We’re very happy today to get referenced in a Yahoo Finance post about the winners and losers in the run up on gas prices:
The efficiency complex. When push comes to shove, Americans are really good at figuring out how to do more with less, and how to get more for their money — and then turning those ideas into businesses. When oil soars, websites such as Gasbuddy.com, which points users to cheap gas in the area, experience a surge in traffic. And firms like Propelit, whose software enables trucking fleet managers to monitor the driving habits of employees (and provide incentives for them to drive more efficiently), or FuelClinic.com, which coaches consumers on ways to drive more efficiently, find that their sales pitches go over much better.
We are in the “winners” camp, apparently members of the “efficiency complex”… I’m not sure I renewed membership this year, what with the fuel prices driving up my transportation costs and all.
None the less, very happy to be of service, coaching consumers on ways to drive more efficiently.
What to expect over the next few months… rising food prices that will lag behind fuel prices by a month or two, as most of our food is transported more than 1,500 miles from farm to your local market. Super-commuters will be hit hard, as just getting to work will become more and more expensive.
Will we hit $6.00 per gallon as some predict… what do you think?
The Heritage Foundation points out that hammering the American consumer with high gas prices to make electric and hybrid cars more appealing is consistent with Obama administration policy and Chu’s philosophy. That explains the refusal to allow the building of the Keystone XL pipeline and to allow drilling in wide areas of the U.S. and offshore areas.
The consequences of the policy are not likely to be of benefit to the Obama administration. The Republican National Committee has already issued a video highlighting the spike in gas prices and the failure of the administration to address the issue.
Source: Automotive Fleet
Overall, gasoline demand was reported at a little more than 8 million barrels per day, which AAA said is a 400,000-barrel-per-day year-over-year decline and at the lowest level since 2003, according to a recent U.S. Department of Energy report.
Despite ample supply and low demand for gasoline, though, the national average for gas prices is still up 10 cents over the previous week, with impending refinery shutdowns and high crude oil prices pushing prices up, according to AAA. The national retail average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline was $3.38 on Jan. 17, a penny more expensive than one week ago, 15 cents more expensive than one month ago, and 28 cents more expensive than a year ago.
Green isn’t just for camouflage any more. The US military recognizes the need to become more efficient, less dependent, and more sustainable.
From a green economy perspective, this legislation could not be more important. The military’s huge demand for energy translates into enormous market pull. By creating a market for biofuels and green technology, the military can spur further research and drive down the price of clean energy to levels that would be competitive with traditional energy sources. According to analysis presented at a congressional briefing on the Defense Department’s Deployment of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, section 526 sends positive signals to the green energy sector by reassuring clean energy producers that their investments will be met with steady demand from the DoD. Such stability is critical for any burgeoning industry.
Read the rest at the Epoch Times.
Source: Pew Research Center
Concern about prices –especially gas prices – appears to be a key factor in the more negative perceptions. Nine-in-ten (90%) say they are hearing mostly bad news about gas prices, up from an already high 77% in February. About six-in-ten (62%) say they are hearing mostly bad news about food and consumer prices in general. That’s up from 49% one month ago.
The former president of Shell Oil, John Hofmeister, says Americans could be paying $5 for a gallon of gasoline by 2012.
In an interview with Platt’s Energy Week television, Hofmeister predicted gasoline prices will spike as the global demand for oil increases.
“I’m predicting actually the worst outcome over the next two years which takes us to 2012 with higher gasoline prices,” he said.
Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst with Oil Price Information Service says Americans will see gasoline prices hit the $5 a gallon mark in the next decade, but not by 2012.
“That wolf is out there and it’s going to be at the door…I agree with him that we’ll see those numbers at some point this decade but not yet.” Kloza said.
Gasoline prices have been steadily rising. Last week, gas prices crossed the $3 mark for the first time since October 2008. According to AAA figures, prices are up 4% from a month ago and 16% from the $2.585 average a year ago.
NIRPC is sponsoring a ONE day expo. Valuable information is available to transportation professional regarding the latest clean fuels and engine technologies that will improve air quality in Northern Indiana.
Where: Porter County Expo Center – 215 East Division Road Valparaiso, IN 46383 ( Get Directions )
When: Tuesday June 8th (10 am- 3 pm) Lunch will be severed at noon.
This event is FREE however advanced registration is requested by Friday June 4th.
Please contact SSCC at 219-365-4289 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Some additional information regarding how the DoD is exploring options to ween the military away from petroleum based fuels.
On Earth Day, 22 April, the US Navy conducted a test flight of an F/A-18 Super Hornet at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, run on a 50-percent mixture of a fuel refined from the crushed seeds of the flowering Camelina sativa plant. The flight of the Green Hornet, as it was called, followed an Air Force test a month earlier of an A-10C Thunderbolt II at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, fueled with a similar blend.
