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Transportation Science

Simple Device Claimed To Boost Fuel Efficiency By Up To 20% 674

Posted by Soulskill
from the innovation-is-a-real-gas dept.
Ponca City, We love you writes "Temple University physics professor Rongjia Tao has developed a simple device that could dramatically improve fuel efficiency in automobiles by as much as 20 percent. The device, attached to the fuel line of a car's engine near the fuel injector, creates an electric field that thins fuel, reducing its viscosity so that smaller droplets are injected into the engine. Because combustion starts at the droplet surface, smaller droplets lead to cleaner and more efficient combustion. Six months of road testing in a diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz automobile showed an increase from 32 miles per gallon to 38 mpg, a 20 percent boost, and a 12-15 percent gain in city driving. 'We expect the device will have wide applications on all types of internal combustion engines, present ones and future ones,' Tao wrote in the study published in Energy & Fuels. 'This discovery promises to significantly improve fuel efficiency in all types of internal combustion engine powered vehicles and at the same time will have far-reaching effects in reducing pollution of our environment,' says Larry F. Lemanski, Senior Vice President for Research and Strategic Initiatives at Temple."
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Simple Device Claimed To Boost Fuel Efficiency By Up To 20%

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  • This is... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KGIII (973947) * on Saturday September 27, 2008 @05:04AM (#25175885) Journal

    Snakeoil as has been evidenced with piles of other products that claim to do the same thing.

    • Re:This is... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 27, 2008 @05:33AM (#25175993)

      "Slashdot: Fake News for Idiots, selected by Moronic so-called-Editors"

      FFS. This is (a) clearly bollocks (b) these "devices you attach to the fuel line" have been around being sold by con-artists for at least TEN YEARS. Actually, it must be longer as I remember them from when I was AT SCHOOL!

      I'm afraid that whoever put THIS rubbish up is clearly an Epsilon Minus semi-moron.

      *sigh*

      • by LaskoVortex (1153471) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @05:47AM (#25176043)

        these "devices you attach to the fuel line" have been around being sold by con-artists for at least TEN YEARS

        TFA says he's getting a patent. The US patent office wouldn't be so clueless as to issue a patent if there were prior art, now would it? ;o)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jonbryce (703250)

          And a patent is certainly not evidence that the invention actually works.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Didn't Mythbusters bust this one last year?

      • Re:This is... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tylerdrumr (1233104) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @09:55AM (#25177057)
        this really makes me question the reliability of slashdot... i would feel much better if i knew that they pulled it or updated it saying it was fake
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @06:02AM (#25176099)
      Half the problem with these magic devices is that people with these fitted will drive more conservatively etc - measuring people changes the way they behave.

      Half the reason my new fuel efficient car gets better mileage is because it has a fuel efficiency measurement and I try to improve it. Result: I drive differently than I do in the other car.

      The only way to see if these devices really work is to see if they improve efficiency when the people don't know they are there.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 27, 2008 @06:22AM (#25176163)

        Or they could oh I don't know, attach the wheel of the car to some kind of sensitive machine which would measure the power output of the engine under controlled and reproducible load, I think I will call this device a dynamometer.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamometer

        RTFA before you call something snake oil, the tests were done with laboratory measurements not with human drivers.

      • by wvmarle (1070040) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @06:40AM (#25176239)

        The proper blind testing of course would be to install it in say ten cars, seven or eight where it actually works, and the other ones an identically looking device that is simply not functional.

        Then either choose ten identical cars (as identical as possible), or first follow the drivers for say a month or two and record their fuel use without the device, and after that for some period of time with the device (or the placebo) installed, and check the differences.

        It sounds bull to me that you can so easily change the viscosity of an apolar fluid with electricity. Most of the molecules in gasoline are nonpolar, and not even polarisable, so I doubt an electrical field has much influence if any at all on such a liquid.

      • by Joce640k (829181) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @07:53AM (#25176489) Homepage

        Want to massively improve fuel consumption nationwide? Make a fuel consumption meter mandatory in all cars. The display should show real-time consumption and average over the last fifty miles, in a prominent place.

