Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

Fuelishness! Feed: $700B Gains from Energy Efficiency; Bio-Engineering Algea; Cash for Clunkers FAIL; Cellphone Use as Deadly as Drunk Driving; Merits of a Gasoline-Diesel ‘Cocktail’

The ugly truth about the so called “Cash for Clunkers” program

August 3, 2009 · Filed Under Congress, FuelClinic, LinkedIn, Oil & Politics, Twitter, United States · 3 Comments 

c4c2The ugly truth about the so called “Cash for Clunkers” program is that it has very little to do with improving our energy problems, increasing fuel efficiency, or protecting the environment.

The mandated “engine destruction procedure” is dangerous – spewing hot oil and coolant into the air around the engine compartment – and in some cases starting fires in the engine compartment. Wait until someone is maimed for life from a steam explosion during this procedure.

The mandated “engine destruction procedure” is filthy – causing a maximum amount of emissions from the engine during the procedure. High temperatures also cause engine coolant (a poison) to boil and sometimes explode from the engine with an uncontrolled low-pressure steam explosion. 

The mandated “engine destruction procedure” is wasteful – all internal engine parts need not be destroyed to render the car “un-sellable”. All that is needed is a simple annotation in the state’s vehicle VIN record that the car is “scrap”, and you can not get a title for that car – no one will buy a car they can not title.  You can then recycle those car parts into the used-car-parts market.

Here’s a YouTube playlist with over 80 Cash-For-Clunkers “Engine Stop” videos:

The CARS program effectively buys and destroys your old oil-addicted vehicle, and helps you replace it with a moderately more fuel efficient oil-addicted vehicle – prolonging the overall lifespan of our oil-addicted fleet of vehicles in American garages!

The government jumped too soon… we don’t have viable alternative-fuels established yet to usher in the much anticipated post-petroleum era in transportation… If you are truly trying to fix our problems, you’d have waited to incentivize a change to whatever is “next” – instead of prolonging the history of 100% oil-dependency.

(Of course we could have had at least some choice with FlexFuel, had Congress not failed to mandate this low-cost alternative be built-in to new cars many times over the last few years.) 

Even worse, Congress is so enamoured with the “success” of CARS that they are going to fund it up some more by taking money out for real energy efficiency research programs! 

It boggles my mind really – and I’m a fuel-efficiency nut who spends much of his “free” time promoting fuel efficiency! You’d think I’d love this program… instead I can’t get beyond what and an ugly display of excess it is to needlessly destroy working vehicles that still have value. 

My brain is about to have an  uncontrolled low-pressure steam explosion of it’s own.

The NY Times says Government Can Promote Energy Efficiency – why not start with a program that can actually accomplish a great deal of success w/o a great deal of up-front costs?

Announcing “Cash for Un-Clunkers” Program

c4c2Are you driving an un-clunker like this recently destroyed Volvo S80? You’ve heard about the “Cash for Clunkers” program where you can turn in that un-clunker worth $10K to $15K for a government “allowance” of $3.5K or $4.5K off another new car that gets better gas mileage? 

Sure that un-clunker will get it’s engine destroyed in a dirty and unsafe procedure, effectively wasting all of the energy and resources used to build it — but you just want to save money and be more energy efficient! Right?

What if I told you there is an alternative program, one that will help you save money and measurably improve your vehicle’s fuel economy… 

“Cash for Un-Clunkers” – Keep Your Un-Clunker & More of Your Cash

The “Cash for Un-Clunkers” plan requires no government funding, does not require you to take a new loan, pays you back for every mile you drive, can increase fuel efficiency of any vehicle, and can be immediately rolled-out nationwide. 

Everyone is pre-qualified, there is no red-tape, you can take advantage of the free program right now, and it applies to every single motor vehicle ever made.  

Keep your “Un-clunker” – and upgrade your driving habits instead – improving your fuel mileage  10%, 20%, or more – without new car payments or destroying the existing re-sale value of your property.

