As much as we like to talk about a future without oil, the fact of the matter is that one gallon of oil-derived gasoline holds a tremendous amount of energy. Just how much energy does a gallon of gas go? That’s what drivers of the annual One Gallon Challenge, a part of the Boston Greenfest, set off to find out yesterday as they attempted the 111 mile drive from Plymouth, MA to Boston on just a single gallon of gas.
The One Gallon Challenge was in full swing for its third year at Green Fest 2011 in the state of Massachusetts. What began as a showcase for high mileage cars has turned into a green event for drivers and creators of unique homemade alternative vehicles to show their stuff, and this year the race came down to the wire. At the time of this article all vehicles had made it to the finish line, with the top two vehicles logging in at 88 miles per gallon. See, this race isn’t so much about speed, as it is about gas mileage under real world circumstances.
Drivers reported few problems on the 111 mile trip from Plymouth Massachusetts to the city of Boston, even though much of the journey was stop and go, with all drivers hitting the same lights and traffic. The stop and go nature of the One Gallon Challenge is truly unique, offering a real world road scenario that provides real world and accurate mile per gallon results. There are no lab produced numbers in this challenge or hypermiling style driving; this is actual driving under unpredictable traffic conditions and vehicles that cannot cut the traffic conditions need not apply.
The One Gallon Challenge is a way for backyard mechanics to show what they can truly accomplish with many of the drivers operating with zero sponsorship. The drivers and creators of these amazing vehicles are from across the nation and their backgrounds very as much as the design of their vehicle.
At the heart of the One Gallon Challenge there is a message; the technology is out there to make vehicles that can get upwards of 88 miles per gallon. There is no need for a two ton gas guzzler to drive to the mall or to pick the kids from school. Smaller, lighter, and more fuel efficient vehicle can do just as good a job at those tasks and the One Gallon Challenge shows off these vehicles of the future and the innovative people and teams behind them.
The two vehicles that that were essentially tied at 88 miles per gallon at the finish were George Voll and the VK from BITW Technologies coming from Indiana and Bill Buchholz and the Dirigo hailing from Maine.
The VK (pictured above), sponsored by Ren Diesel, is a Chevy Metro Sedan powered by a small turbo diesel engine and uses Ren Diesel fuel that is derived from plant matter such as grass clippings.
The Dirigo is a truly one of a kind three wheeled bio diesel two passenger vehicle, powered by a 28 hp, 3-cylinder diesel engine, capable of achieving 75 mpg at 75 mph, a true highway vehicle (though it takes 20 seconds to reach just 50 mph.)
Both the VK and the Dirigo previously competed in the Automotive X Prize, a $10 million dollar prize supported by X Prize Foundation with the goal to inspire a 100 mile per gallon, practical, and mass producible car. Neither vehicle won the X Prize, however, both vehicles are now well tested ambassadors to the alternative fuel movement.
The RooPod, a mainly aluminum 2 cylinder diesel engine powered vehicle, was also present at the One Gallon Challenge, a local favorite hailing from Shrewsbury, MA. The RooPod got an impressive 79 miles per gallon this year at the One Gallon Challenge. MIT and their electric Porsche that had participated in the One Gallon Challenge before was absent from this years competition.
On hand to film the One Gallon Challenge was Adam Nathaniel Greene of Green Lens Media. Green Lens Media’s goal is to make video content for environmental conscious companies as well as to educate and expose people on the web to events such as the One Mile Challenge.
Sergio Quadros, one of the main organizers of the One Gallon Challenge and principal of Cleanergie, was also present at the event and riding in the pace car during the 111 mile journey. When Mr. Quadros is not organizing the One Gallon Challenge his efforts are put to work at Cleanergie, an organization that focuses on clean energy architecture. To Mr. Quadros, cars are an extension of our dwellings; Americans spend so much time in their cars and on the road that Americans do in part live in their cars. Highly efficient vehicles, be they electric, bio diesel, or a hybrids, are the front line of this paradigm change.
Mr. Quadros is hoping to put together the tinkers from the One Gallon Challenge with scientists and other inventors to make something similar to the Experimental Aircraft Association. The goal would be to make The Experimental Landcraft Association—if a nation can fly experimental planes, than that same nation can drive experimental vehicles.
The One Gallon Challenge is a truly unique road event that brings together people and business that are dedicated to furthering the movement of alternative fuel and experimental vehicles. With new contenders welcomed each year, the line up of vehicles is always changing and the competition consistently increases.
As alternative fuel vehicles slowly move into the mainstream and are adopted by large car manufactures local events such as the One Gallon Challenge are moved into the limelight. With the collective pool of talent seen each year it is safe to say that the future of the One Gallon Challenge is bright.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail.