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Diesel Cars - High-Tech Low Tech 340

jonbrewer writes: "The NYTimes is running a great article talking about the growing trend of Diesel cars in Europe, their fantastic mileage, and the fact that America ignores them. While the article wows us with 78mpg for the Audi A2, I'm happy with the 45mpg my TDI Golf makes." Until diesel pumps are everywhere, I think I'll hold out for my solar/hydrogen-fuel-cell/flywheel hybrid.
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Diesel Cars - High Tech Low Tech

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  • Try, for example walking somewhere. Doing this on a regular basis can be considered a cure for most overwieight people and it is much better for the environment.

  • Umm, diesel pumps are everywhere, since trucks in North America typically use diesel. Most service stations (at least everywhere in the United States I've been) have at least one diesel pump. It's generally the stations without diesel pumps that are the rarity, not the other way around.

    Now that said, the reason many Americans don't like diesel cars is that diesel is thicker and less volatile, and thus diesel engines don't start as easily, particularly in cold climates. And with the advent of gas/electric hybrid cars that get 70+ mpg with standard unleaded gasoline, it seems unlikely that diesel cars will make inroads in the near future.
  • In addition, E^2 = p^2*c^2 + m^2*c^4
  • Great theory, now make it work.

    Oh, I work flexable hours, and while the office is an idustrial area it isn't downtown. last I checked 4 buses a day go by work, and they all go down town. Some people I work with are faced with a 10 minute drive (I think they should walk...), or 2 hours on the bus. Seriously, the fastest the bus could get them to work is 2 hours. Then once in a while I decide to work late and fix a problem, and I've missed the last bus.

  • The use of vegetable oil guarantees nothing after combustion. Ever notice the smoke coming from an over-hot frying pan? Hippies who equate "natural" with "good" depress me.

    Might wanna tie that knee down! vegetable oil DOES burn cleaner than diesel oil. That is measurement, not Hippies equating "natural" with "good". For one thing, cooking oil contains a lot less sulphur than diesel.

  • Without specifying under what conditions a fuel is burning you cannot make any useful statement as to what the by-products will be.

    In this context, I think assuming it would be in a diesel engine would be a good bet. Either that, or I shall feel free to assume that your statements were in a language that looks exactly like English, but with entirely different meanings assigned to the words and phrases. Toast! Under those conditions, it burns cleaner than diesel fuel (american fuel grade).

  • > Wonder why there are all those diesel fueled backup generators then if
    > the engines arn't reliable...

    different values of reliable. The hybrids need an engine that can kick on instantly every time. The backup generators need something that can kick on in a matter of minutes (or even seconds), and not very often.


  • It's got all those AMC things of the 60's and 70's that it's up against . . .


  • Was the Audi article supposed to come before or after the free software article?
  • Where are you people living?

    I don't know what's going on, but every gas station I've been to in the USA has at least two diesel pumps. Nearly every gas station on an interstate highway is a mini-truckstop meaning they have as many diesel pumps as gasoline pumps.

    While the USA is behind on diesel implementation for passenger vehicles, it is very common as tractor-trailers are almost exclusively diesel. Count most busses among them was well. I believe most farm tractors now made are diesel.
  • by HBK-4G ( 2475 ) on Saturday May 26, 2001 @11:18PM (#195917)
    I've been working on a project at Georgia Tech called FutureTruck, which is sponsored by the Department of Energy and some major automobile manufacturers. If you're interested, the website is here []. GT is one of 15 schools from around the US and Canada that were tasked with taking a GM Suburban, a rather poor MPG performer but popular in today's market, and making it cleaner, more efficient, and (if possible) even more consumer-attractive.

    Just a couple things I've noticed over the past 2 years of this project:

    1. Fuel cell vehicles are still a ways off. The hydrogen containers are bulky and heavy, and a system still costs around $1 million.

    2. Diesel/biodiesel looks promising but a few problems remain - more polluting than normal gasoline, different performance issues, and such. However, they are more efficient overall. Paired with an electric motor, diesel engines could turn out to be cleaner and more effective than gasoline-only vehicles.