Potential side-effects of “Cash for Un-Clunkers” include:

  1. Increased levels of personal-safety for you and those sharing the road with you.
  2. Reduced stress and anxiety as you no longer jockey and compete against other drivers, instead begin competing “against” the gas pump or your best mileage record.
  3. Reduction in the frequency or severity of traffic citations – contributing to lower insurance costs over time.
  4. Overall improvements in traffic flow and reduction of accidents, injuries, and congestion.
  5. You may experience a dizzy sensation when you realize how much money you could have saved last year.
  6. Some swelling of your purchasing-power if you re-sell your car when you are done with it – or – a reduction of your tax burden if you choose to donate your car to charity.

Program Basics:

The “Cash for Un-Clunkers” program allows for various levels of participation. You can tailor the program to your own requirements, participating at a level that is comfortable to you and fits your lifestyle. The more actively you participate, the greater your savings and success at achieving greater fuel economy. 

At the most basic level, the program encourages these simple and effective techniques, mostly geared to the conservation of momentum and maximizing your engine’s mechanical advantage. In city driving, you can expect to save 10% to 20% (or more) following those guidelines as often as possible. There are additional techniques that will help you even more, like keeping top-speed below 65 MPH on the highway (depending on your car’s specific aerodynamics, engine, transmission, and tire configuration your optimum highway speed may vary).

Additionally, professional eco-driving instruction delivered by certified eco-driving instructors will soon be available in the United States for fleet owners or individuals interested in maximizing their fuel efficiency through driver training. 

Participating websites:

  • FuelClinic.com – Our local favorite. Improve your driving habits, track your success. 
  • EcoDrive$mart.com – Our partner site. Take Eco-Driving quiz, learn about certified Eco-Driving training available soon in the US through our new partnership.
  • FuelEconomy.gov – A government website about improving fuel efficiency? Yes – one of the best around.

“Cash for Clunkers” vs. “Cash for Un-Clunkers”

[Updated: New link to “Cash for Un-Clunkers” added]

Far from a model of energy-efficiency, the CARS (Cash for Clunkers) program creates a system that encourages mind-boggling waste of energy, money, and natural resources.

The word “clunker” makes you think of cars with no real value left, in poor mechanical shape, incredibly inefficient, outdated, unsafe, and already a problem for the owner. The government program assumes the clunker is such a problem that the it requires that the “trade-ins” drive-train be destroyed within 2 days, else the dealer is fined $15,000. In reality, there are perfectly good vehicles with lots of value remaining – and can get measurably much better mileage if driven efficiently – being turned in and destroyed. 

Take for example this video of a decidedly “un-clunky” Volvo S40 or S80 being destroyed as part of the CARS program. All of the energy used to produce that car is completely wasted, even if it would still have value in the used car market.

WARNING: This is a surprisingly graphic video – especially if you are a “car guy”. This top-quality machine literally screams as the “liquid glass” solution (used in place of motor oil) scours the moving parts inside this engine, eventually overheating it enough to start a fire in the engine compartment, and puking it’s last remaining ounces of red-hot oil out onto the ground in front of it as it finally seizes up.

Some thoughts on this video:

  1. That’s a well engineered, safe, and fairly efficient high-quality car that apparently ran well when turned in.
  2. It has obvious value remaining (KBB says around $13K).
  3. I can’t believe it ran for over 4 minutes with sodium silicate instead of oil. 
  4. Thank goodness it didn’t puke up that red-hot oil all over the young man as he reached across the engine to put the oil fill cap (?) back on.  

On Wednesday it was announced that the program was suspended – some say it was because dealership couldn’t get their paperwork filed fast enough to not go bankrupt in the short-term, others said it was because the program was too successful and already “spent” all of it’s funding. Then yesterday it was announced that the program would be re-funded, using grants previously slated for other energy-efficiency improvement programs. 

I propose a different plan called: “Cash for Un-Clunkers

Can anyone answer me “why” we should scrap perfectly good cars instead of invest in improving driving habits?

