Sunday, August 16, 2009
To the people who are going to be reading all of this information, I hope that you not only learn a lot of new and useful things but I hope that it gets you to thinking about how you can put this new information to use. And I hope that maybe this kind of thinking can lead to new and wonderful ideas that go far beyond these steps.
I hope that everyone who has been touched by this project has benefited the way that I have. Thank you to my classmates for making this such a positive experience. And, thank you to everyone else for showing an interest in this very important and interesting subject. Bye.
Think about it, how many of our homes leak energy? How many of our homes waste water? What a waste of money! While searching the internet for more information on automobile technologies I came across my new obsession, the Zero Energy Home.
This new way of construction takes into account many factors like the general area of the build as well and the immediate surroundings. It applies everything from energy efficient construction material to solar panels. When the home is done it is, if not completely energy efficient, than it is nearly so.
When I began reading about this I felt that homes and other buildings such as apartments, hospitals, and colleges could be built in the future using this idea. Older less efficient buildings could be retrofitted to become more efficient. These thoughts all came together with something I had been thinking about for a long time, I had the idea of trying to get my community to start a program for putting solar panels on the roofs of buildings. Another thought was to get to town to build those windmills that produce power. We could also start a water reclamation project. The two things that my community has an abundance of are wind and rain. My idea was to make this a community project instead of depending on individuals.
Some of the pros would be that vegetable is readily available, so long as you are near a restaurant that deep fries their food. All you would need is a diesel oil conversion kit to start pumping the filtered oil into your vehicle. Vegetable oil is also renewable and usually free. Vehicles using vegetable oil paired with their biodiesel/diesel counterparts also reduces air pollution and increases the vehicles range.
With pros being stated, that just leaves two cons. The first con being that the conversion kits are costly, running anywhere from $800 to $1,600 for the kit and installation. Furthermore, the need for the second tank, since the first will hold the diesel and the second the vegetable oil, which can be quite large, can take up a large amount of trunk space.
The second con is the upkeep required to maintain the newly converted vehicle. Finding and storing vegetable oil and maintaining the lines within the vehicle so that they do not get clogged can be a timely task. Fortunately, there are new kits available that not only self-clean, so to speak, but also only require the use of the vehicle’s original gas tank.
For more information, please hit the following links.
The environment is only one issue that confronts us. What we need to consider is that oil is running out. As the supply dries up the prices for the remaining amounts will skyrocket. People will not be able drive their cars or heat their homes. Transportation costs for food and other supplies will escalate. Jobs will dry up and industry will crumble. What we saw over that past few years will be a fond memory.
The only way that we can stop this from happening is to create new and effective industry that will need to be in place before all this happens. By making these industries environmentally friendly we will be stopping, or at least slowing, environmental degradation. New technology will bring about new industry. New industry will create new jobs. New construction techniques will allow for cleaner and less expensive living.
We can no longer hold back. If these and any future technologies are not in place within the next few years it may be too late. I only hope that this Blog and the adjoining website will inspire people to take these first few steps to begin this journey.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
1. Lighten your load! - Carrying excess weight in your vehicle can reduce your fuel economy. According to fueleconomy.gov 100 pounds in your car can help you loose 2%
2. No speeding! - Speeds over 55 MPH can reduce your MPG's! So can driving aggressively!
3. Cruise along!- Using your cruise control keep your speed from fluctuating,and therefor can help you save money.
4. Overdrive it! - Using overdrive makes your car's engine speed go down. This saves gasoline, as well as wear on your engine.
And last but not least... The Smustang!
Obviously, this mass email has been going around for a while... and is a spoof on the Smart Car.
But I walked away kind of hoping for car companies to come out with some totally rad versions of the Smart Car. Personally, I would have so much fun with a Smorsche!
If we could make fuel economy cars cool... it would be a whole lot more appealing to the young hip crowd. I'm sure the people who created these images were doing it for a good laugh, but they might just be onto something!
Would you be interested in a Smorts car?