Both events had the purpose of testing the performance of biofuel/petroleum mixtures with an eye toward the eventual certification of the fuels for routine use. They also demonstrate the efforts of the Department of Defense to increase its use of renewable energy, not only for environmental reasons but also to protect the military from energy price fluctuations and dependence on overseas sources of petroleum.
The DoD spends $20 billion a year on energy and incurs $1.3 billion in additional costs for every $10 per barrel increase in the market price of oil, according to a report recently released by the Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate. In addition to vulnerability to price fluctuations, the DoD’s “reliance on fossil fuels also compromises combat effectiveness by restricting mobility, flexibility and endurance on the battlefield,” said the report. “Transportation of fuel to the combat theater is a significant vulnerability as fuel convoys are targets in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Source: ISN Security Watch
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Heating and squishing microalgae in a pressure-cooker can fast-forward the crude-oil-making process from millennia to minutes.
University of Michigan professors are working to understand and improve this procedure in an effort to speed up development of affordable biofuels that could replace fossil fuels and power today’s engines.
They are also examining the possibility of other new fuel sources such as E. coli bacteria that would feed on waste products from previous bio-oil batches.
“The vision is that nothing would leave the refinery except oil. Everything would get reused. That’s one of the things that makes this project novel. It’s an integrated process. We’re combining hydrothermal, catalytic and biological approaches,” said Phillip Savage, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the U-M Department of Chemical Engineering and principal investigator on the $2-million National Science Foundation grant that supports this project. The grant is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“This research could play a major role in the nation’s transition toward energy independence and reduced carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector,” Savage said.
Source: The American
The 20th century was the century of oil. Wars were fought over it, and the outcomes of the century’s biggest conflicts hinged on the stuff. In World War I, for instance, Churchill’s conversion of the British Navy to oil gave the crown’s ships supremacy over German vessels. In World War II, when the Nazis and Japanese each failed to secure supplies of oil, they were doomed. Later, President Ronald Reagan, CIA Director William Casey, and America’s Middle Eastern partners manipulated global oil production to bankrupt the Soviet Union and win the Cold War. In the first half of the century, oil policy served as the catalyst for military victory. In the second half, oil helped propel the greatest economic expansion in the history of the world, and liberated mankind from the tyranny of immobility.
All hail oil! But not too much, because the 21st century won’t be defined by oil. It is more likely to be defined by a different fossil fuel: natural gas…
…Natural gas may also change how we drive, and enable ordinary consumers to break oil’s monopoly on transportation. As my colleague, Peter Huber, notes in a recent Manhattan Institute report, “Gas-handling technologies [have] improved quite enough to make natural gas a practical alternative” to oil. After all, gas is cheaper than gasoline and diesel per unit of energy. That’s why large stationary power plants that used to run on oil switched to natural gas long ago.
The chief obstacle to developing a natural gas infrastructure capable of supplying service stations and highway rest stops is regulatory. If that is removed—and here we do need government action—we could expect to see trucks, buses, and cars running on natural gas in a relatively short period of time. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be considerable.
We may also see continued inroads of gas into the electricity-generating sector (which can also affect transportation as we move to hybrid and electric vehicles). Gas emits about half as much carbon per unit of energy as coal. With worries about long-term gas supplies allayed, expect regulators and utilities to favor construction of new gas-fired power plants over controversial coal plants, which are more expensive to build anyway. This same thing happened during the 1990s, and gas shot to a 20 percent share of America’s electricity economy as a result.
Read the whole thing… then add your comment below, or over at our Facebook page. What do you think – is LNG a viable transportation fuel, or will it always be relegated to highly controlled and well-maintained systems like power plants – venturing out on the roads only in bus fleets and corporate utility companies?
Fuelishness! Feed: Fuel Economy still the Next Big Thing; Study: Fuel Costs Must Double; Biofuel-Fed A-10 Warthogs; Oil Prices Continue 2-month Climb
- Still the next big thing: Fuel economy — “We’re all in a race again,” he said. “From the standpoint where we [as manufacturers] kept bringing out new products to meet emission targets, now we’ll be aggressively focusing on fuel economy.”
- Study: Fuel costs must (at least) double to reduce GHG emissions — The team concludes that the only way to change the status quo in America — to reduce GHGs 17% by 2020 — is to adopt a mix of stringent rules that substantially increase fuel costs and increase vehicle mileage. To do this, the Harvard study suggests starting with a $0.50 a gallon tax in year one and adding another half-buck tax a year until the tax reaches $3.36 per gallon in 2020.
- Air Force Debuts Biofuel-Guzzling Warthog — In a bid to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels, the Pentagon has been looking to new energy alternatives. Under the Air Force’s current energy plan, the goal is to acquire 50 percent of the domestic aviation fuel from an alternative blend by 2016. Terry Yonkers, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics, said in a statement the goal was to encourage a major shift in the way the service powers its aircraft. “Our goal is to reduce demand, increase supply and change the culture and mindset of our fuel consumption,” he said.