        I'm betting overall driving style would improve dramatically if people could see their consumption as they drive into the gas station forecourt.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jacquesm (154384)

          plenty of european and japanese cars already feature such a device.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JamesP (688957)

        Proper testing would be testing in a lab, tabletop assembly, with a variety of engines, with full control of parameters (consumption, power, torque, etc)

        Measuring in an actual car in road conditions is too imprecise.

        • by Phat_Tony (661117) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @12:58PM (#25178129)
          Right. That's why that's what they did.

          For god's sake, I know this is Slashdot, and it's the cliche that nobody RTFA's. But I can't believe this prolonged discussion about how testing his device in a Mercedes was improper because he probably just changed his driving habits, and how they should install these in dozens of cars with placebos in a randomized, blind, controlled study, and then finally to your brilliant deduction here that they should just hire an independent lab to run it on a bench test as a properly controlled lab experiment. BECAUSE THAT"S EXACTLY WHAT THEY DID. Way to go, slashdot writers, your prolonged discussion on how they did everything wrong, and subsequently figuring what it is that they should have done, has finally arrived at the right answer for what they really should have done- the sort of testing they ACTUALLY DID PERFORM. From TFA:

          The first engine test was conducted by Cornaglia Iveco, a diesel engine manufacturer in Italy (Figure 6a). The tests measured the fuel consumption rate and the power output at a constant rpm.

          Constant RPM = lab work, not car driving. Read their testing methodology- a diesel engine on a lab bench hooked up to a dynamometer, measuring power vs. fuel consumption on the same motor with and without the device, performed by an independent testing lab.

          On the Mercedes, they started with the car parked on a dynamometer in the lab and did lab testing, then they did six months of road testing to make sure their lab results were applicable in a real-world environment.

          There are lots of highly-moderated posts above about how kooks and con-artists have been selling scam fuel-economy improvement devices for years, and how stupid the Slashdot editors are to have approved this story. Their argument boils down to saying that, because anyone has ever done anything invalid in the realm of engine efficiency, therefore any conceivable improvements in engine efficiency add-ons that anyone comes up with are invalid. This is a physics professor at a real university who published a peer-reviewed scientific paper in a respectable scientific journal, including results from an independent lab, and complete with specifications and testing methodology, because he expects other labs to duplicate and confirm his research. It's called snake-oil above, but that's the snake-oil he's selling that's being promoted by this? He's not selling anything yet, he's performing research and testing. He applied for a patent because he hopes to profit eventually. Once it's fully confirmed and proven.

    • Re:This is... (Score:5, Informative)

      by darc (532156) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @06:32AM (#25176197) Journal

      Yes, except this one has a paper published, and lab tests on the fuel injector mist as well as a dynanometer and other tests.

      http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/sample.cgi/enfuem/asap/abs/ef8004898.html [acs.org]

      Seems like you threw the baby out with the bathwater.

      • I read both the blurb and the published journal article. One thing that impresses me is the clear language used to describe the work. Tao explains both the basic theory and testing method succinctly - even a no-math guy like me understood it clearly. He even accounts for the difference between the Iveco tests and the dynamometer results. The science is very clear. I had a lot of research methods training as an undergrad and I really can't poke any holes in the article. The best research reports are si

        • by philmck (790785) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @10:02AM (#25177093) Homepage
          I've read the FA (briefly) and I'm not impressed. The graphs of the difference in size distribution show little difference. The Cornaglia Iveco tests apparently showed an improvement of "5.5%...with an error bar of 2%" which is far less than the 20% they claim and likely to be experimental error. The Mercedes-Benz test "was repeated for 3 h and had an error within 5% ...power output increased to 0.443 hp" which has too many digits, indicating a lack of awareness of accuracy. (Also, why imperial units, and did they mean "continued" rather than "repeated"?). The "continuous road tests" show no data or controls and are worthless, as others have pointed out. The very fact that they are mentioned is suspicious. In the discussion they talk about "our technology, developed on the new physics principle" without explaining what new physics is involved (and it's incorrect grammar). If this was peer reviewed, I would say they did a pretty sloppy job. If it's not peer-reviewed, it's worthless.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pla (258480)
        Yes, except this one has a paper published, and lab tests on the fuel injector mist as well as a dynanometer and other tests.

        No one said the device doesn't do something to the fuel... The real question comes from whether or not modern engines already burn as much of the fuel as possible.

