Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have engines with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads!

Dr. Evil would be so happy to hear about Ford and the University of Liverpool recently reported work to replace the high-voltage spark plug with high-tech laser ignition systems – literally attached to their heads.

Continuing their work to improve engine technology for maximum efficiency and power, Ford once again shows it certainly is the greenest and most innovative of the American car companies. The recent flurry of engine efficiency innovations also repudiates the arguments that tried to explain away the flat-line in fuel efficiency since 1980 as a “technological barrier” we just couldn’t overcome because engines were  just too darn advanced already. 

Ford reportedly plans to install the laser ignitions in a select range of vehicles in the next few years before expanding the laser ignitions on a larger scale. The technology works like this: The laser is quickly directed toward the combustion chamber where the fuel is most concentrated, allowing the engine to run on a more efficient mix of fuel and air. Bigger diameter valves that improve engine gas flow could be used in such a system because the thin fiber optic cable delivering the laser beam is smaller than a spark plug. The laser is also more reliable than a traditional spark plug.

The laser ignition may also overcome a significant barrier to widespread adoption of biofuels — starting the vehicle when the engine is cold. According to the Telegraph, reflecting part of the laser back from inside the cylinder can deliver information on fuel type and ignition level to allow vehicles to optimally adjust the air/fuel mix.

We can only imagine what the future has in-store for this new engine technology…

ford-ecoboost-engine-with-laser-ignition-vs-tie-fighter



Jetta TDI Meets Prius [Video]

May 20, 2009 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, Diesel, Hybrid Vehicles · Comment 

This is funny new commercial.

Popular Mechanics wrote:

The new era of clean diesel in America will officially be ushered in by the new VW Jetta TDi when it goes on sale in a few months. Powered by a 2.0-liter four-banger that produces 140 hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque, it will be the first automobile to meet the world’s most stringent emission control standards, California’s Tier II, Bin 5.

I enjoyed driving a brand new diesel Seat around the beautiful country of Estonia in 2006. My Estonian cousin who’s car I was driving smiled as he pointed to a local blooming soy-bean farm and told me we are driving on sunshine. He fills his car with bio-diesel. He wondered why I didn’t do the same thing.

Clean diesels are a blast to drive. Like most diesels they have gobs of low-end torque that plants you in your seat, and since you can upshift as low as 1200 rpm you can take mechanical advantage of all that torque with quick up-shifts instead of revving out your fuel pump.

It’s not an answer to our oil addiction, and road taxes on diesel is pretty steep (meaning diesel is often more expensive than gasoline), it does offer you a way to get more mpg and enjoy the music of a finely tuned machine.



Fuelishness! Feed: The axles of evil; Fuel injected motorcycles; Nissan’s improved fuel-efficiency; Toyota says Prius achieves highest fuel efficiency for gasoline cars

  • The axles of evil: Absent $4 gasoline, customers, those nuisances with their insufferable preferences, do not want the vehicles the politicians want them to want, even with manufacturers now offering large rebates and other incentives… 
      
  •  Fuel Injection in motorcycles: Since it is intelligent to use the fuel the Fuel Efficiency of the motorcycle is increased than the carb ones. And also fuel injection helps to deliver good power even in high altitude regions… 
     
  • Nissan’s improved fuel-efficiency models to offer major tax breaks : Nissan Motor Co. will soon release seven vehicle models with improved fuel efficiency, measures that qualify them for major tax breaks…
     
  • Toyota says Prius achieves highest fuel efficiency for gasoline carsToyota Motor Corp. claimed Friday its new Prius gasoline-electric hybrid car to be launched in mid-May has achieved the world’s highest fuel efficiency of 38 kilometers per liter, an improvement of some 7 percent from the current Prius.


Hybrid car sales go from 60 to 0 at breakneck speed; Hybrid Car Sales Take Off

Hybrid whiplash. (Two articles w/ dissimilar headlines… 3/17/2009)

  • Hybrid car sales go from 60 to 0 at breakneck speed

    The gas-electric vehicles are piling up on dealers’ lots as anxiety over gasoline prices evaporates. But more hybrid models are on the way. 

    …Americans have cut back on buying vehicles of all types as the economy continues its slide. But the slowdown has been particularly brutal for hybrids, which use electricity and gasoline as power sources. They were the industry’s darling just last summer, but sales have collapsed as consumers refuse to pay a premium for a fuel-efficient vehicle now that the average price of a gallon of gasoline nationally has slipped below $2.”When gas prices came down, the priority of buying a hybrid fell off quite quickly,” said Wes Brown, a partner at Los Angeles-based market research firm Iceology. “Yet even as consumer interest declined, the manufacturers have continued to pump them out.” 