Friday, August 14, 2009
The Army invests a huge sum of money into fuel-efficient technologies. The majority of which is focused on Future Combat Systems (FCS). The FCS is the Army’s program to modernize the military. The FCS is a $160 billion project; its goal is to create new manned and unmanned vehicles that are linked by a huge, fast, and flexible battlefield network.
Huge costs on the Army are their fuel costs. The U.S. military is the single largest consumer of oil in the world, consuming around 340,000 barrels per day (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16281892). With a fleet of:
The Buffalo Mine Protected Vehicle gets around 3.5 mpg
The Humvee gets less than 11 mpg
The Cougar Armored Vehicle gets about 9 mpg
The main battle tank of the U.S. is the M1 Abrams and it doesn't even get 1 mpg. It comes in around 0.6 mpg
The Army also employs other vehicles (Howitzer, Amphibious Assault, etc.) that come in at under 2 mpg. It is no wonder that the Army is looking to find ways to cut costs. The new vehicles that the army will be implementing will not get anywhere near what domestic vehicles get. The new tank that is to replace the M1 Abrams is going to get under 2 mpg, but that is still 3 times better than what is currently available. Other vehicles, like the Humvee, stand to see much better improvements. While still not ideal it is encouraging to see efforts being made.
The cost of gas has skyrocketed in the past few years, and we are all aware of the repercussions that excessive fuel emissions cause to the environment. So, car manufacturers, environmental groups, financial groups, and every day citizens have been trying to find ways to fix the problem and come up with ways for cars to use less gas.
There are a lot of tips out there for saving on gas mileage and saving your money instead of pouring it into your gas tank. You can turn the air conditioner down, inflate your tires, use your cruise control, and so on. There are also a lot of new engineering innovations that are reducing the amount of gas cars use of replacing it with another form of energy like electricity. But even with electric cars, which can only go for 40 miles at the most on a charge, there is a back-up gas tank and all the gas saving tips you can find still don’t keep fuel emissions from the air or money from coming out of your pocket.
So maybe it’s time to take a lesson from some of the countries overseas. Maybe
Electric bikes are a hit in
Okay, so it isn’t always going to be practical to replace your car with an electric bike or a horse and buggy. Some commuters travel too far to use this type of eco-friendly transportation. But for the times that you just need to run up to the corner store, why not hop on an electric scooter and save a few quarters and some air quality?
On the Streets of
By: Mazen A
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Is it possible to purchase a car mass produced in America that achieves over 200 mpgs? Not yet, but Chevy is planning on releasing it's electric car in late 2010. This achievement hasn't been approved by the EPA yet, so it's only Chevy claiming that this mpg is possible, but if a car can get anywhere near this gas mileage - it would be the first American car to reach the triple-digit goal.
But when the four-door family sedan hits showrooms late next year, its efficiency will come with a steep sticker price: $40,000.
Still, the Volt’s fuel efficiency would be four times more than the Toyota Prius hybrid, the most efficient car now sold in the U.S.
The Volt will join a growing fleet of cars and trucks powered by systems other than internal combustion engines.
However, unlike the Prius and other traditional hybrids, the Volt is powered by an electric motor and a battery pack with a 40-mile range. After that, a small internal combustion engine kicks in to generate electricity for a total range of 300 miles. The battery pack can be recharged from a standard home outlet.
GM also is finishing work on the power cord, which will be durable enough that it can survive being run over by the car. The Volt will have software on board so it can be programmed to begin and end charging during off-peak electrical use hours.
It will be easy for future Volt owners living in rural and suburban areas to plug in their cars at night, but there will be re-charging challenges for those urban, apartment dwellers, or those who park their cars on the street. There could eventually be charging stations set up by a third-party to meet such a demand.
Right now - the first-generation Volt is expected to cost nearly $40,000 - making it cost-prohibitive to many people even if gasoline returns to $4 per gallon.
The price of the sporty-looking sedan is expected to drop with future generations of the Volt, and could be further supplemented with government tax credits of up to $7,500. The savings on fuel could make it more affordable, especially at 230 mpg.But is the cost and inconvenience of plugging the car in at night worth the fuel savings?
