Archive for the ‘Fuel Technology’ Category

Volvo Recharge Plugin Hybrid

I was watching the L.A. Auto Show on ESPN a couple weeks ago, and saw a few environmentally friendly cars that we may be seeing in the future.

One that I thought was particularly cool was th Volvo Recharge Concept Car.

It’s a plugin hybrid which in and of itself is really nothing new. Even the estimated range of the car isn’t any better than what is expected from the GM Volt model.

However, the innovation in this car is that the lack of a conventional engine and a transmission.

Instead, it has four smaller motors that drive each wheel individually. This not only saves a lot of space (which Volvo is using to add additional safety devices of course) in the vehicle and eliminates the need to a transmission but it also helps with performance giving this vehicle acceleration similar to that of a sports car. It’s definitely not your typical Volvo.

Normally I’d tell you to be on the lookout for this car in 2010 since just about every other cool fuel efficient car is coming out that year, but alas, that isn’t to be the case here. Volvo isn’t saying when exactly it’ll be released but they’ve said it’ll likely be 2015 before a significant number of these cars could be on the road.

Here’s a cool video from Volvo about the Recharge Concept and how it works.

[youtube h5bhuI7Hduw]

Posted: July 22nd, 2008
at 12:28am by Fuel Saver

Tagged with ,


Categories: Alternative Fuel Vehicles,Fuel Technology

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Alternative Fuel Technologies – A look at the major contenders

With gas prices having hit $4/gallon and with no relief in site, I think we’re all looking for alternatives so that we’re no longer dependent on the volatile oil market. There is a lot of talk about alternative fuels these days so I thought I’d take a few minutes to give you the lowdown on the major contenders to replace to replace the gasoline currently swishing around in your tank.

So let’s take a look at the four alternative fuels most likely to take over as the dominant fuel in your vehicle.

Electricity

We use electricity to power just about everything else so why not your car? Just add a few more batteries and you’re good to go, right? Well, sort of.

Advantages of electric cars

Electric cars have a lot of advantages. First there’s that whole no emissions thing. Just think about how that would help with smog in major cities. Some will argue that since in the United States most of our power comes from coal, it’s just switching from one fossil fuel to another, and they’re partly right, but they’re missing the point.

The power grid gets cleaner every decade. Right now billions are being invested in both solar and wind power so your electric vehicle actually becomes a “greener” car to drive the longer you drive it.

Also, keep in mind that electricity generated at power plants is generated far more efficiently than in an internal combustion engine. Even if it does happen to be from coal or natural gas, it’s still cleaner than burning gasoline in your car’s engine.

Also, keep in mind that reducing our dependency on foreign oil is just a smart thing to do.

One of the really cool things about an electric car is never having to visit the gas station. A fully electric vehicle can be charged from a standard 110v outlet in your home in just a few hours.

Disadvantages of electric cars

With the numerous advantages that electric cars have to offer, it’s not without its fair share of downsides.

Probably the biggest concern right now is the lack of range with electric vehicles. GM’s Volt line is expected to come out in 2010, but those cars are only expected to have a range of 40 miles before the gasoline engine needs to kick in. That’s enough for your daily commute or running errands around town, but not much else. 100% electric cars (i.e. – no hybrid gas engine or alternative fuel source) such as those made from companies like Tesla fare better with a range of about 200 miles, but that’s still far below a typical gas powered car even if it is a gas guzzling SUV.

Then there’s the whole issue of how long it takes to “refill” or in this case recharge. Current lithium batteries are going to take 4-6 hours before they’re fully recharged. Again, not a problem if you plug it in for the night, but not a whole lot of fun if you’re driving across country on a road trip.

Then there is that little nagging issue of where we’re going to get all that power. Let’s face it, the power grid in the United States is already stressed. If we all switched over to electric vehicles, we’d crush it. We would have to build a lot more power plants which would likely be fossil fuel burning plants like coal and natural gas to cope with the extra demand placed on the grid. It’s good for reducing our dependency on foreign oil, but still not exactly a “green” option… at least not yet.

