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Only About 13% of the Energy in Gasoline Gets to the Wheels to Power the Car!

Where Does It All Go?

The Following Graphic is the Approximate Distribution of the Energy in Gasoline as Used by a Car in Typical Operation. 

Once it gets to the wheels, how its distributed is up to the way the car is being used.  Typical use is shown.

This picture presents an average usage of the energy in gasoline.  Aerodynamic drag can be a much higher percentage if you travel fast.  It becomes a much bigger factor at speeds above 50 MPH.  Since drag is proportional to the speed squared, 70 mph will create twice the drag as 50 mph! (702 / 502 = 1.96)

What Can You Do To Improve Efficiency? Some Thoughts:


With 62% of the energy going to wasted heat must be a way to recover some of it.

bulletA turbocharger captures some wasted heat so a smaller, lighter, lower friction engine can be used to produce the same power.
bulletIn 1834 Jean Peltier discovered the fact that a pair of junctions between two different material conductors (1 & 2 in Schematic) with one hotter  than the other would produce electricity!  Over 40 years ago in an Energy Conversion Course my Professor predicted that transistor junctions would make the process far more efficient.  It's what allows the pilot in gas appliances to generate electricity to operate the control!  Perhaps one of you will develop these systems to charge a battery in a Hybrid car!  It is being used to produce the electrical power for the pilot and flame controls in gas stoves, fireplaces, water heaters etc to.  it's referred to as a thermopile. The principle is also currently used in reverse to make sold state thermoelectric refrigerators.  (With enough on the exhaust pipe we could possible cool the car!, SEE TWO Possible Concepts: Below)
bulletWe can certainly save most of the 17% waste when idling and coasting by shutting off the engine!  We could use electric air-conditioning, power steering, radio using deep cycle batteries!  See below for a way to charge with braking energy recovery!  Note I drove a 2011 Porsche Cayenne which did shut off the engine when stopped for a light.  Did not notice and when the gas peddle was pressed to go did not even feel the engine start!

One Internet report indicates  tests and analysis using an EPA defined driving cycle showed that 10% of the energy goes to friction in various components.  It should be possible to reduce these losses.

bulletCoatings are being used in many racing engines, why not more in conventional motors?
bulletThe use of synthetic high performance lubricants should help.  Quantified data is needed not just marketing hype!
bulletThe Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)  in our Nissan Murano worked great and avoided all gears.  It also keeps the engine at the ideal operating rpm!
bulletComposite materials and ceramics should lower friction considerably.

Rolling friction uses a great deal of the energy. 

bulletCan tire companies develop lower rolling friction products that still perform?
bulletCan the tire pressure be varied for highway driving where higher pressures reduce rolling friction?
Two Concepts shown below for Using Peltier Effect Modules.  At <~$50 for 100 watt modules these could be placed along a section of exhaust pipe to recover some of the 33% of energy in gasoline going to waste!

Two Peltier Modules placed in a square section of exhaust pipe with heat extracting fins could provide power to charge batteries.  More could easily be added.

Multiples of  "Four Peltier Modules" placed around an aluminum exhaust sections could be placed in an air-conditioning duct!

Hot Rod Approach to Braking Energy Recovery

Braking creates  5.5% wasted energy or about 42% of the energy that gets to the rear wheels!  Hybrids collect some of that energy.  

I recall a photo many years ago on the cover of one of the Rodding Magazines that showed a Tee Bucket  with the alternator mounted to the driveshaft at the rear end.  This avoided cluttering the engine compartment with accessories.  The photo on the left is similar to what was shown on that cover.  The alternator is a bit hard to see but the red arrow is pointing the chrome alternator pulley and the belt can be seen going to another pulley mounted on the universal attached to the pinion shaft.

How about mounting a 250 amp Chevy Truck alternator (photo left, $299 new) and connecting it to batteries through a HD power relay only when the brake peddle is pressed.  (Note: A welding power supply contactor can handle that level of DC  current and is reasonably priced.)  That's 3000 Peak Watts or about 4 HP!  That will slow down the car by charging a few deep cycle batteries connected in parallel.  Optima Yellow Tops are designed for deep discharge and can handle high current charging.  The batteries could run electric air-conditioning, radio, lights etc!  Then when stopped, the engine can be turned off and only started when ready to take off again. 

(Note:  Test drove a 2011 V8 Porsche Cayenne that shut the engine off when stopped!  Could not tell that it restarted it was so smooth!  It just uses a lead acid battery and heavy duty starter.  Assume they ran the air-conditioning taking advantage of the cooled evaporator coils for a short time.  Specs said this feature will operate on all but very hot days and will start the engine if battery power is low.)

Formula 1 Uses KERS (Kinetic Energy Recover Systems for 2009 (It was not used in 2010 but Ferrari announced it will use it again in 2011.  Ferrari wanted to use a system with more power but that was turned down.)

The folks who ran  KERS for 2009!  Most teams employing KERS are using generators charging batteries like the suggestion made above to recover braking energy.  F1 regulations are designed to allow the KERS to deliver about 80 HP for 6 seconds each lap.  The systems weight about 75 pounds. 

However Williams is using a device that always intrigued me-a flywheel!  One system uses a  flywheel spinning at up to 40,000 rpm to recapture kinetic energy.  Under braking, the rear wheels turn a motor/generator that spins up the flywheel. The driver can press a "boost button" on the steering wheel the flywheel releases its energy to drive the motor and provide an extra power boost.