What if gas were $8 a gallon? At what tipping point does the price of the car outweigh the cost of gas?
The two companies, Honda and Toyota, ruled the Hybrid market for nearly the last ten years and still dominate the field. It wasn’t until 2004 that the first American company, Ford, released their first Hybrid, with one of their two models being the first hybrid SUV. 2004 was also a big year for Toyota, their Prius having won the Car of the Year Award from Motor Trend Magazine. They saw an increase in demand for their Prius that had consumers on a 6 month waitlist as Toyota struggled to keep up with the high demand for their award-winning Prius.
Now, in the year 2009, after Honda and Toyota being the main hybrid distributors within the United States, they now have new competition from other main auto manufacturers. With the economy still struggling to return to its former glory, many consumers are seeking a way to cut back on their expenses. The cost of gas is still consistently high, making Americans want to find ways to use less.
Now all the well-known car manufacturers have hybrids available for purchase. Chevrolet has six different models to choose from, including General Motors Cadillac Escalade Hybrid. Lexus has joined the market with three luxury hybrids that aim to draw in the high-end clientele who are looking to go green with style. Ford has two hybrid models to choose from and Saturn, Mazda and Nissan have one hybrid currently on the market. Rounding out the list are Honda with two hybrid models, including their popular civic hybrid, and Toyota with three hybrids, one of which being a midsized SUV.
For detail on each hybrid available, as well as the perks you get for purchasing a hybrid (like tax credits), please follow the link below to compare different vehicles when shopping for the latest hybrid vehicles.
Posted by Jamie Dickinson
Method 1: Carpool
If you have to run errands, call a friend, neighbor, or co-worker, and ask if they need to go to the same store. I know this may seem strange initially, but you will quickly learn that it is not only helping the environment but you are also making a conscious effort to create a stronger bond within your community. If you have to go to work ask if someone else needs a ride and have them split the cost of gas. If you go to aaa.com you will find ways to calculate the cost of your trip and don't be shy asking your friend/co-worker for the cash, they should understand. Another approach, if you are too shy to ask for cash, is to alternate days on the carpool. If you drive Monday, Wednesday, and Friday one week then they do it the next; if you look over the course of the year you will cut your trips to work in half, from 260 to 130! Think about how good you will feel about yourself and what you are doing for the environment, not to mention the bond that you will create with your friend, neighbor, or co-worker. If you are interested in learning about more people who would like to share a ride you may go to this site, http://www.erideshare.com/, and check your local carpoolers.
Method 2: Ride a Bike
Take a walk out to your garage, move all those boxes of junk out of the way, pull out that semi-rusted 1982 bicycle, take it to the shop for a $50 tune-up, and ride it for all trips less than 2-4 miles. Did you know that the U.S. has the highest bike ownership rate per capita in the world! The caveat is that it also has the lowest bike usage rate in the world... That means the best way to save money on fuel is sitting in most of our garages gathering dust and rust instead of putting money in our pockets... There are a million excuses explaining why you shouldn't ride your bike: it's too hot, it's too cold, it's raining, it's too far, the bike is rusted, how will I carry my stuff, etc... The one fact that is ignored the most is: it's lots of FUN, it saves you money, it's good for your heart, it's great exercise, it's always an adventure... The average cost of owning a car as stated by The New York Times is around $8200 while the average cost of owning a bike is around $400. Therefore, if you are looking to save money that is a significant chunk...
As you may be aware, according to the book "Freakonomics", most people operate by incentives. They may be economic incentives or they may be ecological incentives, but either way you need to find a way to motivate yourself and others into making this effort a regular routine. For example, You may try using aaa.com to calculate the total savings from your trip and putting that amount in a piggy bank so you can do something nice for yourself in the future like take a vacation or buy that new bike that you have always wanted.
Hope you have fun sharing a ride or riding a bike! See you on the road...