- Oil rises above $84, extending 2-month rally — Oil prices have jumped from $69 a barrel in early February on investor expectations that a gradual recovery in the U.S. economy this year will eventually boost crude consumption.
Alternative-fuels like bio-diesel (from algae) and ethanol/methanol (cellulosic ethanol) would allow us to quickly displace a great quantity of petroleum while continuing to utilize our existing distribution infrastructure.
Ethanol-fuel vehicles have existed for decades, and have been used with great success in sugar-cane ethanol rich Brazil since the 1980′s. Known as “Flex-Fuel” this technology allows a greater combination of ethanol mixed with gasoline (up to 85% ethanol) to be used safely in a standard internal combustion engine, while adding as little as $100 to the cost per vehicle in upgraded fuel system parts. (The current estimate is that there are approx. 7.5 million Flex-Fuel vehicles on American roads today… you may be driving a Flex-Fuel vehicle and not know it.)
One of the biggest problems with Flex-Fuel and ethanol in general is the “decrease in MPG” blamed on ethanol “containing less energy” than an equal quantity of gasoline. You’ll suffer a loss in MPG (but a substantial gain in MPGG) by using ethanol-blends in Flex-Fuel engines because gasoline engines are not designed to take advantage of one of the particular strengths of alcohol-blended fuels – tolerance for higher compression ratio.
Engines designed to be fueled with higher-octane alcohol blends are designed with higher compression ratios, able to squeeze more energy out of the fuel, improving efficiency and producing a greater amount of power. Ricardo recently announced they have developed an engine that takes advantage of the physics, and have developed an ethanol-fueled engine with superior efficiencies…
Ricardo says this engine, which it dubbed the Ethanol Boost Direct Injection engine, or EBDI, is tuned to make the most out of ethanol’s properties where it has an edge on other fuels. Ethanol has a higher octane rating than diesel or gas, so it’s more likely to ignite at just the right point in the engine’s combustion cycle. Diesel and gasoline can sometimes ignite earlier or later than intended, causing knocking noises in the engine. Automakers compensate with knock detection systems, but those can cut an engine’s efficiency.
Ricardo will be testing this new engine in a heavy-duty GMC truck, expecting an 18% improvement in efficiency with the new ethanol-powered engine over the stock gasoline engine.
The engine runs best on a blend with gasoline that is 30% to 50% ethanol, but, Ricardo says, can run on anything from all gas to all ethanol. Ricardo is bringing a GMC Sierra 3500HD pickup to the Washington, D.C., auto show this week that will be outfitted with its V-6 ethanol engine. On gas, it says, the GMC truck gets about 12.7 miles per gallon. On all ethanol, it would get about 12.1 mpg, the company says. But with an optimum blend, it says the engine could get 15 mpg.
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Source: MIT Technology Review
Transonic Combustion, a startup based in Camarillo, CA, has developed a fuel-injection system it says can improve the efficiency of gasoline engines by more than 50 percent. A test vehicle equipped with the technology gets 64 miles per gallon in highway driving, which is far better than more costly gas-electric hybrids, such as the Prius, which gets 48 miles per gallon on the highway.
The key is heating and pressurizing gasoline before injecting it into the combustion chamber, says Mike Rocke, Transonic’s vice president of business development. This puts it into a supercritical state that allows for very fast and clean combustion, which in turn decreases the amount of fuel needed to propel a vehicle. The company also treats the gasoline with a catalyst that “activates” it, partially oxidizing it to enhance combustion.
I am generally leery of any new fuel efficiency technology that requires any additive that “activates” or “catalyzes” anything… but it’s very interesting that this new injection system does not require a spark-plug for ignition, instead injecting fuel directly into the combustion chamber and allowing the heat generated during compression ignite the fuel – much like a diesel engine. (Fun fact: The current crop of small diesel engines available in Europe are regularly scoring 60+ MPG in every-day driving.)
Once the fuel is injected into the piston, the heat and pressure are enough to cause the fuel to combust without a spark (similar to what happens in diesel engines), which also helps provide fast, uniform combustion. Ignition can be timed to happen just when the piston is reaching the optimal point, so it can convert as much of the energy in the gasoline into mechanical movement as possible, without wasting energy by heating up the combustion chamber walls, as happens in conventional technologies. The company has developed proprietary software that lets the system adjust the injection precisely depending on the load put on the engine.
So is this new injection technology a way to use the diesel cycle with widely available gasoline instead? Considering that refineries generally produce much more gasoline vs. diesel from each barrel of oil, this technology might allow us to take advantage of the diesel-engines superior efficiency without off-setting the gas/diesel ratios of production and distribution. Like modern (and prototype) FLEX-fuel engines, this new technology would allow drivers to “work within” our existing “gas station” distribution model, without requiring expensive new “refueling stations” or specialized refining and distribution networks that do not currently exist in any great numbers.
