An interesting article, “Rubbing out friction in push for mileage,” by Paul Stenquist/ New York Times, and published in The Detroit News, tells about the ongoing battle against friction in cars. It also tells about progress made.
Since the early 1980s until now, the article says of GM “Friction reduction alone resulted in about 7 percent better fuel economy over that 24-year period.”
From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20111029/AUTO03/110290322/Rubbing-out-friction-in-push-for-mileage#ixzz1cGQCUX1r
What ideas have you got for reducing friction in these ICEs ?
After all these decades, is it time for a different type of engine without all the sliding and rubbing parts ?
Yes, a different kind of engine without all the sliding and rubbing parts is out there today: Electric.
Rotary engines (Mazda) and turbine engines (Chrysler) have been failures.
Years ago I saw on NOVA or some such show about metals/alloys being developed that did not expand when heated. This technology seems like it could be applied to reduce friction and increase longevity of motors.
“Yes, a different kind of engine without all the sliding and rubbing parts is out there today: Electric.”
Electric motors have resistance losses and core losses. The core losses often equal or exeed the copper’s resistance losses. Core losses are a combination of magnetic hysteresis and eddy current losses. Electric motors also have bearing, windage and cooling losses. Syncronous motors have exitation losses and induction motors have slip losses and DC machines have brush drag on top of exitation, core losses, and resistance losses.
Also, the electrical power to run an electric motor mostly originates from some fuel burning prime mover, ususally coal.
There’s far more fuel to be saved by reducing the friction between the ears of the driver.
Maybe it made sense 40 years ago to sit and warm up the engine until the temp gauge starts moving up.
Big heavy vehicles might be safer in certain types of accidents, but they waste energy and make it more dangerous for the other smaller vehicles around it.
Hard acceleration from stop sign to stop sign doesn’t save substantial time.
On the university campus I work on I see students studying in their cars with the engine idling and the heat or AC running.
“Years ago I saw on NOVA or some such show about metals/alloys being developed that did not expand when heated.”
Those alloys are used in applications where they don’t make the product too expensive. Invar and Kovar would cost a lot more than the money saved in fuel through lowered friction.
I remember reading or hearing that the Chevrolet engine that was introduced in 1955 had much less friction than the engineers had calculated it would have. As I remember, the 1955 Chevrolet V-8 under many conditions would get better mileage than the 1955 Chevrolet 6 when coupled to the same transmission. However, part of this may have been due to the fact that the Chevrolet V-8 weighed less than the Chevrolet 6. I had a friend that purchased a new 1956 Chervolet station wagon with the V-8 engine with the “power pack” that included dual exhausts and the manual transmission with overdrive and this car had amazingly high mpg for the timer–better than what most owners were getting with the Chevrolet 6.
Mleich is absolutely right. As of now, electrics are the most efficient way of turning energy into work. Sure, there is friction. But it’s just with one moving assembly. Have you considered all the moving parts and friction that goes with it in an internal combustion motor.
As long as 200 pound people think they need 4000 pound vehicles to creep through stop and go city traffic, as long as people decide to drive rather than use rapid transit because they can’t smoke on a bus or train, as long as Americans dismiss small cars as “clown cars”, all this concern about friction in combustion engines is a futile waste of time.
The problem with electric motors is that while they can convert 90+% of electrical energy into mechanical energy, electricity itself ultimately comes from a generator driven by an engine somewhere. Electric motors are not prime movers, they are a go between from an engine somewhere to a load that needs mechanical energy.
Electric motors are also very massive compared to gasoline engines. On most gen-sets, the generators outweigh the engine that drives them, even though the generator is physically smaller.
If electric power ever actually becomes a more practical way to power cars than gasoline engines, they will take over en masse, without government interference. Nobody will want gasoline power anymore just like nobody wants steam power anymore. There are no “big oil” conspiracys.
"As long as 200 pound people think they need 4000 pound vehicles. . ."
Wentwest, this is a 20 to 1 ratio. I weigh 220 pounds. It sounds as though I need a 4400 pound car because there is no way I can lose enough weight to drive the Mazda Miata I have wanted for a long time.
One way they could increase gas mileage, especially city mileage would be to go to an electric water pump. A water pump is an effective dynamo and uses a lot of horse power when ever you attempt to change the speed of the flow of water.
It also uses a lot of horsepower when driving cold coolant against a closed thermostat. By going electric, the flow of water could be controlled via a temperature sensor, turning on the pump when needed and then holding a constant speed, varying only as the need for cooling changes.
Is “wentwest” really “CarsCauseCancer” with a new screen name?
It’s not just about reducing friction in the engine. Friction in the transmission and the wheels is an issue too. It used to be that when you drove an automatic, and took your foot off the gas pedal, you could feel the drag. Today, when you take your foot off the gas, it’s more like you put the car into neutral.
There was one car I saw that got in improvement in fuel economy by replacing mirrors with cameras. Side view mirrors are a big drag, aerodynamically.
One way they have reduced friction in engines is to have fewer cylinders. If you have two engines of equal displacement, the one with fewer cylinders has less surface area on the sides of the pistons. Here is an experiment that demonstrates this principle http://thekneeslider.com/archives/2010/11/01/honda-nr750-oval-piston-32-valve-v4-for-sale/
Keith, I Like Your Electric Coolant Pump Idea. Do Any Vehicles Currently Have This ? This almost makes more sense than electric power steering.
It would be nice to make it easy to service. I’d like reduntant pumps or some kind of flow meter to go with it. I’d want to know about a flow problem before a temperature out of range problem.