Fuelishness! Feed: U.S. gasoline prices hover around $2.66; Have gas prices peaked for summer; States Consider Gas and Oil Levies; IEA slashes oil demand forecast

June 29, 2009 · Filed Under Oil & Politics, Oil Industry, United States · 2 Comments 
  • U.S. gasoline prices hover around $2.66/gallon: survey — The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States remained virtually unchanged from two weeks ago as crude oil prices hovered at about $70 per barrel, according to an industry analyst.
  • Have gas prices peaked for summer? — After running up every day for nearly two straight months, gasoline prices have fallen this week — as they typically do a little before or after the Fourth of July holiday.
  • States Consider Gas and Oil Levies — Cash-strapped states are considering raising taxes on oil production to plug yawning budget gaps, but they face strong resistance from oil companies, which warn the moves could lead to lost jobs and higher energy prices.
  • IEA slashes oil demand forecast — The International Energy Agency on Monday cut sharply its medium-term forecast for oil demand because of economic recession, but said the threat of a supply crunch had only receded, not gone away.
  • Nigerian militants say attack Shell despite amnesty — Nigeria’s main militant group said its fighters had attacked an oil facility belonging to Royal Dutch Shell in the Niger Delta on Monday, days after President Umaru Yar’Adua proposed an amnesty.

First Look: Houston We Have a Problem [Movie Trailer]

Here’s a first look at the trailer for a new film Houston We Have a Problem – a feature documentary about America’s ferocious appetite for oil from the insider’s perspective.


Exploring our dangerous addiction to oil through candid insights from the Barons, Wildcatters, CEO’s and Roughnecks that comprise the world of Big Oil. This film is an inside look into the culture of oil that explores the history of our dependency that has led us to our current ENERGY CRISIS.

We learn how the perceived perpetrators of this critical American problem understand its complexities better than anybody. These seasoned professionals and New Wildcatters are presenting innovative strategies with a systemic shift to renewable, sustainable energy sources.

For too long, the energy policy of this country has been dictated by lobbyists and knee-jerk political decisions but now, politicians and business are finally joining together for a solution

The film premiered at the AFI Dallas International Film Festival earlier this year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough to be there. There is, however, an interesting interview from the festival with director Nicole Torre and producer Eric Mofford where they talk about how the motivation for the film developed out of a conversation where two people, representing two distinctly different political and social perspectives, were able to overcome the obvious obstacles and discuss real solutions to the shared crisis.

I talked briefly with the film’s director Nicole Torre yesterday who told me they are still shopping it around for national theatrical distribution, and the screening schedule and DVD release date is not yet available.

You can learn more about the film Houston We Have  Problem and it’s schedule at their website, or on the film’s FaceBook page.

Fuelishness! Feed: Iran Removes Oil Chief Torkan Amid Political Unrest; Iran’s oil supply and potential for disruption; [Flashback 2006] Why Iran oil cutoff could be suicidal

June 23, 2009 · Filed Under Fuelishness!, Governments, Oil Industry · Comment 

Some fresh Fuelishness!

  • Iran Removes Oil Chief Torkan Amid Political Unrest – The sudden dismissal could raise concerns that political unrest in the second-largest member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may be spilling over into the country’s oil industry.”If his removal is for political considerations, it is sad to bring in politics into the oil industry,” Manouchehr Takin, an analyst covering Iran at the U.K.-based Centre for Global Energy Studies. “He was considered a ‘doer’, someone getting things done. He got projects moving.”
  • Iran’s oil supply and potential for disruption – Disruption to Iran’s oil exports would drive up the oil price as refiners that buy the Islamic Republic’s oil would be forced to buy elsewhere. Strikes in the run up to the Iranian revolution in 1978 stopped the flow from the southern fields, and the country’s capacity has never recovered to the 6 million bpd of before the revolution.The disruption was keenly felt by top oil consumer the United States, which had to ration fuel. The shortfall ruptured global supply lines, sparked panic-buying and saw a sharp rise in oil prices that contributed to the U.S. recessions of 1980 and 1981.

    Iran now pumps around 3.8 million barrels per day, or about 4.5 percent of global supply.

  • [Flashback 2006] Why Iran oil cutoff could be suicidal – Iran’s nuclear standoff with the United States, Europe, and other nations has led to considerable speculation of $100-per-barrel oil and $4-per-gallon gasoline in the US. Such high prices might kick off a worldwide energy crisis and recession.

Where does your gas money go?

June 19, 2009 · Filed Under Congress, Fuels, Governments, Oil Industry, Oil Refining · 5 Comments 

There’s an outstanding report from American Petroleum Institute (API) called Energizing America. I’m going to cherry pick some of the best and most informative info-graphs from this report and highlight them over the next few weeks. You can download a free copy of their report from their website.