With gasoline prices generally unstable and on the rebound since the “crash” of 2008, modern mobile civilizations are counting on engineers to innovate creative solutions like this one.
“It’s a time of renaissance for internal combustion engines,” says William Green, a professor of chemical engineering at MIT.
Join the discussion by commenting below, or jumping over to our Facebook Community and add your thoughts!
Fuelishness! Feed: Hummer now “Green” for Japan; Diesel Engine Biofuel Advances; Dolphin Wins Eco-Driving Challenge; Fuel Efficiency VS. The Tax Man in Washington State
- In Japan, the Hummer Is Now Officially Green — Starting this week, Japanese buyers of the hulking power machines from General Motors — which come with a 5.3-liter, 300 horsepower engine and roar to 60 miles per hour in eight seconds — receive a 250,000 yen ($2,780) subsidy under Japan’s new, looser fuel-efficiency standards for imported cars.
- Researchers develop “smart” diesel engine that runs on biofuel blend — Researchers from Cummings and Purdue University claim to have found a way to improve fuel efficiency in diesel engines that run on biodiesel fuel while cutting emission levels. The process involves an advanced “closed-loop control” approach for preventing diesel engines from emitting greater amounts of smog-causing nitrogen oxides when running on biodiesel fuels.
- Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne wins Audi fuel-efficiency driving challenge — The Audi Efficiency Challenge was designed to showcase the mileage and performance possibilities that Audi TDI clean diesel technology provides in real-world driving conditions.
- Fuel-efficient cars affecting Washington gas tax — Automobiles are more fuel-efficient, people are driving less and, increasingly, they are driving automobiles that aren’t powered by petroleum at all…”All of those things add up to the fact that we aren’t going to rely on the gas tax as being the mainstay of the future if we want to maintain, preserve and improve our transportation system,” said Paula Hammond, the state’s transportation secretary.
Take a look at this graph of average gas prices courtesy of GasBuddy.com and you’ll see that prices continue to rebound from the “crash” of 2008… which shouldn’t be a shock to anyone.
Not much has changed as far as our “oil addiction” since the “crash”. Looking back, it seems that Cash for Clunkers was the only national attempt at dealing with oil’s monopoly since the collapse, and the merits of that program as an energy policy are laughable.
It took a global economic collapse to undercut the oil gouging, something we can not afford to repeat. (I continue to assert that the uncertainty of affordable fuels contributed to the economic tsunami that brought world markets to their knees that summer.)
What are we going to do to shift oil from a strategic political and economic weapon to just “another” commodity that must compete with alternative sources?
1. I’ve long been a proponent of Flex-Fuel vehicles, since they offer the simple option to use purely petroleum based gasoline or alternative alcohol-blended (up to 85%) gasoline replacement fuels. Manufacturers “promised” to add Flex-Fuel capabilities into much of their fleets by 2010, yet most only add the systems to the most inefficient models, taking “credit” for making their fleet more efficient instead. Having Flex-Fuel vehicles on the road in great numbers will be an incentive for stations to carry more alcohol-blends, and at the same time allow motorists to travel far and wide without worry that they won’t find a filling station specific to their vehicle while the network of supply is created by the opportunity to serve this demand.
2. Small efficient diesel engines are hot sellers in Europe – 50% of all new car sales across the pond are diesels. Why? Because they are clean, quiet, powerful, last a long time, and get upwards of 65 to 80 MPG every day of the week. Plus you can fuel them with bio-diesel, and reduce the amount of petroleum based diesel fuel. Again, you can travel far and wide, taking advantage of bio-diesel when available – an incentive for stations to carry the product. Since bio-diesel is made closer to home, distribution is cheaper, jobs are created locally, and competition controls costs.
3. Hybrids are great technology for getting slightly better mileage from a gallon of gas – but they are all still 100% petroleum-dependent. Flex-Fuel Electric or Diesel Electric hybrids would allow motorists to offset even more of their oil addiction to alternatives, not just kick the can down the road a little further.
4. 100% electric vehicles are still not a replacement for the family car in most cases. High costs, limited range, and long recharging times limit options and create a situation where drivers must change habits (and hardware) to participate. Plus there is the battery problem, making exotic metal ore addiction the replacement for oil addiction.
5. Conservation (aka: eco-driving) is first-aid remedy immediately available for free (better than free when you consider the money savings) available to everyone right now. With modest changes to your driving habits, you can increase your fuel mileage 5% to over 25% no matter what you prefer to drive (including Hummers and Hybrids). And while “ecodriving” sounds like “hypermiling” to some people, in fact eco-driving is easy, courteous, and safer driving. It does require you to pay attention to operating your car (shouldn’t you be?), but relieves you from the urge to compete against those other drivers around you, and instead compete against the gas pump.
