Seven year ago (seven?!) when I started writing this blog, I would have never believed that a chart like this would be possible:
For 25 straight months, the state’s oil production rate has increased by more than 25 percent year-over-year, notes economist Mark J. Perry, a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Management.
“Output in America’s No. 1 oil-producing state — Texas — continues its phenomenal, meteoric rise,” Perry wrote on his Carpe Diem blog. “That production surge has to be one of the most significant increases in oil output ever recorded in the U.S. over such a short period of time.”
It’s hard to say if this output can be sustained for any amount of time, or if it’s a last gasp effort to recover the oil left on the table to profit from the current high price per barrel. This oil renaissance has been happening around us for a few years now, and frankly, I never understood how big it was until today, when I saw this graph. I haven’t been writing about fuel for a while, instead concentrating on driver related safety, but this has my attention again in an unexpected way.
What do you think – is this an “oil bubble”? (Related: Is the word “bubble” being used too often to describe just about everything? Are we just living in a “bubble”, and didn’t know it?)
Eco-driving study from University of Michigan confirms results of similar studies from around the world
The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) study on eco-driving found that vehicle maintenance, driver training, and route selection can reduce a vehicles fuel efficiency up to 45%. (Download the study as a pdf.)
Business Fleet magazine brings the news to the thousands of business fleet managers in the January/February 2012 issue (pages 20, 21) which includes this chart showing the sample scenario where a 36 mpg vehicle may end up delivering less than 20 mpg if every factor considered in the study is included.
While earlier studies from around the world have previously come to similar conclusions, these studies were usually focused on finding inexpensive ways of meeting Kyoto Protocol targets, of which the United States is not a signatory to. (As of December 2011, Canada has opted out of Kyoto as well.)
The fact that American institutions are now conducting and publishing studies on the various positive effects of eco-driving… and that the concepts are working their way into the business fleet management lexicon… is a very positive development in my opinion, and well past due.
So what’s been taking so long, and why are we finally accepting it? Tell me what you think in the comments.
Have you ever been driving along without a care in the world, then you glance down at the fuel gauge and notice that the needle is below the empty mark? You’ve forgotten to fill-up, and you are not sure how much gas is left in the tank… you know where the next gas station is, but it’s not very close…
You lift your foot off the gas pedal a little, slow to a more gingerly pace, coast up to stop lights just hoping that it will turn green before you have to stop, then you slowly accelerate trying to get every last quarter-mile from those last few quarts of gas sloshing around at the bottom of your tank.
Congratulations! You just became an instant eco-driver, no special training required.
But you don’t have to be motivated by the anxiety of being stranded at the side of the road in order to improve your fuel mileage considerably, and as often as you wanted to. The same “techniques” that you instinctively understood would help you with a near-empty fuel tank can also help you go much further on every gallon of gasoline you buy.
Here are the top five techniques that are proven to work on every vehicle.
- Accelerate Gradually – You don’t need to hold up traffic or drive like you left your coffee on the roof. Just accelerate more gradually than normal. Be the slowest off the line, and relax knowing that you are going to get to the next stoplight in about the same amount of time as everyone else.
- Leave Your Aggression Curbside – We’ve all done this. You are in a rush, you didn’t leave early enough to give yourself enough time to account for traffic, and traffic has been slow. You are tailgating the knucklehead in front of you hoping that he’ll move out of your way. The first chance you get you dart over to the fast lane and “make up time” with a little extra lead in your foot. You may think you’re making time, but studies show that drivers who time lights and traffic patterns arrive at their destinations sooner than drivers who drive aggressively. Relax, leave a few minutes early, stop jockeying for “position” with the cars around you, and you’ll find you arrive on time, in a better mood, and with more gas left in the tank.
- Avoid Stopping – Don’t try to tell Officer Friendly that you were saving gas by rolling through stop signs, they can’t be avoided. But the proper timing of lights and traffic patterns like smoothly merging into traffic can go a long way to helping you maintain your momentum. Any amount of momentum you can keep means less work needed to re-accelerate. Avoiding having to start from a total stop will save fuel every time. This takes a little bit of practice to get right, but with a little effort you’ll be negotiating traffic like a pro.