    Last month, only 15,144 hybrids sold nationwide, down almost two-thirds from April, when the segment’s sales peaked and gas averaged $3.57 a gallon. That’s far larger than the drop in industry sales for the period and scarcely a better showing than January, when hybrid sales were at their lowest since early 2005…

    Read the rest…
      

  • Hybrid Car Sales Take Off 
     
    …The hybrid vehicle market is about to heat up. Major car makers are expanding their hybrid offerings with new innovations and improvements, including greater fuel economy, all designed to help the environment. Toyota, Lexus, Ford and Honda all have announced major milestones over the past week.Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. says the total combined Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicle sales in the U.S. now have topped the one-million mark, thanks to six hybrid vehicles including the top-selling Toyota Prius. The Prius is touted as the all-time worldwide leader in hybrid sales.Cumulative worldwide sales of Toyota and Lexus hybrids have exceeded 1.7 million vehicles through January 2009. The car maker projects sales of one million gas-electric hybrids per year by early in the next decade with the launch of 10 new hybrid models between now and 2012…

    Read the rest… 

Which is it? Tell us what you think in the comments.



Fuelishness Marathon! – Part 4: Cellulosic Ethanol Could Have “Unintended” Environmental Consequences; $25 Billion For Green Cars;



Fuelishness! Marathon – Part 2: Plug-In Charging Stations; Mille Hybrid-Powered Race Recovery Vehicle; Omnivore Concept Engine

  • Raleigh, N.C. to Install Plug-in Hybrid Charging Stations : Like the San Francisco-based program, drivers will access the charging stations through key-cards. In Raleigh, this means simple credit card access at a cost of about 2.5 cents per mile, while the SF-based program uses chargers provided by Coulomb Technologies at no cost, but are only available to members of the car-sharing programs City CarShare and Zipcar.
     
  • Miller Industries Adds Eaton Hybrid-Powered Race Recovery Vehicle To Fleet : The debut of the colorful white and green vehicle as part of Miller’s 12-truck fleet at the famed Daytona International Speedway was so successful that Miller announced plans to have it added to the company’s fleet of race recovery vehicles that will be operating throughout 2009. Miller supplies race recovery trucks for a large number of NASCAR events.
     
  • Geneva Preview: Lotus to unveil Omnivore concept engine : The Omnivore is specifically designed to take advantage of varying fuels and modern electronic control capabilities. Like most research engines, this is a single cylinder design that allows the Lotus engineers to more quickly make changes and study the effects. This is also a two-stroke design with an air assisted direct injection system provided by Orbital Corporation of Australia. Those interested in two-strokes may remember Orbital from the early nineties when a number of manufacturers were investigating two-stroke engines. The concept engine uses a mono-block layout with a single hunk of metal comprising the cylinder block and head and no poppet valves. Instead the ports are exposed by the piston’s motion. Variations in timing between intake and exhaust are achieved by valve in the exhaust port that traps the exhaust.


Fuelishness! Feed: Car Shoppers Want Efficiency, Hydraulic Hybrids Cheaper than Electric, Mass. Considers Gas Guzzler Tax, 70MPG VW Rabbit for $7000?

  • Fuel Efficiency is the First Priority of Car Shoppers : Many car shoppers at the Chicago Auto Show say money-saving fuel-efficiency technology is becoming the top factor affecting their purchase decisions… Though the price of gasoline has dropped in the past seven months, down from $3.86 to $1.97 per gallon on average for regular gasoline, car shoppers have learned their lesson, becoming more cautious of fluctuating prices. [ With video ]
     
  • Green Car Halves Fuel Consumption : A hybrid hydraulic drive allows energy usually wasted during braking to be stored and used again when the car needs to accelerate. The car ran on a mixture of stored energy and petrol, with computer control technology used to switch between the two power sources. The team from Midlothian-based Artemis Intelligent Power said the equipment was less expensive than the batteries used in existing hybrid vehicles.
     
  • Massachusetts Considers Gas-Guzzler Tax : Governor Deval Patrick said today he is looking at a Hummer tax — adding higher registration fees for gas-guzzling cars and offering discounts for those that do less harm to the environment. One industry opponent said it would be the first such fee in the nation on the state level. 
      
  • Top Gear America to Build 70MPG Car Out of a 1971 VW Rabbit for $7,000 : “While converting a gas-powered car to diesel power is technically simple (replace the engine and the gas tank), it’s bureaucratically cumbersome. Our creation will need a license plate, and that license plate requires a registration, and renewing that registration will require some kind of emissions test… If the book doesn’t say the Scirocco’s pipe gas should smell like a diesel, we’re dead in the water.” 