In the end, as we approach the future still addicted to oil we limit our geopolitical power and remain at the mercy of markets we do not have much control over politically. We have been at war for years thanks to oil, with no end in sight. While our planets poorest nations are prime real-estate for several bio-fuel industries that could lead them from poverty to prosperity, the “powers that be” lobby and maneuver to protect their monopoly on your mobility.
What are you doing to make progress? What do you see as our future?
Fuelishness! Feed: Test Drive Taurus SHO w/ EcoBoost; Bioethanol Volvo Wins; Hybrids Offset Little Oil; How Much Is That Hybrid In The Window?
- Test-drive: 2010 Ford Taurus SHO w/ EcoBoost – The EcoBoost V6 readily delivers on Ford’s claim that it produces V8-levels of power, and it also does it with V8 linearity. Torque reaches peak at a very low 1500rpm and rides a plateau all the way to 5250rpm, thanks to the diminutive size of the Honeywell GT15 turbos which max out at 12 pounds boost, and the high 10.0:1 compression ratio that’s only possible because of the direct injection. In other words, there really is no turbo lag whatsoever. (This ain’t your Momma’s Taurus!)
- Bioethanol Powered Volvo Posts Wins at Swedish Touring Car Championship – The Swedish Touring Car Championship is the first production car championship race to allow the use of bioethanol or E85. With the use of the alternative fuel, Volvo’s race cars produces 80 percent less carbon dioxide emissions compared to gasoline-powered vehicles participating in the championship.
- Study: Hybrid Cars Won’t Save Much Oil – In a report, the analysts point out that even under high-growth assumptions, where hybrids account for a third of all new car sales in 2020, the savings would be just 200,000 barrels of oil a day, or just 1 percent of the nation’s current oil demand.
- Detroit needs a buyer for its efficiency drive – Research from Walter McManus, director of the Automotive Analysis Division of the University of Michigan, suggests the big three carmakers — GM, Ford and Chrysler — could boost their gross profits by $3 billion (£1.8 billion) a year and increase sales by the equivalent of two assembly plants by embracing new government standards on fuel economy.
Fuelishness! Feed: Hard to recoup on EV; DOE grants for fuel efficiency programs; Gasoline zips to $3 again; Diesel fuel spike causing trucking trouble
- Study: Buyers unlikely to recoup extra cost of electric vehicles — As automakers aggressively pursue electric vehicles, a study released today shows the cost targets behind the plans are unlikely to be achieved, making it hard for consumers to recoup the extra cost of buying electric.
- Massive DOE grant program aims to boost truck fuel economy — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is spreading $187 million in grants around the truck manufacturing industry to significantly improve fuel efficiency for heavy- and light-duty trucks, all while maintaining current exhaust emission curbs. “Improving the fuel efficiency of heavy trucks can make significant contributions to reducing America’s oil consumption within a short timeframe,” DOE spokesperson Jen Stutsman told FleetOwner. “While heavy-duty vehicles make up only 4% of the vehicles on the road, they account for nearly 20% of the fuel consumed in the U.S.”
- Gasoline prices zip toward $3 mark — Gasoline prices on Monday continued their push toward $3 per gallon. The only question now is when? Prices have been jumping on the back of a strong oil market where the cost for a barrel has spiked 20 percent in the past month on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
- Trucks at Work Blog – Containing fuel costs — Diesel fuel prices are on a tear all of a sudden – not surprising, given the recent deep freeze across the U.S. Diesel, as we all know, is made from the same petroleum distillate as home heating oil, so when the temperature plummets (like it’s doing now), refineries start cranking out more heating oil at the expense of diesel. Thus, you get a crimp in supply even as demand remains the same – thus, a shortage, and thus (tah-dah!) price increases at the pump.
Levallois City Council approved plans for the organization of the first GP Elec Levallois.
The Grand Prix and surrounding events will take place on the 4, 5, and 6 of June 2010. It will be an amazing showcase of electric vehicles. Levallois city council approved Mobygreen’s plans for the event after months of planning and preparation in secret.
The course will take high-powered TESLA cars and electric racing prototypes around a 3km course (1.8 miles) through the city. The course has 8 bends, a tunnel, and an 800 meter straight.
The cars- although high powered- will be quiet, making the event free of sound pollution and something completely new for the public. Their cheers will be louder than the cars’ engines.
In the spirit of an old-fashioned grand prix it is completely free to the public. Spectators will have the chance to see the cars up close after each race.
The Grand Prix will host a Sustainable Mobility Salon in the city’s square, where the public will be able to learn more about electric vehicles, environmental concerns, and innovations in transportation. The salon will have events for children and adults, including electric go-karts, children cars, and an eco-educational garden.
GP Elec is a free, eco-friendly event.
To find out more, visit the website at www.gp-elec.com
Levallois is located in the north-western suburbs of Paris, France. The city has a strong relationship with industry, as seen by the gear wheel on its coat-of-arms. The history of Levallois is inseparable of that of the automobile. The establishment of companies such as Clement-Bayard, Delage, and Chapron gave way to the importance of auto manufacturing
in the city. The Citroen ‘2cv’which will remain legendary, forever etched into automobile history, was produced for 40 years in Levallois. Today, the City of Levallois supports strong message of environmental protection-including all sectors of the automobile industry.
