Car Pollution a Bigger Threat to Human Lives than Auto Collisions

Driving has its risks. Motorists have to be extremely careful when observing road conditions around them. Even so, there is always the risk of a collision by a negligent driver in which serious injury and even death may result. The number of collisions resulting in a fatality numbers in the thousands annually. However, while driving can be dangerous, it is not more dangerous than the smog emitted from vehicles.

According to a study published in the Environmental Science and Technology, approximately 3,300 deaths in the UK in 2005 were linked to emission sources, while deaths from direct collisions numbered just below 3,000.

The study was conducted by Steve Yim and Steven Barrett from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The research came in light of London’s violation of air quality regulations set forth by the E.U., which could result in massive penalty fees for the British government if it does not address the issue.

The study further shows that another 6,000 deaths in the country can be attributed to emissions that originated from other regions surrounding the UK. Likewise, an additional 3,100 deaths from other European countries can be traced back to emission from UK sources.

Yim and Barrett analyzed the country’s emission rates according to categories that include road transport, shipping and air, residential, and agricultural sources. Other factors like population density and wind patterns were also factored in. The research discovered that road transportation was the biggest contributor of emission related deaths. This is likely due to the fact that emission from ground vehicles occur at ground level.

While the studies pertained to the UK, other nations need to take notice as well. This is another reason the world needs to begin looking into alternate sources of power, such as wind and solar energy. Aside from human casualties, the emission is also slowly strangling the eco system. It is about time for developed nations to search elsewhere for viable energy sources.

5 Most Fuel Efficient Cars For 2012

Fuel efficiency is one of the biggest selling points for any car manufacturer. With the rising costs of gas, consumers are beginning to forgo style and luxury in an effort to keep their cars on the road. If you’re thinking about buying a new car in the coming year, you can balance personal style with fuel efficiency. Here are the top 5 fuel efficient cars for 2012.

2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
One of the biggest niches in the car industry is electric cars. With this in mind, Mitsubishi is looking to corner the market with their 2012 i.-MiEV. With an average annual fuel cost of $540 and a massive 122 MPG rating, the i-MiEV is a huge contender in the market. The one downside is that this car is a sub-compact. This is a great car for getting around town, but not so much if you need a lot of room.

2012 Toyota Prius
The Prius has been one of the biggest names in hybrid vehicles and Toyota is bringing out their model with a bang. The 2012 Prius has more room than the i-MiEV, but is almost double the annual fuel cost. With a 50-MPG fuel rating, the Prius is still the leader in hybrid cars. The 2012 version of the Prius also adds a “plug-in” option for charging the electric component.

2012 Lexus CT 200h
With the rising need for more fuel-efficient cars, Lexus is attempting to corner the luxury market with their CT 200h. This sedan offers a 42 MPG ratting and has an annual fuel cost of about $1,221. Although it does not have the same MPG rating as the Prius or the i-MiEV, it makes up for it in features and luxury.

2012 Scion iQ
The hatchback is making a comeback with the Scion iQ. The iQ comes with a 37 MPG rating and has annual fuel cost of $1,385. Although the hatchback is not a hybrid or an electric model, the car makes up for it with the MPG rating. Since it is a hatchback, there is not much room inside the car. This would be a great vehicle for going around town or running errands.

2012 Ford Fiesta
The 2012 Ford Fiesta is another gas-powered car and comes with a 33 MPG rating. The annual cost for the car is about $1,554. The best feature of the Ford Fiesta is the fact that it is a sedan. This will give drivers and riders more room for road trips or getting around in a city.

No Energy Conservation System at Oregon State University

No energy conservation system is 100% effective; alas, there is always some energy that gets wasted. One common example is the automobile engine which gets quite hot. Some of the waste gets recovered by heating the car for instance.

With the completion of a functioning prototype, engineers at Oregon State University made a major step toward addressing one of the leading problems in energy use around the world today; the waste of half or more of the energy that is produced by cars, factories and power plants. New technology is being developed by the university to capture and use the low-to-medium grade waste heat which is now going out of the exhaust pipe of thousands of diesel generators, millions of automobiles and being wasted by factories and electrical utilities. These new systems, currently getting perfected at the university should be able to use much of this waste heat in either cooling or the production of electricity.

