abbreviated RCE in the following) on the other hand can do the exact same thing but with far more efficiency (35% instead of 20%) and with far less noise and pollution, which is particularly important in an urban environment. Since the RCE's design allows almost any fuel to be used as a source of energy one is free to choose the most convenient and sustainable like e.g. wood-pellets which not only burn extremely clean and reliable but offer the distinct advantage of being cheaper (about 1/3 per unit of kinetic-energy compared to diesel) and carbon neutral (burning wood that is harvested sustainably - i.e. which is re-grown - adds no net amount of CO2 to the atmosphere;). That is the reason that they are the engine of choice in all the common power-plants, be it nuclear, coal, solar or gas. The reason that they have no relevance in small scale power-generation today is mostly historical: 100 years ago they were bulkier and heavier than their internal combustion engine counter-parts, their response time was too slow and since oil was cheap one of their main advantages (their flexibility in fuel) was not so relevant. But with recent developments these drawbacks have been addressed and it is possible to build them amazingly compact and with fast response times. Furthermore with oil increasing in price the development of a small scale RCE makes sense not only from an environmental point of view but also economically.


Fabian Wildgrube
Tobias Voglhuber
Tobias Voglhuber
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