Click image to enlarge.

The API report wants to emphasis that oil companies only make a 5.5% margin on each drop of oil the buy, refine, and transport to your local filling station.

More interesting are the taxes; nearly a quarter of the money consumers spend at the pump gets fed back to local, state, and federal governments. Any idea why every administration since the 1970’s oil crisis has so far failed to solve our oil addiction? Anyone?

Oil Prices Continue to Spike Despite Massive Surplus – Outpacing Economic Recovery

Remember the most inconvenient double-hockeystick graph? Get a load of this. 

Source: Yahoo Finance/AP

Oil prices have been soaring for months despite a massive surplus of petroleum and natural gas. A large amount of speculative money has flowed into the markets, according to government reports, potentially taking advantage of a weak U.S. currency.

Surging energy prices appear to be outpacing an economic recovery for now, and there are concerns that consumers may pull back spending further, especially with retail gasoline nearing the $3 mark.

Pardon me. “Concerns” that consumers may pull back? Let’s hope!

There is NO LEGITIMATE REASON for oil to be this high right now. We are sitting on the largest stockpiles of oil in history. Ships are still doing circles at sea because there’s no storage left on shore for their oil.  Demand is still depressed in general. Why is it being sold at premium prices? 

And why is this not news any longer? Are we so shell shocked and distracted by the trillions that we’ve spent bailing everyone out to not notice the same mechanisms that helped trigger the largest financial disaster in history are back at work steadily inflating the next oil bubble?

OPEC say $85-$90 by the end of the year…we’ll be at $85 in two months or less. 

“That everyday, in-your-face experience of seeing higher gas prices at the pump; that has quite an impact on people’s psyche,” said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.

“There’s this feeling of ‘here we go again’ with what happened last year,” Kloza said. “It hurts discretional spending. It leaves people to think about not taking those summer vacations.”

I’m quite a bit more pissed than “Here we go again…”

I built FuelClinic to help people realize how much they spent on fuel, and find ways to improve their efficiency, as a “band aid” to high gas prices. I’m beginning to thinking we may need less of a “band aid” and more of a “war footing”. 

We need to get serious about our oil problems, introduce as much direct competition as we can – as quickly as we can. 

In the mean time we need to buy as little of it as possible, and let it circle in those expensive oil tankers as long as possible.

Find out how much this costs you, then learn how to immediately use less oil yourself

Here are some more resources, just in case you don’t like the first two for some reason:

You can cut your expenses and improve your mileage 10% to 25% (sometimes more) – depending on your driving habits.

Fuelishness! Feed: Oil firms above $60; Venezuela builds oil rig with China; The end of the gas guzzler; Will transform US auto fleet; Safety could suffer

  • Oil firms above $60 – Oil prices have been on an upward trend since mid-April on equity-led rallies. They have recovered from below $33 in December after a plunge from record highs above $147 in July.
  • Venezuela set to build first oil rig with China – China buys 300,000 barrels of Venezuelan crude every day, and is eager for more from the Latin American country as part of its global quest for a diverse range of energy supplies.
  • The end of the great American gas guzzler – President Barack Obama will unveil new fuel efficiency standards today in an effort to limit the release of greenhouse gases by cars and trucks. 
  • Obama’s new rules will transform US auto fleet – The new rules would bring new cars and trucks sold in the United States to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon, about 10 mpg more than today’s standards. Passenger cars will be required to get 39 mpg, light trucks 30 mpg.
  • Safety could suffer if we boost mileage by making cars smaller – The National Academy of Sciences, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Congressional Budget Office and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have separately concluded in multiple studies dating back about 20 years that fuel-economy standards force automakers to build more small cars, which has led to thousands more deaths in crashes annually. 

An American Automotive Industry Rescue Plan that Just Might Work

April 11, 2009 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, Congress, FuelClinic, Governments · 3 Comments 

If you’re like me you’re more than a little disappointed by the early missteps of the Obama Administration’s efforts to save a few of the big American auto manufacturers, and by association, the entire industry.  The Presidential Task Force seems a little out of touch.

