A third of your gasoline goes toward overcoming friction. Over half of that friction might become avoidable within 15 to 25 years.
No less than one third of a car's fuel consumption is spent in overcoming friction, and this friction loss has a direct impact on both fuel consumption and emissions. However, new technology can reduce friction by anything from 10% to 80% in various components of a car, according to a joint study by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) in USA. It should thus be possible to reduce car's fuel consumption and emissions by 18% within the next 5 to 10 years and up to 61% within 15 to 25 years.
There are 612 million cars in the world today. The average car clocks up about 13,000 km per year, and in the meantime burns 340 litres of fuel just to overcome friction, costing the driver EUR 510 per year.
Electric cars lose far less of their energy to friction. So they have less to gain from friction reduction. So reduced friction loss will improve the relative advantage of cars buring liquid hydrocarbon fuels versus electric cars.
Of the energy output of fuel in a car engine, 33% is spent in exhaust, 29% in cooling and 38% in mechanical energy, of which friction losses account for 33% and air resistance for 5%. By comparison, an electric car has only half the friction loss of that of a car with a conventional internal combustion engine.
Annual friction loss in an average car worldwide amounts to 11,860 MJ: of this, 35% is spent in overcoming rolling resistance in the wheels, 35% in the engine itself, 15% in the gearbox and 15% in braking. With current technology, only 21.5% of the energy output of the fuel is used to actually move the car; the rest is wasted.
One thought: on shorter trips it should be possible to avoid the need for a cooling air conditioner and gasoline power lost to it. Imagine when parked you could plug in the car and the electric power would operate a condenser to super cool some liquid. Then that frozen material could provide a source of cooling for, say, an hour or two.
Newer materials can cut friction. But what about the costs?
A recent VTT and ANL study shows that friction in cars can be reduced with new technologies such as new surface coatings, surface textures, lubricant additives, low-viscosity lubricants, ionic liquids and low-friction tyres inflated to pressures higher than normal.
Friction can be reduced by 10% to 50% using new surface technologies such as diamond-like carbon materials and nanocomposites. Laser texturing can be employed to etch a microtopography on the surface of the material to guide the lubricant flow and internal pressures so as to reduce friction by 25% to 50% and fuel consumption by 4%. Ionic liquids are made up of electrically charged molecules that repel one another, enabling a further 25% to 50% reduction in friction.
The payback will come faster in commercial vehicles that travel great distances every year. So are diamond-line carbon materials getting designed into engines or transmissions of any long distance trucks today?
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2012 January 18 11:14 PM Energy Transportation|