- Loose the Need For Speed – It’s simple physics. The drag on your vehicle increases with speed. The more drag, the more work your engine needs to do to maintain or increase that speed. Work = Fuel. Sure your speedometer on your car goes all the way up to 150 MPH, and the traffic on most major highways zips along above the posted speed limit, but neither is an excuse for not slowing things down a bit if you want to save money on fuel. Stay out of the way of all those filthy rich people who have money to burn, move over to the slow lane, and enjoy the warm feeling of giving “big oil” the bird as you continue to drive to your destination – on your terms.
- No Excessive Idling – This one is a little different, and not my favorite. I don’t recommend turning your vehicle off at stop lights or when you are engaged in stop and go traffic, unless it’s clear that you are in a backup that isn’t going to be moving for many minutes on end. Even then, re-starting a car with a hot battery and hot starter can sometimes be iffy (especially in older cars). The last place you want to be stranded is in the middle of a backup. But there are times when idling is done excessively, more often out of laziness or poor planning. Idling gets exactly zero miles per gallon. Idling in a drive-thru lane is costing you money. You might want to park and walk inside instead. Idling while you eat lunch and listen to the radio is another way to waste gas. Idling to “warm up” your car is a waste, unless it’s winter, and you want the heat to work.
There you have it – five top ways to improve your fuel economy. Most drivers can easily improve 10%, some may get up to 25% or more, depending on how terrible their driving habits were to start with. You can track your progress for free on http://www.fuelclinic.com and see for yourself.
There are 15 more eco-driving tips online at: http://www.fuelclinic.com/eco-driving-tips/
And don’t let the “eco” turn you off, manly-men can eco-drive too!
Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane Australia is seeking participants for a study on potential effects of an eco-driving system on driver dsitraction.
One of the possible causes of driver distraction is in-vehicle driver assistant systems such as eco-driving systems. Eco-driving systems send messages to drivers so that driving performance can be improved in terms of fuel efficiency.
The purpose of this research is to better understand driver distraction caused by in-vehicle systems, in particular, eco-driving systems. This project may ultimately assist in decreasing the number of road fatalities.
The driving component of the study will be conducted in the CARRS-Q Advanced Driving Simulator.
One of the key aspects of the FuelClinic Methodology for eco-driving (using CarChip) is that a simple audible feedback tone is used to remind the driver of previously trained behavior without requiring them to look at a display. There are many gadgets with visual feedback that one can assume might prove to be a distraction for drivers, and this study may help establish if this is in fact true or not.
A five-month ‘eco-driving’ trial involving 5,700 drivers achieved an average fuel saving of 6%, Fiat reported in November.
The most improved tenth of drivers in the trial, covering five EU nations including the UK, reduced fuel use by 16% on average.
Drivers were given a USB ‘memory stick’ which plugged into cars to record data on acceleration, gear changes, average speed and deceleration. Data was then analysed by Fiat’s ecoDrive software on home computers and tailored advice given on how to improve driving to cut fuel consumption and emissions.
The UK’s Committee on Climate Change and the now-abolished Commission for Integrated Transport have advocated eco-driving as one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce transport CO2 emissions.
Our own eco-driving results are not too far off – with an average 5.03% improvement from our 3,500+ members of FuelClinic.com, as measured over the last two years.
Motorists who also use the FuelClinic-Configured Car-Chip as an in-vehicle eco-driving coach see even better results. When properly configured to warn drivers of inefficient driving like excessive acceleration, inefficient top-speed, and aggressive driving, the device provides important immediate reminders about driving behavior to drivers.
Immediate in-car feedback is important to maximize returns on eco-driving training and programs, but must be done in a manner that is not distracting to the driver. Simple audible feedback is the form of “warning beeps” reminds the driver that their current action is “missing the mark” set for their eco-driving goals.
The full FIAT Eco:Drive Report is available for download. It is an excellent study, and I have been studying it for a few days now. I will add it to our “Research Library” shortly. In the mean time, you can download it from FIAT.
As we continue to study the ways that communication can be used to change peoples behavior I’ve come across this video from BDI in London, and thought I’d post it for comment.
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.
