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Old 05-16-2022, 05:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The X-Prize Sonata

We entered a 2008 stock-bodied Hyundai Sonata in the July 2010 Progressive Automotive 100 MPGe $10 Million Fuel Economy Race. Our unofficial best recorded economy was 57 MPG at one of the trials at Michigan International Raceway. Our official best, signed off by Roush Industries, was 41.99 MPG HWY. Considering the car sported 30 MPG on the window sticker, this = a 40% increase officially, and using the 57 MPG number, an unofficial 90% increase. There is a write-up on it here.
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Old 05-16-2022, 05:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The first step was to modify the cylinder head. I had done extensive development work around cylinder head porting and modifications, so I just did what I knew. (I even wrote a book on what I learned!) I used 5 tubes of epoxy to fill in areas of the ports, then used the Powre Lynz to put different pitch "screw threads" in the ports. The exhaust passages were reworked (no epoxy as it wouldn't hold up to the high temps), as well as the combustion chambers. Maiden voyage delivered ~55 MPG. However, ECU strategies stole most of the gains back leaving us with a paltry 39 MPG.
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Old 05-16-2022, 05:17 PM   #3 (permalink)
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From here to the end testing, MPG numbers are fuzzy. We weren't necessarily meticulously testing each mod, simply loading the car with what we knew. Since both Randy (car owner) and I had experience with HHO, that was next on the list.
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Old 05-16-2022, 05:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It should be noted that Randy was the 3rd person to approach me about building an X-Prize car. I told the first 2 no, as when I read the official rules, it was apparent to me that there could never be a winner. When Randy asked, and I told him no as well, he asked why? I told him. He carefully read the rules, and showed me how they were changing the rules on a daily basis. The then-current rules actually made it possible for someone to win. So I finally agreed!

Why a Hyundai Sonata? I asked Randy that very question myself! He said that he really wanted a smaller lighter car, but that option fell through. Plan "B" was the Sonata. At the time, it was a brand new car! (In order to compete in a July 2010 event, we had to get started in 2008.)
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Old 05-16-2022, 05:49 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The X-Prize committee mandated a few modifications that had nothing to do with fuel efficiency. We had to have a fire extinguisher within reach of the driver. We had to add a tow hitch to pull the portable emissions analyzer during testing. The exhaust tail pipe required modification to interface with said portable emissions analyzer. They gave us a transponder that had to be wired into the OBD II and a few other places so data could be monitored remotely from some booth. They required a separate fuel tank, with a fuel-flow meter tied to the transponder. We were required to provide a battery disconnect switch incase of emergency.

I know that none of this relates directly to fuel economy improvements, but I note it historically for future researchers.
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Old 05-16-2022, 06:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Earlier I mentioned that we really didn't keep meticulous track of fuel economy results for each and every modification. The reason is that for whatever we did, we would initially see a dramatic improvement in fuel efficiency proportional to the science backing the modification. However, within less-than-a-tank, most of those gains disappeared. (Thank you ECU software engineers!)

We quickly realized that if we were to prevent that dastardly ECU from stealing our hard-earned gains, we had to take matters into our own hands! Our first attempt was an extremely expensive ($7000+) MOTEC Controller. The objective was to have the MOTEC control fuel injectors and ignition coil timing, but let the factory ECU handle the transmission, gauges, and everything else. I wired it in, spent hours and hours tuning it, but when I went for a drive, the display would occasionally read 19,000 RPM -- and it would dump fuel as if that lie were true! (This cost us a set of catalytic converters eventually.) I got on the phone with the East Coast MOTEC Technical representative, the West Coast rep, and eventually gave up. Since I already had a LINK PC G2, I installed that. Guess what?? Same phenomenon! Out of desperation, we tried a MegaSquirt MS3.1. Somehow we got the exact same "glitch" with that!!

Grabbing at straws, with only an elementary understanding of analog electronics (at that time), I created a controller that influenced sensors and such to try to salvage the whole thing. This controller is what was "gettin' 'er dun" for the Roush testing. Curiously, it was the final day of the X-Prize event (July, 2010), I was sipping my morning coffee at a couple ticks past 8 am, and I realized why three different stand-alone controllers failed in the exact same way. I opted for Sequential control of both ignition coils and fuel injectors. This required implementing the CMP cam sensor signal. The Sonata has a variable cam timing feature. The CMP is bolted to the cam that twists. Every time the factory ECU would adjust cam timing, the aftermarket ECU would freak out!

