Monday, August 26, 2013

Your rotten stupid car

Turn you car off, put it in gear, get out, now push.  I am pretty sure you can't move it, even with cousin Earl helping.  On most cars it takes a couple more cousins to move it a few feet.  That is the gear train resistance, burning fuel has to overcome that first, next it needs more btu or calories to make it roll.

The average car is 85% inefficent.  Only 15% of your fuel is used to move you.  62% is lost to the engine.  Almost 6% is lost in the transmission and drive shaft.   2.2% is lost to accessories demand, radio, airconditioner, electric window, wipers.

Here are the things you would expect to be eating fuel, 3% is aerodynamic drag, 4% rolling resistance, 6% overcoming inertia and weight.

Hybrids overcome some of this by running a direct drive electric motor part of the time while turning off and disengaging the motor for portions of the drive time and completely at idle.  Electric cars cut even more of the traditional system waste.

Our centralized electric system is much the same, long transmission lines eat up vast amounts of energy.  Ever touch a large transformer on a pole or at a factory utility entry point, they are hot, because they are eating power, just like the electric cord on your vacuum, it's warm.  Distributed power, solar or wind at or near the point of use, new types of switchgear and cables and transformers are going to make us more energy efficient.  To get to it we need to shake the libertarians out of their current habit of siding with and defending giant utilities, fossil fuel and centralized power.  What could be more up their alley than freeing ones self from utilities that treat you like a ratepayer not a customer, who stacks the rate boards with cronies to bleed more from us at every interval allowed?   If you know these guys, ask them why they turn away from individual rights when the issue is energy and fuels.


  1. To get a true measure of drivetrain resistance you'd have to remove the sparkplugs. Compressing the air in the cylinders creates more resistance than the other moving parts in the drivetrain. Also it would have to be in the top gear, otherwise the gearing adds resistance. That's why the best gear to use when parking a car is either first or reverse.

    While most modern cars are more efficient than the cars I started with, most of that improved efficiency has gone to more horsepower.


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