        They have lab tests showing smaller droplets. Okay. So? That would only matter if modern engines don't already burn fuel fairly completely. By the rather straightforward reasoning that a car spitting incompletely bu
    • Re:This is... (Score:5, Informative)

      by banzaikai (697426) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @07:27AM (#25176423)

      Agreed! As a former mechanic, I can immediately call "Bullshit!"©.

      At the station, we had a box in the back full of magnets, coil ballasts, additives, mothballs, and some strange gizmo even I couldn't figure out what they were trying to do. All crap. They were either pulled from customers' cars (to make them work again) or given to us to put on cars by sales drones.

      Now, we have this thing. I'm no physicist, at least one with a college degree, but I see one really big problem with this method. A bottleneck. Specifically, an injector. This is the exact same problem that is inherent in the design of the "Tornado"®. Sure, it'll spin the air into a neato vortex, but that vortex goes to hell (in a handbasket) once it tries to maneuver through the intake manifold, and you're right back to laminar flow. Well, it looked good on paper (and TV).

      So, let's look at the fuel situation, shall we? Let's shall!

      Fuel gets pumped up to the fuel rail(s), and into the injector(s), where it gets sprayed into the combustion chamber(s). {Note: The plurals take into account whether you've got TBI or MPFI.} You apparently attach this thing BEFORE it gets to the injector. Let that sink in for a moment - BEFORE the injector. Sure, the molecules are having their neutron polarity reversed (or whatever the hell they're claiming), but those molecules are now going to get crammed back together in the small amount of time it's waiting for the computer to tell the injector to fire. An eight cylinder engine has a longer time between firings than a four-banger, but compensating for amount of fuel capacity between the device and the injector, speed of engine, and amount of fuel being metered, this may be as long a a second or two. Remember the LA riots? The police would break up the crowd, only to have them reorganize somewhere else. Exact same effect. You're doing your thing before the injector, but after the processed fuel gets another block down the street, it's back to being an angry mob. And heaven help you if the car is Korean.

      Now, if this device were to be incorporated into the injector's NOZZLE, they may have something. Or, maybe, just have the refineries put a big one on the output valve of their pipeline so we won't need to put small ones on each injector in every car on the planet.

      banzai

      Bullshit!© is a copyrighted title of Showtime! Networks.
      Tornado® just sucks balls.

      • Re:This is... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Graff (532189) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @09:25AM (#25176875)

        Now, we have this thing. I'm no physicist, at least one with a college degree, but I see one really big problem with this method. A bottleneck. Specifically, an injector. This is the exact same problem that is inherent in the design of the "Tornado"®. Sure, it'll spin the air into a neato vortex, but that vortex goes to hell (in a handbasket) once it tries to maneuver through the intake manifold, and you're right back to laminar flow. Well, it looked good on paper (and TV).

        Well I'm a chemist and I have the degree to prove it. You are right and you are wrong. Just because the fluid moves past the point of disturbance doesn't mean that it automatically and immediately becomes laminar. There will be a period of time before the flow settles back down. The question becomes, is this "settling" time long enough for the fluid to make it past the injector and affect the droplet size? Well that's the million-dollar question and you can't say for sure until it is tested through experimentation.

        In this case it IS possible to form polar molecules and ions through the use of magnetism and electric fields. It will also take a period of time before these changes will be reversed. The questions are will these changes affect droplet size and can the magnitude of these changes be great enough by the time the fluid makes it past the injector. Those, again, are the million-dollar questions. The only thing which will answer these questions is thorough testing. Unless you have personally done scientifically valid testing on these claims you can't say for sure one way or the other whether this device will work.

        Yes, in the past there have been a lot of "snake oil" devices but that doesn't mean that every device is a scam. The possibility exists that some might actually make a difference. We just have to rely on validatable testing so we can decide what is a scam and what will work.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hey! (33014)
        Well, I'm not claiming this thing works, but your explanation of why the thing can't possibly work is broken.