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.
Join in the discussion by commenting here, or jumping over to our Facebook Community and add your thoughts!
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!
Ford Motor Company, Progress Energy, Orange County & The University of Central Florida to debut Florida’s First Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
Community Leaders to Address Electronic Transportation Needs & UCF & Orange County/Metro Orlando’s Sustainable Energy Initiatives
Orlando, FL — Ford Motor Company, Progress Energy, Orange County and the University of Central Florida have partnered to debut Florida’s first Ford Escape plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) at UCF’s Smart Solar Plug – In Research Facility on the Campus’ Memory Mall.
– Ford and Progress Energy are testing one of the industry’s first vehicle-to-electric grid communications and control systems, which enables electric vehicles to interface with the grid for optimal recharging.
-The new technology allows the vehicle operator to program when to recharge the vehicle, for how long and at what utility rate. For example, an operator could choose to charge only during off-peak hours when electricity is cheaper, or when the grid is using renewable energy.
– This unique vehicle, which can achieve up to 120 miles per gallon, will be tested in Florida by Progress Energy, through its partnership with Ford Motor Company. Media will have the opportunity to be among the first to test drive the vehicle. Interview key leaders in the sustainable energy community are also available.
– UCF’s Smart Solar Plug-In Research Facility includes parking spaces for four electric-powered vehicles. The roof canopy consists of 48 photovoltaic solar panels that convert the sun’s energy into electrical power. The system also can charge vehicles when it’s dark or cloudy outside.
Date: Tuesday, March 2, 2010, 11:00 AM
Location: University of Central Florida Solar Smart Grid Research Facility on the Campus’ Memory Mall adjacent to Parking Lot D
– Dr. John Hitt, President, UCF
– The Honorable Richard Crotty, Mayor, Orange County
– Dr. Marwan Simaan, Dean, UCF College of Engineering & Computer Science
– Greg Frenette, Manager, Global Electrified Fleets, Ford Motor Company
– Rob Caldwell, Vice President of Efficiency & Innovative Technology, Progress Energy
From Ford “Driving Skills for Life“:
Independent research based on real-world studies, that’s where drivers are monitored in their own cars rather than in labs, show that looking away from the road is the main factor associated with crashes and near-misses. Another study by NHTSA/Virginia Technology Transportation Institute (VTTI) found that “dialing a handheld device” had a higher risk compared to “just driving,” while “talking/listening on a cell phone” did not statistically differ from risks associated with “just driving.” VTTI summarized their findings by stating that it’s rare that drivers are involved in a crash when their eyes are on the roadway, regardless of any cognitive demand they may be under. Another point to keep in mind is that although there was explosive growth of cell phone subscriptions in the U.S. during the last 15 years, there has been a decline in crash rates which may indicate that drivers choose to engage in tasks when they judge the driving conditions are least demanding.
More than likely this is already apparent to most drivers, but indicates the importance of human-systems integration design in new vehicles so that drivers “know” where their controls and displays are without having to hunt for them.
What impact does this have on add-on gadgets that require the driver to take his/her eyes off of the road to gather information? GPS navigation suckered to your windshield? After-market eco-driving instrumentation or “apps” with charts and graphs indicating how well you are driving?
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.
You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have engines with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads!
Dr. Evil would be so happy to hear about Ford and the University of Liverpool recently reported work to replace the high-voltage spark plug with high-tech laser ignition systems – literally attached to their heads.
Continuing their work to improve engine technology for maximum efficiency and power, Ford once again shows it certainly is the greenest and most innovative of the American car companies. The recent flurry of engine efficiency innovations also repudiates the arguments that tried to explain away the flat-line in fuel efficiency since 1980 as a “technological barrier” we just couldn’t overcome because engines were just too darn advanced already.
Ford reportedly plans to install the laser ignitions in a select range of vehicles in the next few years before expanding the laser ignitions on a larger scale. The technology works like this: The laser is quickly directed toward the combustion chamber where the fuel is most concentrated, allowing the engine to run on a more efficient mix of fuel and air. Bigger diameter valves that improve engine gas flow could be used in such a system because the thin fiber optic cable delivering the laser beam is smaller than a spark plug. The laser is also more reliable than a traditional spark plug.