UL Approves 15% Ethanol Blends for “Legacy” Gas Pumps

Last year I had a quick conversation with Bob Casper, President of POET Ethanol Products, after a conference where he had said that the ethanol industry in America was about to meet the current 10% blend-wall mandate, providing all the fuel the market could use, while continuing to improve efficiencies and producing more fuel with fewer resources.

I asked him what his single greatest challenge is, and he told me that the industry was about to have excess capacity, without any real FFV progress, the blend-wall for non-FFV vehicle fuel needed to be raised to 12% or 15% in order to create room for the industry to continue to grow, to encourage continued innovation and investment.

One of the challenges of increasing the blend-wall is certifying that the existing equipment like pumps, tanks, and dispensing machines can operate without problems due to the higher alcohol content. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) creates standards for this kind of equipment, and recently announced it will support the sale of E15 in existing approved 87-regular gasoline systems.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) says it will support the sale of 15% ethanol blends through “legacy” dispensers, as long as those pumps meet current UL standards for the sale of 87-regular gasoline. The decision by the Chicago-based standards-setting group is a major coup for marketers and ethanol suppliers, who have pushed for UL approval of higher blend sales. UL has tested pumps up to a 15% blend but until now has said it will only give its stamp of approval to dispensers cleared for 10% ethanol fuel, the current limit for non-flex fuel vehicles under the Clean Air Act.

There are other challenges, from auto manufacturer warranties, to congressional action still needed, to consumers potentially noticing reduced mileage from using a greater percentage of alcohol in their low-compression gasoline engines. (While “miles-per-gallon” may slip, the “miles-per-gallon-of-gasoline” will increase significantly.)



Fuelishness! Feed: Plug-In Tax Credits; Reducing Travel Intensity; Chu Doesn’t Know What to Do; The Electric Car Re-Thought

  • Stimulus Bill Provides Major Increase in Plug-in Vehicle Purchase Credit Program : Under current law, a credit is available for each new qualified fuel cell vehicle, hybrid vehicle, advanced lean burn technology vehicle, and alternative fuel vehicle placed in service by a taxpayer during the taxable year. In general, the credit amount varies based on technology, weight, fuel efficiency, and other factors. The credit generally is available for vehicles purchased after 2005. The credit terminates after 2009, 2010, or 2014, depending on the type of vehicle. The alternative motor vehicle credit is not allowed against the alternative minimum tax.
     
  • Two Studies on Regional Options for Reducing GHG Highlight Need for Reduction in Travel Intensity : Achieving targeted regional reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector will require concentrated efforts to change travel behavior and reduce vehicle miles travelled in addition to advances in vehicle technology and fuels, according to two recent studies.
     
  • As OPEC Prepares to Meet, Chu Focuses on U.S. Energy : Energy Secretary Steven Chu — whose agency has long taken the lead on global oil-market policy — said Thursday he doesn’t know what the Obama administration would urge the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to do at its meeting next month.
     
  • Better Place – Electric Recharge Grid Operator : Instead of gas stations on every corner, the ERGO would blanket a country with a network of “smart” charge spots. Drivers could plug in anywhere, anytime, and would subscribe to a specific plan—unlimited miles, a maximum number of miles each month, or pay as you go—all for less than the equivalent cost for gas. They’d buy their car from the operator, who would offer steep discounts, perhaps even give the cars away. The profit would come from selling electricity—the minutes. [ Video : 33min


Sunrider Electric Pontoon Boat – Solar Powered Boating

February 24, 2009 · Filed Under Electric Vehicles (EV), FuelClinic, Hybrid Vehicles, Twitter · 5 Comments 

A new class of electric-powered watercraft are being developed around the world, to include hybrid motor yachts, electric/wind-powered catamarans, and a solar powered pontoon boat called the Sunrider.

Sunrider Electric Boat

The Sunrider is being developed in India by Navgathi Marine Design & Constructions, using some off-the-shelf technology including the high-efficiency outboard electric motors from Torqeedo plus proprietary control and charging systems developed by Navgathi. 

We did a the test upstream and downstream at various steps of the motors speed. The highest speed achieved against upstream (0.8 Kmph current) was 11.4 Kmph. Check out the video for more details.

At the end of the trials this is what Malcom Moss had to say, “This boat is competent in performance, efficiency, style and finish.”

Here’s one of two videos of an early sea-trial. (See the other video at the Navagathi Blog).