        Liquids are incompressible -- a least to a fix approximation. So the molecules can't get "crammed back together" very much. It's true that the properties you establish in a flow are going to be altered past recognition when you squeeze that flow through a narrow space, but that is not the claim here. The claim is not an alteration of the flow, but an alteration in the liquid's physical propertie
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by The Dobber (576407)

      I'll believe it when I see Billie Mays selling it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by couchslug (175151)

      "NOTE: Copies of this study are available to working journalists and may be obtained by contacting Preston M. Moretz in Temple University's Office of News Communications at 215-204-4380 or pmoretz@temple.edu."

      Why isn't the study available as a download? If it's true, there are plenty of skilled fabricators who can whip up a test mule and validate the assertions.

  • Taken for a ride (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sugarmotor (621907) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @05:09AM (#25175911) Homepage

    I'm not a car person, but my impression is that if you go to Europe you'll find that off-the-shelf cars are a lot more fuel-efficient than off-the-shelf cars
      in America.

    They should be available in America but they are not.

    Stephan

    • by somersault (912633) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @05:15AM (#25175923) Homepage Journal

      Fuel standards in Europe are higher than for the USA though (higher RON fuel). You can tune european models of cars to get more power because of that, and some cars are meant to be run only on 'super unleaded' rather than just standard unleaded petrol (I think because you can get higher compression without pinking or something). That probably means that you can tune them to be more fuel efficient than US cars too, but someone will no doubt correct me on the details :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by zakezuke (229119)

        Fuel standards in Europe are higher than for the USA though (higher RON fuel).

        You understand in the states our petrol octane number is measured based on RON+MON/2, as in an average of two standards.

        87 octane US is like 91 or 92 RON.

        Now you could be an insider telling us that Euro fuel is actually more refined, and American petrol uses a ton of additives to compensate for a less refined product. I have no clue if this is true or not, but if you're just going by the numbers, our numbers are lower.

      • by doghouse41 (140537) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @09:08AM (#25176785)

        I think the biggest reason for higher fuel efficiency in Europe is that fuel there has been more highly taxed for many years.

        What do you pay in the US for petrol today - $4 a gallon? That translates into about GBP0.58p per litre at current exchange rates. The UK hasn't seen petrol prices that low for ten years. Current prices are nearer GBP1.11(petrol) - GBP1.25 (diesel) per litre. In US terms that is petrol at £7.50 a US gallon.

        If you paid that much or fuel, you would care a lot more about fuel efficiency.

        Ultimately Europeans are no greener than Americans - we are just being given more encouragement to be green by Adam Smith's "invisible hand".

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by DrogMan (708650)
      My Petrol Merc (a 12 year old C180 auto) can get 38 miles to the gallon.

      My wife's Merc (Ok, it's a Smart for 4) regularly gets over 50 to the gallon (petrol)

      Diesel cars here (UK) can get over 60 to the gallon.

      Why is 38 in a diesel considered special?

      • by Gordonjcp (186804)

        Exactly. My 1987 Citroen CX 25DTR, which was basically powered by a 1970s diesel truck engine, could easily achieve 40mpg - more, if I increased the boost pressure and fuelling rate.

        38mpg is lame, for a modern diesel. 32mpg is an engine fire.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mollymoo (202721)

        Why is 38 in a diesel considered special?

        The absolute value isn't important. It's considered special because exactly the same vehicle with exactly the same engine was only doing 32mpg without this device.

    • by beefstu01 (520880)

      Part of it is that safety and emissions requirements are more stringent in the USA, so there are a lot of modifications that need to be made in order to sell the cars here. For example (if I recall correctly) the US version of the new Lotus Elise weighs something like 50-100lbs more than the Euro version because of the safety equipment they had to throw in.

      That said, yes, it's stupid that a lot of the European cars aren't Stateside. In addition to being more efficient, they're so much better looking than

    • They're not available in the US because you guys don't like small cars. Plus you're not paying $2.50 per litre like we do here (in Netherlands).

  • busted. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thhamm (764787) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @05:17AM (#25175935)
    The device, attached to the fuel line of a car's engine near the fuel injector, creates an electric field that thins fuel, reducing its viscosity so that smaller droplets are injected into the engine.

    Oh come on please stop it. This has been busted [wikipedia.org].
    • MythBusted? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AlpineR (32307)

      I'm doubtful of this device too, but come on -- MythBusters is not a reliable scientific laboratory. Their pseudoscientific method seems to be:

      "We heard that doing A can cause B. We tried doing something like A a couple times and didn't get B. Therefore nothing like A can cause B."