The laser ignition may also overcome a significant barrier to widespread adoption of biofuels — starting the vehicle when the engine is cold. According to the Telegraph, reflecting part of the laser back from inside the cylinder can deliver information on fuel type and ignition level to allow vehicles to optimally adjust the air/fuel mix.
We can only imagine what the future has in-store for this new engine technology…
Earlier this year I proposed that Ford was “America’s Greenest Car Company“. Since then the company has managed to navigate the economic storm, plans to include a four-cylinder option for every vehicle they make, and has innovated some exciting new technologies that make real engineering progress in fuel efficiency and power. A case in point, the EcoBoost engine.
EcoBoost Gas-Turbo Direct Injection Engine
The EcoBoost family of 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines features turbocharging and direct injection technology. Compared with more expensive hybrids and diesel engines, EcoBoost builds upon today’s affordable gasoline engine and improves it, providing more customers with a way to improve fuel economy and emissions without compromising driving performance.
Faster return on investment to consumers means that the new technology “pays for itself” thru fuel savings in a shorter period of time than my other favorite efficient engines – the turbo-diesel and hybrids (can we get a flex-fuel hybrid out the door please!)
“Compared with the current cost of diesel and hybrid technologies, customers in North America can expect to recoup their initial investment in a 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine through fuel savings in approximately 30 months. A diesel in North America will take an average of seven and one-half years, while the cost of a hybrid will take nearly 12 years to recoup – given equivalent miles driven per year and fuel costs,” [said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president of Global Product Development.]
In case you’re thinking that EcoBoost might mean a wimpy ride, consider that Ford has had to redesign and strengthen the standard automatic transmission to handle the extra torque and power.
Ford’s 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged, direct-injected EcoBoost V-6 engine, set to debut this spring under the hood of the Lincoln MKS and Ford Taurus SHO, makes so much torque (350 pound-feet, to be exact) that apparently the automaker’s standard 6F-50 six-speed automatic transmission couldn’t reliably handle it. So Ford went back to the drawing board and created a new transmission specifically for the higher torque demands of the new powerplant: the 6f-55 automatic transmission.
While most of the details are highly technical in nature, the key changes for this new transmission include stronger parts and materials to deal with the increased forces and temperatures present in the turbocharged power train. For example, the 6f-55 transmission features thicker transfer and final gears and a new, more robust differential case.
Ford continues to demonstrate that there is plenty of room for innovation even in old-fashioned piston engine technology. Instead of making excuses, they choose to find solutions.
AS more research comes in regarding new technologies for producing bio-fuels, imagining a future where we have a real choice about our transportation fuels becomes less of a day-dream and more of a reality.
Found at: The BioEnergySite
Researchers at the University of Nevada are looking at some less conventional materials to extract biofuels – spent coffee grounds.
In a paper published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food ChemistryNarasimharao Kondamudi, Susanta K. Mohapatra and Mano Misra Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Nevada, describe the process to extract the oil from spent coffee grounds and then transesterify the processed oil to convert it into biodiesel.
The production of energy from renewable and waste materials is an attractive alternative to the conventional agricultural feed stocks such as corn and soybean. This paper describes an approach to extract oil from spent coffee grounds and to further transesterify the processed oil to convert it into biodiesel. This process yields 10?15% oil depending on the coffee species (Arabica or Robusta). The biodiesel derived from the coffee grounds (100% conversion of oil to biodiesel) was found to be stable for more than 1 month under ambient conditions. It is projected that 340 million gallons of biodiesel can be produced from the waste coffee grounds around the world. The coffee grounds after oil extraction are ideal materials for garden fertilizer, feedstock for ethanol, and as fuel pellets.
Gives new meaning to ordering “high test” at the restaurant.
Fuelishness! Feed: Car Shoppers Want Efficiency, Hydraulic Hybrids Cheaper than Electric, Mass. Considers Gas Guzzler Tax, 70MPG VW Rabbit for $7000?
