High Efficiency Car

Most of the oil we import goes to moving us about in personal vehicles, cars, trucks, and urban assault vehicles. Recently, we’ve seen the introduction of hybrid gas-electric vehicles that get significantly better fuel economy than their non-hybrid equivalents.

Still, I think there is a tremendous amount of room for improvement. A hybrid vehicle costs several thousand dollars more than it’s simpler non-hybrid equal and gets perhaps 50% again as many miles from a gallon of gasoline.

There is a technology, it doesn’t get much public attention, that can get about as much improvement in efficiency at about one-tenth the cost. That technology is water injection. I put this on a 1968 Rambler, and with some other tweaks that it made possible, improved mileage from 16/22 to 22-25/30 city/highway. The variability in city driving being a function of how I drove. I could stretch it to 25 in the city but averaged around 23 under “normal” driving.

To get this type of mileage you have some things you need to do besides just adding the water injection, specifically you need to advance timing and and lean out the fuel. Additionally, I believe that even more efficiency could have been obtained by also raising the compression ratio.

The kits that you can buy assume about a 10:1 fuel:water ratio but I found best results were obtainable with 1:1. The kit I had also had no filter, which caused the injector to get clogged frequently. To be successful commercially, water injection will need to have a water tank as large as the fuel tank. Because it’s possible to increase fuel economy to such a large degree, an increase in total tank volume will be minimal because more than half of the necessary water volume will simply displace an equivalent amount of fuel tank volume.

Water injection does a number of positive things, some of them are easily understood, some area not. Water injection reduces peak cylinder temperatures to a large degree. This allows more advanced timing, leaner mixtures, and higher compression ratios.

Water injection turns into steam during combustion increasing the gas volume and pressure on the piston while at the same time holding temperatures down. Less heat escapes through cylinder walls, more heat is transformed into mechanical energy.

Another thing water injection did is drastically reduce emissions, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide was almost unmeasurable. The mechanism behind that is not known to me. I suspect nitrous oxides were also down since peak cylinder temperatures were down but I had no means of measuring these.

Why not combine water injection with a hybrid technology? Hybrids improve efficiency by recovering breaking energy, providing torque at low RPM ranges where a gasoline engine can not do so efficiently, provide a method of peaking power so that the engine can be sized smaller, and by allowing the engine to operate at optimal power and RPM ranges when it must operate. Combine that with a power plant that is considerably more efficient to start with and you’ve got some major fuel savings potential.

Then why not add plug-in hybrid technology to that? And maybe some solar panels to top off the batteries while the car sits in a parking lot all day?

Category: Future

6 comments on “High Efficiency Car

  1. I seriously wonder why the auto-makers have not taken this on. They are under big pressure to make their cars more efficient and here is a simple, unpatented and effective technology which will enable them to meet all their targets, such as the EU’s 130g/km standard. And at low cost.

  2. Well that’s the six million dollar question isn’t it?

    Detroit has just about become a ghost town as automakers lay off the majority of their workforce because with $4/gallon gasoline they’re having trouble selling ten ton 4MPG SUVs.

    Toyota can’t build Prius hybrids fast enough to keep up with the demand.

    You’d think there would be a message that even the most brain dead corporate executives could figure out.

    I can’t help but wonder what percentage of American auto-makers stock is held by oil companies.

    It’s really hard to fathom why else they’d continue to push unsafe gas hog SUVs in favor of safe efficient cars for personal transportation.

  3. Item 1 .The us federal reserve is not owned by the us government, but bankers, meaning no one is free.The Fed was created in 1913, and charges the American people intrest to print their own money.
    Item 2 U S Auto markers are owned or controlled ,in a large part by the same group that own the US Fed.
    Item 3 Oil companies are controlled by the same guys that own the fed.
    Item 4 The bankers want to sell oil and anything that is not oil.THE BANKERS WILL STOP.
    Take the Saturn electric car. The technology has been here for years and years and we are still not free to buy it.
    The bankers controll The Fed,corporations and ultimately politicians. This is what kills off american genius.The bankers are not interested in the American people but only , well you figure that out.
    The Logan act in the US stops politicians and private government from holding private meetings but from 1950s on up the Bildenburg meetings have been held in secret and not a single person has been charged.
    A government owned by bankers is not free, They only live for greed and profit.That is your answer Nanook. ps spellin dont count.

  4. Item 1, Every president we’ve had that has called for a national currency has either found himself dead or at the center of some discrediting scandal.

    An expanding economy is required to pay the interest. That requires expanding energy and materials and generates expanding waste. Economic slavery aside, the system is not sustainable from an environmental standpoint.

    Item #2 and item #3, both auto and oil industries are publicly held. I am sure if you looked at the shareholder portfolio of both you would find some overlap but really the actions of both can be explained in terms of their own short-term self-interest.

    The American stock market and tax system really pushes for short term results at the expense of long-term. This could be fixed by having a high short-term capital gains tax and low long term as many countries do but too many politicians are also owned by the same folks.

    Item #4, The Saturn electric car, really the technology hasn’t been with us all that long. The technology to make a heavy lead-acid based vehicle with a maximum range of about 50 miles and poor performance characteristics has existed.

    Nickel metal hydride batteries that could provide better energy densities that made things like the Toyota Prius possible are more recent and still don’t have the energy density necessary for a good range on an all electric vehicle.

    Lithium ion batteries, which provide higher energy storage densities, couldn’t sustain the high charge / discharge rates required for electric vehicles and also lost half their capacity after 300 charge cycles.

    Nano-particle suspension lithium ion batteries that can be rapidly charged and discharged and retains most of their capacity over 10,000 charge / discharge cycles, making an electric vehicle with a range of more than 200 miles and with fast charge capability is a very new invention and manufacturing capacity hasn’t caught up with demand yet.

    There have been similar improvements in controller technology, ultra capacitors, more efficient motors, and computers, that make regenerative breaking and other energy savings and recovery possible.

    I would agree that vested interests have certain dissuaded congress from taking actions that might have increased the rate of development of competing technologies.

    As they say, we have the best government money can buy.

  5. An aside note; a rechargeable high energy battery technology known as lithium-iron-phosphate has been developed by Chinese battery manufacturer BYD. BYD is producing an all-electric vehicle with a range of 160km and charge time of 5-6 hours based upon this technology as well as as a number of plug-in hybrids. Some of these will be coming to the US market this year and next.

  6. With respect to items #2 and #3, what has made gas hog vehicles so profitable is the American obsession with the SUV AKA rolling penis extension.

    While these vehicles do have practical applications for maybe 3% of those who drive them, the other 97% just want to be the biggest thing on the road.

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