      You can prove something is possible by doing it, but you can't prove something is impossible by not doing it. I can't run 100 meters in under 10 seconds, but that doesn't prove that another human with better knowledge and abil

  • by William Robinson (875390) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @05:18AM (#25175945)

    There has been wave of fuel efficient bikes in India after Honda introduced 'Hero Honda' bike with fuel efficiency as high as 60 Kmpl (142 miles per galon). Before that 2 wheelers had peak efficiency of 25-20 Kmpl (70mpg).

    Vehicles with fuel efficiency as high as 100Kmpl (236 mpg) have been launched by some companies. I always wondered what made it possible and what technology they use.

    • by EEPROMS (889169) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @07:19AM (#25176403)
      Your answer is thanks to an Australian inventor called Ralph Sarich [wikipedia.org]. He designed a dual injection system for two stroke motors that reduces the size of the injected fuel droplets to thus improving combustion massively. Two stroke motors have a huge power to weight ratio but they are rather inefficient and produce allot of pollution. Ralph Sarich and his Orbital Engine company spent years and millions of dollars fixing this problem so now two stoke motors are not only very efficient (more so) but produce very low amount of pollution due to the incredible efficiency of the engine.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 27, 2008 @05:21AM (#25175951)

    This same "scientist" was promoting a magnetic device to do the same thing two years ago.

    http://www.autobloggreen.com/2006/11/03/erin-brockovich-gets-your-attention-but-can-magnets-improve-fue/

    Strange that we don't all have them bolted to our engines by now...

    • MOD PARENT UP!! Good link. Nice photo of Erin Brockovich. LOL.

      Quote from the paper referenced in the Slashdot story: "Using the mismatch in the dielectric constant or magnetic permeability between the suspended particles and the base liquid, we can apply an electric or magnetic field to aggregate the small particles into large ones."

      What? The "magnetic permeability" [wikipedia.org] of a non-magnetic substance?
      • Wait... if you "aggregate small particles into large ones", wouldn't that make the fluid more viscous, not less?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gardyloo (512791)

        What? The "magnetic permeability" of a non-magnetic substance?

        Yes. Vacuum has a magnetic permeability. If it didn't, there could be no electromagnetic radiation (some would say that if its permeability were zero, the radiation would be infinite, as the Poynting vector is proportional to 1/permeability). Did you look at the link you provided?

  • By fitting slightly larger wheels (for better overall gearing and lower rolling resistance) and good low-roll res tyres on a vehicle this sort of efficiency gain is achievable without any suspicious attachments to the system.

    I suspect unless the tests done with this gadget were blind tests on unsuspecting users, the test-effect where the driver knows at some level that they are meant to be driving efficiently is largely responsible.

    The gains seen could easily have been created just through good drivi
    • I suspect unless the tests done with this gadget were blind tests on unsuspecting users, the test-effect where the driver knows at some level that they are meant to be driving efficiently is largely responsible.

      We could tell everybody their fuel economy is being tested. Maybe that will reduce consumption. A rental car I drove recently had a display for the distance remaining on the current tank of fuel, based on quantity remaining and current rate of consumption. I found that it encouraged me to find ways to push the number up.

  • by 278MorkandMindy (922498) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @05:26AM (#25175971)

    1. Snake oil.
    2. Fuel injectors do a pretty good job atomizing fuel
    3. Modern cars do not need another random electric field
    4. Where is the double blind testing?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 27, 2008 @05:31AM (#25175985)

    I've got one of these and together with the fuel line magnets, electric turbocharger and hydrogen generator I have fitted I find the gas tank actually fills as I drive!

  • by unassimilatible (225662) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @05:47AM (#25176041) Journal
    OK, going to increase my mileage by doing it myself, I'll just hook up some battery cables to my fuel lines to charge the gas. Alrighty then, black lead to ground, other end to fuel line. Check. Red lead to positive terminal, check. Now, I'll complete the circuit, just let me affix the read lead to the fuel l
  • Snake oil (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Goonie (8651) <robert@merkel.benambra@org> on Saturday September 27, 2008 @05:52AM (#25176057) Homepage

    The way to demonstrate these things in a rigorous manner isn't to bolt them on a car and drive them around for a few months.