The company’s name embodies its driving force- to deliver ‘green mobility.’ The two founders, Franck Moritz, a young entrepreneur, 33 years old, whose concern for the environment manifests in his business ; and Phillipe Poincloux, 57 years old ,entrepreneur and Team Manager of Team Luc Alphand Aventures, strive to raise awareness of environmentally-friendly development.
For more information, download complete press release.
PUTTING economy driving into practise was the aim of a group of drivers who took part in a Wexford to Dublin charity challenge. The Charity Eco-Drive Challenge was won by a driver who achieved a fuel economy figure of 87 mpg while driving a Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi Style.
Organised in December by Ger Boland and Enda Newport from Ford dealer Boland’s of Ferrybank, Wexford, the Charity Eco-Drive Challenge saw six drivers tasked with driving from Wexford to Dublin (Stillorgan Park Hotel) and back to Wexford using as little fuel as possible.
Each driver’s fuel consumption was analysed and from the six drivers, Michael Forde of Curracloe, Co Wexford, came out on top with the most economic result of 87 mpg for the round trip. Among the six participants, the range of fuel consumption figures achieved went from Michael’s 87 mpg to 64 mpg.
To ensure fair play, each of the six participants drove the same route in identical Focus 1.6 TDCi models of the same age and similar mileage. The winning driver was given the option of nominating a charity to receive a donation of €1,000. Michael nominated the Wexford Women’s Refuge to receive an early Christmas present.
Speaking about his strategy for the challenge, Michael Forde said: “I wasn’t too concerned about maintaining a steady speed, the secret to eco-driving is engine revs.
“So long as I could keep the engine revs in the range of approximately 1500 to 1800, I knew that I would end up with a very respectable fuel consumption figure.”
Michael also highlighted tyre pressure as being another important element: “Most motorists don’t realise it but incorrect pressure settings mean more fuel used.”
The Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi Style with alloy wheels, air conditioning, fog lights and Bluetooth, is available for around €21,750.
Once again a modern factory-built diesel-powered automobile has achieved astonishing fuel efficiency numbers in a driving competition. This isn’t futuristic technology that is “just around the corner” or “not yet cost effective”, these are current versions of diesel-powered cars that roll off of assembly lines in other parts of the world every day – and are affordable to ordinary people.
So, why are we in the US not yet able to buy these ultra-efficient little diesel-powered cars (Ford Focus ECOnic, Mini-D) that are “old news” in other parts of the world (as of 2007 about 50% of new cars sold in Europe have diesel engines) and then choose to run them on modern bio-diesel fuels that are slowly coming to market?
Embracing modern diesel engine technology also avoids the chicken-and-egg problem that other alternative fuels suffer from… US-based drivers can fuel their zippy and efficient little diesel-powered cars and light trucks, easily getting better than 60 MPG every day on petroleum-based diesel, then get even “greener” when the bio-varieties gain investment and availability (thanks to the greater number of vehicles on the road that can consume their products).
Or you can brew your own bio-diesel – or buy from a local bio-diesel producer – more on that later…
AS an aside, Rudolph Diesel, the man who invented the engine design that still bears his name “was also a well-respected thermal engineer and a social theorist. Diesel’s inventions have three points in common: they relate to heat transfer by natural physical processes or laws; they involve markedly creative mechanical design; and they were initially motivated by the inventor’s concept of sociological needs. Rudolf Diesel originally conceived the diesel engine to enable independent craftsmen and artisans to compete with industry.”
Diesel was a brilliant inventor and understood exactly how competitive his engine would become, but did he realize that the industries his engine would “threaten” a hundred years later would be the oil industry and the tax man?
Source: The Motor Report
A MINI Cooper D (diesel) – piloted by trained ecodrivers Mark Whittaker and Paul Owen – has just set a new record for fuel efficient driving, by driving 2000 km on just over 72 liters (19 US gallons) of diesel fuel – achieving 3.5 l/100km (just over 67 MPG) average for that trip.
Mark Whittaker said the aim of the exercise was to highlight the potential for cutting New Zealand’s transport related emissions at little or no extra cost.
“In setting this record we are demonstrating that everyone can contribute to reducing emissions by choosing a fuel efficient car and employing simple ecodriving techniques,” Mr Whittaker said.
While Whittaker and Owen had originally targeted an average of 3.0 l/100km, the final 3.5 l/100km figure bested the country’s other top fuel miser – the third generation Toyota Prius – with which the Cooper D shares an official fuel economy of 3.9 l/100km.
The MINI Cooper D sports a fuel efficient and spunky small clean diesel engine and state-of-the-art start/stop technology similar to the new Ford Focus ECOnic we profiled a few days ago.
