Put Your Car on a Diet to Save on Gas

Every pound of weight your car's engine has to haul around costs a little bit more gas. The video shows the results of weight reduction on a car's acceleration. You can see the improvement with less weight. The same works for fuel efficiency: with less weight, instead of generating more acceleration, the engine can achieve the same acceleration as before by using less fuel.

Next time I write on this blog I will be talking about infinitely variable geared transmission. Not possible you say? Well then stop by tomorrow and find out about the D drive.


Carbon Fiber Do It Yourself

Carbon fiber and other composites are lightweight materials which can replace metal in many applications in vehicles. Panels made of carbon fiber are strong while saving on weight. Every extra pound costs the engine a little more gas to haul it around. To many people, carbon fiber seems like an alien technology, beyond the capacity of mere mortals to understand or use. But in fact it is not difficult ... you can make carbon fiber panels at home! This video shows you how.

Lighter cars are more fuel efficient cars, and tomorrow I'll be writing about that. If you like to see real life proof that these strategies to save on gas work be sure to read my blog post tomorrow.


Compressed Air Powered Vehicles in Development

Compressed air, along with electric and bio-fuel, could be an alternative to gasoline powered transport.

I hope you come back tomorrow as I will be publishing a post that I find really interesting - do it yourself carbon fiber panels, a great project to help lighten your old clunker and save on gas.


Compressed Air Cars

Compressed air can be used to run a car engine. Of course, although air is free, the energy required to pressurize the air is not free. However, compressed air as a motor fuel allows us to maintain transport without gasoline. The infrastructure to compress the air would replace the petroleum, refining and gasoline distribution infrastructure. Of course, the part at the end of the video where they talk about perpetual motion based on compressed air running a generator which compresses more air is nonsense. Using compressed air to run a compressor will give you less pressurized air than you started with due to inevitable losses.

If you want to see and read more about compressed air cars make sure to stop by Save On Gas again soon. I will be doing another post about these cool alternative fuel cars tomorrow.


Carpool to Save on Gas

Our nation could use a little more "hypermiling culture" ... the idea that fuel is a valuable resource worth husbanding. Every morning's commute sees many, many single occupant vehicles. Carpooling is a simple way to move more people per gallon of gas burned.

If you're interested in vehicles using alternatives to internal combustion engines make sure to visit Save On Gas tomorrow as I'll be doing a post about compressed air cars.


Does Avoiding Left Turns Save Gas?

Taking a left turn often means waiting for a light or an opening in oncoming traffic. Time spent with the engine idling means fuel spent. On the other hand, right turns can be made without waiting. A left turn can be replaced by three right turns. Of course, three right turns make the total distance travelled greater. So the question arises: can you save on gas overall by only making right turns? The distance will be greater, but the time spent idling could be lower.

The answer will depend on the vehicle, traffic patterns, type of route and many other things. In particular cases the difference can be measured. The videos below show the Mythbusters television program's experiments on the issue.


High Speed Rail

High speed rail is a way to move people quickly while saving on gas. In a world with high and rising fuel prices, high speed rail will be a key technology allowing us to afford mobile lifestyles. The problem for the US is that we are falling ever further behind. The US currently has no high speed rail at all. That leaves us vulnerable to higher fuel prices.


Does Coasting in Neutral Save Gas?

If you are going to slow down for a turn or a stoplight ahead, should you put your transmission in neutral and coast along to a lower speed? Bobby Likis explains that with an automatic transmission, this will use more gas than leaving the car in gear. The reason is because while you are coasting in neutral, the engine is running in idle and receiving fuel to power it. However, if you are coasting in gear, the engine management computer detects that no power is needed and cuts off all fuel to the engine. Engine revolutions are maintained by drawing energy from the rotating wheels and drivetrain ... it is something like the way electric engines can recover energy while braking. Cutting off fuel flow means you will use less gas then letting the engine idle in neutral.

So to save on gas with an automatic transmission, leave the car in gear as you coast to lower speeds.