Waste heat is sometimes called secondary heat or low-grade heat can refer to heat that is produced by machines, electrical equipment and industrial processes for which no useful application may be found.

Energy is often produced by a heat engine, running on a source of high-temperature heat. According to the second law of thermodynamics, a heat engine may never have perfect efficiency. Waste heat is regarded as a waste by-product of this process.

More than half of the heat generated by industrial activities is now wasted and even very advanced electrical power plants only convert some forty percent of the energy produced into electricity. For example it is common practice to estimate in engineering that only seventy percent of the usable fuel energy is applied to the industrial engine. The internal combustion engines of automobiles are even worse — they operate around 25-40% conversion efficiency.

Race to Bio-Diesel

For almost every type of vehicle, stock cars to Formula One to tractors, the racing season has arrived across the globe, and a special kind of renewable diesel and biodiesel could be the key to winning. Teams will put Neste Oil’s NExBTL renewable diesel made from hydotreated vegetable oils and waste oils to the test at the ADAC 24-hour race at the Nurburgring circuit. In a special 24-hour race in Germany the tuning Akademie team will use an Audi A6 engine, and the other team, Four Motors, will run what they call a “bioconcept car.”

The third-generation bioconcept car, powered by the TDI engine, is filled with rapeseed B100, though, for the competition the vehicle gets fueled with 93 percent of NExBTL and 7 percent biodiesel. In concert with other components, the car’s body is sourced from biobased materials. The Four Motors team has a few bioconcept cars such as a Scirocco 2.0 L TDI, a Megane Trophy made in alliance with Renault, a Volkswagen Beedle TDI and a Mustang GT RTD and.

The day long race will prove the endurance of the teams and will be open to both sports and production cars. More than 200 teams – that is 700 drivers – will compete on the 15.5 mile course. Both teams will be running 100 percent renewable biodiesel and diesel blends, this year’s event, June 23 to 26, will be the first ever where a team will solely run on biofuels.

Numerous different field tests have confirmed the performance of NExBTL renewable diesel and the benefits it offers in terms of lower emissions…this will be the first time that it will be tested under competition conditions. We are very excited that this will take place at the renowned 24-hour race at the Nurburgring circuit…has been the showcase for the latest automotive technology for decades


Hey Barack – Where You Goin’ With That Drill In Your Hand?

Politifact, the fact-checking project of the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, gives Obama a “No Flip” on the Flip-O-Meter in his announcement to expand offshore drilling in previously banned places. Politifact reports that Obama is keeping a campaign promise: He did a “Half Flip” in the middle of his campaign when gas prices had skyrocketed and then agreed that more drilling off the coasts would be necessary, so “No Flip” now.

If car and truck buyers’ had a little more money and drivers were willing to give up on old technology, then the U.S. could begin the switch immediately to petrol-free and nearly-petrol-free vehicles, making new drilling unnecessary. Biofuels already have a niche vehicle energizing marketplace with more opportunities growing with cellulosic ethanol, fuels from algae and others.

Hydrogen is another possibility, but has its own set of cost issues as well as a complete set of supply and distribution challenges.

Though from a technical standpoint, electrically driven vehicles, including hybrids, are here now and here to stay. At this point automakers and suppliers seem to have more interest in electric drive than in any other alternative technology. It’s not just the simple technology they like: zero emission vehicles will go a long way in helping automakers meet the 34 mpg average vehicle fuel economy standard by 2016.

Once the battery hurdle is officially leaped – it will be only a matter of time before the entire industry quits their gas guzzling – it just makes too much sense.

Fisker Karma, Next in Naturalbuy Eco Cars

fiskerNever heard of a Fisker Karma before? That’s because it’s a new startup company, and their cars haven’t hit the road yet. It is a luxury sedan, with a price tag close to $90,000. Doable by the rich, and with only its very first model coming out next year, bound to decrease in price as the Earth revolves around the Sun a few more times, as it is prone to do.