 

Additional information available at the Sunrider Blog and at Autobloggreen.



Fuelishness! Feed: Slippery Mercedes E-Class, Fuel-Efficient Indian SUV’s, Another Pay-Per-Mile Road Tax Scheme

  • New Mercedes E-Class Coupe couples low drag coefficient to efficient engines : Partnering the wind-cheating new shape of the E-Class Coupe, which replaces the outgoing CLK and joins the new E-Class sedan just unveiled a few months ago, is a range of fuel-sipping engines, including the new four-cylinder turbo-diesel E 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY, which offers more power and torque than the model it replaces while returning 17 percent better fuel economy (5.3 liters per 100 kilometers on the European combined cycle) and emitting 138 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. Efficiency is also optimized by use of on-demand activation for the steering and fuel pumps, a dynamic alternator and tires with low rolling resistance, which join the roster of new driving and safety systems you can read about in the press release after the jump. See more photos of the new E-Class Coupe in the gallery below.
     
  • Indian Automaker Sees U.S. Market As Ready For Its 30 MPG Diesel Pickups and SUVs : Mahindra & Mahindra, an Indian manufacturer specializing in pick-ups and SUVs, believes that what works with value-conscious Indian car buyers will translate to American consumers weary of gas guzzlers but not quite ready to kick their SUV habits… A key part of the trucks’ allure will be high fuel-efficiency figures. Power will come from a 2.2-liter common rail four-cylinder diesel engine, fitted to a six-speed automatic transmission.  Mahindra representatives say the engine and transmission combination will deliver a fuel economy average of at least 30 mpg in combined city and highway driving.
     
  • Massachusetts Joins States Contemplating Pay-Per-Mile Road Tax Plans : As a matter of national policy we are encouraging people to jettison their gas-guzzlers and seek out the most efficient cars and trucks they can. We want plug-in hybrids and electric cars that use no oil at all. Taxing gasoline rewards and thus encourages purchases of fuel-efficient vehicles; charging by the mile doesn’t. The driver of a 15-miles-per-gallon Jeep Grand Cherokee pays the same for a 100 miles trip as the driver of a 48-mpg Prius, even though the Jeep uses more than three times as much fuel and, as a heavier vehicle, does more damage to the road surface. 


500 Miles on One Tank of Fuel: The Toyota iQ Fuel Efficiency Challenge

February 3, 2009 · Filed Under FuelClinic, Gasoline-Electric Hybrids, Green Automakers · 1 Comment 

this_is_iq_01

Toyota wants to help introduce the fuel-sipping iQ to the world. They’ve sent two drivers on a road trip around England, to see how far they could drive on one tank of gas, without using hard-core “Hypermiling” techniques. 

So, how did they do?

The boys finally had to call it a day on a lay-by just outside Oxford a couple of minutes ago. They’ve managed to get 504.2 miles out of their single tank of fuel, and tagged 18 cities along the way. Official figures for the fuel efficiency – 65.7mpg – said they’d only make 462 miles. But apparently, 72mpg is not too much to ask of iQ. Simon and Mark will be blogging in more detail about the hypermile challenge soon. 

How did they do it? Part 1, Part 2

A wrap-up report is promised, I’ll add links when it’s available.



Is Ford the “Greenest American” Car Maker?

The Ford Motor Company isn’t looking for a handout – they’ve managed to keep their business running the old fashioned way, they’ve kept their finger on the pulse of American car buyers.

Years ago they developed a “sustainability” plan, long before it was a political topic. Near-term elements of Ford’s sustainability plan include improving today’s gasoline engines to make them more fuel efficient with reduced emissions:

  • The Ford Fusion is now America’s most fuel efficient mid-size sedan for both hybrid and conventional gasoline models 
  • The four-cylinder Ford Fusion S is now certified at 34 mpg highway and 23 mpg in the city, topping the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord 
  • The new Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrids deliver up to 41 miles per gallon in the city – eight miles per gallon better than the Toyota Camry Hybrid. In addition, the base Fusion with its 4-cylinder engine and six-speed transmission is EPA certified with best-in-class fuel economy of 34 mpg on the highway 
  • The Ford Focus with its 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and manual transmission delivers 35 mpg on the highway, 5 mpg better than Toyota Corolla’s 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and 2 mpg better than Honda Fit’s 1.5-liter 4-cylinder, both also with manual transmissions 
  • The all-new 2009 Ford F-150 – which is Motor Trend magazine’s Truck of the Year – achieves 3 mpg more than the Toyota Tundra pickup on the highway and 1 mpg better in the city with its 4.6-liter V-8 engine, compared to Toyota’s 4.7-liter V-8. The F-150’s larger 5.4-liter V-8 achieves 2 mpg better on the highway than the facing Tundra engine 
  • The 2009 Ford Escape with its new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and six-speed transmission achieves 28 mpg on the highway, the same as Toyota’s RAV4 and 1 mpg better than the Honda CR-V, both with 4-cylinder engines, too 
  • The Ford Expedition achieves 20 mpg on the highway, beating both of the Toyota Sequoia’s V-8 engines by as much as 3 mpg on the highway