Magnetic Gears Reduce Friction

Friction between moving parts in the engine and transmission consumes a considerable percentage of all fuel used by a vehicle. Any technique for reducing this friction gives an increase in fuel economy. Here is a demonstration of two magnetic gears which use magnetic fields to transfer force instead of gear pins in physical contact. Avoiding metal on metal contact leads to much, much less friction in the system. Of course, generating magnetic fields strong enough to support the loads experienced by transmissions in contact with a couple of hundred horsepower engine is more than challenging. But it is always good to keep an eye out for possible future technologies that could help us save on gas.


Non Circular Gears

When non-circular gears rotate, they can pump fluids because their lobes leave empty volumes within the disk of revolution. A circular gear completely fills its disk of revolution, thus leaving no space for a fluid to enter. As the lobes turn, the hollow volume goes through a revolution as well, carrying along any fluid within. This allows for moving a known amount of fluid per revolution. In this way flow can be easily measured or regulated. Just count or control the number of revolutions and the amount of transferred fluid is known.


Reversible Fans : Clean Radiators Can Save on Gas

Heavy machinery can guzzle gas. A simple idea for cutting back on their thirst is to keep their radiators clean by reversing the cooling fans to blow any obstructing dust and dirt off. Radiators clogged with dirt will require more work from the fans to force the same amount of cooling air through the engine. Fans working harder means more fuel spent to run those fans. The alternative is to operate the engine without sufficient cooling airflow, but the resulting higher temperatures will reduce equipment life and lead to losses in efficiency, which in turn waste fuel.

By running the air intake fans in reverse for a few moments much of the obstructing material can be removed. A simple but great idea for saving on gas!


India Rising

As Detroit struggles, automakers elsewhere in the world are rising. Tata Motors is the largest automaker in India. Over the coming decades India, China and other countries will become the dominant forces in the automotive world. Their need for petroleum products will determine the global price and availability of gasoline. The United States will have to adjust itself to the conditions set by their demand. Let us hope that India tries to save on gas! Meanwhile, we can try to insulate ourselves from the impact of rising Indian demand by saving on gas ourselves.


Vampire Power

Many appliances use electrical power in a standby mode when plugged in, even if they are not being used. This standby mode power drain is costing the United States 4 billion dollars a year, and we are getting nothing in return.


Where Do We Go From Here?

We are facing a future of persistently high gas prices as the global production of oil cannot keep up with the growing population and industrialization of the world. Where do we go from here?


OIl Tanker Safety

Canada is considering shutting down a series of coastal lighthouses on their West Coast. Oil tankers pass along this coast, heading to and from Valdez, Alaska. This is of concern because it increases the chance of a tanker accident, leading to an oil spill.

Relating this to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, we see that our society is not investing the effort required to keep our petroleum infrastructure healthy and safe. We depend on crude oil for our way of life, but we have to be willing to bear the costs. If we try to duck paying them, one day the bill collector will catch us in the form of a horrible accident. Gas does not come for free. We pay for it at the pump, but there is a whole host of steps it has to go through before arriving at that pump, and as a society we have to pay for those too.


Electric Police Mobility Vehicle

Public service providers like fire and police need to be mobile. But high gas prices cut into their budgets, especially in times of uncertain economic health. One solution is to use small, energy efficient electric vehicles for local police patrolling. That way, officers can stay mobile and save on gas at the same time.


Neighbourhood Electric Vehicle Tax Credit

You might be able to get a tax credit for having a Neighbourhood Electric Vehicle. A golf cart could even qualify.


BP Oil Spill

Sometimes you have to look for a way to laugh just so you don't cry.


Aptera Competes for the X Prize

The Aptera competes for the X Prize - a ten million dollar competition for high fuel efficiency in a production vehicle.


BP Oil Spill

Here is a parody of the ongoing BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The line at the end "they will need us again" holds an important lesson. Our enormous demand for gasoline and oil requires that we look for it and produce it in ever more difficult and inaccessible places. Until we can learn to control our thirst for oil and start saving on gas, disasters like this will keep on happening.