Now if clunker conversion isn’t your thing, and you’ve got some serious money to spend, check out the new $109,000 Roadster from Tesla Motors. This all-electric sports car has a 244 mile range on a single charge and can go from 0 to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds. Jay Leno gives the car a test drive in the following video:
And if a 2-seater isn’t your thing, Tesla Motors will be releasing the all-electric 4-door Model S in late 2011 which has a 300 mile range and is said to compete with the 5 Series BMWs:
But if Hybrids are your thing, check out the sleek 2010 Fisker Karma 4-door sedan -- an eco-conscious hybrid that can run in "Stealth" mode -- under electric-only power -- and can travel 50 miles without using the engine. Carlos Lago from Motor Trend says that “to conserve energy, acceleration and top speed are limited (the latter to 95 mph). When shenanigans are desired, the driver can select "Sport" mode for the full array of power. Here, the Karma can accelerate from zero to 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 125 mph. All this while the car behaves like a normal hybrid vehicle complete with regenerative braking, and engine start/stop technology. Fisker estimates the total range at 300 miles."
Within the next 5 years, we are going to see some exciting hybrid and electric vehicles on our streets…and Portland is leading the way in preparation for their arrival with the installation of electric vehicle charging stations:
Mayor Sam Adams unveils a new electric vehicle charging station and addresses San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in response to the electric vehicle grid race between the two cities.
To learn more about Plasmaboy and Electric Drag Racing, visit:
Tesla Motors: Roadster and Model S:
Motor Trend: Fisker Automotive; Karma Hybrid
Posted by Mark H. Baker
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Use overdrive gears:
When you use overdrive gearing, your vehicle’s engine speed goes down. This saves gas and reduces engine ware.
Use cruise control:
Using cruise control on the highway helps maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.
Avoid excessive idling:
Idling gets 0 mpg. Generally the larger your engine the more gas you are burning while idling.
Remove excess weight (Fuel economy benefit 1-2%):
Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your mpg by up to 2%. The reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle’s weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.
Observe the speed limit (Fuel economy benefit 7-23%:)
While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds over 60 mph. By observing the speed limit you can help save gas.
Drive Sensibly (Fuel economy benefit 5-33%):
Aggressive driving (Speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and by 5% around town. Sensible driving is safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money.
By: Brad B.
Another reason for gas prices to fluctuate is the changing of the seasons. Even if there is a stable supply of crude oil the gas prices will vary depending on the season. Gas prices tend to rise in the spring and peak in the late summer. This is due to the increased driving caused by better weather and vacations. In the U.S. there is about a 5% increase in demand during this part of the year compared to the rest.
Other factors that are incorporated into the final price of gas are distributing, marketing, refining, and taxes. Federal and state taxes are the second largest price factored into the final price of gasoline (crude oil price being the largest). Then come refining costs followed by distributing and marketing.
Some areas within the country face higher prices than others. This is can be due to distance from supply. Regions that are far from the pipelines generally have to pay more at the pump. Most of the major pipelines start in the Gulf Coast so the surrounding regions generally have the lowest prices. Another reason for differences of price can come from supply disruptions. Hurricane Katrina is an example of a disruption, causing gas prices in that area to go up because that region had to get its supply from other areas.
Yes, the days of eighty-nine-cent gas are over. Most likely, forever.
And although, in a way, the environment has probably benefited from the fact that people are more aware of their gas consumption than ever before… the search for alternatives has not been without a few nasty side effects.
Some of these “too good to be true” scams are one of them.
There is a website called http://water4gas.com/ that sells manuals and instructions on how to make a device that they claim can double your gas mileage.
Created in 2006 by a man named Ozzie Freedom, this device is claimed to create safe hydrogen by mooching off the car battery. The website claims that this hydrogen-boosting technology is 100 years old and proven by NASA, but has been suppressed from being publicly available until now. There is even a Master-Affiliate Program that allows the public to become sales reps or even manufacturers/installers by using the Water4Gas technology.
According to www.consumeraffairs.com, the gas from water website is nothing but a scheme to take advantage of people hurting from the high gas prices.
Perhaps, someday, we will have a technology that can use water as a fuel. A perfect fuel source that is infinitely available and re-usable. But until then, beware of smart talking scams that make big promises for a profit. Read more: here.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
1. Better to fill up vehicles in the morning during the summer?
It is wrong that filling our cars up in the morning when the weather is hot will net us additional fuel. Fuel remains at a fairly constant temperature and does not expand or contract with the ambient temperature unless the fuel is stored in above ground tanks.
