Vincent CARMAN

Inertial Storage Transmission

Can This Transmission Really Double Your Car's Mileage? (Mother Earth News, November/December 1977 )

Dominic Muren:  Prototype: Vincent Carman's Inertial Storage Transmission (
Scott Burns: Energy Saving Invention Being Suppressed by Snafu (Boston Herald American, Monday, April 25, 1977 )
Vincent Carman: Patents List
V. Carman: US Patent # 4441573 -- Fuel-Efficient Energy Storage Automotive Drive System
V. Carman: USP # 4350220 -- Automotive Drive System
V. Carman: USP # 4227587 -- Automotive Drive System

Mother Earth News (November/December 1977)

Can This Transmission Really Double Your Car's Mileage?

Carmen's Inertial Storage Transmission is the key to greater car mileage.

LEFT: The IST Fiat and IST components (inset). --- RIGHT: Mr. Carman's IST Granada has a few extra hoses under the hood.
Photos by Martin Fox

The Good News is that Vincent Carman's new transmission can double your car's gas mileage. The Bad News is that, thanks in part to bungling by the U.S. Government's Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA), it may be decades before this fuel saver is on the market.

Portland, Oregon's Vincent Carman is an honest, straightforward guy ... and the revolutionary automobile transmission he's invented is the same kind of animal. It's a simple, straightforward combination of off-the-shelf components that don't do a blessed thing ... except simply and straightforwardly double the gasoline mileage of a passenger car or other internal combustion engine-powered vehicle.

Getting this new fuel saver developed and put on the market, however, is proving to be a somewhat more devious and complicated breed of cat.


It would be easier to understand Mr. Carman's current development and marketing frustrations if his new piece of equipment was merely a vague daydream that he'd sketched out on a place mat in a greasy spoon restaurant somewhere. But it isn't.

Vincent's Inertial Storage Transmission (IST) is already in its third or fourth generation of development, it has been endorsed by the National Bureau of Standards and championed by Senator Mark Hatfield and Congressman Robert Duncan, several versions of the transmission have actually been road tested, and the U.S. Postal Service is interested in equipping a whole fleet of vehicles with the IST ... just as soon as ERDA conducts some "independent" tests on Mr. Carman's invention.

And there's the rub. Because, ”thanks to a set of circumstances that occasionally seems as implausible as the script for a 1927 slapstick comedy” there sometimes doesn't seem to be much chance that those tests will ever get underway.


Vincent Carman's Inertial Storage Transmission does just what its name indicates: It stores energy that would otherwise be wasted during the many times an ordinary automobile is stopped with its engine running (in heavy traffic, while waiting to pull onto a freeway, at red lights, etc.) ... and then draws on that stored energy when it's needed to propel an IST-equipped vehicle down the pike.

More specifically, the IST [1] allows a passenger car or other internal combustion engine-powered vehicle's powerplant to run at a fuelsaving optimum and constant speed ... no matter how much the vehicle itself is accelerated, cruised at varying speeds, brought to panic stops or otherwise operated, [2] accumulates and stores a great deal of the energy that is normally "thrown away" any time a vehicle is parked with its engine running, [3] captures and saves a great deal of the energy that is normally dissipated as brake shoe heat when a vehicle is decelerated and/or stopped, and [4] will even automatically turn a vehicle's engine completely off and leave the machine cruising silently down the highway on nothing but stored power under certain conditions!

Although the sensors and "brain'' which control these activities are complex, the actual hardware which does all the work is a very simple hydraulic system. If you'll look at the diagrams which accompany this article, you'll notice that the whole transmission consists of little more than a hydraulic pump (directly driven by a vehicle's engine), a pressure accumulator (which is where all the energy that would otherwise be wasted is stored), a reservoir (in which "extra" hydraulic fluid is kept until it's pumped into the accumulator), a hydraulic motor (which is what actually drives the vehicle's rear wheels when oil from the accumulator tank is pumped through it), and enough plumbing and valves to connect these major components together properly.


A typical "spin around the block" in an IST-equipped automobile isn't really any different from the same trip made in an ordinary car. No different, that is, up in the passenger compartment. Under the hood and along the vehicle's drive line, however, some most unusual-and gasoline savingactions will constantly be taking place.