These cars, which run on electricity for the first few miles (50 in the case of the Karma) including the Chevy Volt (which goes for 40 miles on battery), are not actually being called hybrids, since they run on electricity entirely at first, and then gasoline powered electricity when the battery runs out. So since they’re slightly different and the government loves confusing people, they’re getting the more government-sounding phraseology of “extended range electric vehicles.” Whatever you say, Uncle Sam.

The best thing about this extended range electric vehicular car is that it only emits 83 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer, which is even less than the newest Toyota Prius.

Theoretically, a driver of the Fisker Karma could get to work in back without using any gas at all, assuming his round trip is less than 50 miles. This would upgrade its rated 67mpg to…infinity.

I remember one time in high school when the transmission for my 1990 Ford Taurus station wagon broke when I accidentally slammed on the gas and breaks at the same time. Since it was an automatic, I wasn’t really conscious of the fact that there even was a transmission, so when it broke, I found out what it actually did, which is connect the engine to the wheels via a series of gears. (Now that I drive a stick shift, I am intimately aware of the existence and function of transmissions.) I told my friend at the time my transmission broke that someone should invent a car that “just goes” so that you wouldn’t need a transmission and gear shifting and whatnot. He told me that I should invent the “just goes” car. He was being sarcastic.

Well, I am happy to report that the Fisker Karma actually IS a “just goes” car, and has no transmission that connects the engine to the wheels. The more power you pump from the battery, the faster the wheels spin. That’s it. This obviously cuts down on energy use because you don’t need an engine to spin gears to spin a drive train to spin wheels. You just have the engine spin the wheels, and cut out the middlemen.

I wonder what happens to the RPM meter then…

Electicity-Generating Speed Bumps

It’s called the “Motion Power Energy Harvester,” and before even reading about this thing, I can bet I know the principles of its operation. Speed bumps are designed to slow you down, right? Of course right. How they work now is that you’re supposed to hit your break before you go over the bump so your car doesn’t thwack up and down too violently. The speed bump itself, though, doesn’t do much to slow you down. So change that to having the speed bump itself slow you down, and collect the energy you would otherwise be spending on rubbing breaks on your tires.

The bump has pedals on it which press down when tires roll over them. The force of pushing the pedals down turns gears which generate 2 kilowatts of electricity instantaneously. Since the energy required to push the pedals down is a lot, it will simultaneously slow the car down. And it does. The prototype is currently in operation at a Burger King drivethru in New Jersey. The company: New Energy Technologies.

The device is basically a flattened speed bump with long pedals across the top. The problem isn’t producing the electricity. The problem is collecting it and distributing it.

The engineer who designed this is Jerry Lynch, who says that “If this is multiplied by ten times the length and we have 100,000 or 150,000 cars a year the device will pay back in less than two years.”

Company President Meetesh Patel says Motion Power devices could be effectively used in any number of high traffic areas.

It’s not ready for market yet, but when it is, this company may be going far.

Electric, Hybrid, AND Diesel? BMW Technological Orgy

bmw concept carWe know, we know, electric cars use too much rare earth metals. We just wrote about it below. But that’s not going to stop us from covering the next ultra cool electric triple hybrid diesel plugin etc. tour de force vehicle.

That’s just what we need. All these companies coming out with zero emission stuff that runs on one thing or another, that’s either a hybrid or it’s not, that’s hydrogen and nothing else, that’s plug in and that’s it, and now BMW comes with this technological orgy that combines EVERYTHING and then actually succeeds in sticking the entire mess under one hood. How the HECK does this thing even exist?

The car has a top speed of 155mph and can go from 0-60 in less than five seconds. All with only 3 cylinders, because the electric engines are what’s giving this thing its power. The final fuel economy is 63 mpg. Unless, of course, you can get to work using only the batteries, which will get you about 31 miles on a charge, which can be done in 2.5 hours in a standard 220 volt outlet (like the ones on your washing machine or AC. Changing that to a 380 volt line cuts the charge time to 44 minutes. Overall range including gasoline – 400 miles.