And Ford’s plans for the near future:

  • A new battery electric commercial van in 2010 
  • A new battery electric small car in 2011 to be developed jointly with Magna International 
  • Next-generation hybrid vehicles, including a plug-in version in 2012 

Some other links to Ford documents with additional information about the their plans and progress:

What do you think – has Ford proven itself to be the Most American Car Maker?

The Greenest American Car Maker?



100+ Miles Per Gallon of Gasoline (MPGG)

One of the common arguments against ethanol/methanol  is that we “don’t have enough arable crop land to produce enough ethanol to replace our projected demand for oil without starving to death first”.

In a way this is true, but it misses the point. We don’t have to replace all oil with alcohol (or anything for that matter), we just have to displace enough of it to reduce the strategic value of oil, making oil a plentiful commodity instead of an economic weapon. 

Here’s an interesting idea from FFV Club of America that illustrates how Flex Fuel technology can effectively increase your “miles per gallon of gasoline” to over 100 MPGG.

I get 100+ miles per gallon of gasoline (MPGG) using E85, so I use less gasoline and more domestically produced alternative fuels.

When using E85 in my FFV I can get 100+ MPGG (miles to the gallon of gasoline). After all, the challenge is about gallons per gasoline not only miles per gallon. For example. The 20 gallon fuel tank on my Dodge minivan takes 17 gallons of ethanol and 3 gallons of gasoline (E85). I normally average about 20 miles per gallon and go about 400 miles on that tank full. Even if I assume a 20% loss in mileage (truthfully I do not check or care, I just use E85 when I can) I go about 320 miles on those 3 gallons of gasoline or about 106 MPGG. Now that is progress and I have one of the highest miles per gallon of gasoline cars on the road!

In essence, you’re going much further on each gallon of petroleum-based gasoline but “cutting” it with biomass-based alcohol.

I like this so much I’m adding the capability to measure and track “MPGG” using FuelClinic in a future update.

Daydreaming: Imagine the kind of MPGG possible if the existing gasoline-hybrids like the Toyota Prius were also Flex Fuel capable (they are not). Taking the daydream one step further, how about a plug-in flex-fuel hybrid… (Need to stabilize E85 in storage, to prevent moisture from being absorbed, but otherwise – it’s possible today to build such a vehicle.)

Calculating MPGG also helps debunk another frequent argument against alcohol-blends that, gallon for gallon, drivers will actually see a decrease in mileage using ethanol/methanol vs. straight gasoline.

Note: It is true, generally speaking, that in existing gasoline powered automobiles you will get “fewer miles per gallon” using ethanol/methanol, but only because gasoline powered cars are engineered to efficiently use lower-octane gasoline as a fuel. If cars were engineered to take advantage of the higher octane/higher compression ratios possible with ethanol, the efficiency would rival that of gasoline. There’s nothing “wrong” with alcohol as a fuel, just ask IndyCar Racing,  it’s just not apples-to-apples to compare fuel efficiency in engines that are not tailored to take advantage of the different properties of each fuel.

If the goal is to reduce oil consumption, control oil prices, cut carbon emissions, and help ourselves and our nation economically, then thinking about the ability of your Flex Fuel car to “off-set” oil by a substantial margin with each mile you drive makes each fill-up a little more satisfying.

What do you think about MPGG, ethanol/methanol, or Flex Fuel technologies?

Would measuring mileage by MPGG make refueling a little more satisfying to you, or am I just nuts?

As always, your comments are important and greatly encouraged. :)



Ethanol production a boom or bust?

 

If we had a reasonable demand for alcohol-blended fuel, investment for producing ethanol and methanol both here in the US and abroad would skyrocket – a significant and world-changing “boom”. 

What’s needed is a marketable demand for the fuel. Unfortunately most cars on the road can not use alcohol-blends greater than 20% or so, some of the older cars and equipment like lawn mowers, construction equipment, and boats can’t even use that much of a blend. 