If the IST-outfitted machine had been parked with an appreciable amount of pressure still in its accumulator, for instance ... you would get into the vehicle, turn on its key, step on the accelerator, and start moving down the road just as you would move in an ordinary automobile. Except for the fact that you'll be driving on "old" stored energy, and your car's engine won't even have started yet! (No wonder that acceleration is so smooth ... and so quiet!

Nor will the internal combustion engine be started until the IST-equipped vehicle has traveled some distance down the road. How far? As much as it takes to bleed the stored hydraulic pressure in the IST accumulator tank down to a predetermined and pre-set minimum level. At that point the gasoline engine will be started automatically (you probably won't know-nor do you even need to know-when this happens). It will not, however, be started in the usual way (with electricity from a battery spinning an electric starter which, in turn, cranks over the internal combustion engine). Instead, some of the remaining pressure in the accumulator will be piped through the hydraulic pump that is directly attached to the engine, and-as the pump spins- it will act as the gasoline engine's starter.

Pretty clever, this invention of Vincent Carman's! But that's only the beginning of the fuel-stretching tricks that the Inertial Storage Transmission has up its sleeves. For example:

When you come to a red light and remove your foot from the accelerator ... you will not also have to step on the brake (which is left in an IST-outfitted car mostly as an emergency backup for the automatic braking action built right into the Inertial Storage Transmission itself). What happens, you see—as soon as you let up on the accelerator—is that the hydraulic motor which has been driving the rear wheels to make your vehicle move down the road ... that hydraulic motor is instantly converted into a pump. It no longer drives the wheels. Instead, the coasting wheels begin to drive it. And as this hydraulic unit is turned, it just like the pump attached directly to the car's internal combustion engine—begins to force more and more pressure into the IST accumulator.

This action, of course, puts a considerable braking load on the coasting wheels which means that two very desirable things are being accomplished at once: [1] your car is being smoothly brought to a halt, and [2] as it is stopped, the vehicle's dissipating kinetic energy is not being wastefully spewed into the atmosphere as brake drum heat. Instead, it's being accumulated and stored in a form that you'll be able to use to make your car move once again when that red traffic light—which stopped you in the first place—turns green.

Don't forget that your vehicle's prime internal combustion engine is not being slowed down and left to kick over at an inefficient, gas-burning idle all the time you're sitting there waiting for that light to change, either.

Rather, it's allowed to keep right on running at its most efficient rpm—for as long as necessary during your deceleration and the time you're halted—until the pressure in the IST accumulator has been raised back up to a pre-set maximum level. At that point and only at that point (and, again, without your knowing or even needing to know that it's happening) your car's engine will be shut off automatically. And it will then remain shut off until the pressure in the IST accumulator is again bled down to its preset minimum level.

Chances are, then, when that light finally does turn back to green and you glide off down the road once more, you'll begin to move the same way you did when this trial spin started. That is, you'll accelerate and go some distance before your vehicle's engine is again started.

What this all means is that your carin heavy stop-and-go city traffic-can be operated as much as 80% of the time ... on stored energy and with its engine shut off! And if all the other cars around you were also equipped with Inertial Storage Transmissions ... just think what that would mean in terms of soaring gas mileage and plunging levels of internal combustion engine air pollution!


Why, then, doesn't everyone have an IST in his or her car? Certainly not because the concept hasn't been proven.

Vincent Carman's first Inertial Storage Transmission was installed in a Fiat 850 and the little automobile was then driven over the same 3/4-mile stop-and-go course that it had been driven over while it was still equipped with its regular transmission. Result: The Fiat, when operated as set up at the factory, burned 200 milliliters (a shade over 3/4 cup) of fuel during the test ... but only 98 milliliters (less than half as much) gasoline when run as an IST vehicle.

Vince has also installed an Inertial Storage Transmission in a Ford Granada. When tested in city traffic alongside an identical-but-unmodified Granada ... you guessed it: The stock car gets 20 miles to the gallon, while the IST car rolls up 40 miles per gallon. An IST-equipped diesel Volkswagen Rabbit will soon be on the road too, and it'll be interesting to see just how far Mr. Carman's transmission can stretch that car's already superior mileage. In the meantime, though, Vince has already convinced some of our federal government's heavyweights that he's onto something good.