    3. Electric-only vehicles are very limited in range and scope. Batteries are still heavy, even the 'new' kinds of batteries like Lithium-Ion. Combined with the need for a charging/recharging infrastructure, and the (at least) American desire for power, the electric-only vehicle will likely be relegated to shuttle cars on a set path.

    4. Hybrids, like diesel-electric or gasoline-electric, seem to be the wave of the near future. I believe all the schools participating in FutureTruck are using a hybrid system of some sort. The Honda Insight is a good example of a production car that is a hybrid vehicle. It can reach about 70 MPG after a bit of driver training/getting-used-to. There are an array of configurations and methodologies for hybrid systems that I won't get into here, due to space considerations. But I believe, and so do a lot of other schools and even car manufacturers, that hybrids will pave the way in the near future. Beyond that... maybe they'll have fusion power worked out by then. ;)

    I hope this helps some of you out with what's going on in the alternative fuels/powertrain area. I am by no means an authority on this subject, so visit the Department of Energy, the Argonne National Laboratories, and the Society for Automotive Engineers websites for much more detailed information. Those websites are here [], here [], and here [] respectively.
  • I don't know what rock you live under, but here in the US, diesel fuel is plenty widespread at almost any fueling station. Canada is similar.
  • That's basically what biodiesel is. Using biosdiesel works best with a diesel engine, oddly enough.
  • Not exactly a radical new concept, as many of you are suggesting. Such systems have been around for the better part of the 20th century - Look at railway locomotives and non-nuclear submarines.
  • by Manuka ( 4415 ) on Sunday May 27, 2001 @05:55AM (#195922)
    Your comment is outdated by about 20 years. The new diesel engines coming out of europe are at least as clean as their gasoline counterparts.
  • Hey, pay attention to the market. Small cars have never sold well in the United States. Why? Two reasons, both psychological. One, anything less than 100 bhp is considered woefully inadequate for highway use. Pay no attention to those VW Lupos on the autobahn. Two, Americans aspire to large cars. Always have. The tendency is to buy the largest car for the money. Hence, vast fleets of SUVs, Cadillac and Lincoln building trucks, and the inexplicable success of the big, cheap, ugly Chevy Impala sedan.

    A small premium European car is a big risk in the States. They're sold on razor-thin margins in Europe. That would get eaten up by the costs of export. DaimlerChrysler has been agonizing over American Smarts ever since they launched. Same for the Audi A2 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, although the new long wheelbase version of the latter would do a little better. Again, bigger is better. If given $25,000, the average American would choose a well-equipped Toyota Camry over a base Audi A3.

    Besides, regional Dept./Ministry of Transportation regulations do more to interfere with imports than trade policies. Building a car to 30 different sets of regs with one build configuration is, unfortunately, quite expensive. IIRC, only Jaguar builds cars this way. Robert Cumberford had a good article on this in Automobile last year. (Not online.)

    BTW, Alfa is coming back, Renault's '80s shitboxes ruined the reputation of all French cars in America, there are no smaller Volvos, and Rover's lucky they're still selling cars in England.

    (Score: -1, Feeding the Trolls)

    We're not scare-mongering/This is really happening - Radiohead
  • by Uruk ( 4907 ) on Saturday May 26, 2001 @10:22PM (#195927)
    Until diesel pumps are everywhere, I think I'll hold out for my solar/hydrogen-fuel-cell/flywheel hybrid.

    And that's exactly why they aren't eveywhere. Because people are 'holding out'. New technology (even sometimes old technology like deisel) takes adoption.

  • How amusing. Europeans spend more, to get gas that contains less bang! The higher the octane, the less "power" it provides...


    If you *really* want to see automobile pollution and gas consumption dramatically reduced, call for an end to the SUV trend.

    Alas, despite the soaring price of gas and of new vehicles, all too many stupid North Americans are purchasing pickup trucks and SUVs -- not because they *need* those sorts of vehicles, but for the status symbol.

    Unfortunately, they're killing us when they make those choices.