Infrastructure

While it’s easy to say that the infrastructure is in place for electric vehicles, that’s just not true yet. I know I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but we simply can’t crank out enough power right now to just switch to electric. Refineries would have to be replaced with power plants.

However, one company has a novel solution where for an extra $20k they’ll install solar panels on your roof which will provide plenty of electricity for you to electric car.

Then there’s that whole recharing ordeal. Nobody wants to hang out with “Daryl” the gas station attendant for four hours watching tumbleweeds blow by while the batteries on the electric car recharge. I’ve seen some research from some of those MIT geniuses about carbon nanotube capacitors that can be recharged in seconds, but they’re still little more than a glimmer in the theoretical physicists’ eye – cool if it can be commercially viable, but still a big question mark.

Until the recharging issue is solve, electric vehicles are unlikely to be more than a niche player in the alternative fuel game. Electric vehicles will likely need to be paired with another kind of fuel for the foreseeable future to make them practical.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Hydrogen fuel cells have been looked at as the fuel of the future for decades now.

What’s so great about running a vehicle on hydrogen? Easy, when burned in a fuel cell engine, the only emission is water vapor – you could put the water in a glass and drink it.


Advantages of hydrogen fuel cells

Hydrogen is abundant – in fact it’s the most abundant element in the known universe. On Earth it doesn’t float around as hydrogen all that readily, but through electrolysis it’s pretty easy to get all the hydrogen we’ll ever need from water. And since it goes back to water when it’s used, it’s not like we’re using up the water either. This is one fuel source we’d never run out of.

It’s also a highly efficient fuel. Hydrogen has the highest energy content per unit of weight of any known fuel.

Disadvantages of hydrogen fuel cells

Hydrogen also comes with its own list of drawbacks though. In this case, the major issue is storing the stuff. If you want enough hydrogen to power your vehicle, you’ve got two choices, compress it or make it cold until it turns into a liquid. If you can make it a liquid, you can store a lot more of it in a tank, but hydrogen doesn’t become a liquid until you get down to -252.87 Celsius (-423.17 Fahrenheit). That’s darn cold! And keeping it that cold requires a pretty significant amount of energy. Compressing it is currently a better choice, but it requires larger storage tanks (which increase weight).

The other disadvantage of hydrogen is that it burns so efficiently (yes, I know I said that was an advantage) – so efficiently that it’s keen on blowing up as any Hindenburg aficionado is well aware. But then again, gas blows up too, so you won’t actually be driving a 70mpg 2,000lb missile down the Interstate anymore than you are now.

Infrastructure

I was reading an article a few days ago that said the cost of getting an infrastructure in place would require somewhere in the neighborhood of $70 billion in subsidies. We have a massive network of gas stations that would need retrofitting with tanks to store hydrogen, but the bigger issue is making hydrogen on a massive scale. We don’t really have that.

Hydrogen has a lot of promise as a fuel, but it’s probably the furthest away from reaching its potential as a fuel.

Compressed Air

Compressed Air is a perfectly viable alternative fuel that you really don’t hear much about.

For those of you who took an Industrial Arts class (shop class) in high school, you’ve probably built your own version of an air powered car using some balsa wood and a CO2 canister, but for those not so cultured, here’s a Youtube video showing these fun little toys (I’d make my own video, but mine was reduced to splinters in a crash.)

[youtube J6Jq-0Ou0Dg]

So if you think about it using compressed air to, say, turn some pistons in an engine and make it run wouldn’t be too terribly difficult either.

All you need is a tank with enough air in it and you’re good to go.

Advantages of compressed air

The more I think about compressed-air cars, the more excited I get. Let’s talk about the fuel source first. It’s air – the same stuff we breathe. You fill up your tank with an air compressor – that’s it – you’re done.

Now let’s talk about emissions. It uses compressed air. When you uncompress air, it’s just air – the same stuff it was before you put it into a tank in the first place. That means zero emissions.

Unlike with electricity which takes hours to recharge, it only takes about three minutes to fill up your tank with a service station air compressor. It’s been estimated the cost would be about $3 to fill ‘er up for a full tank of air. The cool thing is that a lot of air vehicles are being made with on board compressors so you can plug the unit in your standard plug at home and the tanks will full recharge in about 4 hours. It’s like getting all the benefits of electric without the drawback of not being able to recharge quickly.