The National Bureau of Standards, for instance, has evaluated the IST and found it to be "technically valid" enough to recommend it to ERDA for "appropriate government support". That referral becomes even more impressive when you know that the NBS has made this sort of recommendation for only 22 of the some 4,300 energy inventions it has looked into.

It is interesting, too, that Mr. William Hullgeneral manager of research and development for the U.S. Postal Service -has witnessed the operation of Vince's IST-Granada . . . and that, as a result, the Postal Service is interested in testing the transmission on an entire fleet of vehicles. Just as soon, that is, as the Energy Research and Development Administration runs an "independent" test on the unit.

Which is exactly where the plot begins to thicken.

Because, according to Vincent Carman, ERDA was notified about the development of the IST two years ago and, since then, has done little about the invention but "get in the way". Carman, in fact, claims that not only has ERDA not conducted those independent tests of his transmission yet ... but it didn't even acknowledge the transmission's existence for a full six months after receiving the National Bureau of Standards recommendation of the unit. And ERDA only admitted its knowledge of Vince's work then because of pressure applied by Senator Mark Hatfield and Congressman Robert Duncan.

At that, Carman still doesn't know whether to laugh or cry at the "recognition" for his development that Hatfield and Duncan squeezed out of ERDA. The Energy Research and Development Administration's report consisted of a short one and a half pages which rejected Carman's unit as something that is too expensive, unable to achieve the fuel savings claimed for it, and unacceptable to the auto industry (MOTHER's emphasis).

What does this mean ... really? How can ERDA flatly pass such a judgment on an energy-saving transmission it has never even tested? Especially when others (including representatives of the National Bureau of Standards and the U.S. Postal Service) who have seen the unit demonstrated ... say that it does live up to its claims?

Vince Carman thinks ERDA wants to ignore his work -- or worse, actually suppress it -- because of the agency's commitment to another energy-efficient vehicle technology. ERDA has already spent at least $200,000 on a feasibility study of flywheel storage systems for vehicles and has earmarked three years of further development and $4.5 million to put a prototype on the road. The agency also shares a contract with the Department of Transportation (which, likewise, is interested in flywheel energy storage and has spent five years and $300,000 trying to convert a Ford Pinto to such a system) to supply flywheel vehicles to the city of New York.

[And by the way, where does bankrupt New York City get the money to throw around on such a goose chase? This is beginning to sound like one set of government con men conning another set of government con men into greater and greater flights of fancy -- all at tax payers' expense, of course -- while the lone, levelheaded genius with the real answer that everyone wants is left to cool his heels on the sidelines. -MOTHER.]

ERDA spokesmen, on the other hand, say that they're not committed to one type of energy-efficient vehicle (their unproven flywheel-storage car) any more than another (Carman's proven Inertial Storage Transmission automobiles which are running right now). They even admit they initially mishandled the whole IST situation and say they'd love to test Vince's cars now. The only trouble is that they just can't get Vince to agree on an acceptable location for that demonstration (the now-wary Carman insists that the test be conducted in Portland).

So where does that leave all the rest of us?

Well, the automobile companies certainly aren't beating Vince's door down for rights to manufacture his fantastic fuel saver. Apparently they'd rather not be bothered with tooling up for Carman's transmission and redesigning their auto bodies around the new drive system because that'd cost a lot of money and depress their profits for a few years.

And you --- all you good people who'd like to cut your use of petroleum in half for the sake of both the environment and your pocketbooks ---well, unless you're enough of a mechanical wizard to figure out how to construct and control an IST system of your own ... it leaves you just waiting.


MOTHER staffer Travis Brock called ERDA and talked to a Mr. Jerry Black ... who told him that Vincent Carman first presented his new transmission concept to the Environmental Protection Agency, and that the EPA referred Vince to ERDA in July of 1975. At about the same time, however, Congress decided that the National Bureau of Standards should screen all energy-related inventions before ERDA became involved with them.

For that reason, Carman and his transmission were passed right on to the National Bureau of Standards. And the NBS, after looking the idea over, passed Vince back to ERDA with a report that said the IST would save half of all the oil we import from the Arabs if it was installed on all the vehicles used in our urban traffic.