Companies like Flybrids (www.flybridsystems.com) and Xtrac (www.xtrac.com) are working with the F1 folks as well as developing commercial systems.   Some operate as "all mechanical system" using a Constant Velocity Transmission (CVT) to spin-up the flywheel and then delivery mechanical energy back to the wheels.   

Some systems use a flywheel connected to the vehicle transmission to store energy under braking and recovers it when the vehicle reaccelerates.  A CVT controls speeds proportionate to the torque transmitted through the device.  This system reportedly has half the mass of hybrid battery systems, and a more rapid energy transfer.   The flywheel is made of steel with a filament-wound carbon fiber rim and rotates in an evacuated chamber at speeds between 32,000 and 64,500 rpm. In addition to limit he vacuum acts as a natural noise barrier.  Another system uses high pressure hydraulics stored in an "accumulator" to store and delivery energy.


Flywheel Theory

The Energy Stored in a flywheel = 1/2 * Moment of Inertia (the shape and weight of the flywheel)  * RPM

If you can get all of the flywheel weight out toward the rim you have the maximum Inertia for a given weight.  If it could all be at the rim the equation becomes: Ke=1/2(Mass * radius2) rpm2    Therefore the most energy storage per given weight occurs with a large radius and high rpm.  The radius is limited by the forces acting to pull the rotor apart so composites not steel are used.  The rpm of 40,000 mentioned for the Formula 1 systems shows the drive for high rpm.  Friction becomes a major issue as does air drag.  So most efficient systems operate in a vacuum and use magnetic bearings.  Flywheels have the potential to store 10 times the energy per pound than a battery and don't have a limited life.  The key is transferring the energy mechanically efficiently.   The  Williams F1 team  is apparently looking at a system that can operate up to 100,000 rpm!  Hmm- be sure your up at the top of the stands if your going to watch when that car is running! 

The Formula 1 effort is to be applauded.  This free enterprise driven system can do far more with much less money  than a government  sponsored research effort!  In addition, it saves a lot of trees required with Government Sponsored Contracts which require tons of  pages in mostly useless reports!

Porsche Did It !

Porsche announced  their Hybrid  Racer !  These are the details from their press release:

"The company's hybrid drive technology - developed for racing - uses an electric front axle drive system with a pair of 60kW ( 80 HP ) electric motors adding a boost to the car's already stroppy (had to look that up- "Noisily Aggressive") 353kW (474 HP) flat six engine.

Rather than weighty batteries - like those used in hybrid road cars like the Toyota Prius - it uses an electrical flywheel generator.

The 40,000 rpm generator is charged whenever the brakes are applied, and stores power as kinetic energy. This 120kW (161HP) of power can be released for approximately six to eight seconds after each charge, converting previously wasted energy into a valuable boost out of corners or when passing.  Porsche reckons the system will also save fuel, cutting down on fuel weight and pit stops."

Let's See-161 extra HP for 6 seconds is all I need in my Vette!!  And when I take off it will be using previously wasted braking energy instead of gasoline!  This is better than Nitrous!

Porsche Will Produce Fast Green Car

The 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid pairs a 3.6-liter 500-horsepower V8 with three electric motors (one on each front wheel and one in the transmission. )  The electric motors produce a peak 215 HP and are  powered by air-cooled lithium-ion batteries.   That is a total of 715 hp and it incorporates F1 type KERS overboost!  

The 918 Spyder  is constructed from a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis and  engine cradle.  Curb weight is 3,285 pounds.  Top speed is198 mph with a zero-to-60 time of 3.2 seconds. It can function in a thrift mode with only the electric motors propelling the car.  It has an EPA  type test average 78 mpg!  However like the Chevy Volt, it is difficult to compare with all gasoline cars.  Is the Tesla infinite?!

The price or volume have not been established but is expected to be very high priced and produced in low numbers.  Perfect for a very rich “early adopter!

I am confident there are other even better ideas to consider like improving the engine efficiency.  Expect inventors, new engineers and entrepreneurs will tackle these opportunities!

Want Some Ideas on How to Save 20% or More Gasoline?


Use Ethanol to Reduce Fossil Fuels?  CLICK


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A home shop fabricator in Georgia with a MillerTM 175 amp welder purchased a 50 foot Gas Saver System ( GSSTM ) so he could use a larger cylinder and mount it on the wall of his shop.  He wrote:

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A Professional Street Rod Builder Had This to Say:

With their standard MIG welder gas delivery hose the peak shielding flow at weld start was measured at 150 CFH. That caused air to be sucked into the gas stream causing poor weld starts.  With the GSS replacing their existing hose, the peak flow surge at the weld start was about 50 CFH.  Total gas use was cut in half.

Kyle Bond, President, quickly saw the improvement achieved in weld start quality as a significant advantage!   Kyle, an excellent automotive painter, was well aware of the effects of gas surge caused by pressure buildup in the delivery hose when stopped.  He has to deal with the visible effects in the air hose lines on the spray gun in his paint booth!  The paint surge is visible and creates defects unless the gun is triggered off the part being painted!  We can’t do that with our MIG gun!


MIG Gas Delivery and the Small Block Chevy Evolved in a Similar Way and Time!

 Both had Advances and Setbacks Before

They Were Optimized!


Click for a PDF Report on the Similarities

Want Some Ideas on How to Save 20% or More Gasoline?


Use Ethanol to Reduce Fossil Fuels  CLICK

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