- Fuel Efficiency is the First Priority of Car Shoppers : Many car shoppers at the Chicago Auto Show say money-saving fuel-efficiency technology is becoming the top factor affecting their purchase decisions… Though the price of gasoline has dropped in the past seven months, down from $3.86 to $1.97 per gallon on average for regular gasoline, car shoppers have learned their lesson, becoming more cautious of fluctuating prices. [ With video ]
- Green Car Halves Fuel Consumption : A hybrid hydraulic drive allows energy usually wasted during braking to be stored and used again when the car needs to accelerate. The car ran on a mixture of stored energy and petrol, with computer control technology used to switch between the two power sources. The team from Midlothian-based Artemis Intelligent Power said the equipment was less expensive than the batteries used in existing hybrid vehicles.
- Massachusetts Considers Gas-Guzzler Tax : Governor Deval Patrick said today he is looking at a Hummer tax — adding higher registration fees for gas-guzzling cars and offering discounts for those that do less harm to the environment. One industry opponent said it would be the first such fee in the nation on the state level.
- Top Gear America to Build 70MPG Car Out of a 1971 VW Rabbit for $7,000 : “While converting a gas-powered car to diesel power is technically simple (replace the engine and the gas tank), it’s bureaucratically cumbersome. Our creation will need a license plate, and that license plate requires a registration, and renewing that registration will require some kind of emissions test… If the book doesn’t say the Scirocco’s pipe gas should smell like a diesel, we’re dead in the water.”
One of the most compelling arguments against ethanol states that there is “less heat energy” in a gallon of ethanol vs. a gallon of gasoline. When used in current automotive engines, the driver will find overall “miles-per-gallon” (MPG) mileage reduced, even as the “miles-per-gallon-of-gasoline” (MPGG) is increased substantially.
I’ve argued that once engineers begin to design engines to take advantage of the properties of ethanol (specifically the very high octane), that mileage and power would at least equal that of a gasoline engine. Over the last few weeks there have been announcements from Ricardo and Bentley that their engineers have done just that…
Ethanol Boosted Direct Injection or EBDI, takes full advantage of ethanol’s best properties – higher octane and higher heat of vaporization – to create a truly renewable fuel scenario that is independent of the cost of oil.
According to the press release, Ricardo claims they’ve boosted ethanol engines “to a level of performance that exceeds gasoline engine efficiency and approaches levels previously reached only by diesel engines.” (Diesel engines are approximately 30% more fuel efficient than gasoline engines.)
EBDI is another example of how professional racing is the NASA of the automotive industry, developing the full potential of automotive technologies that will benefit all of us.
The purpose of EATR is to develop and demonstrate an autonomous robotic platform able to perform long-range, long-endurance missions without the need for manual or conventional re-fueling – in other words it needs to “eat.”
According to researchers, the EATR system gets its energy by foraging, or what the firms describe as “engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy-harvesting behavior which is the equivalent of eating. It can find, ingest, and extract energy from biomass in the environment as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil, and solar) when suitable.”
I can see it now: One day you walk out to start you car only to find this robot sucking your tank dry. “Sorry, I was hungry,” it says.”
While this is very interesting, even more interesting is the power-plant at the heart of this thing, the Cyclone.
In Phase I, Cyclone will build and deliver within six months the engine with a biomass combustion chamber for demonstration purposes. Cyclone believes that its radial six-cylinder, 16HP Waste Heat Engine (WHE) system is ideally suited for this application. In Phase II, Cyclone would build and deliver the biomass trimmer/gatherer and feeder system to work with its engine power source.
Cyclone likens its engine to a modern day steam engine, designed to achieve high thermal efficiencies “through a compact heat-regenerative process, and to run on virtually any fuel – including bio-diesels, syngas or solar – while emitting fewer greenhouse gases and irritating pollutants into the air.”
“Cyclone brings to this project one of the most advanced external combustion engine technologies we have seen,” stated Dr. Robert Finkelstein, President of RTI in a release. “In terms of power-to-size ratio, scalability and fuel flexibility, the Cyclone engine is ideal for a self-sustaining, autonomous intelligent robotic vehicle designed for unique military or civil applications.”
I’ll be baak.