Enter Iowahawk. He’s a guy with a clue about what it takes to help rescue the American Automotive Industry… take a hint from the booming American Custom Car Industry… all he needs is “unlimited regulatory powers and expense account“.


I realize the [automotive] industry is not suffering from a lack of law professors — it is suffering from a lack of  imagination. They gave us cup holders and electric seat warmers when we wanted angel fur and bubble tops. They pushed micro-clown cars and hybrids when the market was rife for chromed 8-deuce Chrysler Hemis. Well, Bucko, all that outmoded thinking is going to end during the reign of Czar Dave. Saving the American auto industry is going to be a big job, but I won’t be doing it alone. I have already appointed my own shadow Council of Automotive Advisors, a select group of successful auto manufacturers whose qualifications appear after the jump. Many are close personal friends of mine, and I can attest to their patriotism, integrity, ingenuity, and wonderful lack of law degrees.

Not too many gas sipping hybrids on display at the link – but there is just as many customizers (both professional and do-it-yourselfers) who’s passion are cars that squeeze every last tenth-of-a-mile from a gallon of gas.

The point is that we need car guys — who know cars and what makes people love cars, not more lawyers and bureaucrats — saving our auto industry. 

Read the rest of Iowahawk’s argument, with lots more photos of hot cars…

Obama Administration’s New Fuel Economy Standards Sued as Too Weak

The Center for Biological Diversity,  an organization of “biodiversity activists” who are keen to use the courts to help “protect the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive” – have appealed to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to declare that the Obama administration’s new few standards for 2011 are violating federal law.

The Obama administration’s new fuel economy standards for 2011 vehicles, the first industry wide increase in miles-per-gallon requirements since the mid-1980s, were challenged in court Thursday by an environmental group, which said the rules are too weak and still don’t consider the impact of emissions on global warming.

The standards, announced last Friday by the Department of Transportation, would boost average fuel economy requirements to 27.3 mpg for all vehicles, up by 2 mpg from 2010 models. Passenger cars would have to reach 30.2 mpg and light trucks 24.1 mpg.

Some environmental groups have said the new standards are a small step in the right direction, but the Center for Biological Diversity said Thursday they’re actually weaker than the requirements that the Bush administration proposed last year for 2011 vehicles…

Our fuel economy standards have been nearly flat since the early 1980’s – while modern engines are more efficient than older models (fuel injection vs. carburetors is a simple example),  cars and trucks have become bigger and more powerful, and actual fuel mileage – miles per gallon – has not increased. 

…The group asked the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to declare that the administration violated a federal law requiring that fuel economy standards be set at the maximum feasible level, in light of current technology, economic impact, and the nation’s need to conserve energy. The same court ruled in a similar lawsuit in 2007 that the Bush administration’s fuel standards for light trucks and SUVs for the 2008 through 2011 model years were invalid…

Given the existing “climate of chaos” gripping the government, it’s unlikely that this appeal will make many ripples. The problem is not enough time to do the various impact studies and set the standards based on those findings – while still  giving the struggling manufacturers time to retool and implement the needed technologies. 

…The administration “cooked the books to conclude the maximum fuel efficiency level the United States can achieve in 2011 is the lowest in the world,” Siegel said.

Critics of Obama’s “Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry” pointed out early that the members of the task force generally seem a little out of touch with the importance of improved fuel economy – another example of this administration’s disappointing “do as I say, not as I do” approach to the subject of energy efficiency.

“Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry” Fails CAFE Standards

The was a minor kerfuffle last week as one blogger did the math and determined that the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry would fail CAFE fuel economy standards…

The vehicles owned by the Obama administration’s auto team were released in a list today by The Detroit News. While Detroit is focusing on the fact that the “Big Three” are underrepresented amongst the auto-owners on the federal task force, I just did some back-of-the-envelope math and made a shocking discovery…The federal task force fails CAFE standards.

I’d like to mention that both the CAFE and EPA ratings have very little to do with _actual_ fuel mileage (fleet or personal), and can be exceeded in nearly any car by anyone taking the initiative to practice simple “eco-driving” techniques.