There is a technology called “Flex Fuel” that has been around for over 10 years, and is already built-in to some cars sold in the US (about 3% on the road). “Flex Fuel” involves improvements to some of the fuel system components to resist alcohol-corrosion, adding a sensor that can determine how much alcohol is in the fuel going to the fuel injectors, and programming the computer that runs the engine in the car. It costs between $100 to $200 to add these components during production of a new car. All “Flex Fuel” cars can run on regular gas, or any combination of alcohol-and-gas. 

So 3% of vehicles can run on alcohol-blends currently. It costs a gas station operator about $60,000 to install the “blending” pump required to distribute the fuel, and possibly much more if they need to upgrade their storage tanks. 

Few gas station so far have thought this was a good investment for them to make. 3% of their customers can use it – if they even know their car is capable (not many people know for sure). Not a very impressive market to service. 

American automakers have previously promised to build Flex-Fuel technologies into 80% of their new cars starting in the next few years. If they stick to their promises, then a viable alcohol-blended market will start to build. If we could convince foreign makers to build Flex-Fuel vehicles, then a world-market for alcohol-blended fuels will emerge, creating a robust world market for the fuel. 

My favorite side-effect of a robust Ethanol and Methanol market is that it would turn places like Africa, Asia, and South America into competitive energy-producing power-houses; using crops like sweet sorghum, sugar cane, and jatropha. We could easily diversify our sources of energy (we don’t have to grow it all ourselves) and at the same time enable some of humanities most needy countries to build viable and renewable energy industries that would ultimately enable local economies to pull themselves out of poverty, build infrastructure, power their own future on alcohol-blends, etc… 

Another benefit of a robust market is a huge drop in demand for oil, as alcohol is used to replace up to 85% of the oil currently consumed by transportation. We don’t decimate the oil industry – we will still require oil for some transportation as well as the other products oil is a fantastic raw material for – but we can stop wasting our limited oil supply, sending it out our tailpipes.



Ford Partners w/ Magna to Build and Sell an Electric Vehicle by 2012

January 15, 2009 · Filed Under Electric Vehicles (EV), Green Automakers · Comment 

With the announcement in Detroit of an all-electric vehicle for 2012, Ford Motor Company appears to be the most forward-leaning and nimble of the major American automakers.

From our friends at Autobloggreen :

Ford’s electric car will be targeted specifically at consumers, and built in partnership with Magna. The goals that have been set are a 100-mile operating range on a full lithium-ion battery charge. The car will initially be produced in volumes between 5,000 and 10,000 units annually, with a focus on urban markets. If it takes off, they’ll ramp things up. 

Of course there may be a few other obstacles to overcome first…

This is where the infrastructure changes become critical, and shows why they’re such a giant stumbling block to broad EV acceptance. While urban use may be ideal from a driving standpoint, it’s a complete nightmare from a parking/charging one. Ask, say, a Manhattanite where they might park, let alone park and plug in, their theoretical EV, and they will fall down laughing.

Would an all-electric car fit into your lifestyle? Would you buy one?



Build Your Own Electric Motor-bike… Awesome.

January 14, 2009 · Filed Under Do-It-Yourself, Electric Vehicles (EV), FuelClinic, Fuelishness! · 2 Comments 

I linked to this blog a few minutes ago, but am so enamored by the idea, that I wanted to plop the video right here, so you can see it for yourself with fewer clicks.

 

Check this blog for more details on the story, and this Instructibles website for the how-to instructions… I’m going to check craigs-list for a suitable used bike. :)



Fuelishness! Feed

January 14, 2009 · Filed Under Do-It-Yourself, Electric Vehicles (EV), FuelClinic, Fuelishness!, Racing · Comment 


Toyota to Build and All-Electric Car by 2012

EV Concept Confirms Battery-Electric Vehicle in 2012; First of 150 Plug-ins Arrive Late ‘09 to Lease-Fleet Customers; As Many As 10 New Gas-Electric Hybrids by early 2010s 

toyota_ft_ev_6comp-prv1

Detroit, January 10, 2009 – – Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. today announced that it will display the Toyota FT-EV concept on opening Media Day at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), confirming its plan to launch an urban commuter battery-electric vehicle (BEV) by 2012. This announcement, coupled with its compressed natural gas powered Camry Hybrid concept display at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, signal Toyota’s intention to broaden the scope of its advanced alternative-fuel vehicle development.

“Now, more than ever, while we are so focused on the pressing issues of the moment, we cannot lose sight of our future,” said Irv Miller, TMS Group Vice President, Environmental and Public Affairs. “Nowhere is this more important than with our industry’s duty and commitment to provide true sustainable mobility with vehicles that significantly reduce fuel consumption, our carbon footprint and overall greenhouse gases.”