  • Oh, hell, no. This is British Columbia we're talking about. Home to continuous political scandal!

    We just elected in a "Liberal" government that's actually pretty damn right-wing, to the tune of 76 of 79 seats. In other words, we have *NO* effective opposition to this government.

    One of their political platforms: they're gonna look into privatizing BC Hydro.

    This would be a company that's charging BCers a whopping $0.0577/kWH. We're not exactly being screwed over by them...

    Yup. BC. Always interesting.

  • this is a what a diesel locomotive does.

    Yeah, but they do it for a different reason, IIRC. Diesel locomotives use a hybrid arrangement because a pure diesel locomotive would have trouble moving away from rest smoothly (imagine changing gears on a locomotive . . . ). I don't know whether they use regenerative braking or not, though . . . as diesel locomotives tend to not brake very often it might not be worth it.

    Go you big red fire engine!

  • Hmmm. If diesel cars get approximately twice the mileage of petrol cars, and hybrids are about twice as efficient as conventional cars, makes you wonder what kind of fuel efficiency you'd get out of a diesel/electric hybrid, doesn't it?

    Of course, while petrol is as cheap as water in the US and Australia we'll all keep pouring fuel down our oversized, overpriced and unsafe (both for drivers, passengers and especially for other road users) SUVs. Sigh . . .

    Go you big red fire engine!

  • I'm not sure about the battery technology but there was a US company called Rosen Motors which built such a car in 1995/96. Only problem was that they went to Detroit to see if the US auto behemoths would help them mass produce them. Detroit didn't want anything to do with it so Rosen motors was shut down. The division which made the compact turbine engines still lives though. It's called Capstone Turbines if my memory serves me right.

    Once again the US auto industry is getting the ars kicked by the Japanese. Oh, I own a Toyota Prius and after 9400 miles, I'm averaging 48.1 MPG. When the rolling blackouts hit I power a home circuit with a 12V to 110V Inverter and a 100' extension cord in the trunk of the Prius.

    eat THAT oil companies and crocked Texas powerplant owners!

  • sorry, I guess I should have explained how what I said effected the oil companies and how what I said effected the electricity generators....

    I don't think the oil companies like that I'm getting ~50 MPG without giving up a thing. IMHO

    I don't think the electricity generators like it when their rolling blackouts don't blackout everyone.

    By the way, I don't think the Hybrid technology is the save-all end-all technology but it is currently the only technology getting us to a cleaner environment. IMHO

  • Desiel engines also have the added advantage that, as long as the exhaust is above water level, it can drive straight through flooded roads. Petrol cars can't do this because the water would prevent the spark from happening in the engine. Jeeps and land-rovers designed for off-road use in areas like Africa and Australia are fitted wih snorkels so that then can drive straight through rivers. Given that most SUVs are running petrol, even with a snorkel, they wouldn't make it even half way.
  • Erm... don't forget that the population density of most European countries means that it makes more sense to have small cars and/or inner city rail lines like trams.
    Now that you ARE in Texas, think about how spread out everything is.
  • Actually, in the whole EU (and that's going to be mandatory to those who ask membership too), you have to pass emission tests, every other year (the states don't have the power to override that, it's a directive).

    Basically, if you don't pass, you either fix the problem (in France, you have 2 months), or you quit using that car. Simple enough, isn't it ? Only more than thirty or fourty year old cars are exempt; and you really don't see many of these outside collections.
  • by Chep ( 25806 ) on Sunday May 27, 2001 @01:50AM (#195962)
    (These new diesels are known as Clean Diesels, and are a favourite of my local bus company, which is how I know about them.)

    Actually, your bus company's diesels lack the latest advancements -- a Peugeot 607 FAP (or Citroen C5 and Xsara, or -- again -- the newest Peugeot 307 FAP), are equipped with a self-regenerating particle re-burner. Basically, the thing makes the particles go through a catalyser, which eliminates them. Once every roughly 20000km, the engine's cycle is automatically tweaked, so the exhaust gases are a bit hotter for a while, which cleans the filter. You don't even notice anything.