    The way to do so is to bolt them into a test rig, where the engine can be placed under load in a precisely controlled manner, under identical conditions, as many times as required.

    There are any number of universities (and, presumably, independent labs) which have such test rigs.

    Until this device has been tested under such conditions, and given the extensive history of "fuel saving" devices which do no such thing, it's safe to assume this is snake oil.

    That said, I gather Temple is a reputable university, and one does not get to be chair of Physics at such a university without a track record of quality research.

    Either Prof. Tao is a genius who has done the seemingly impossible, the PR flack who did this press release has horribly misinterpreted the study and Prof. Tao, or Prof. Tao should start clearing out his desk forthwith for embarrassing the university.

  • by isecore (132059) <isecore.isecore@net> on Saturday September 27, 2008 @06:30AM (#25176183) Homepage

    The problem I see with this device (and by extension any device or method used to improve gas-mileage in vehicles powered by fossil-fuels) is that it just serves to extend a technology that should've been abandoned decades ago.

    Rather than solving the problem, i.e. our dependency on fossil-fuels, we are treating the symptoms of it.

    This is just a band-aid. We're ignoring the fact that our vehicles need to be powered by something sustainable. This is where the research should be pointed - to alternate forms of energy for our cars. Not to prolong this addiction to gasoline.

  • Knee-jerk /. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tgd (2822) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @06:31AM (#25176189)

    60+ posts all yelling snake oil, all from people clearly with little or no engine experience.

    While this may or may not be snake oil, the theory behind the gain is sound -- I don't know if people missed or don't understand that he's talking about diesel engines, not gasoline or understand that diesel is basically oil, its considerably more viscous than gasoline is.

    Atomization of diesel has always been an issue with it. There's a reason the engines heat the fuel (the opposite of what you do with gasoline) before injecting into the engine -- it helps thin it down and helps atomization.

    I can't say what a magnetic field may or may not do to it -- possibly nothing, perhaps something about the way he rigged it is simply heating the fuel.

    Knee jerk reactions, however, from people who clearly don't understand how diesel engines work, is more useless than a snakeoil charlatan -- because real innovations can be lost.

    Perfect example: I had someone tell me that a particular half in thick plate made of some sort of composite plastic that goes between a carburetor and intake manifold on a car was snake oil just like the "turbo twist" or whatever those metal fins sold to go in an engines intake.

    The guy didn't understand how carbs work -- didn't understand how much heat a plate like that blocks from the fuel bowl in the carb, or how much the increased linear path through the carb helps to stabilize the atomization of fuel, making it burn more consistently. So he was calling snake oil on a part that, frankly, is a requirement on a carbed engine.

    So everyone, be skeptical but holy crap, chill out. As yourself if your opinion is educated before you go assuming its correct.

  • Droplet size? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mlwmohawk (801821) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @06:41AM (#25176245)

    Give me a break. Sorry, the "big" car guys, GM, Toyota, Ford, Mercedes, et al know the physics of combustion very well.

    I have been chasing the problem in my spare time for years. I remember an invention I had in high school auto-shop, in 1978 (I was an electronics nerd and gear head) of drilling hole in a distributor cap, fastening a mirror to the rotor and using opto-electronics to detect the rotation and fire a small coil for each spark plug. I was able to run the car without a high voltage distributor. I should have patented it, because cars more or less work like that now. Anyway, I digress.

    "Droplet Size" has been handled quite effectively by increasing the fuel injector pressure in the newer cars.

    You aren't going to come up with a solution those guys haven't thought about. The only thing you can do is come up with an invention that they are unable to sell. Look at something like Nitrous Oxide or some other oxidizer, now, if you beef up a four cylinder engine to take the increased torque and rework the carboration/fuel injection control so that it is a seamless boost, you could run a much bigger car on a much smaller engine. Most cars are very fuel efficient while running, but suck down gas on acceleration. The over all fuel economy is how much gas a vehicle needs to maintain its speed, and the amount of power required to do that is a fraction of the capability of the engine, but to get the acceleration you need, you need the extra displacement.