Read more



Producing Sugars from Cellulosic Biomass

Michigan State University has submitted a patent application for “a process for increasing production of sugars from cellulose in a plant biomass using ammonia after swelling of the biomass with water and enzymatic hydrolysis is described. The sugars are preferably fermented to an alcohol, particularly ethanol as a fuel for vehicles.”

Biomass is roughly translated into nearly any organic material – including the parts of plants we harvest but do not use as food or feed.

A process by which whole plants are harvested as a biomass and processed together as one unit so that sugars are generated and then optionally fermented to an alcohol which comprises:(a) soaking the biomass in water for a period of time so as to increase the water within the biomass and to enhance sugar production from the biomass;(b) treating the plant biomass with concentrated ammonia under pressure in a closed vessel and then relieving the pressure to provide a treated plant biomass with recovery of the ammonia;(c) hydrolyzing the treated plant biomass in the presence of water to sugars using a combination of enzymes which hydrolyze cellulose, hemicellulose and other carbohydrates in the biomass to produce sugars; and(d) optionally fermenting the sugars to produce the alcohol.

Such a process would allow ethanol fuel manufacturers to grow a wider variety of crops that could be used as fuel stock in fermenting ethanol and methanol fuels – as well as possibly turning harvested scraps, lawn clippings, and other biomass into fuel stock. This could potentially remove some of “food-related” arguments from the opposition of alcohol-based fuel technologies, and encourage a wider mandate and adoption of flex-fueled vehicles. 

The growing U.S. appetite for petroleum, together with demand growth in China, India, and the rest of the world, has pushed prices to new highs. The United States uses over 20 million barrels of petroleum per day, of which 58% is imported. Prices of oil are significant and continue to rise. Bioethanol is one of the low cost, consumer-friendly ways to reduce gasoline consumption and carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. It is a clean fuel that can be used in today’s cars. One of the many attributes of bioethanol is that it does not contribute net carbon dioxide to the atmosphere

Additional Details…



ComEd Adds 50 Prius Electric Plug-INS and Hybrids to One of Nation’s Largest Green Fleets

/PRNewswire/ Chicago, Jan 8th – One of the nation’s largest private fleets of alternative-fuel vehicles just got greener. ComEd has added 50 new Toyota Prius hybrids and plug-in electric hybrids to a fleet that now numbers more than 2,100 green vehicles.

ComEd meter readers in Chicago and the company’s Maywood office will drive the 50 new Priuses, including 10 Priuses that have been specially converted into electric plug-in hybrids. The plug-in conversion is expected to significantly increase fuel-efficiency by providing greater electric-drive capability.

Plug-in electric vehicles and smart charging technology are enabled by building the Smart Grid of the future, an initiative ComEd is actively working on in collaboration with the Illinois Commerce Commission and other stakeholders.

“These new vehicles not only use electricity to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions but may eventually be used as back-up power sources,” said Terence Donnelly, ComEd senior vice president of Transmission and Distribution. “Deploying advanced metering and other Smart Grid technologies will help us understand and manage impacts to the grid from plug-in electric vehicles but more importantly will improve reliability and enable customers to make more efficient choices about their electric usage.”

Traditional hybrids run on a combination of gasoline and electricity. Compared to an average subcompact, the Prius hybrid and plug-in electric version consume about 30 and 65 percent less fuel, respectively. ComEd estimates this will reduce its gasoline use in 2009 by 6,500 gallons and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 metric tons.

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Citizens for Energy Freedom

By making America a flex-fuel vehicle market, we will effectively make flex-fuel the international standard, as all significant foreign car makers would be impelled to convert their lines over as well. Around the world, gasoline would be forced to compete at the pump against alcohol fuels made from any number of sources, including not only current commercial crops like corn and sugar, but cellulosic ethanol made from crop residues and weeds, as well as methanol, which can be made from any kind of biomass without exception, as well as coal, natural gas, and recycled urban trash. By creating such an open-source fuel market, we can enormously expand and diversify humanity’s fuel resource base, protecting all nations from continued robbery by the oil cartel.

To save America we need to break the oil monopoly. To break the monopoly, we need to create fuel choice. As the economic disaster unfolds, and Middle East power grows by billions daily, there is no time for further delay. Therefore, we call upon the US Congress to take patriotic action and pass the Open Fuel Standard Act now.



New Farming Techniques and Seed Technologies Boost Ethanol Yeilds

As alcohol-based fuels manufacturing matures, newer more efficient farming methods geared specifically toward renewable energy sources will increase the amount of fuel-per-acre produced.