“went west” A little sobering, but the truth. Eliminating as much friction as possible in a Ford F 150 used only for commuting when the train station is a short walk away or the Focus sits unused in the yard, makes no sense. Let’s be realistic, as long as we drool over muscle cars and shun life style changes that make a real differences, we are peeing into the wind.
BLE…most major developments in technology were through public and corporate grants to research institutions like universities. This) funding often overlapped and is a necessary cooperation between free enterprise and govt. sponsorship to maximize the outcome. Private enterprise is the last conduit to the consumer, but seldom are they at the forefront of developements that change our life for the better…or worse sometimes. There are no conspiracies in the oil industry, just monopolizing energy sources for profit. That’s good for bussiness. Do we actually think that oil companies are benevolent and altruistic, share life saving technology and fund charities worldwide at the exclusion of their share holders.
I too agree with those that say there are no oil company (or other) conspiracies involved with the endurance of gas gasoline as a primary energy source for on-the-road vehicles. Gasoline took over for electricity in the early 1900s because it simply was the best and most practical source of energy. The application of mass manufacturing and its impact on driving the cost of Fords down, and the development of the “infrastructure” of gas stations and interstate roads then “sealed the deal”. It was just private industries reponding to market demands.
Developments in technology very often are the result of government-funded university research, much of it in persuit of the space program goals, much of it in persuit of military goals. Many private enterprises are founded by university research PhDs who, once the theory is proven in the university, start a company to make deliverable hardware. I’ve worked for some.
Oil companies are not benevolent or altruistic. Nor are other private enterprises. Their job is not to improve humanity or save the economy…it’s to make money. If contributing to humanity improves their “bottom line”, that’s great. But contributing to humanity isn’t their job.
B.L.E., I agree with every point you’ve made, especially this one: “If electric power ever actually becomes a more practical way to power cars than gasoline engines, they will take over en masse, without government interference. Nobody will want gasoline power anymore just like nobody wants steam power anymore.” I’ve long argued that with an improvement in storage technology (and Lithium-Ion matricies seem to have spurred that improvement), along with development of a charging infrastructure (charging stations incorporated into gas stations perhaps) EVs would become commonplace. Perhaps those things along with advances in materials technologies (light weight) have taken us further toward those realities. Hybrids are probably the next step in that direction.
As I know you know, before Henry Ford brought down the price of cars with mass manufacturing and gas stations sprung up everywhere, electric power was the one of choice for automobiles.
No, I’m not someone who was calling himself “CarsCauseCancer”. I’m a 65 year old guy who commutes to work about 7 miles each way in a large California city and I use a Honda Elite scooter from 1985. It goes 60-65, it gets there about as fast as any other vehicle, and it’s generally getting 65 miles per gallon. And what I can not figure out is why there’s just no one else out there doing the same thing. Every day, no other scooters. Yes, there are Harleys and BMW bikes and sport bikes, but no scooters. On the other hand, it feels like half the traffic is light trucks or SUVs, and a heck of a lot of them are occupied by one person, have 4 wheel drive and most seem to be using air conditioning because the windows are closed up tight. The climate here is very mild, rarely below 45 or over 80. It does not snow.
So, that’s why I grumbling about this concern about friction. And what’s the way that electric cars are an improvement? We already have brown outs and days when we are told to reduce our use of electricity, so what happens when people start plugging their cars in during the day so they can drive home? This electric power does not leap joyfully into the storage batteries from the grace of god.
So my point was that there is a serious abuse of resources required to let each of us drive around alone in a machine that weighs 4000 pounds or more, is capable of speeds in excess of 100 miles an hour and can carry 4 or 5 people. Until we address it, I just see the arguments about friction and alternate fuels and technologies as a distraction. The political noise about liberty and personal freedom and choice is just a distraction from the reality that there are 7 billion people on earth today, there will be 8 billion in less than 20 years, and there’s just no way we can continue to use up resources at the rate we are doing it now.
You are right about both weight and speed. For years, both car and energy corporations told us what we must have to be safe. From fins to large money making SUVs the goal is the same. When it’s more profitable to build light and efficient w/o mandates and govt. interference, they will do it and have done it on their own; just at a slow evolutionary and more profitable snails pace. Apple does it in electronics with lines of Ipads on the shelf, already deceloped waiting to be distributed while drug companies do the same in medicine.
As a result, no one is as healthy as they could be, but at least we all have better opportunities for jobs. If you think third world labor is bad for the US economy, an inexpensive cancer curing drug would devastate the healthcare industry like a relatively maintenance free electric car would the automotive industry. Taking away the fast food industry would do immediate wonders for our health but hurt the economy like slightly improving crappy suspension and brake components in rust prevention would the automotive and repair industry. Reliable electronics has killed domestic electronic component maded here in the US for years by cheap reliable components made in third world countries with cheap labor. We are barely holding on and may be due for extinction in the automotive world too.
There’s an old saying in the medical world that applies; there is no money in a cure.
From the manfrs perspective, it’s far more lucrative to just keep someone alive and continue buying expensive pills the rest of their lives…
No, I’m not someone who was calling himself “CarsCauseCancer”. I’m a 65 year old guy who commutes to work about 7 miles each way in a large California city and I use a Honda Elite scooter from 1985. It goes 60-65, it gets there about as fast as any other vehicle, and it’s generally getting 65 miles per gallon.
Part of the reason many of us don’t use scooters…is because we don’t live below the Mason-Dixon line. Try driving a scooter to work here in NH!! Most people don’t have 7 mile commutes…Sorry but your statement is unrealistic for most people in the US. I CAN take public transportation to work…Total time between switching trains and subway and bus to work …about 2.5 hours (ONE WAY). “CarsCauseCancer” had the same unrealistic view of the world also.