    While this new filter is currently fitted only on a single carmaker's higher level cars, you can bet that in 2 years, they'll be almost everywhere (just like the HDi/TDI/dCi/JTD engines rule the market today. Only the cheapest cars still have atmospheric [diesel] engines, and some carmakers like Fiat (owner of a famous fast expensive red car producer) seem to just sell common rail stuff these days.

    My car is technically quite old ; it burns 4L/100km (of diesel), which is quite good. The next generation Peugeot/Ford[europe] low-end diesels have a target of 2.5L/100, which is quite excellent...

    There are other "advances" (hmmm. Let's call that, re-advances). First is Aquazole (an emulsion of water in the diesel oil); most city bus companies use them nowadays (when they're not already burning natural gas). Aquazole is quite cool, in that the combustion is only necessary to heat the gases ; most of the mechanical energy comes from the (more or less) adiabatic relaxation of gases. It makes a lot of sense to have the strict minimum of petroleum-derived gases, and have the majority of relaxation gases being simply water vapour. When the proportion's right, the exhaust temperature is just a little above 100C, and the efficiency's at its best [*]. As Aquazole is a bit (energetically) expensive to produce, another way (which has been quite used in the aeronautic industry of the piston era) is to inject a suspension of water droplets in the cylinders just after the combustion began. Now these subsystems get a lot of attention too...

    Anyway, reducing the overall fossil stuff consumed is a Good Thing. Whether the byproducts are soot, CO2, SO2, Pu, Th and whatnot, it's always dirt.

    [*] unfortunately, lower temperature exhausts is diametrically opposite to the way particle filters work ; those need higher temperature exhaust gases to work efficiently. That'll certainly get worked out pretty soon, though.

    (finally, the gasoline engines aren't sitting either. Common rail ("EDI/GDI/HPi"), Altivar [alternator is also an auxiliary electric engine. When you're sitting in a jam, or at a red light, you just don't burn anything] (1 or two years from Renault to market now), and electro-magnetically driven valves (dump the camshaft, and gain features like dynamically adjusting the valve cycle to better burn the combustible, or dynamically disable a few cylinders when they're not necessary, etc. Costs some electric power at high RPM, unfortunately, but counts as extremely cool in my book).

    [electric engines will be cool when the batteries are able to last 200000km (not on a single charge, of course), and be produced, recharched, and recycled (ecologically) efficiently. As long as these batteries represent more polluent (concentrated in a small volume but still potentially extremely harmful) than what my Saxo will exhaust in its whole life cycle, then no thanks] [and I'm an all-out nuke fan]
  • Yeah, but the difference is that Candada also has almost universally available block heater electrical outlets at all public/private parking lots, which are pretty much essential for diesel engines in severe cold (of course in Canada you need them even for gas engines). The winters in England don't get as cold as in the US, so although many people with diesel engines may have their own heaters at home, it's not the requirement that it would be in the Northern US.
  • In the end it boils down to a simple question which you have yet to answer: would you like nuclear waste buried in your county?

    Yes. In fact, nuclear waste is already buried in my country, along with your country, and every other fucking country in the world. It's called naturally-occuring uranium. Natural decay products from naturally-occuring radioactive elements account for about half your yearly exposure to radiation (and more if you live in certain parts of the world, like France, with high natural radon levels). Nuclear power accounts for much less than 1% of your yearly exposure.
  • by tbo ( 35008 ) on Sunday May 27, 2001 @12:25AM (#195974) Journal
    The reason diesel supporters claim they produce less soot is because the soot particles are smaller now--too small to be detected by current tests, so it seems like there's less soot, even though total soot output hasn't really changed. Unfortunately, these smaller soot particles are harder for your lungs to clear out, because they can more easily embed in the lung walls, instead of getting swept out by the natural mucous flow. Because of this, they're likely worse for you. (These new diesels are known as Clean Diesels, and are a favourite of my local bus company, which is how I know about them.)