Lastly, compressed air vehicles can be significantly cheaper than their gasoline powered counterparts. While most alternative fuel vehicles add a significant chunk of change to the final price of your vehicle, air powered cars are actually cheaper.

Disadvantages of compressed air

While compressed air may sound like a pretty sweet deal, it does have a few drawbacks. So far all compressed-air cars have been small, and they are made out of aluminum, not steel to save on weight.

Also, the current range of 100% compressed air vehicles is only a little over 100 miles at the moment which makes them impractical for long trips. The American company Zero Pollution Motors plans to release their vehicle as a compressed air hybrid which also comes with a conventional gas engine which can actually extend the range of the vehicle to 800 miles.

Infrastructure

If compressed air vehicles did start to catch on, the infrastructure changes would be relatively minor. Refueling stations would need to invest in pumps that dispensed compressed air instead of gas which wouldn’t be too difficult. My guess is the hardest part would be for the government to figure out how to tax it.

Since it uses just air, no refineries would need to be built – air is freely available all around us. We just need to bottle it up and it’s ready to go.

Biofuels

I’m lumping all of the biofuels into this category. I’m talking about ethanol (whether its made from corn, sugar cane, kudzu, switchgrass, or algae really doesn’t matter) and biodiesel (made from vegetable oils).

Advantages of biofuels

The advantages of biofuels are that they’re something we’re already familiar with. You fill up your tank with a liquid that gets squirted into a little chamber and it burns making those ponies under the hood make those noises that get teenage boys all hot and bothered.

There’s also that whole “foreign oil dependency” thing. I don’t know about you but giving billions of dollars each year to countries that hate us and want all us “infidels” to die a slow and painful death really doesn’t bring visions of sugar plums dancing in my head when my head hits the pillow at night.

Biofuels can fix that little issue. The United States is a vast country with a whole heck of a lot of land that can be used for growing stuff… not necessarily corn, but something. Switchgrass is suitable for growing in climates where it’s too dry for corn. Kudzu grows all over the south whether they want it to or not, and algae is a nuisance in lakes and coastal waters all over the country. All of these are being looked at as excellent candidates for ethanol conversion.

Plus, not shipping oil thousands of oils in massive tankers would mean no oil spills, and don’t kid yourself, they happen all the time… just not in America. That’s certainly a more environmentally friendly thing to do.

Disadvantages of biofuels

Americans like to drive – there’s no doubt about that. However, we also like to eat. And while there are several non food plants being looked at for ethanol the main way to make ethanol in this country is to use corn. If it’s not used as food for people, it’s used as food for cows or other livestock which then become food for people. Using corn for ethanol has caused corn prices to rise dramatically which leads to an increase in food prices since nearly everything on the store shelves has corn as an ingredient. (Just look at how many things have corn syrup in them.)

Then there’s the little nagging issue about converting corn into ethanol not being efficient. Right now optimistic estimates are that you get 1.25 unit of energy back for every 1 unit you put in. Less optimistic ones say it’s actually energy negative meaning it takes more energy (diesel fuel used to run tractors that plant and harvest the corn and trucks used to transport it) to produce ethanol than you get in return. Obviously, scientists and engineers are trying to make the process far more efficient and think they can get up to a 7 to 1 return on energy units, but right now they’re nowhere close.

And while biofuels are certainly greener than their fossil fuel brethren, they’re not exactly zero emission fuels. You certainly don’t want to breathe that stuff coming out of your tailpipe even if it does smell like french fries.

Infrastructure

In terms of infrastructure, very little would need to change at your local gas station. A gas pump is a gas pump whether or not it’s pumping gas, diesel, biodiesel, ethanol, or refried beans (now that stuff’ll give ya gas).

We’d either need to build new refineries which is already in progress for ethanol plants across the Midwest or we’d need to retrofit the old ones designed to make gasoline. Either way it’s a fairly expensive process, but it wouldn’t require much adaptation on the consumer’s part since your engine would sound, smell, and drive the same as it always has.