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.Â ThisÂ couldÂ potentially remove some ofÂ “food-related” arguments from the opposition of alcohol-based fuel technologies, and encourage a wider mandate and adoption of flex-fueled vehicles.Â
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
As alcohol-based fuels manufacturing matures, newer more efficient farming methods geared specifically toward renewable energy sources will increase the amount of fuel-per-acre produced.
One slide from a recent energy independance conference projected a 428%+ increase in corn crop yield per acre for corn-based ethanol per acre possible withinÂ the next 20Â years asÂ new seed types, farming methods, and distilling technology are developed.
â€œWe know yield is what matters,â€ said Tracy Mader, marketing manager for Agrisure Corn Traits. â€œWeâ€™ve taken great care in leveraging the science of trait integration technology with the art of plant breeding to produce hybrids built for yield. Knowing that Syngenta scientists have set rigorous standards and work with only elite genetics, growers can have complete confidence in their crop yields.â€
Another great find tonight, and I can’t believe this one snuck past me. Thanks to the guys at PowrTalkÂ I think I just found my next car. And it’s already monogramed for me!
Ready to hit the American market in 2010, Miles Electric Vehicles 4-Door SedanÂ is the first practical, affordable, 4-door, high-way-speed rated, all-electric vehicleÂ you can buy (if you can still get a car loan…)Â for around $35K USD.
According to the Miles EV website:
“In early 2004, concerned by growing environmental problems linked to micro-carbon emissions, Miles Rubin set out to make a difference â€“ by developing a line of safe, affordable, all electric vehicles that produce zero emissions. He centered the company’s activities in Tianjin, China, where the battery industry had expert manufacturing experience. Since then, Miles Electric Vehicles has begun importing low speed vehicles and is working to develop a highway speed, all-electric, midsize sedan.”
“The MILES XS500 prototype sedan currently under development will top 80mph and travel over 120 miles on a single charge Â — for about the cost of a gallon of gas.”
“Miles Electric Vehicles is owned by Miles Automotive Group, Ltd, and headquartered at the historic Santa Monica Airport in Santa Monica, CA.”
Hopefully I can get in touch with my local rep for some additional information and to arrange a demonstration. I’ll keep you posted.
How far you canÂ travel on a gallon of gas? What if you improved your mileage by 20%? What if you bought a new car – how does that compare to your existing car? This isn’t hard to figure out, and FuelClinic.com will do this for you,Â but what if you wanted to see what this looks like on a map?
Today I received anÂ interestingÂ note from Jay Hoffman at ESRI about a new website they are beta testing called MapMPG.com
ESRI has an interesting new web site called MapMPG.com that maps the distance two different cars can drive on one gallon of gas. This rather unique and useful application compares the mpg’s on your specific neighborhood streets.
I compared my 2001 Toyota Tacoma to a newer Toyota Prius to produce this map of my local area.
SelectÂ one vehicle as Vehicle 1, and another as Vehicle 2, enter a street address and zip code, and you’ll see a graphic representation of how far you can get on one gallon of gas, based on the roads in your area.Â
Right now the site uses EPA estimated MPG figures for each vehicle, butÂ Mr. Hoffman indicated that his team is seeking comments andÂ may be able to modify the interface to be more usable.
ESRIÂ isÂ aÂ world-leader in digital mapping for large organizations and government agencies, and has been doing scientific GIS and mappingÂ long before anyone else.Â
What do you think? Comments are open.
Source: MIT News
As a car accelerates up and down a hill then slows to follow a hairpin turn, the airflow around it cannot keep up and detaches from the vehicle. This aerodynamic separation creates additional drag that slows the car and forces the engine to work harder. The same phenomenon affects airplanes, boats, submarines, and even your golf ball.
Now, in work that could lead to ways of controlling the effect with potential impacts on fuel efficiency and more, MIT scientists and colleagues have reported new mathematical and experimental work for predicting where that aerodynamic separation will occur.
The research solves “a century-old problem in the field of fluid mechanics,” or the study of how fluids — which for scientists include gases and liquids — move, said George Haller, a visiting professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Haller’s group developed the new theory, while Thomas Peacock, the Atlantic Richfield Career Development Associate Professor in the same department, led the experimental effort.
Hat-tip: William Briggs