    If you Americans really want to save the environment, switch to nuclear power. Build the freaking Yucca Mountain repository, and stop worrying. You're all getting more than 50 times as much radiation from naturally-occuring radon as you are from the nuclear industry. Even if you happened to be living at the outer fence of Three Mile Island during the accident, you still only would have taken a dose equivalent to the normal naturally-occuring yearly dose (~1 milisievert). It's just not a big deal. If you still feel concerned about radiation, get your house tested for radon, and don't fly to France (flying exposes you to higher levels of cosmic radiation, and France has high levels of naturally-occuring radon).

    Once you have clean electricity, electric cars actually make sense. As it is, you're mostly just moving the pollution around. (Yes, yes, I know you can produce electricity more cleanly on a large scale than you can produce power in a car, but, when you factor in transmission losses and other inefficiencies involved in electric cars, it's all about the same, so screw off).
  • However, there is only one concern: price. If this biodiesel became the norm, how would its price compare to an equivalent amount of gasoline

    A considerable amount of the price of current fuels is tax. Effectivly biodiesel can be like "homebrew" wine or beer uneconomic to tax.
  • Biodiesel is made from used fryer oil.

    It can be, AFAIK currently most is made from ordinary vegetable oil. The reason being that no-one has worked out the logistics for recycling oil. The alternative would be to make everywhere which uses oil also act as a fuel station...
  • In US, I paid, at most, about $1.25/gallon. Here in Italy, I pay around 2300 Lira/Litre...or about $3.00/gallon. The really funny thing is that during the "Summer 2000 Gasoline Crisis" in the US, my price never went all!

    Most of the cost is in taxation. Production dosn't cost that much, before the invention of cars it was considered a useless byproduct of the fractional distilation process.
  • by mpe ( 36238 )
    Actually Cannabis Sativa is not a very good choice for oil production. There are several plants that blow its doors off as far as efficiency at producing oil. The most common being soybeans.

    What use is the rest of the plant though? Ever heard of using soya to make fabric, rope or paper? Let alone that soya dosn't have the alkaloids that protect against insect damage and have very interesting pharmacutical potential. Oh and it can make a good recreational drug too, but can't have that, must stick with prohibition...
  • The engine needed for a hybrid like the Insight has to be small and must start reliably; diesel isn't best suited for either.

    Wonder why there are all those diesel fueled backup generators then if the engines arn't reliable...
  • Now that said, the reason many Americans don't like diesel cars is that diesel is thicker and less volatile, and thus diesel engines don't start as easily, particularly in cold climates.

    Odd how diesel cars are used in Northern Europe (and probably Canada too). Also even in the USA trucks, buses, trains and agricultural machinery used diesel...
  • by mpe ( 36238 ) on Sunday May 27, 2001 @02:40AM (#195981)
    There's a reason we have been weaned away from biodiesel - it means empowerment for the individual and power away from government & corps. - because biodiesel can be made by you and me.

    Also the US government especially dislikes the plant Cannabis Sativa which is especially good for producting this product as well as many others.
    From an agricultural POV a plant where the whole thing can be used for commercial product makes a whole lot of sense.
  • by mpe ( 36238 ) on Sunday May 27, 2001 @03:06AM (#195982)
    Trains can also haul a lot more stuff than a truck can -- there can be trains with dozens of cars, but a truck with dozens of trailers would be a real menace.

    In Australia they have these things called "road trains". Effectivly they are a truck with lots of trailers (and a sign on the back to tell people not to try overtaking one.)
  • Yes. I'm originally from southwest North Dakota... many of the pickup trucks my grandparents used on their farm were converted from diesels over to some sort of compressed natural gas (I have no clues as to what) in the late '70s, early '80s. Supposedly the conversions increased mileage substantially without sacrificing power (important for when you're actually using a pickup to haul things other than your ego) or increasing engine wear.

    That was 20 years ago, and the retrofit could be done locally and cheaply. Give the technology the 20 years and install it from the factory---I wonder how good it would be now.

  • by Trumpet ( 42631 ) on Saturday May 26, 2001 @10:41PM (#195994) Homepage

    ...major improvements in electric engines.