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One slide from a recent energy independance conference projected a 428%+ increase in corn crop yield per acre for corn-based ethanol per acre possible within the next 20 years as new seed types, farming methods, and distilling technology are developed.

“We know yield is what matters,” said Tracy Mader, marketing manager for Agrisure Corn Traits. “We’ve taken great care in leveraging the science of trait integration technology with the art of plant breeding to produce hybrids built for yield. Knowing that Syngenta scientists have set rigorous standards and work with only elite genetics, growers can have complete confidence in their crop yields.”



OPEC Promises “Significant” Cuts – Again.

OPEC is to meet again on December 17th to mandate their members turn back their production output valves, in an effort to bring the price of oil up from it’s current lows.

OPEC President Chakib Khelil, who is also Algeria’s minister for energy and mines, told the Associated Press that a consensus has emerged among OPEC producers that a “significant reduction” is warranted by the current price slide.

Khelil would not discuss specifically how deep the cut might be. But he used the word “severe,” and noted that some analysts have predicted cuts of as much as two million barrels a day.

OPEC previously announced a 1.5-million-barrel-a-day reduction in October, but the decision failed to halt the fall in prices and markets have been expecting another cut at the Dec. 17 summit.

Why not keep OPEC on the run – regardless the price of oil – conserve as much fuel as possible w/o degrading your standard of living. Use resources like FuelClinic.com ( http://www.fuelclinic.com ) to learn to conserve and track your progress.

Continue to demand alternative sources of energy for your personal transportation. Demand “future-proof” FLEX-FUEL capable cars to take advantage of ethanol and methanol mix fuels w/o expensive new equipment, demand plug-in hybrids that charge overnight using clean electricity, demand small clean diesel engines that can run on bio-diesel that can be produced from algae.

Consumers cut consumption as a result of summers painful fuel costs – and pulled the rug from under OPEC, causing oil to “crash” back down to market value. Keep it going even lower by continuing to curb consumption, and keep pressuring government and industry to bring to market ways we can _replace_ most of oil from our transportation requirements.



A Real Plan for Automakers and America

Congress will likely consider a “bailout” for the auto-industry today, Monday, Dec. 8, 2008.  It is an opportunity for Flex-Fuel legislation (Open Fuel Standard Act) to pass as well.

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Congress should require that new cars run on any mix of gasoline and ethanol and methanol.  As a reminder, in the war on oil-dependence, this would be a game-changer.

The facts:

1) Flex-fuel is an inexpensive, proven technology.
   a. Cost is $100 per vehicle for new cars.
   b. The original flex-fuel vehicle was the Model-T (for 17 years).
   c. The US auto industry currently has over 4.4 million flex-fuel cars on US roads (but few would know it).
   d. Brazil consumes ethanol (from sugar-cane) for over 50% of its fuel requirements.

2) The cost of oil will rise again
   a. OPEC has already cut production by 1.5 million barrels per day.
   b. And is considering an additional cut of more than 2.5 million additional barrels per day (later this week).
   c. Demand for oil from China and India, with vastly growing middle-classes, inevitably will rise again.
   d. The easiest to extract oil on earth has been tapped, and it gets more difficult as time goes on.
   e. Oil is still $30/barrel higher than its 10 year historic low.

3) National-security demands that we reduce our dependence.
   a. Russia, Venezuela, and OPEC are repressive, regressive, and often anti-American oil exporters.
   b. We fund their misbehaviors and we end up supporting terrorism.
   c. We cannot hope to modify the goals of a nuclear-intentioned Iran when we are so dependent and while they control the waterway through which 20% of world’s oil passes daily.

4) Economic strength demands that we reduce our dependence.
   a. We are exporting millions of jobs that could otherwise be producing our fuel domestically.
   b. We could be “recycling” these domestically spend dollars-at a time in which we need it so badly.
   c. We could be developing the technologies that will fuel the future of the energy marketplace globally.

5) Many solutions.
   a. We also need solar, nuclear, wind, and drilling.
   b. But we need Flex-Fuel biofuels NOW as the surest short-term path to addressing our dependecies and to create security and economic strength.
   c. The best time to get the auto-makers to cooperate is while they need a “bailout”.

6) Please, contact your Senator today–not tomorrow.
   a. Call (202) 224-3121 and ask to be transferred to your Senator’s office.
   b. You can make a difference with just a phone call.
   c. Call both of your Senators.

 

Reprinted w/ Permission from MoveBeyondOil.org
E-mail: info@movebeyondoil.org
Phone: 516-717-0000



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