Sunday, May 04, 2008

Typical Car's Engines Only Utilize 15% of Energy in Gas

Part of the problem with gas engines is how inefficient they are. According to a report at CNN, just 15 percent of the energy in gas "makes its way to the wheels." That's due to imperfect engine timing, spacing and other factors.

Also, many of a car's systems (steering, air conditioning for example) are powered by hydraulic systems that draw their energy from the engine. By "electrifying" these systems, fuel efficiency could be raised 10 percent.

Of course, the problem with all improving the precision of a gas engine and electrifying a cars systems is the cost. Even if an auto company had the courage to toss out an expensive, super-efficient vehicle, there's no guarantee enough people will buy it to keep shareholders happy.

The good news is some manufacturers are pushing ahead with innovations. Lookout for this acronym: HCCI. It stands for "homogenous charged compression ignition." It's a gas engine design that mimics diesels. According to CNN, "several car companies" are working on this. It should improve fuel efficiency by about 15 percent.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.