    One of the big bitches of electric cars is (besides battery life) the poor power/weight ratio of the electric engine against the gas (petrol) engine. Also, even more damning, is the relative reliability of the gas engine. What we really need are people putting alot more effort into making a better, lightweight electric engine.

    We already have the parts to build a really good hybrid gas/electric car (which, face it folks, is the only kind of low-emissions vehicle you will see for years). We have the following parts:

    • Electric engine - provides the power to move the car. Also acts as a generator when braking/coasting, thus providing extra power!
    • High-efficiency gas engine - stick in a 300-400 cc motorcycle engine. They generate several kW of power, and can run at optimal efficiency (about 4500RPM) all the time, since you're not using them to directly drive the car. And the parts are readily available, and easy to maintain (and there is a repair infrastructure already in place - your local Kawasaki dealer...) Of course, I'd really like to see us use miniature gas-turbine engines, but I don't expect to see this anytime soon...
    • Zinc-oxide batteries - the so-called "air battery" provides excellent continuous voltage and storage. You may still need a couple of lead-acid around for instantaneous bursts, but probably no more than 2 standard ones.
    • High-speed Flywheels - easily the most efficient and compact way to store energy, a flywheel made of composites can be spun at up to 100,000RPM or more to store energy. And they don't lose energy much (you could leave one spinning overnight and probably only lose a couple hundred RPM, if that). Far more efficient than batteries, these are tre-cool, too.

    The Honda Inspire and the coming competition from Nissan and Toyota are OK, but face it, we need something about the size of a Honda Accord, not a Honda Civic CRX. I can't see any reason (technically) right now why someone doesn't mass-produce a converted Accord. I mean, you can use the exact same design (maybe cheat and use alluminium body panels), just with a new powertrain (with an electric engine, you should probably have a continuously variable transmission, rather than an "automatic", and definately not a "standard") and still get at least 70+ miles/gallon (that is, 30km/l).

    Hell, with the $4k US tax credit for buying a low-emission vehicle, and gas here at $1.75 in the DFW Area, I'd spend $5k more for a converted Accord over a normal one, and still make out like a bandit. So who're the morons in the Marketing Depts at the car manufacturers?

  • But, 100KM is about, what, 65 maybe 70 miles? And 3 litres is slightly more than a gallon. That gives your VW about 60MPG, maybe 65MPG at most.

    sorry.. but your maths is a bit out there....

    1 gallon is nearer to 4.5l, which would work this out to significantly MORE than 65mpg...

    He should've specified U.S. gallon, which would be 3.785 L. With about 1.6 km per mile, you get (100 km/1.6)/(3 L/3.785)=78.8 mpg, which is still more than 65.

    (The first time through, I forgot to do the kilometers-to-miles conversion and came up with "~126 mpg" (really 126 km/gallon, which makes no sense). Remind me not to go to work for NASA. :-) )

  • And this means that a liter of petrol is around 1,16 euro a liter for euro unleaded. Diesel is around 0,73 euro a liter. And biodiesel around 0,59 euro a liter.

    With €1=86, that's $3.78/gallon for unleaded (what grade--premium or the cheap stuff?), $2.38/gallon for diesel, and $1.92/gallon for biodiesel (you sell that out of gas stations over there?). Even with recent price hikes here, you're still getting bent over by comparison. It does explain why diesels are much more common in Europe than here in the States. (The cheapest I've seen locally (Las Vegas) in the past week is $1.63 for 87-octane (the cheap stuff), and we usually have higher prices here than most other parts of the country. I don't look at diesel prices much as I don't drive trucks, but the few times I've noticed them, they usually run about the same as premium, give or take a bit.)

  • In the US you can buy a Brand Spankin New VW TDIGolf for $16K, half the price of Most SUV's

    $16K is twice the price I paid for my '89 Suburban. Just a data point.'s 8x what my '77 Cutlass Supreme cost me. OTOH, $30-$35 every week to fill up kinda sucks right now.