Obama’s task force could track their actual fuel mileage using their existing cars on a website like FuelClinic [www.fuelclinic.com] and use the eco-driving techniques to show the nation the easily repeatable efficiency improvements _anyone_ can make – and it wouldn’t cost a dime.

Fuelishness! Feed: $81,400,836,908 For a Tank of Gas?, Obama Declares War on Oil, Shovel-Ready Crude Stimulus

February 27, 2009 · Filed Under Congress, Energy Independence, Fuelishness!, Governments, Oil Industry · Comment 
  • Your gas tank’s full; that’ll be $81,400,836,908 : When a commuter pulled into a gas station in Richland, Wash., to fill up the tank of his 1994 Camaro on Tuesday, he thought the $90 he had on his PayPal debit card would easily cover the $26 bill…The transaction, Juan Zamora told the newspaper, was recorded as $81,400,836,908.
  • Obama’s budget upsets oil and gas industries : President Barack Obama’s first budget wallops the oil and gas industry by eliminating $31.5 billion in tax breaks while blaming the administration of former President George W. Bush for perpetuating the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels… “I am just absolutely flabbergasted,” said Houston oilman Bruce Vincent, vice chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. “It’s like putting a dagger in the heart of the oil and gas industry in America. If you actually did all these things, it would kill the industry.”
  • Shovel-Ready Crude Stimulus : How about one that’ll create at least a million jobs, give our economy a multitrillion-dollar boost, make our nation energy-secure and won’t cost us a penny? • $8.2 trillion in additional GDP. • $2.2 trillion in total new state and federal tax revenues. • 1.2 million new jobs at high wages. • $70 billion in added wages to the economy each year.

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

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. 

Rot’s unique wood degrading machinery to be harnessed for better biofuels production

February 11, 2009 · Filed Under Ethanol, Fuels, Governments, Industry, Methanol · Comment 

Science continues to find better and more efficient ways to break down the sugars in inedible biomass feedstock for bio-fuels. A few years ago critics talked about cellulosic ethanol as if it was a myth that should be ignored. Today, with plants already in production, cellulosic ethanol is a reality – and with continued research finding natural processes to help convert the feedstock to energy, the future of cellulosic ethanol looks bright.

The latest bug helping to break-down bio-mass is our long-time nemesis, wood rot…

An international team led by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) have translated the genetic code that explains the complex biochemical machinery making brown-rot fungi uniquely destructive to wood. The same processes that provide easier access to the energy-rich sugar molecules bound up in the plant’s tenacious architecture are leading to innovations for the biofuels industry. The research, conducted by more than 50 authors, is reported in the February 4 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Among the challenges to more cost-effective production of biofuels from cellulosic biomass—the fibrous material of whole plants—is to find effective means to work around the polymer lignin, the scaffolding that endows the plant’s architecture with rigidity and protection from pests. By doing so, the organic compound cellulose—the long chain of glucose (sugar) units can be unbound, broken down, fermented, and distilled into liquid transportation fuel. This is where the destructive capabilities of rot come in.

“The microbial world represents a little explored yet bountiful resource for enzymes that can play a central role in the deconstruction of plant biomass—an early step in biofuel production,” said Eddy Rubin, Director of the DOE JGI, where the genome sequencing was conducted. “The brown-rot Postia placenta’s genome offers us a detailed inventory of the biomass-degrading enzymes that this and other fungi possess.”

Read the rest…

It cannot be ruled out that the battle for raw materials will be waged with military means

February 1, 2009 · Filed Under Governments, Oil Industry · 2 Comments 


Russia reasserts claims to a large area of the Arctic Ocean, indicating the use of military means may be required to secure the new claim.

It seems that Russia, with almost one-third of its territory lying north of the Arctic Circle, is about to prove that the fears of Western nations bordering the Arctic are not unjustified. The nuclear power will soon begin flexing its muscles along the icy shores of its giant realm.

Of course, the area is rich in energy resources: 

We hope to find reserves of oil and gas corresponding to about 20 percent of Russian reserves,” Donskoy said, outlining Russia’s plans for the Arctic.

Under that plan, geologists will first study the Barents Sea and the Kara Sea. They expect to find at least two to four large oil or gas fields beneath the ocean floor in each of these two seas. According to Russia’s environment minister, a petroleum engineer by trade, the fields contain an estimated 3.3 billion tons of oil and up to 5 billion cubic meters of gas.

