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Neat contest. - Portrait of a Young Man as The Artist — LiveJournal
Neat contest.
3,145 mpg vehicle.
(two day)Old news, but nifty nonetheless.

Current Mood: energetic energetic

5 comments or Leave a comment
lady_fox From: lady_fox Date: June 22nd, 2006 08:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I want one.
zesty_pinto From: zesty_pinto Date: June 22nd, 2006 08:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonder how fast that thing goes.
genghisishippie From: genghisishippie Date: June 22nd, 2006 08:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
15-25 miles an hour, and it has trouble with anything but very basic inclines.
control_group From: control_group Date: June 22nd, 2006 08:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Let me know when they hit 8000 mpg.
control_group From: control_group Date: June 22nd, 2006 09:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
More seriously:

The problem with these competitions is that they're completely useless in terms of helping with fuel consumption in the real world. And I include in that statement the much-hyped "trickle down" effect of bleeding-edge technology. This stuff doesn't qualify.

All the cars that get these ridiculous mileages make use of fully mature tech, so it's not like breakthroughs there will ever show up in consumer vehicles. The trick for all of them is the same: make the car super-light, run the engine at maximum efficiency, use the engine only to get up to your mathematically-ideal peak speed, and then only again to avoid falling below the rule-set minimum speed.

This isn't new. You can improve the fuel efficiency of your car right now by doing the same things: don't carry excess weight. Avoid using your brakes. Don't accelerate hard. In point of fact, I do drive this way as much as I can, and it gains me a few mpg.

Put it this way: the accepted figure for chemical-to-kinetic energy conversion efficiency in modern internal combustion engines is 25%. That means that the absolute maximum efficiency we can get out of any given gasoline-powered car, even if we circumvented Carnot efficiency and thermodynamics, would be 4x its current mileage. Every other gain has to come from:

1) better conservation of momentum
2) reduction of mass

That's it. Those two things, of course, are the only two things that these cars do, though they do them very, very well. But modern cars are already approaching the economically feasible maximum for those two strategies (at least, the ones that are trying to be gas-conservative are). Not that there isn't improvement to be made, certainly, but there isn't revolutionary improvement to be made. It will all be trimming a pound here or a pound there, figuring out a good way to use titanium instead of steel for frame/body construction, replacing hydraulic pump systems (brakes, power steering) with lighter, electric systems, etc. None of which is aided by the cars in these competitions.

The useful competitions are the ones that use a different energy storage medium. The only long-term solution to gasoline consumption is to replace it with a different medium, be it batteries, fuel cells, or non-petroleum chemical fuel.

Well, either that, or find a way to manufacture gasoline without using previously sequestered petroleum.
5 comments or Leave a comment