ERDA's people then said that such a figure couldn't possibly be right and ran some calculations of their own ... calculations which showed the IST would save only 3% of U.S. imported oil. This report was passed around the agency's lower levels where it was considered the end of the whole affair by most of ERDA's personnel ... until one of the higher-echelon people in the agency stumbled onto the paper. "Hey, wait a minute," he said. "It doesn't matter if this thing saves 50% or 3% or only 1% of the oil we import. It's our responsibility to get this transmission tested and that's what we should do. "

ERDA then contacted the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California and asked it to investigate the performance of the IST. Carman, however, refused to take one of his cars to California. ERDA next got in touch with a test lab in Portland (Mr. Black implied that it was the only facility in the area with the capability of handling such work) ... but, due to some internal problems, that particular facility won't be able to evaluate the Inertial Storage Transmission for another 15 to 18 months.

Mr. Black also stated that he had heard via the grapevine that the hydraulics shop which did much of the work on Carman's current prototype has a $20,000 lien on the automobile and refuses to let it leave the Portland area. ERDA feels that this may be one of the reasons for Vince's inflexibility about the location in which his prototype is demonstrated to the agency. ERDA, according to Black, has even checked with its lawyers to learn if there is any legal way it can pay off the lien against the IST prototype so the auto can be moved to California and tested. "No," the lawyers have decided, "there's no legal way that public money can be used to pay off Mr. Carman's private debt."

Mr. Black further noted that ERDA gets a letter almost every day from Mr. Carman ... and that the agency has trouble just keeping up its end of the correspondence. According to Jerry Black, though, ERDA does feel that the Inertial Storage Transmission is technically credible and the agency believes that Carman's demonstrations are honest. Mr. Black says he is confident that, sooner or later, the JPL tests will confirm this and that, sometime in the future, the Postal Service will get its fleet of IST-equipped vehicles.


After visiting Mr. Carman in Portland, seeing his current prototype, preparing the main body of this article, and talking by phone to ERDA's Mr. Black ... MOTHER's Travis Brock called Vince and questioned him further about the Energy Research and Development Administration's proposed Pasadena test of his transmission.

Carman replied that the Jet Propulsion Lab (which ERDA wants to evaluate his unit) has been doing work on a flywheel system (the idea that is directly competitive with his energy storage system) and he doesn't trust the people at JPL to give his transmission a fair shake. And that's the reason, he says, that he insists the ERDA demonstration must take place in Portland.

Vince also mentioned that he's now selling stock (the second issue) in an effort to raise $200,000 which he needs for further development of the IST ... and for testing the system in some transit buses!

Mr. Carman says the stock is selling well and that he "expects this thing to break wide open" once he gets his ISTequipped diesel Volkswagen Rabbit on the road. When asked what he means by "break wide open", Vince said that "once people see this thing being driven all over the U.S., they'll raise such a ruckus demanding cars with IST transmissions—which will only add $200 to $300 to the cost of a new car—that both ERDA and Detroit will be forced to give the system serious consideration."


Scott Burns is a columnist for the American Boston Herald and Mr. Burns has followed the IST story in his column for some time. In his very first column on the subject, in fact, Scott even accused ERDA of intentionally suppressing Vince Carman's Inertial Storage Transmission.

Mr. Burns seems to have mellowed on the subject, though, and now has what appears to be a more philosophical view of the whole Vince Carman/ERDA affair. "ERDA's people," he says, "are not really conspiring to snub Carman. They're just bungling idiots."

Prototype: Vincent Carman's Inertial Storage Transmission


Dominic Muren

Believe it or not, both these old beat up cars have something amazing in common: They get double the gas mileage of standard models, because of an ingenious new transmission system developed by inventor Vincent Carman (seriously, could your name be any more perfect for making cars?). Not only that, but he did it in the 1970's! Even more unbelievable (or maybe not, considering) is that the government was sandbagging the implementation of his innovation for 2 years...