2. Better to place a magnet on the fuel line near the engine to improve fuel economy?
No way. If a magnet on the fuel line reduced fuel consumption, vehicle manufacturers would list this as a factory option or standard equipment without a doubt.
3. Better fuel mileage if we fill our vehicles with higher octane fuel?
It is a false statement. Octane ratings do not indicate the energy content in the fuel; they only provide a guideline for the ability to resist detonation (engine ping). Most modern vehicles have engine controls that will allow vehicles to operate on lower than factory recommended octane levels.
4. The Fuel from all gas stations is the same?
Generally, this statement is true, but a few discount independent fuel stations sell low grade fuel that is termed "slop." All motor fuel such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and etc. is transported in the same pipeline. A small amount of fuel between fuel types is mixed with the previous fuel type and this fuel is dumped into a slop tank and sold to fuel vendors at discounts. We might be purchasing a higher grade fuel, or lower grade fuel. Name brand fuels do add detergents or other additives to their fuel, but basically these additives do not affect the vehicles’ fuel mileage.
5. Fuel additives improve our fuel economy?
Fuel additives like octane boosters, fuel line antifreeze, and etc. may help with vehicle performance, but do not improve the vehicles fuel economy. Our miles per gallon will generally be reduced if we take advantage of the added power from octane boosters.
The Next 9 driving tips and 9 maintenance tips offered by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Transportation Services will guarantee us 99% success of fuel saving:
9 Fuel-Saving Driving Tips
1. Avoid excessive idling – Sitting idle gets 0 miles per gallon. Warming up our vehicles should be no more than 30 seconds. Generally speaking, the time it takes to start our vehicles, check our engine gauges/lights, adjust the seat & mirrors, and pull out of out parking stall is sufficient warm up time. Also, do not let our vehicles set idling to heat up or cool down the vehicle interior. If we are at a known extended stop light (60+ seconds), turn the vehicle off is the better way.
2. Avoid using drive-thru services – To deserve to be mentioned, drive-thru services such as banks, ATM's, food service, laundry, and etc. cause excessive idling and waste gas. If we must use a drive-thru, we’d better to turn our vehicles off while waiting in line, or using the service.
3. Don’t be aggressive drivers – It is reported that aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by as much as 33 % on the highway and 5 % on city streets.
4. Empty our trunk – Driving around with our trunk full adds weight and reduces our fuel mileage. Take a travel light for example, each 50 lbs of added weight results in a 1% reduction in fuel economy.
5. Keep our vehicle clean – Dirt, mud, and bugs on the exterior of our vehicles creates drag that over long distances hurts our MPG. Washing and waxing our vehicles regularly reduce our vehicles’ aerodynamic drag, and improve our fuel economy.
6. Observe the speed limit – Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. In order to maintain a constant speed on the highway, cruise control is highly recommended. A passenger car that averages 28.5 miles per gallon at 60 mph could typically get 27 mpg at 65 mph, and 25.5 mpg at 70 mph.
7. Share a ride or carpool – Sharing a ride or carpooling are good ways to reduce fuel consumption and build relationships, so why not gain 2 advantages by a single move?
8. Use cruise control – As mentioned above, using the vehicles cruise control helps improve fuel economy and prevent speeding.
9. Use mass transit – No doubt that fuel consumption can be dramatically reduced by using mass transit like bicycles and bus.
9 Fuel-Saving Maintenance Tips
1. Change motor oil – If we don’t change motor oil or use substandard engine oil can result in increasing engine friction for a decrease of 0.4 mpg.
2. Defective oxygen sensor – A worn or inoperative oxygen sensor will result in an engine that is not operating efficiently, and resulting in increased fuel consumption or a decrease of 3.0 miles per gallon.
