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Green Generator Challenge

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Green gensets: For the next decades we will continue to need carbon-based fuels to generate on-site or portable electricity on demand. The intent of this prize is to spur production of cleaner generators that could replace current models in a typical variety of uses: power tools, welder, emergency power, auxiliary power, vehicles.

Even if we get carbon-neutral liquid fuels, we still need to burn them more cleanly. Large stationary generators are already in development to meet these needs, but the small generator market is not providing greener replacements to their very dirty and inefficient units. The automobile industry makes far cleaner and more fuel-efficient engines than the small-engine industry, and that technology could be used in small generators.

In addition, other forms of combustion such as turbines, rotary, and external combustion might be better than our current four-stroke piston designs. A future market for green gensets also exists with battery-electric vehicles. Until battery technology improves, range extenders such as a genset trailer or built-in genset as a hybrid will be needed to get sufficient range.


To win, a claimant must be the first to demonstrate a portable 120V AC generator that uses readily-available fuel as cleanly and efficiently as a standard model automobile.


"Portable" = less than 100 kilos, completely self-contained including fuel, in a single unit that fits in a cube 1.5 meters on a side.

"Generator" = DC generator or AC alternator, final output 120V AC suitable for a variety of US-standard tools or appliances.

"Carbon-based fuels" = Gasoline, diesel, bio-diesel, propane in any formulation commonly available ( no 'race gas' or custom fuel).

"Cleanly" = equal grams of CO2 emitted per unit fuel as compared to the car; meet California 2008 ULEV requirement for air pollutants.

"Fuel-efficient" = Kilowatts produced at the equivalent value as peak driving-wheel horsepower per unit of fuel. ( 1 horsepower = .7456 kilowatts).

"Standard model automobile" = An arbitrarily chosen 4 cylinder California-spec conventional car such as a Civic or Corolla, with suitable published dynamometer tests.

Additional rules:

There is no minimum size or weight, but the generator must produce a minimum of 1 kilowatt of output and a maximum of 10 kilowatts in constant use for one hour. The minimum ensures practical usability, and the maximum makes it easier to design the testing apparatus, and keep costs down. Standard California-spec smog test equipment will be used for testing emissions. Engine type and electrical design is unlimited.

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Prize Information

Prize ID Number: Z0562I5F3 Prize Author: jawfish Prize Organizer: jawfish Date Started: June 17, 2008

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