Some additional background here.

The EU’s 20/20/20 Energy Efficiency Targets

The EU has a plan know as 20/20/20 – binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions reductions (-20%) and increasing share of renewable energies (+20%)  to be accomplished by 2020. 

There is  a new publication available from IEA Energy Efficiency Indicators Workshop describing, in general terms, the EU’s  20/20/20 energy efficiency targets, the importance of improving energy efficiency in reaching those goals, and the difficulties they face collecting reliable energy efficiency metrics.


Energy Savings Indicators for Policy Development in EU

Energy efficiency is a top policy priority in EU. They have binding targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (-20%), increasing share of renewable energies (+20%) and a politically endorsed target to save 20% primary energy in 2020 compared to projections. 



Document available at Energy Savings Indicators for Policy Development in EU, more information about the European Commission involved is available at Directorate-General Energy and Transport.

When do consumers really go green?

Check out this recent Pew Research Center poll data: 

Economy, Jobs Trump All Other Policy Priorities In 2009 

“Going green” must be economical in order to be widely embraced. We need to be able to be greener and save money at the same time. “Green” must also mean jobs, economic recovery, and strength – not “going without”. 

The poll indicates “global warming” is losing ground in the public’s attention span. Judging by the Pew poll, and my own little poll at FuelClinic, it’s simply not a strong motivator right now – it’s in dead last place. 

I suggest that any persuasive new argument/marketing approach regarding developing “green” initiatives should not be based solely around global warming (or it’s new name “climate change”). 

Instead a strong argument would focus on immediate and mid-term cost-savings, creation of jobs, benefit to national economy, and improvements to energy security. The long-term payoff being plentiful clean energy for the future and improving the environment. 

But, it all boils down to money. In the end, the tipping point is the same as always – the wallet. It must be cheaper.

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…

Bush Won’t Impose Tougher Fuel Economy Requirements

January 8, 2009 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, Congress, FuelClinic, Fuelishness!, Governments · Comment 

From: Detroit Free Press

The Bush administration declined Wednesday to put into place tough new fuel economy rules for cars and trucks, letting the incoming Obama administration decide how to balance cutting Americans’ demand for oil with billions of dollars in new costs for struggling Detroit automakers.

In a statement, the U.S. Department of Transportation said the industry’s financial decline will require the Obama administration to conduct a thorough review of the fuel economy rules, and that the work already done should allow the next administration to finish ahead of an April 1 deadline set by the 2007 energy bill.

The delay, widely expected by the industry, adds yet another variable to an uncertain outlook for 2009.

Read more

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.

The E7 Purpose-Built Cop Car: Can sniff out nukes while getting 30mpg

December 12, 2008 · Filed Under Bio-Diesel, Governments, Green Automakers, News & Reports · Comment 

I needed to get some eye-candy out here on the blog… how about a purpose-built cop car that has a bio-diesel burning power-plant, built-in lights, machine-gun holders, and does 0-60 in 6.5 seconds?

Meet the E7 – even Batman would like this car. 


Unlike conventional police cruisers, which are retrofitted consumer vehicles such as the Ford Crown Victoria, the E7 is the first car designed and built specifically for law enforcement.

“You would never send a pickup truck to go put out a fire,” Li said. “Why would you send a family sedan to go take care of a homeland-security issue?”

Flashing emergency lights are embedded in the E7’s frame, making the car aerodynamic and visible from all directions. The front seats are designed with extra space to accommodate a police officer’s utility belt…

…Li said the car’s 300 bhp forced-induction 3.0-diesel engine will deliver 420 lb-ft of torque and propel the vehicle from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, with a governed top speed of 155 mph.

He also said the E7’s engine, which can run on either ultra-low sulfur diesel or biodiesel, will have a combined fuel economy rating of 28 to 30 mpg — up to 40 percent more fuel efficient than conventional police cruisers.

That last point is important when you remember that earlier this year police were cutting patrols, mounting horses, or using bikes to try to control the skyrocketing impact of fuel on the operating budgets.

Watch the video report over at Fox.

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