The Cooper D’s figures are thanks to a host of technological innovations borrowed from parent company BMW (including a start-stop system and a thrifty diesel engine from PSA).
BMW Group New Zealand Managing Director, Mark Gilbert said the fuel economy record proves how far diesel technology has come.
“The MINI has proven that new, small clean diesel engines have an important part to play in improving the fuel economy of the New Zealand vehicle fleet,” said Mr Gilbert.
“And the other clear message from this exercise is that it is not only what you drive, but how you drive, that counts,” he said. (Emphasis added)
That last bit sounds familiar! We certainly agree.
The bad news is that although it was mentioned last February that MINI was considering making the Cooper D available in the US, it has yet to become a reality according to our local MINI dealer. A message to MINI USA about the future availability of the “D” here in the US is awaiting reply – I’ll update you should we hear back. (If you’ve seen a “firm” scheduled availability date, please let me know.)
The future availability of the Ford Focus ECOnic diesel is also yet to be announced. In the past I mentioned my experience driving the SEAT with a small clean diesel a few years ago in Estonia… for now, you’ll still need to cross the pond to have this much fun driving at over 65 miles per gallon.
Source: CNET Green Tech
Last year, Lotus announced the development of its Omnivore engine, the name denoting flex fuel capability. Today Lotus released test results for the engine, along with the kind of detail on how it operates only an engineer could love. These test results cover the first phase of testing the Omnivore engine with gasoline. Presumably, testing with fuels derived from alcohol and other sources are in the next phases.
In Lotus’ lab, the Omnivore engine brought in 10 percent better fuel economy than current direct injection engines, which are the most efficient on the market.
Two-stroke engines have twice as many “power strokes” at any given RPM when compared to the common four-stroke engines, making them more powerful and naturally efficient. (The engine is not “wasting” as much energy moving the piston up and down in power-robbing intake and scavenging strokes.) Two-strokes are smaller and lighter when compared to four-stroke engine of similar horsepower, and have fewer moving parts that simplifies the inner workings, making them cheaper to build and maintain.
In the past, the problem has always been pollution – it was considered near-impossible to build a two-stroke engine that could meet modern emission standards. Apparently Lotus is solving this problem:
Omnivore also uses a two-stroke, rather than a four stroke cycle, but still manages to turn in emission levels equivalent to modern production engines.
This Lotus prototype engine uses an ignition system called “homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI), meaning that instead of igniting its fuel charge with a spark plug, the compression of the cylinder causes the charge to ignite, similar to a diesel engine.”
More good news – the prototype is a flex-fuel engine, which would allow the owner/operator to choose what kind of fuel preferred to power it with – fossil-fuel gasoline (and diesel?) or bio-mass alcohol (ethanol/methanol) or a combination of the two.
Flex-fuel engines already exist, the problem with the current crop is that they are engineered as gasoline engines, and re-programmed to also run on alcohol blends – meaning that mechanically they are still designed for the lower compression ratios required to run on modern gasoline blends. Alcohol fuels have “less energy” per gallon than gasoline, but can run at a much higher compression ratios, allowing a properly-built alcohol engine to “gain” additional efficiency and reduce the “MPG” gap with gasoline.
The Lotus engine can apparently modify it’s compression ratio thanks to what they call the “puck” – or the “variable compression mechanism…at the top of the cylinder which dynamically changes the displacement depending on running conditions.”
Once again innovative engineering is proving that there still are many ways to improve fuel efficiency with the internal combustion engines, and there are no technical reasons we can’t be driving cars that get 60+ MPG regularly. The “fuel efficiency flat-line” from the mid-1980′s until just recently was due to something else – not because it was “technically impossible” to build more efficient engines.
Five years ago I visited family in Estonia, a country still digging out from decades of Soviet domination after World War Two. Estonia is an amazingly beautiful country full of “old world” charm and wonderful people. My cousin, who built heavy robotic equipment for the lumber industry , drove a SEAT hatchback with a small, quiet, and clean diesel engine that had tons of torque, ran on bio-diesel (available in most towns), and got better than 65 miles per gallon regularly. I was astonished.
We drove that spunky car all over the country, into Latvia, with the whole family, sometimes towing his little Russian-era boat. It was a joy to drive, and when we passed a field of soybean my cousin would smile at me and point, saying we were driving on sunshine – converted to oil in those plants. He said proudly “We are all green in Estonia. I am a green man.”
I wondered why I couldn’t buy a car like that back home in America.
Consider the new Ford Focus (available in Europe) with a little diesel engine, and upgraded starter, alternator, battery package that support their improved ECOnic start/stop technology – similar to a golf cart, the engine stops when the car is idle for a few seconds, and springs back to life when you press the accelerator to move ahead.
As with any Focus it is delightfully balanced and comfortable and the stop/start process in traffic is by no means intrusive or unduly noisy. In fact it is one of the better versions of the current crop of on/off engines.