Carman's transmission relies on hydraulic fluid under pressure to transfer energy from the engine to the wheels. A major downside of piston engines is that they are most efficient at a very high RPM -- much higher than would be effective for starting. So, in current cars, manual, or automatic mechanical transmissions try to use gearing to keep the engine running at its optimum RPM. But these systems inevitably run the engine too slow or too fast, because there are just not enough gears to cover everything. Some recent cars (like the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius) have used continuously variable transmissions which theoretically have infinitely many gears, to make an even more efficient motor running profile. But problems still happen when the car is starting (since the engine starts from rest, and is therefore inefficient), and when it accelerates quickly from a stop.

The Inertial Storage Transmission (IST) that Carman developed bypasses all these problems by storing the engine's energy in high-pressure fluid. The fluid is pumped out of a reservoir by a small gas engine, into an accumulator at high pressure, which holds the fluid like a super-soaker holds water. Then, based on acceleration, more or less high pressure fluid is fed out of the reservoir through a hydraulic motor (like a turbine) to drive the wheels.

The system works almost identically to current hybrid electric systems, with some major advantages. First, it's cheap; hydraulics are a common technology with low service costs and cheap materials. Second, there are no expensive batteries or electronic systems to damage. And third, energy loss in pressurizing the accumulator tank is much less than for charging batteries.

So what held up this wonder? It looks like the usual bureaucratic nonsense. Some people loved it. Some people hated it. Some think it just wouldn't work. And yet Vincent has been drove a version of this car for two years with no trouble. Did we mention that this was in 1977! Surely we've worked out the kinks since then. He was getting 40 miles per gallon in a real junker of a car. If you're a handyman, this might be a project worth resurrecting. And, if you know anyone in the automotive lobby, I'm sure that Vincent would be much obliged for any mention.

Boston Herald American, Monday, April 25, 1977

Energy Saving Invention being Suppressed by Snafu


Scott Burns

While the Carter administration promotes its plan to turn a mountain of new taxes into a molehill of energy savings, the real solution to the energy crisis  -  new  technology  - may be languishing at our beloved Energy Research and Development Administration.

Testifying before the Senate Sub-Committe on Energy Research and Development on April 4, Vincent Carman, inventor of the Inertial Storage Transmission, recounted a mind-boggling tale of resistance and delay at ERDA, the agency charged with solving the energy crisis.

Here, in brief, is what he said :

"Over six months ago, the National Bureau of Standards completed an extensive evaluation of a revolutionary automobile transmission that they reported could reduce our nation's oil imports by 50 percent.  This system can reduce vehicular air pollution in our cities by 75 percent.

This OPERATIONAL SYSTEM was publicly demonstrated 18 months ago.  The system is simple, uses OFF-THE-SHELF, commercially available components.

In the two years that ERDA has been aware of the system they have given the concept no serious attention."

It now appears they are attempting to suppress it.

Unlike Dr. Ilok's solution to the energy crisis (reported here April 17-20), Carman's invention EXISTS, has been publicly demonstrated, and requires NO research and development investment from ERDA.

Carman merely wants ERDA to get OUT OF THE WAY and make it possible for him to install his invention on some U.S. Post Office trucks so that he might further demonstrate its utility and potential for energy savings.

But ERDA won't get out of the way.  Instead, Carman says they have suppressed the National Bureau of Standards evaluation of his invention, refusing to release it to other agencies.

They've done this because the NBS report recommends Carman's invention for funding, a singular achievement since only 22 of some 4300 submissions have enjoyed positive recommendation from NBS.

ERDA's own, one-and-a-half page report, issued later, rejects the invention, saying that it is too expensive, won't achieve the savings the inventor had DEMONSTRATED AND DOCUMENTED, and won't be accepted by the automobile industry.

ERDA is circulating its own report and has not, to date, released the NBS report, damaging both Carman's credibility and his ability to attract the interest of other government agencies or private industry.

What is the IST System?

Carman's Inertial Storage Transmission works by storing oil under high pressure.

This means that all the power output from an engine can be used so that in city driving where car engines idle much of the time, a car could run USING the STORED POWER of its engine and the engine's power WOULD NEVER BE LOST IN WASTEFUL IDLING.  (stored in the form of compressed oil)

As a consequence, the engine could be OFF 80 PERCENT OF THE TIME, REDUCING POLLUTION by 75 PERCENT and FUEL CONSUMPTION by 50 PERCENT!