Air Powered Car Gets 106mpg, Goes 96mph and has 800 mile range

Any of my long time readers will remember that one of my first posts was about an Air powered car in India.

At the time it really wasn’t much to get excited about especially for speed crazed American drivers. The vehicle only had a top speed of 68 miles per hour and a range of just 125 miles.

Also, it was only available in India, but it looks like a compressed air hybrid might be heading to the United States in late 2009 or 2010.

And this new compressed air car comes with far more impressive credentials.

Top speed – 96 mpg
MPG – 106
Range – 800 miles +
Half the CO2 emissions of a Toyota Prius

I’ll admit that since that post a year ago I’ve ignored compressed air cars but Zero Pollution Motors (ZPM) has rekindled my interest.

One major advantage that a compressed air car has over an electric car is the refueling time. Current and upcoming electric cars require several hours to get recharged, which is fine if you’re just running errands around town or taking short trip, but it’s entirely impractical if you’ve got a road trip planned.

However, a compressed air tank can be refilled in about 3 minutes at a refueling station, but you can also take it home and plug it in and the onboard compressor will refill the tanks in about 4 hours (about $2 of electricity). It’s like getting the best of both worlds.

Another reason to like the ZPM Air Car is that it’s reasonably priced. Right now ZPM is expecting their 6-seater to cost less than $18,000. Contrast that to the $100k Tesla Roadster or even the $23k Toyota Prius and you can see why this compressed air thing just might work.

So why do we have to wait until at least late 2009 (probably 2010 – all the cool stuff is coming out in 2010) to see this vehicle hit the streets?

It still has to pass U.S. safety tests, and that takes time. So I certainly hope this thing makes it to the mass market in 2010, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if this thing got delayed… it seems to be happening a lot with all of alternative fuel vehicles.

Here’s a cool story from CNN about these air powered cars.

Posted: July 19th, 2008
at 12:08pm by Fuel Saver

Tagged with , ,


Categories: Alternative Fuel Vehicles,Fuel Technology

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Al Gore Wants US to Abandon Fossil Fuels by 2018

In a sharp contrast to President Bush, who wants to open up offshore drilling, which wouldn’t reach its full effect until 2030 according to experts, Nobel laureate Al Gore wants to see the United States abandon fossil fuels and switch to clean carbon-free sources.

I have to say that if I’m picking sides here, I’m siding with Al Gore. I not only want to see us transition to cleaner methods of transportation, but I want to see us do it as quickly as possible – oil companies be damned.

Now Gore is willing to admit that it would require “fundamental changes in political thinking and personal expectations.”

Allow me to translate: The government needs to stop sleeping with big oil. We need to take the attitude we had back in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. When JFK said we were going to the moon, it took 8 years. These days you can’t even build a satellite to circle the globe in that time. Heck, it’s been 7 years since 9/11 and construction on the new tours isn’t going anywhere. There is way to much freakin’ red tape whenever you want to do anything anymore (time to get rid of some lawyers me thinks.)

Now instead of paraphrasing everything he said, I’ll just send you to read the entire article here. Or you can watch his video on youtube:

[youtube dt9wZloG97U]

Don’t want to wait until 2018? You can start saving big money on gas by performing a water conversion on your car and you can slash your gas bill by 40% or more.

Not that motivated? You could always get a gas rebate card. It’s an extremely easy way to start saving money on gas every time you fill up the tank.

Posted: July 17th, 2008
at 9:09pm by Fuel Saver

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Categories: Fuel Technology

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Solar Powered Prius?

Although the details are sketchy at this point, it looks like Toyota is planning on adding solar panels to the world’s most popular hybrid – the Prius.

Now don’t go getting too excited just yet. A few solar panels aren’t going to be enough fully charge the batteries pack of Prius, instead, it looks like these panels are going to be used to help power the air conditioning and other electronics.

That’s would probably make this car one of the most popular cars for hypermiling since those guys try to drive with the windows closed AND with the air conditioning off. If they could use the A/C without affecting gas mileage, I’m guessing they’d be in hog heaven.

