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August 07, 2007

Widely deployable Incremental improvements

Physorg talks about smaller nano-boric acid particles that can be added to motor oil within 2 years for a 4-5% fuel consumption reduction in all cars. If the new nano-particle motor oil was mandatory or added at low cost to all motor oil than at the next oil change after its introduction there would be reduced gasoline usage.

A software patch could save 2.6% of fuel for modern cars Adapting batteries and the engine starter to take advantage of more fuel efficient computer control would save 5-6% of fuel.

Being able to shift travel patterns can have a big impact
1. Drive less
Arrange a shorter commute, being able to telecommute more (skype video)
2. Carpool more and use more public transportation
3. Bike and walk more
Folding bicycles and electric bicycles can be combined with public transportation to make a travel system that is less fuel intensive but does not waste time. Some people may also consider all electric mopeds and motor bikes.
4. Buy a more fuel efficient vehicle when you do switch your car
An interesting alternative to an SUV are vehicles like the Honda Fit The Honda Fit has seats that completely fold down so large objects like surf boards can be placed inside it. It has 41 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats folded down. Comparable to a full size SUV that still has the second row of seats up.

Kessels' software dynamically switches the dynamo, which charges the car battery, on and off. However, the software is not quite ready for release. "We don't yet know how much it might degrade the battery". A more significant fuel saving of 5% to 6% could be achieved if the car engine itself were to be rapidly switched on and off, but this would mean serious adjustments to the engine, including the addition of a powerful starter motor to ensure the car gets going quickly after each engine shutdown.


The EPA discusses the importance of fuel economy and how society has chosen to trade efficiency for performance and vehicle weight This also applies to electricity usage in the home. If you get more efficient light bulbs and appliances but then plug in another TIVO, Blue ray recorder, two more big screen TVs and other new devices, just get a bigger home then your total energy consumption went up and you burned up your negawatts (see what Amory Lovins has been saying incorrectly for thirty years)





Wide adoption of ecodriving techniques could make a bigger difference

Maintenance
One of the best ways to optimize mileage (both hybrid and non-hybrid) is to keep up with vehicle maintenance. Key parameters to maintain are tire pressure, tire balance, and proper motor oil weight and level. Inflating tires to the maximum recommended air pressure ensures that less energy is required to move it. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires per gas tank.

Minimizing mass
Beyond purchasing smaller vehicles, drivers can also increase fuel economy by minimizing the amount of luggage, tools, and equipment carried in the car, including such things as unneeded snow chains in the summer and outdoor sporting equipment in the winter.

Pulse and glide
This method is a trick that can be used with some hybrids to minimize internal combustion engine waste. The idea is to optimize acceleration in order to reach the optimal threshold of the hybrid engine. At this point, some vehicles (when the accelerator is minimally pressed) will glide consuming almost no power from gas or electric motors.[3]

Speed and acceleration
Maintaining an efficient speed is also very effective in keeping mileage up. Optimal efficiency can be expected while cruising with no stops, at minimal throttle and with the transmission in the highest gear. For most cars these conditions are satisfied at a speed of approximately 35 miles per hour although, this is below the minimum permitted on most roads that have no stops. Therefore, maximum efficiency is obtained while driving the minimum legal speed on a freeway. When accelerating, the engine should be kept in the peak of the torque curve, this is usually at around 75% throttle. A slow acceleration is less efficient. Brakes are designed to dissipate energy and should be avoided whenever possible.

Fuel choice
The efficiency of a gasoline engine is related to the fuel's octane level. Differences in cleaning agents between brands of fuel and between loads of unbranded fuel can also have a noticeable impact. Drivers may also weigh the fuel efficiency of multiple fuels for flexfuel vehicles and diesel vehicles, as the use of biofuel can result in marked changes in fuel economy in the same engine.


Edmunds discusses how much fuel can be saved by changing driving habits

Test #1 Aggressive Driving vs. Moderate Driving

Result: Major savings potential

The Cold Hard Facts: Up to 37 percent savings, average savings of 31 percent

Recommendation: Stop driving like a maniac.

Test #2 Lower Speeds Saves Gas

Result: Substantial savings on a long trip

Cold Hard Facts: Up to 14 percent savings, average savings of 12 percent

Recommendation: Drive the speed limit.

Test #3 Use Cruise Control

Result: Surprisingly effective way to save gas

Cold Hard Facts: Up to 14-percent savings, average savings of 7 percent

Recommendation: If you've got it, use it.

Test #6 Avoid Excessive Idling

Result: More important than we assumed

Cold Hard Facts: Avoiding excessive idling can save up to 19 percent

Recommendation: Stopping longer than a minute? Shut 'er down
.

Edmunds tests show tire pressure and air conditioner usage are not that big a factor.

FURTHER READING
A lot of links on the end of this article about optimizing MPG for a 2006 Jeep

1 comments:

Snake Oil Baron said...

Human beings are absolutely unqualified to drive cars. I have never understood why people in traffic jams are all parked right up against each other's bumpers. What was it about the slowing of traffic that made people decide to turn the road into a parking lot? You leave space between yourself and the next car even where traffic is stopped. Why is that so hard to understand? And if someone cuts into that space? Then good. They are bad drivers and you do not want them driving in the lane next to you anyway. Once the lane jumpers get ahead of you you will be surrounded by people who know how to drive. If even a small fraction of people on the road actually knew how to drive there would be far fewer traffic problems. The pulse and glide method demands paying attention to the amount of space in front of you so it would be helpful in this regard.

I recently heard of another technique that a company used to reduce fuel use. It used computers to calculate the shortest routes for their trucks that also used the fewest left turns. It is one of those actions that has immediate benefits (the energy savings) and longer term benefits since not holding up traffic behind you helps reduce overall congestion.

It will be interesting to see if more widespread use of traffic technology that uses current traffic conditions to give route advice will improve the overall flow of traffic.