Facetmobile Designer Barnaby Wainfan's "Eyeball" Helps Win $5M X Prize
By Anthony J. Liberatore, EAA 99484, email@example.com
Washington, D.C., September 16, 2010 – Progressive Insurance and the X Prize Foundation,an educational nonprofit organization, awarded in the Mainstream Class the prize of $5 million to the Very Light Car Edison2 Team of Lynchburg, Virginia.
The lead aerodynamicist on Team Edison2 is none other than EAA’s Barnaby Wainfan. Sporting a coefficient of drag of 0.16, the Edison2 was tested in the General Motors wind tunnel in Warren, Michigan, and is now on record as the lowest drag automobile General Motors has ever tested. The most amazing part of this news is that in spite of the go-fast nature of the project, no exotic aerodynamic tools such as computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software were utilized. In fact, in a recent conversation with this author, Barnaby noted he “eye-balled it.” It’s a given, however, that Barnaby’s eye is highly trained! We all know Barnaby from his Facetmobile project or his monthly column in KITPLANES, but many may not know that his day job is working for Northrop Grumman, handling aerodynamic design and analysis while holding a top-secret clearance.
Edison2 is more than a proof-of-concept platform; its nimble suspension makes it fun to drive.
Utilizing construction techniques familiar to many homebuilders, the fiberglass outer skin of the winning Edison2 (there are aluminum versions as well) covers a steel-tube space frame reminiscent of many a homebuilt steel tube fuselage, contributing to its published curb weight of less than 800 pounds. The combination of the light weight and low aerodynamic drag, which many of us strive for in our homebuilt aircraft projects, was the core design philosophy Team Edison2 utilized in the pursuit of their victory.
Team Edison2 entered the X Prize competition expecting to build an electric or hybrid vehicle. Early analysis of efficiency, however, pointed to the unequivocal virtues of light weight and low aerodynamic drag. X Prize competition requirements made an internal combustion engine, running on E85, the team’s preferred choice, but speculation is that electric or hybrid technology could have a real-world application.
Powering Edison2 is a single-cylinder, dual overhead cam, turbocharged, 250-cc internal combustion engine making 40 hp at 7,200 rpm and running on an alternative motor vehicle fuel, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent unleaded gasoline (E85). Of particular note is the use of exhaust gas recirculation.
Congratulations to Barnaby Wainfan and all the Edison2 team members!