    (I could've gotten an '80 Eldorado with a 350 diesel for about $3000, but I wanted rear-wheel drive. Besides, while both cars are powered by 350-ci (5.7L for the rest of you) Oldsmobile engines, the gas engine is good for at least a third more power than the diesel engine (that's just for a mid-70s smogger, not the higher-performance engines of the late 60s and early 70s), and it weighs less. Also, even a mid-70s A-body weighs less than any E-body ever did, AFAIK. The salesman said that the previous owner had been getting pretty good mileage out of the Eldo, though...)

  • There are no diesel SUV's in USA?

    I've seen diesel Suburbans before; I think they were built up to sometime in the 80s or (maybe) early 90s. The three engines [] that are currently available are all gas-fueled, though.

    The Hummer [] is available with a 6.5L turbodiesel, but you'll pay through the nose for one (and if you never take it off-road, you shouldn't be allowed to own one :-) ).

  • "Until diesel pumps are everywhere"

    AFAIK, every American car should at least nominally work perfectly on gasahol (this was like mandated or something). However, where are all the gasahol pumps? I think there are about 100 in the whole country (something like that).

    I hope you don't hold your breath for diesel or gasahol...or any not-standard petroleum.

    By the way, did you catch the quote from the President's chief of staff:

    White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was adamant Monday when asked whether the president would ask Americans to stop using so much energy.

    "The president believes that it's an American way of life, that it should be the goal of policy-makers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one."

    So stop being such a damn commie and join your other red-blooded Americans in handing your tax cut right over to the oil industry. We can't waste money on alternative clean sources of energy, we have a "blessed" way of conspicuous energy consumption to uphold!!

  • One of the big bitches of electric cars is (besides battery life) the poor power/weight ratio of the electric engine against the gas (petrol) engine.
    Also, even more damning, is the relative reliability of the gas engine. What we really need are people putting alot more effort into making a better,
    lightweight electric engine.

    Actually, modern electric motors have a superior power to weight ratio, and it beats an internal combustion power plant by miles once you factor in a smaller or non-existent gearbox** and not having a water cooling system. The problem is the energy density of chemical batteries versus combustible fuels; the reason most electric cars are slow is because if you made them quick the batteries would last no time at all.

    ** an electric motor, if appropriately designed, can develop usable torque levels over a much wider range of speeds than an internal combustion engine. It can also start from rest against a load, eliminating the need for a clutch or torque converter.

    The numbers I saw for GM's electric car prototype based on the flywheel batteries suggsted that the increased weight and volume of the batteries over a gas tank was close to being an even trade for the reduced weight of the motor and cooling system, and the performance and range was half decent - 0-60mph in around ten seconds IIRC and up to 500 miles on a charge.
  • by RallyDriver ( 49641 ) on Saturday May 26, 2001 @11:00PM (#196006) Homepage many European countries. It was a hot subject in the mid nineties, and heralded as a low pollution fuel** but the taxation in many places has increased to the point where diesel is now more expensive than petrol and thus mitigating some of the savings; fuel consumption differentials still ensure there's a chunk left though.

    When diesel was hot, there was a move to increasingly high performance and larger diesels in small cars, thus eliding much of the economy value excpept on long trips - the Citroen ZX TD Volcane is a classic example - 1.9 turbo diesel, around 135 bhp in a small hatchback, makes 50 mpg* or so on the morotway but below 25 mpg* in traffic.

    * Imperial gallons - US deduct 20% from those figures

    ** Ah yes, pollution - diesel produces a lot of unsightly smoke, but there is very little in the way of chemical pollutants, NOx etc in modern diesel exhaust. Diesel smoke is just that, smoke - it is much more environmentally friendly than the stuff you can't see that comes out of a petrol engine, cat or not - catalytic converters just don't work on short journeys. Ever smelled the (catalysed) car in front fart? That's hydrogen sulphide, and it isn't good for you.

    Someone designed a wonderful system for dealing with the particulates from a diesel, which would involve placing a cotton wadding filter canister on the tailpipe - these would be washable and exchangeable at fuel stations, once per tank of fuel for a couple of dollars.