Estimates indicate the IST could save some 35 BILLION GALLONS A YEAR, cutting our imported oil IN HALF.

Carman didn't hear from ERDA for six months after NBS's positive report was issued and then only after ERDA was pressured by Mark Hatfield and Congressman Robert Duncan.  Clearly, ERDA would like the matter to quietly disappear.

Now let's consider the quality of the two reports :


The uncirculated NBS report was based on 10 months of work and contributions from a variety of sources, many of them here in Massachusetts.

The Department of Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, contributed to the evaluation as did the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts, the Boston Police Department, the MBTA and Yellow Cab Corporation.

Nonetheless, ERDA continues to circulate its own report rather than the NBS report.

One possible reason is that ERDA is committed to another technology, the flywheel energy storage system.   To date, they have spent some $200,000 on a feasibility study of such systems. The study determined it would take three years and 4.5 million to get a prototype on the road, something Carman ACHIEVED IN LESS THAN A YEAR WITH $4000.

The Department of Transportation also has an interest in flywheel systems and has spent five years and $300,000 trying to convert a Ford Pinto into a flywheel storage car.  Together, the two agencies have a contract to supply flywheel vehicles to the city of New York.  (Birds of a feather?)

Meanwhile, the Postal Service also reports it has contracts for flywheel vehicles and therefore can't put up funds for demonstration of the IST system.

ERDA, in other words, has neatly closed out a competing technology because the agency is in a position to exercise MONOPOLISTIC CONTROL over the flow of both money and ideas in new energy technologies.

In an eloquent close to his testimony before the Senate sub-committee, Carman said ;

"The energy problem has a solution and it is quite probable that a large part of that solution can come from the little guy.

Two men in an upstairs room gave us the telephone, and a couple of bicycle mechanics brought aviation to the world.  It is sometimes said that the day of the individual inventor is over, but nobody told Robert Goddard that, and he invented the ballistic missle in his backyard.

In the last few years, while the greatest scientific organizations in both the United States and Russia struggled with the problem of generating electric power from fusion, a young man in California in his own lab produced the first major breakthrough."

Now that we've seen Carter's energy plan, we know that Carter has chosen taxation, not technology, as the means of "solving" the energy crisis.

The money we all start paying in federal gasoline taxes will soon help ERDA expand its research efforts, - WHILE IT IGNORES SOLUTIONS.

Vincent E. Carman -- Patents

Fuel-Efficient Energy Storage Automotive Drive System
Abstract --- A fuel-saving energy storage vehicle drive system which saves fuel, primarily under stop-and-go driving conditions, by collecting, storing and using energy normally lost in the braking or deceleration of the vehicle, by automatically controlled operation of the engine under certain conditions, and by automatically controlled use of the stored energy and engine respectively as alternative or supplemental prime movers for each other for driving the vehicle. Subsystems for preventing waste of deceleration energy and stored energy are provided, and compact transmission layout and packaging are provided which facilitate installation of the new system in existing vehicles.

Automotive drive system
Abstract --- An internal combustion engine is connected to a fixed displacement pump normally having its inlet connected to a reservoir and its outlet connected to an accumulator. To start the engine, selectively operable valves connect the inlet of the pump to the accumulator and the outlet to the reservoir to drive the pump as a motor to rotate the engine. Also, a fixed displacement motor has an inlet connected by a forward solenoid valve to the accumulator and pump and connected by a brake solenoid valve to the reservoir. The motor also has an outlet connected to the pump and the accumulator by a reverse solenoid valve and connected to the reservoir by a neutral solenoid valve.

Automotive Drive System

Hydraulic Energy Storage transmission

Hydraulic Energy Storage Transmission

Fuel-Efficient Energy Storage Automotive Drive System and Method of Operation Thereof.

Fuel-Efficient Energy Storage Automotive Drive System.

Hydraulic Energy Storage Multi-Speed Transmission

Drivsystem for Fordon


Improved Automotive Drive System

Method for Purifying a Liquid by Pressure Distillation

Hydraulic Braking System

Energilagrande Hydraulisk Transmission

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