Now one thing that isn’t clear is if this feature is going to be available in the United States (most of the details I got were from this Japanese newspaper and from the BBC)

I still think that if we’re going to be excited about something, it’ll be the plug-in Prius coming out in 2010 (only 1.5 years left to wait for all the cool 2010 cars we’ve been promised).

Want a solution you can use to start saving money on gas right now – perform a water conversion on your car and you can slash your gas bill by 40% or more.

Not that motivated? You could always get a gas rebate card. It’s an extremely easy way to start saving money on gas every time you fill up the tank.

Posted: July 7th, 2008
at 6:09pm by Fuel Saver


Categories: Fuel Technology

Comments: No comments


New Gas Engine Design Not Only Cheaper, But Doubles Gas Mileage

With all the talk about electric cars, hybrids, and hydrogen fuel cells, pretty much everyone has written off gasoline powered internal combustion engines as dead.

However, there’s a small company in Australia called Revetec doing some pretty amazing things with gas powered engines that may be the short term solution to our gas problems.

Not only have they created a new engine that is cheaper to manufacture than a conventional engine of the same horsepower, but its 50% smaller, 50% lighter, has 50% lower emissions, and here’s the best part – it gets double the gas mileage of its current counterpart found in cars today (and remember, it has the same horsepower so you’re not sacrificing power for fuel economy). And just for good measure, the engine is quieter too.

I realize this sounds too good to be true, but the engine really does exist, and it’s been independently tested in an actual vehicle to substantiate these claims.

Now I’ll be honest, I’m not a gearhead, and when I start reading about rotating multilobate cams, and diametrically opposed pistons, I’m out of my element.

But here’s a link to a page that includes some animations of how the engine parts move, and here’s Revetec’s official website which will fill you in on all the gory details about how this technology works.

Right now it’s got me pretty excited thinking about 30mpg full size SUVs and conventional gas powered cars that get over 80mpg, but I’ll temper my enthusiasm just a bit since I know that there is plenty of cool technology out there that could help with our gas problems that never make it into real production vehicles.

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Need an easy way to start saving money on gas right now? I recommend you get a gas card. They’re free, and the savings can really add up. Check out my gas cards page to find out which ones are recommended and which ones aren’t worth the plastic they’re printed on.

Have you signed up to get my free money saving report, “62 ways to save money on gas” yet? If not, click here to get it absolutely FREE!

Posted: July 1st, 2008
at 8:05pm by Fuel Saver


Categories: Fuel Technology

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Diesel Hybrids – The Hybrids Of The Future?

I came across a news story yesterday about the new BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics X5 Concept Vehicle (talk about a mouthful to say…) and was pretty excited. Finally, a company is coming out with a diesel hybrid vehicle.

It reminded me of a conversation I was having with some friends back in December about why I thought was the best progression for us to not only lessen our dependency on foreign oil but to use less oil in general.

I contended that since electric and hydrogen fuel cells aren’t quite ready for prime time that we should take advantage of what we currently have available to us – diesel engines. Diesel powered vehicles are no longer the smelly, noisy vehicles you may be picturing. In fact, many of the new diesel cars are just as quiet as their gasoline powered counterparts.

And to give you an idea of how much more efficient diesel cars are than gas powered vehicles, the VW Polo (not available in the United States… yet) is a diesel powered cars that gets 70mpg+. Compare that to a Prius which only gets about 50mpg at best, and you can see the advantages that diesel has over gasoline and even over gas hybrid cars. Not only that, but the Polo sells for less than $20,000 while the Prius starts at $21,500.

So my thought is that in the short term we should be aiming to drive diesel cars, then diesel hybrid cars, and diesel plug-in hybrid cars. Adding hybrid capabilities and other technology on the horizon to efficient diesel engines could easily push some vehicles into the 100mpg range. And at the kind of mileage you probably wouldn’t care that diesel costs more than gasoline.

Making these changes would greatly reduce the amount of oil we use and need to import on a daily basis, and none of it requires any technology we don’t already have. Heck, just having everyone switch to diesel would make a dramatic difference.

And from there we could move towards fully electric vehicles which draw their power from our electric grid which is a far more efficient way to generate power than to use our internal combustion engines. Also, leaving power generation to the power plants is also far more enviromentally friendly.

