NOTE: For the following paragraphs on the technology of ELPS, please refer to the ELPS Diagrams Page
Automobiles, like any personal vehicle, is regarded as a source of freedom for the individual who owns it. Thus, it is an attractive concept that one's source of mobility should consist of something powerful, while being fuel efficient, and environmentally friendly. With the Electro-Lipid Propulsion System, this mere concept may revolutionize the entire transportation industry. Yet, the key to the ELPS lies in resourceful fuel management. (see ELPS diagram I)
The Internal Combustion Engine
Fuel: An engine's purpose is to convert stored energy into useful work; thus, the fuel determines the engine specifications and design. With the ELPS, the main fuel will consist of lipids-more specifically glycerol (fig.3.1). Containing the bulk of the constituents needed to produce nitroglycerine ( C3H5(ONO2)3 ), a highly volatile explosive, lipids may be transformed into this explosive and detonated instantaneously. Since nitroglycerine raises the temperature of the surrounding air by up to 3000 °C, expands to almost 10,000 times its volume in gas at a strength of over 2000 atm, not much of it needs to be produced.
There are two reactants and a catalyst involved in the manufacturing of nitroglycerine: glycerol, nitric acid (HNO3) and sulfuric acid (H2SO4). Individually, each is safe and manageable as long as they are contained properly within the vehicle chassis. However, when mixed together, the resulting nitroglycerine is very dangerous as it is very sensitive to shock and will detonate with the slightest disturbance. Moreover, the detonation of nitroglycerine can be triggered by heat when it reaches temperatures of approximately 256 °C (fig. 3.2, 3.3, 3.4)
Structural Modifications: The cylinder block which encases the internal combustion engine must be constructed of a material that is both shock resistant and able to withstand exposure to very high temperatures. Ceramic coatings for parts exposed to the blast, namely the pistons, and the cylinder itself will be necessary in order to prevent cracking or warping of parts. Furthermore, instead of having several small cylinders at work, the "Lipid" component of ELPS requires a decreased number of cylinders (in our sketch 2 ½), however at a much larger scale to accommodate the hefty volumes of gas and powerful quantities of air pressure produced by fuel detonation. Consequently, the positioning of the cylinders cannot follow that of a V-engine, instead they are placed parallel to the base of the car (fig. 3.5)
Mechanical Modifications: To make full use of the energy released by nitroglycerine, Double Piston Technology (DPT), an essential part of the ELPS, must be employed. This revolutionary advancement in fuel management (fig. 3.6), reuses half of the explosion force by reallocating it in the form of mechanical energy to be stored away in batteries through an electrical turbine. Another modification to the standard diesel engine is the fuel injection system. Since nitroglycerine must be used immediately as it is manufactured, its formulation must take place in one of the cylinders or in an isolated chamber which may serve as a carburetor (In this case, the addition of sulfuric acid would be postponed until fuel injection occurs). (fig. 3.7)
The Electric Motor: Running on such a strong fuel, the internal combustion engine would have to be built to endure the initial jolt of the ignition process. Not only does this lower efficiency, but it would also prove to be harmful towards engine parts while caught in stop-and- go traffic. Therefore, a weaker engine, more specifically an electric motor, must accompany the internal combustion engine. The purpose of the motor is to only accelerate and gather enough momentum so that it is safe for the nitroglycerine engine to start working.
The power source of the electric motor are batteries that recharge whenever the engine is in use via DPT. When travelling, for example, on the highway, the batteries would energize by the nitroglycerine engine turning a turbine as a side process. In addition, the equipment of an electric counterpart provides much of the fuel economy that comes with the ELPS.
The CO2 Fixator: An optional component to the ELPS, the CO2 Fixator reduces carbon dioxide emissions and reclaims some of the fuel constituents from the exhaust. The catalytic converter of present day automobiles functions by exposing the harmful nitrogenous gases to catalysts, causing them to either break down or combine to form more undisruptive exhaust. With the Electro-Lipid Propulsion System, a catalytic collector would have to be developed in which CO2 could be effectively rerouted into another tank to be fixated by enzymes.
An enzyme called ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase (Rubisco) found in photosynthesizing plants may very well be the key to this problem. When in a solution saturated with hydronium ions (H+), Rubisco can take surrounding CO2 molecules and when reduced can output glucose which can be changed and stored as lipids by other enzymes. It has an active and inactive state depending on the availability of reducing agents, which in plants come in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH). These provide the necessary electrons for the Rubisco bound CO2 to gain hydrogen atoms to later form glucose when the enzyme separates from the product. In the ELPS, the reducing agents are replaced by an intermittent electrical current which would similarly provide electrons.