Post X-Prize, I used the Sonata for much development work. I learned much about electronics, got a functional grasp on programming microcontrollers, learned how to create PCB boards, and was able to work out many of the gremlins that plagued us leading up to the actual X-Prize competition.
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Old 05-16-2022, 08:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Reading through many of the Ecomodder threads, it has become obvious to me that popular modifications trend towards things folks can visualize. If you reduce weight, you get better fuel economy (and you can physically see the weight removed). If you improve aerodynamics, fuel economy improves (and we can watch a river, stream, or leaves blowing in the wind to visualize how that is possible). I have seen a select few individuals that have tackled (with commendable effort I might add) the engine efficiency side of fuel economy; though they seem to be the exception. What is seriously lacking in this form is the knowledge of how to work with the factory ECU to get mileage gains. (More later.)

My uncles trained me to think of terms of engine performance. They all had iconic Mopar muscle cars while I was growing up, and all their cars were better than any amusement park ride! Naturally, when I got interested in fuel economy back in 1991, I started with what I knew -- engine efficiency. Well, let me qualify that; I started with what I thought I knew. As of this post, my fuel economy journey officially started 31 years ago (1991).

Back in 1991 I got interested in fuel economy out of necessity; I was driving 51 miles one-way back and forth to work (102 miles round trip). As a young 20-something, I wasn't earning a whole lot of $money. Exxon (or Sunoco, Amoco, or whoever) was getting way too much of my precious limited pay check each and every week! I decided that it was possible to improve the fuel economy of my 1971 Dodge Demon, and I was going to do it!!

I started by adjusting the valves on the 225 slant 6, replaced the spark plugs with brand new Champion 65 plugs (after all, that was what the owner's manual recommended), replaced the ignition wires with store-brand specials (they were brand new after all!)... and working with what little else I knew. As a mechanic, I had access to shop equipment, like the Allen Testproducts Engine Analyzer with 4-gas capabilities and automotive scope.

One day (after hours) my boss asked me, "I see you pulling your car in several nights per week and working on it. What are you doing?" I told him I was trying to improve fuel economy. After a brief pause, he recounted a Harrisburg Patriot News article he remembered from a year or three ago with the headline, "This Car Gets 72 MPG!" It was a 1972 Oldsmobile Tornado with a 455 V-8 engine. The picture for the newspaper article showed the car smoking the tires so badly that you could barely make out the car through all the smoke. My only response was, "TELL ME MORE!!"

He said it had been awhile, and he didn't remember any details. DOH!! The next day, he said he still didn't remember much detail, but that the inventor said, "If you understand what a carburetor is supposed to do, and you understand how an engine works, you should be able to duplicate my results; although your hardware will most likely look different than mine." I had rebuilt several engines and carburetors. What was I missing???

I later learned the name of that inventor; Arthur Sgrignoli, from Enola, PA (I checked the post twice+, not a misspelling). Through a chain of events I learned about H&A Industries out of Bowling Green, Missouri. Harold Kneiss (the "H" in "H&A") was selling literature mostly devoted to getting better fuel economy. Over the course of 2+ years I sent Harold much of what was left over from my weekly paychecks in return for his information. I found the most value in the materials originally published by Allan Wallace (1980-2). His premise was that liquid fuel doesn't burn. He published numerous inventions that vaporized the fuel. (One of the photos included in this post is a picture of me, Allan Wallace, and my best friend at the time Grant Goldade.)

From Allan Wallace's "200 MPG" books, I built the "Air Cleaner Vapor Carb" which didn't work worth a sh!t (at least the way I attempted it). I then built 2 versions of the "Nay Box" developed by Elmer Nay. The first one actually worked better than the 2nd one, delivering ~60 MPG in my 1970 Duster (built 225 slant-6). I later connected with Paul Pantone and adopted his Geet Fuel Processor to the Duster and managed a best of 92 MPG! (Though not reliable, nor repeatable.) The issue with all of these experimental systems is that I was the only person that could drive the car. My wife had no clue what to do when the accumulation chamber overflowed and flooded the engine.

At some point I became intrigued with a product called the Power Plate. It was a 1" aluminum spacer that mounted between the carburetor and intake manifold. It featured engine coolant jackets that heated the passageway between the carburetor and manifold. This passageway was cone shaped, with about an 8 degree taper. The interior of the cone sported 20-pitch "screw threads". I already had heavily modified my Duster; rebuilt engine with increased compression, slightly hotter cam, free-flowing exhaust, electronic ignition with MSD-5 capacitive discharge box, 2 barrel Super-6 intake with a 318 Carter 2-bbl carburetor, and finally, a Carb Screen that I tweaked to no end to get proper screen angles and such. Oh, and I swapped the automatic transmission for a manual overdrive 4-speed (common mid-70's item).

With all those other modifications, I was able to get a best of 29.9 MPG (killed me that I couldn't crest that illusive 30 MPG!). I had to remove the carb screen when I installed the Power Plate. Immediately afterwards, my wife & I made a 70+ mile trip. I couldn't help but notice that the fuel gauge simply wasn't dropping as it normally would. Furthermore the tip-in throttle response was better than it ever was. (I found I was hammering on it and enjoying the rush!) After our trip, I asked her if she was up for a mileage run; she said "yes". We ran my traditional route from Duncannon to Sunbury and back (Pennsylvania); very flat, shielded by trees much of the way, no stops, 55 MPH speed limit -- perfect fuel economy test route. We recorded 44.7 MPG at a steady 55 MPH! Woah! How can I incorporate this into modern PFI engines?!?

The X-Prize Sonata head port work illustrated in a previous post is the result of this thought process. I developed the Powre Lynz that put the screw threads from the Power Plate directly into the intake ports. I had to have special tools made to do this. The cylinder head is relatively hot, which fulfilled the requirement the coolant jacket served in the Power Plate. By gently tapering the intake ports with head porting, I was able to replicate the 8 degree taper from the Power Plate. Later research on 4-Valve-per-Cylinder engines taught me how to bias one port over the other to create swirl.

Though not directly related to the X-Prize Sonata, this head porting design work delivered 430 HP from a Chrysler 2.5 Turbo (factory rated at 156 HP) while yielding 42 MPG on the highway! An otherwise stock Plymouth Sundance 2.5 TBI AT went from 26 MPG HWY to 44 MPG with only the head swap. Believe me, I could go on and on, but the punch line is that these techniques delivered the goods -- improved fuel economy and improved performance -- so many times that statistically there is no room for error. It Works!! This is what I did with the head porting work on the X-Prize Sonata. (I wrote "Head Porting for Performance & Economy" which covers these topics and so much more.)

When something intrigues me, I become fascinated with the back story. This is just some of my back story for the X-Prize Sonata modifications.
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Old 05-16-2022, 09:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Getting back to the Sonata, is that all we did? Well...... no.

As stated earlier, our cumulative experience encompassed testing many, many different technologies. Quite a few just didn't pan out. A select few amazed us. For the X-Prize Sonata, we mostly targeted stuff that worked for us in the past.

Some of what we tried was based on "friends'" solutions that seemed to have answers, and some was based on our own research. We had formulated theories of what should work and tested it.

One of the "friends'" technologies was the Cal Cat. It was a device that incorporated a catalyst chamber for the fuel, and a heat exchanger fed by engine coolant. The concept was that the heated catalysts in the Cal Cat chamber would break down the heavier HC molecules in the fuel to smaller -- more homogenized molecules. We had seen compelling evidence that it works -- and it did!. Later, we realized that this metallurgy and chemistry worked for awhile, but the catalysts eventually degraded and, worst case scenario would plug the fuel line.
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Old 05-17-2022, 01:27 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
I had done extensive development work around cylinder head porting and modifications, so I just did what I knew. (I even wrote a book on what I learned!)
I've never done it, but I know that people like Jocko Johnson got fame and fortune porting heads.

Some time ago I had an engine builder build up an engine assembly based on the famous John Karcey 50-mpg Karmann Ghia.
Quote:
https://www.thesamba.com › vw › forum › viewtopic.php?t=97269
TheSamba.com :: Performance/Engines/Transmissions - View ...
I read in a 1982 Popular Mechanics of a Jon Karcey who stroked a 1300 to around 1400cc, had a custom cam, dual Weber ict-34 carbs. With a few other engine mods and a freeway flyer type tranny he was getting 50+ miles per gallon from his Karmann Ghia.
Because I wanted a truck motor, one change I made was to use big valve heads. When Hot VWs followed the same recipe, they went with fuel injection heads, apparently for smaller intake valves.

Which is the proper direction?

Per your Permalink #2, that's a thread rather than corrugations? What's a Powre Lynz?
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Old 05-17-2022, 12:11 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I had several sets of Powre Lynz Toolz made up over the years. First one was just a 20 pitch thread bit made of not very good metal. I chewed it up with my first job -- my brother's 4.0 liter Jeep head for his 258 (4.2 liter) block we rebuilt.
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I think round 3 of bits I had 20, 16, and 12 pitch Toolz made. This allowed me to customize the boundary layer and direct the flow of air where I wanted it to go. This jacked up the swirl in the cylinders tremendously. I put the 12 where I didn't want the air to go, and the 20 where I wanted it to go, and used the 16 in the blend zones. This picture shows the worn out original and the first batch of 3.
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Lastly, I applied the screw thread concept to the back sides of the intake valves.
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