The starter motor has been beefed up to cope with the additional use while developments have been made to the alternator to reduce friction and lessen the workload on the engine.
To improve fuel consumption further, kinetic energy built up as the car goes along is captured and used to recharge one of the two batteries which power the likes of the air conditioning or entertainment systems when the engine is off.
NOTE: While it’s generally a good idea to turn off your engine and reduce idling when not in traffic, we do NOT recommend turning your car off while in traffic – hybrids and stop/start equipped cars are designed to do this safely and automatically. Turning your car off (turning off the “ignition”) while in traffic is illegal in most places and puts you at risk if you need to move quickly to avoid a hazard.
The Focus also takes “driver feedback” to another level, with an on-board “eco driving coach” that will analyze driving habits and help encourage the driver to be more efficient.
On the road, the car monitors the driver’s technique examining gear changes, the smoothness of steering and use of speed.
The results are displayed on the instrument panel and highlight areas were improvements can be made. It also praises good eco-driving.
Eco-driver feedback systems are becoming more and more popular. FuelClinic is a type of feedback system, but isn’t real-time and doesn’t travel along with you in the car. Our new CarChip Pro does travel with you, providing real-time feedback when you accelerate too quickly, brake too aggressively, or exceed a pre-set speed limit. Other devices like the Rover from Cartasite provide similar feedback, and communicate wirelessly.
These uber-efficient diesels are not easily available in the US (you’ll need to look to Volkswagen if you want a diesel car here), nor is a ready supply of bio-diesel at pumps in many places – a classic chicken-and-egg dilemma.
Would you buy a small diesel-powered vehicle like the Focus mentioned? What if you could have your favorite make, manufacturer, and body style – but with a little-diesel option?
Fuelishness! Feed: Lessons in Fuel-Efficient Driving; Txting and driving film; New battery could change the world; Ethanol faces challenges ahead
- Lessons in Fuel-Efficient Driving — One of the interesting features of our Prius is that it keeps a running tab on your current gas mileage. You can see both the mileage at any given moment or the average over your trip. Having such easy access to this information while you’re driving subtly teaches you how to drive more efficiently. Here are a few things we’ve learned.
- This film that will stop you txting and driving — Gwent police is proud to have helped Brynmawr filmmaker Peter Watkins- Hughes in the production, which stars local drama students Jenny Davies as Cassie, and Amy Ingram and Laura Quantick as her friends, Emm and Jules. The film is a sequel to a previous documentary called ‘Lucky Luke’, made 14 years ago, which showed the devastating consequences of joy riding. It is hoped the film will become part of the core schools programme across Wales and ultimately the UK.
- New battery could change world, one house at a time — It promises to nudge the world to a paradigm shift as big as the switch from centralized mainframe computers in the 1980s to personal laptops. But this time the mainframe is America’s antiquated electrical grid; and the switch is to personal power stations in millions of individual homes.
- Ethanol faces challenges ahead — New technologies, supporting infrastructures, and greater demand will be needed to meet the country’s ambitious mandate to increase biofuel use.
Last month, Tesla announced its 500th delivery. The lucky customer was Martin Tuchman, who uses his Roadster as his primary commuter car. He’ll enjoy far lower lifetime ownership costs thanks to the lower cost of electricity vs. gasoline. The Roadster is exempt from sales, use and luxury taxes in New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington and Arizona. Numerous states, including California, are considering similar tax waivers. Quebec and Ontario just became the latest regions to offer rebates – up to $10,000 per car. Colorado, Oregon, Georgia and other states have generous rebates, too. All US owners get a $7,500 federal tax credit.
Fuelishness! Feed: Oil prices cloud recovery; When the Clunker Is Greener; Chevy Volt to Get 230 MPG; A 5-Stroke Engine; Diesel as alternative fuel in US
- Economic outlook: Oil prices cloud recovery hopes - The nascent recovery in global economic activity could yet be derailed by rising oil prices, with Brent crude hitting $76 a barrel last week, its highest levels of the year to date.
- When the Clunker Is Greener – Policies that encourage purchases of energy-efficient products may also increase, rather than decrease, energy use by confusing efficiency with consumption.
- Chevy Volt to Get 230 Miles per Gallon in the City, GM Says – If the figure is confirmed by the EPA, which does the tests for the mileage posted on new car door stickers, the Volt would be the first car to exceed triple-digit gas mileage, Posawatz said.
- Ilmor Engineering Creates a 5-Stroke Engine – The engine operates by using low- and high-pressure cylinders and a similar setup for the camshafts. The two high-pressure cylinders operate as a conventional 4-stroke engine does and alternately exhaust into the third, low-pressure cylinder, where the burnt gases perform more work.
- Diesel play catch up in alternative fuel race with help of German automakers – With a fuel efficiency boost that some claim can approach 40 percent over gas-powered counterparts, diesel is at least starting to make more and more sense from a cost perspective to the consumer.