Sophisticated software surrounds every system, which takes readings and interprets the data to enable more efficient operation.

Cost? HA! It’s a concept car. Go build your own.

Nissan Turns a New Leaf

Nissan Leaf

Looks like the world is waking up from it’s gasoline gorging party. Slowly, but surely. The latest step happened just today, with Nissan’s unveiling of its 2010 Leaf. (Get the title now?) It’s a cute little hatchback, but it’s not a clown car, as it comfortably seats 4 to 5 people (depending on tush size, of course). While electric cars have been around for years as concept cars, this signals a serious change because they are just now approaching economical and mass produced, with Nissan hoping to get the Leaf up to 100,000 units produced a year.

It can go about 100 miles on one “tank,” and with 80% of US drivers traveling less than 100km a day, the Leaf fits most potential consumers in terms of distance. But let’s talk about the charge cycle for a second. The battery is 50 kW and can do a fast-charge in 30 minutes. The executives are working with local governments in the States and around the world to help build supporting infrastructure, though they’re not going to maintain them with their own wallet. That’ll be the cities’ job.

Now for costs. As for the cost of the car, Nissan’s keeping a gag rule on that. Let’s say the upscale gasoline cars are about 48 miles per gallon. At 1000km (620 miles), that’s about $63 a month. The cost of charging a Leaf to go the same distance is about $13 by those numbers.

Leaf Electricity Plug

For countries with no power infrastructure for these cars, people who still want one can always charge up at home, and even program it to charge in the middle of the night to take advantage of lower energy costs.

The batteries, however, are prohibitively expensive at $10,000 for a replacement. To take care of that little glitch, Nissan plans to lease the batteries to Leaf owners and exchange them for new ones as part of a maintenance fee.

Water Powered Cars Not Just H2O

As unbelievable as this may sound, cars running on water are just about to be become reality – that’s on condition that the major oil companies and car manufacturer don’t try to “kill” the idea first. And what makes this story even more intriguing is that people who try to develop such an idea are either bought out by major energy producers or die under mysterious circumstances.

The use of water as a fuel is not a new idea; and was originally thought up by a British chemist and physicist named Michael Faraday back in 1825. The whole concept revolves around the chemical make-up of water itself – which composes nearly 70% of the earth’s surface, as well as own bodies. From a pure chemical standpoint water, or H2O, is the combination of two molecules of hydrogen and one of oxygen – hence the elemental term H2O. Separately, both pure hydrogen and oxygen are very volatile elements, and can explode and burn profusely if exposed to even a spark. According to the developers of these new engines, the secret is separating the molecules and using the hydrogen as fuel.

A Japanese company Genepax, claims that it is now on the verge of producing a small commuter car that works by an engine that is actually powered by water – all kinds of water: saltwater, freshwater, even tea! The engine is actually an electric one that is powered by fuel cells which themselves receive their power from the hydrogen and oxygen that has been separated from water. The company’s executives say that the car can operate up to an hour on one liter of water and is completely non-polluting. While this idea is great for us, it’s terrible to the major oil companies, as well as the oil producing countries that supply them. Perhaps this is why so much objection to this idea is currently being generated, as can be seen in the following story:

The man who is said to be responsible for developing this idea is an American named Stan Meyer, who developed a process to remove hydrogen from water and turn it into a power source. He even built a prototype vehicle, a dune buggy, that was able to “split” the hydrogen in the water and “burn” this new fuel in an ordinary engine that had been converted to run on hydrogen fuel. His idea was even picked up by several news stations, who sent reporters to see and test drive Meyer’s new invention. But the idea as “put on ice” in 1998 when Meyer died from supposed food poisoning a day after he reportedly signed a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense to build engines that ran on this hydrogen-from-water concept.

Perhaps the Japanese Genpax company will have better luck than Stan Meyer did in marketing a car that runs on water. Since Japan is an energy starved nation that has to import virtually all its energy from abroad (most of it from the Middle East), the Japanese government will look more favorably on the idea and even offer assistance. After all, Japan is an island nation, completely surrounded by – you guessed it – H2O ( with a little sodium chloride and other minerals thrown in).