3. Dirty air filters – An air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust, and bugs chokes off the air and creates a "rich" mixture (which means too much fuel being burned for the amount of air), wasting fuel and causing the engine to lose power. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 %. By the way, for vehicles with computer controlled fuel injection, they have sensors that automatically adjust for restricted air filters, keeping our fuel mileage consistent.
4. Do not top off our fuel tank – Topping off our fuel tank can saturate the emissions system with fuel, and could cause a fuel spill when the fuel warms up. When the fuel nozzle clicks off, the tank is full, remember don’t add anymore fuel or round up the dollar amount on the fuel pump.
5. Fill vehicle at slowest settings – Always fill our vehicles with the fill nozzle set on the lowest setting, because this will help prevent overfilling, or back splash.
6. Tire type – Basically, new tires have more resistance than worn ones. We probably all experienced a short term reduction in our vehicles fuel efficiency after installing new tires. What’s more, using mud and snow, or wider than standard tires for added traction will reduce our miles per gallon. These tires are designed to add friction for traction, and the added friction requires more power & gas to compensate.
7. Under inflated tires – It's like driving with the parking brake on and can cost a mile or 2 per gallon when tires aren't inflated properly.
8. Vehicle gas caps – It is estimated that about 17 % of the vehicles on the roads have gas caps that are either damaged, loose or are missing altogether, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year. Simply loosing gas caps can result in a 2.0 mpg reduction in fuel efficiency. What the great room for improvement!
9. Worn spark plugs – Usually, a vehicle’s spark plugs fire as many as 105 million times every 35,000 miles, resulting in heat, electrical, and chemical erosion. A dirty or worn spark plug misfires and which wastes fuel without a doubt. Therefore, engines should be tuned and the spark plugs replaced at the factory recommend intervals at a minimum or more often for vehicles driven short trips only.
*If all of the above maintenance items are neglected, the result could be an overall loss of 10 miles per gallon.
A Call to Action
By Defeating 5 myths and taking 9 + 9 detailed tips, now we have 99% fuel-saving common sense in hand. Let’s just take 5 simple actions and do 1% effort to get 100 % success in fuel saving.
1. No idling
2. No aggressive driving/speeding
3. Deal with clogged air filters
4. Deal with gas caps
5. Deal with drag by empting our trunk, and etc. (Please consider the weight of our cars, the lighter, the better!)
These 5 Tips are small and easy to be ignored, but just lift our 5 fingers and follow the “2 NOs” and “3 DEALs” will really make our fuel economy a good deal!
Posted by YiChen Chen
When shopping for a new vehicle, one of the key factors to consider is the miles per gallon. For some it’s environmental, for others it’s the rising cost of fuel, and finally there are some that want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Whichever the case, you may need to do more research than looking at the number on the information sheet conveniently placed on every new car.
Consumer reports tested the fuel economy of 300 cars (every year roughly 80cars are tested). More than half of the cars failed to reach their posted potential. Most cite the testing done by the EPA is outdated. In addition these tests are testing the emissions not actual fuel consumed by the vehicle. Think back to your driving lifestyle 20years ago and you might also notice some changes, such as congestion and further commuting due to urban sprawl. We can also say the way we drive has affected true MPG ratings with faster acceleration and longer idle times being more prevalent.
Luckily there has been some change in the measurement standards. The 2008 models last year were required to undergo new modified tests that account for things such as air conditioning and faster speeds (two of my favorite things).
Overall the EPA’s goal is to match rates accurately for up to 75% of drivers. Personally, I would hate to be one of the 25% that doesn’t get anywhere near the posted millage on the sticker considering it is the second biggest investment one makes. Perhaps the EPA needs to test the test every so often, especially if the government is going to require more restrictions for carbon emissions.
Unfortunately for older cars there isn’t a reliable way to gauge its efficiency by government standards but you can do it yourself by keeping a log and measuring the miles for yourself. After you fill your tank note the mileage and the number of gallons purchased. Then, subtract the mileages and divide the result by the number of gallons purchased, or just use your trip odometer if you have one. Lastly when buying your next car research the MPG by third parties in addition to those posted on the window, look at consumer reports and talk to actual owners of the vehicle. Bigger is better but inflation is just not cool.