Pipeline Under Construction

We depend on pipelines to move oil and gas. They are part of the huge but mostly forgotten and invisible infrastructure necessary for us to be able to drive our cars. A salute to the many men and women who work on the pipelines of the world!


15,000 Miles to the Gallon

Watch this futuristic fuel sipper go!


Carpooling Website

Here is a video demo of a website based system called Rides Near Me to help people carpool. Carpooling can be a great way to save on gas. One of the biggest obstacles to carpooling is the social networking necessary to find someone to carpool with. Websites like this can help out in this area.


Know Your Way to Save on Gas

Many drivers burn fuel needlessly becoming lost. Very often, we head towards our destinations without being clear on exactly how to get there. The result is time and fuel spent driving in loops looking for the right route. This lost time and gas can be saved by examining a map or using a GPS mapping device so you can plan out the directions before starting out.


Gas Mileage vs Tire Size

Does the size of your tires effect your fuel economy? Larger tires have a greater diameter, and so for every revolution your car will be carried farther along the road. However, the larger diameter also means the torque provided by the engine will result in a lower propulsive force. The torque is the product of the tire radius and the force, so with a fixed torque provided by the engine, larger tires lead to smaller forces. With sufficiently large cartoon sized tires, the engine would not be able to even move the vehicle. So large tires may allow the engine to operate at lower RPMs during steady highway cruise, thus saving on gas. But at the same time, whenever you are accelerating the larger sized tires will force the engine to provide more torque then normal, thus forcing it to run at higher RPMs and burn more gas. Thus larger tires might help your fuel economy if you do a lot of highway driving on flat roads at constant speed. But if you are accelerating a lot, for example in city stop and go traffic or travelling on hilly highways you will probably use more gas.


Maintenance Tips for Motorcycle Owners

Motorcycles can be a great way to save on gas. The vehicle you drive has a very important impact on the amount of fuel you use. A motorcycle will use much less gas than a large car for example. For many purposes, a motorcycle is just as convenient or sometimes even more so than taking a trip in a car.

So for those who have bought a motorcycle to save on gas, here are some tips on how you can keep it in good running shape.


American Automobile Association Tips to Save on Gas

The AAA has some tips you can use to get better gas mileage.


Tips to Use Less Gas

Here are some more hypermiling tips.


Crash Safety Vs Saving on Gas

Generally smaller, lighter vehicles can achieve better fuel economy than larger ones, all else being equal. The same basic physics means that the smaller vehicles will fare worse in crashes, once again all else being equal. That is not to say that small vehicles cannot be made to do well in crashes. Just that a larger vehicle with the same attention invested into crash safety will do better. Likewise, a larger vehicle can be more fuel efficient than a smaller vehicle if the smaller one has not invested the same level of engineering into fuel efficiency. This video explains some of the tradeoffs between crash safety and saving on gas.

Note that one concern is small vehicles colliding with large ones. That is a safety risk factor that will probably go away in the future, as sustained high and rising gas prices push automakers to elevate fuel economy to priority number one. That will likely result in all vehicles eventually being smaller, thus reducing the danger of a minicar colliding with a large SUV sized car. Even should this happen, there will remain the problem of smaller cars having smaller crumple zones, which leads to occupants experiencing higher accelerations in crashes. That is a basic limitation of physics and cannot be overcome.


Some Basic Hypermiling Tips

Hypermiling is the art of driving in a way that minimizes fuel usage. Your driving habits can have an enormous influence on how much gas you save. At the most basic, hypermiling is about maintaining a steady speed to avoid speed changes ... each time you slow down, you lose all of the kinetic energy stored in the motion of your vehicle, energy which came from burning gas. Note in the video the use of an instrument for showing instantaneous fuel economy. This kind of immediate feedback is a big help in learning to drive so as to save on gas. Without a device like a Scangauge or a built in dashboard fuel economy readout, you really don't know how different driving techniques are changing your fuel usage.