And while I just posted about hydrogen fuel cell cars yesterday, I’m not convinced that hydrogen fuel cells are the future of our vehicles. However, I’d be happy to see us driving hydrogen fuel cell / plug-in electric hybrids. That way, we’d still be leaving the bulk of the power generation to the electric grid (trust me, that’s a good thing, the power grid is constantly getting cleaner and more efficient unlike our engines) and we’d still be able to drive across the country by filling up with hydrogen, and our cars would be zero emission.

And while that may be a bit far out right now (probably 20-30+ years), diesel hybrids will be here shortly. Let’s get back to talking about the BMW X5 that inspired me to make this post in the first place.

A typical BMW X5 that you can buy today gets about 18mpg. It may be a pleasure to drive, but it gets crappy gas mileage just like so many of its SUV brethren. The new BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics on the other hand gets over 40mpg with its diesel hybrid engine. In addition to the the hybrid system (which is an innovation in this vehicle itself), it also takes advantage of solar panels mounted on the roof to help charge the batteries, and even the wheels and tires are designed to help you improve gas mileage.

Right now it’s looking like you’ll have to wait until 2010 to get one of these in the United States, which as you already know if you’ve been a long time reader here is going to be a great year for “green” cars.

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Need an easy way to start saving money on gas right now? I recommend you get a gas card. They’re free, and the savings can really add up. Check out my gas cards page to find out which ones are recommended and which ones aren’t worth the plastic they’re printed on.

Have you signed up to get my free money saving report, “62 ways to save money on gas” yet? If not, click here to get it absolutely FREE!

Posted: June 19th, 2008
at 7:23pm by Fuel Saver


Categories: Alternative Fuel Vehicles,Fuel Technology

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First Commercial Production Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Roll Off Assembly Line

Honda has begun the first commercial production of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and plans to start delivering the vehicles to customers in July.

Before you get too excited, though, Honda only plans on producing 200 of these vehicles over the next three years. (For comparison’s sake, Toyota makes about 200,000 Prius’ each year.) Also, unless you live in Southern California or Japan, your chance of getting one of these vehicles is pretty much zero, since Southern California is the only place in the U.S. with enough hydrogen equipped filling stations for such a vehicle to make sense.

The Honda FCX Clarity runs by combining hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity and as a by product produces only water vapor.

While you may not be getting a fuel cell vehicle anytime in the near future, this is still a big step in the quest to make hydrogen cars a reality. Honda has said they hope to begin mass producing these vehicles in ten years – so hopefully by 2018 seeing a fuel cell car driving down the street will be as common as seeing a Prius now.

As you know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I think plug-in electric hybrids are a far more viable option for the near future than hydrogen cars, but I do hope that my children are able to drive fully electric cars or electric hydrogen hybrid cars since they’d give off zero emissions and would allow us to be fully self sufficient as a nation in terms of our energy needs.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, why not subscribe to my RSS feed and be notified every time I make a new blog post.

Need an easy way to start saving money on gas right now? I recommend you get a gas card. They’re free, and the savings can really add up. Check out my gas cards page to find out which ones are recommended and which ones aren’t worth the plastic they’re printed on.

Have you signed up to get my free money saving report, “62 ways to save money on gas” yet? If not, click here to get it absolutely FREE!

Posted: June 18th, 2008
at 7:28pm by Fuel Saver


Categories: Alternative Fuel Vehicles,Fuel Technology,Zero Emission Vehicles

Comments: 1 comment


Bacteria that produce oil – Renewable Petroleum – Oil 2.0

Why go through the trouble of shipping oil dug up from the ground when you can produce it from stuff you were just going to throw away for less?

That’s the attitude of LS9, a company specializing in the production of “DesignerBiofuels.”

LS9 is using genetically modified strains of bacteria (industrial yeast, or non pathogenic strains of E. Coli) that produce crude oil as a by product. You can feed them pretty much any food that can be broken down into sugars, such as wheat straw or wood chips, and they’ll provide you with oil.

They’ve deemed the renewable petroleum produced by the bacteria “Oil 2.0.”