    So, even though you may need a 5.2 liters of engine displacement for performance, you need far less for maintaining speed, so why not start small with a four cylinder, and use something like NOS to bridge the difference? That's what a turbo or a super charger does. By compressing the air into the intake system, you are making your 4 cylinders effectively larger by allowing them to take in more air and fuel. Turbos, however, have a bad but improving performance curve. They have nothing at the start, and "lag" performance over a bigger motor. NOS doesn't suffer that problem.

    So, if you can find a cheap and plentiful and safe oxidizer gas and can make the boost clean, you'll be rich.

  • Yet more snake oil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by redelm (54142) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @07:19AM (#25176399) Homepage

    Yes, the theory is plausible. That does not make it correct. For one thing, diesel engines are totally different in their fuel management from gasoline engines. What works on one is extremely unlikely to work on the other.

    Second, reducing fuel surface tension is already very old news. Additives (detergents) already do this and hydrocarbon fuels already have very low surface tension compared to water.

    While [plausible, the theory does not stand scutiny. Diesel fuel has very low dipole moments and is not affected by magnetic or electric fields. If it were, the tiny (micron) passages inside a modern CDI injector would ground/neutralize it anyways. This report is particularly bad since they do not record/report any decrease in exhaust temperature, a necessary sign of increased efficiency (work extraction from heat energy).

  • Easy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OpenSourced (323149) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @08:33AM (#25176653) Journal

    Don't know if it's a fraud or not, but there is an easy way to tell. If it comes incorporated into your new Honda, then it's for real. If they try to sell it to you as a DIY kit, it's a fraud. The car industry is competitive enough that it would kill for a 3% increase in MPG, let alone more than 10%.

  • The Best way (Score:3, Informative)

    by splashbot (1179993) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @09:26AM (#25176893)
    To reduce fuel consumption (in a petrol powered car) is to have a small 10kW gas turbine providing time average power connected to a small ac induction generator continuoulsy charging a battery pack and capacitors connected to a high voltage dc bus. Then you use a 3 phase inverter using IGBT switching elements in a sensorless vector drive configuration, connected to a 100 year old three phase induction motor (air or water cooled) this would see at least 50% improvement on efficiency, but because its possibe and it would reduce the need for fuel by at least 50 percent, the current politic will not allow it.
  • by autophile (640621) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @09:47AM (#25177003)
    What *I* heard about it is that if you put a Time Cube in it, and install it on your water pipes [magnet4less.com], you'll get instant health!
  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @10:31AM (#25177253)

    Your post proposes a

    ( ) mechanical (X) thermal ( ) gravitational (X) electrical (X) voodoo

    approach to create infinite/cheap energy. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws.

    ( ) You made a math error
    (X) You have made a faulty assumption
    (X) You don't understand physics
    ( ) You keep saying "greater than unity"
    (X) You're relying on self-reported data
    (X) You're relying on an uncontrolled experiment

    Specifically, your plan fails to account for

    (X) Mechanical Friction
    (X) Physical constants
    ( ) Laws of motion
    (X) Laws of thermodynamics
    ( ) Asshats
    ( ) Gravity
    (X) Turbulence
    ( ) Division by zero yielding undefined result
    ( ) Unit conversions
    ( ) Unavailability of infinately strong materials
    ( ) Unavailability of a perfect vacuum
    ( ) Solar heating
    ( ) Stuff that's lighter than air still having mass
    ( ) Translation losses

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

    (X) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical
    (X) Smarter people than you have tried to do this before

    Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

    (X) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
    (X) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
    ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your house down!

  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Saturday September 27, 2008 @10:49AM (#25177365)

    looking at the PDF of their paper reveals some weird stuff.

    After a lot of blabbing they admit the viscosity change is only 10%. Looking at the curves for Diesel fuel viscosity, that's equivalent to heating the fuel another 10 degrees C.

    In their "tests" they used an injector pressure of 200PSI. Typical cars use 2,000 PSI and some of the newer Diesels use up to 22,000 PSI! Makes you wonder why they used such a low pressure.

    Their real-world test was with a Mercedes Benz diesel engine hooked up to a dynamometer, but apparently running AT IDLE. A fuel consumption of 500 grams per hour. A power output of 1/3 horsepower or so. Does not sound like typical engine operating conditions.

    I would be very wary of this device given the bizarre test conditions.

"If value corrupts then absolute value corrupts absolutely."

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