Advantages of LS9 DesignerBiofuels Technology:

- Unlike with hydrogen fuel cell technology, this technology would not require our current infrastructure to change since we’d still be using oil, it’d just be coming from a different source.

- LS9 also claims that their oil is runs at a carbon negative which means that the amount of carbon thrown into the atmosphere by burning the oil is actually less than the amount of carbon the plant from which the oil is made initially absorbed.

- It requires less refining. The refining process of light sweet crude is a fairly energy intensive process. The oil produced by LS9 bacteria requires minimal refining and could theoretically be put into your tank without any further refining at all.

Disadvantage of LS9 DesignerBiofuels Technology:

- Of course, it’s not quite ready for prime time yet, because just like the first computers, it’s a rather space intensive process. A plant that could supply all of our oil in America would require a plant that covered roughly 200 square miles – about the size of Chicago.

- A full scale commercial facility won’t be ready to go until 2011, so even if this technology took hold, it’s still probably a decade from putting a major dent in the amount of oil we need to import from foreign countries.

While there may be greener technologies in the pipeline, I am still encouraged to see this type of technology being worked on. While one type of alternative energy like solar or wind power may not take over 100%, if all these new technologies did a little, we could greatly reduce the amount of oil we use on a daily basis, and could produce enough of our own oil that we wouldn’t need to import it from foreign countries.

If I hear anything further about this technology, I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, why not subscribe to my RSS feed and be notified every time I make a new blog post.

Need an easy way to start saving money on gas right now? I recommend you get a gas card. They’re free, and the savings can really add up. Check out my gas cards page to find out which ones are recommended and which ones aren’t worth the plastic they’re printed on.

Have you signed up to get my free money saving report, “62 ways to save money on gas” yet? If not, click here to get it absolutely FREE!

Posted: June 16th, 2008
at 6:41pm by Fuel Saver


Categories: Fuel Technology

Comments: No comments


Active Fuel Management Flex Fuel Vehicles

I just got back from a trip doing some whitewater rafting in Colorado, and one of the rental cars we had was using what I thought was some pretty cool technology to that can definitely help you save money on gas.

One of my friends had a Chevy Impala as his rental. Normally, this is nothing to write home about. However, since my friend is an engineer who works for an ethanol company he made sure he got one of their flex fuel vehicles that can run on E85. While I may not agree that ethanol makes sense as a fuel right now, there’s no denying that it costs less at the pump, I’ve seen it cost up to $1.00/gallon less than regular unleaded gasoline.

But that really wasn’t the cool thing about this car as far as I was concerned. I was much more excited about the Active Fuel Management technology on the vehicle.

Instead of running on all six cylinders 100% of the time like a standard engine does, this vehicle automatically deactivates half of the cylinders in the engine when they’re not needed and then reactivates them when they’re needed like when you’re stopped idling at a stoplight or once you’re up to speed on the highway. These enhancements can actually get the full sized sedan nearly 30mpg on the highway, and if you’re filling up with E85, it can make a dramatic improvement in your gas consumption.

One other feature that I thought was really cool was a real time gas mileage indicator so you can see how your driving is affecting your gas mileage. I think just being able to see how much their gas mileage is affected when you are driving aggressively would make people think twice about doing it next time.

One other feature on the car that I didn’t know about was that the vehicle as has a tire pressure monitor that automatically alerts you if your tire pressure is low, and having properly inflated tires can improve mileage by up to 3% according to fueleconomy.gov.

While the Chevy Impala Flex Fuel Vehicle with Active Fuel Management is certainly no Aptera Typ-1 (300mpg car) or even a Toyota Prius in terms of fuel mileage, it’s certainly a step in the right direction to help you get better gas mileage.

If a hybrid really doesn’t pique your interest or isn’t practical for you as your next vehicle, I’d recommend you take a look at vehicles that are flex fuel and use Active Fuel Management or similar technology. If you need a larger vehicle, then I’d recommend that you look into vehicles that run on diesel since diesel tends to get significantly better gas mileage than their gasoline counterparts.

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Posted: June 13th, 2008
at 9:29pm by Fuel Saver


Categories: Fuel Technology

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