    Another great thing is lean burn technology for petrol engines - great technology, no political will. There was so much political momentum behind the cat solution (not least because it came from America so must be cool) that superior alternatives got squashed.

    I live in the aforesaid land of the free (Austin, TX to be exact) and yes, there is a long way to go in addressing pollution. OK, so they have cats here and people in Texas typically drive far enough for them to have an effect, but there's no emissions check whatsoever in what passes for an annual vehicle inspection in the lone star state. You can quite legally drive a 17 year old petrol Suburban (river barge disguised as a 4x4) that has the energy consumption of a small third world nation, blows more smoke than a badly tuned diesel under full load, and who knows what invisible noxious gases besides, and get away with it until the thing literally rusts apart.

    The low fuel prices (petrol is literally half the price of bottled water, currently $1.35 to $1.70 per **gallon** depending on octane) and the local prediliction for having a huge-ass pickup truck as personal transportation don't exactly help - to set context for European readers, over here a Land Rover Discovery literally is a small, economical family car (and that's the 3.9 V8 petrol model, they don't even sell the diesel models).

    Europeans just wouldn't understand - Texans really, truly do drive pickup trucks instead of cars, even if they rarely have a passenger and never haul a bigger load in them than a bag of grocery shopping; roughly half the *software dvelopers* in our company drive one (empty of course) to work every day. There is some concession to economy - almost none are 4 wheel drive, and a 3.8 V6 with a manual gearbox is more typical than the traditional 5.x V8 slush-o-matic, but moving a brick shape throuhg the air isn't cheap; 17 mpg US (21 mpg Imp) is considered *good*.

  • Or at least, along the major trucking arteries. In the area I grew up (north central PA), EVERY filling station had at least one Deisel pump, no less. You were shooting yourself in the face if you didn't have one. They're not nearly as common in the city, but they're around if you know where to look for them- the big freight haulers and busses run off of Deisel for exactly this reason- mileage. And it's relatively cheaper. (As in,even if it IS more expensive, the mileage difference evens out to the gas costing less per mile)
  • by Giant Robot ( 56744 ) on Saturday May 26, 2001 @10:22PM (#196013) Homepage
    Until diesel pumps are everywhere, I think I'll hold out for my solar/hydrogen-fuel-cell/flywheel hybrid.

    But diesel pumps are everywhere, at least near where I live (Toronto), where would many trucks get their fuel? Not many specialized diesel stations around. Almost always cheaper than regular gas, although a bit worse for the environment.
  • Good point! Another great form of transport is the bicycle. If you only have to go for a few kilometer/miles, the bike is the way to go. It gives you a little exercise, it's fun, and besides it's also cheap and produces very little pollution ...

  • I think I'll pass on a high-speed flywheel in my car. That thing gets even the slightest bit off balance, and it'll tear through your car and anything around.

    Flywheels are great for datacenter power backup systems, where they can be buried underground and mounted in reasonably shock-proof setups. But I think mounting them in a mobile setup would just be asking for trouble.


  • The process used in nuclear reactors is nuclear fission which produces much lighter atoms such as Xenon and Strontium.

    Actually, I believe the largest percentage of waste products would be radioactive isotopes of rubidum and cesium- although there have been something like 70 different elements that have been found in the waste products.

  • by taniwha ( 70410 ) on Saturday May 26, 2001 @10:32PM (#196033) Homepage Journal
    Here in the Bay Area a numbers of cities are running part of their fleets on diesel from recyled cooking oil - it's really wierd you go past one and it smells like fries :-) Apparently its low polluting and cheap, and the main drawback is that you need to replace all the rubber parts in your fuel system with synthetics and be carefull about changing your fuel filter more often
  • by Baki ( 72515 ) on Sunday May 27, 2001 @11:48AM (#196034)
    All emissions of Diesel (CO2, NO) are much less. Only particle emissions are more, but they have come down tremendously too, and in the most modern motors can be almost completely eliminated.

    You can't compare a truck motor with the diesel motor that goes into a TDI Golf (or Passat, which I happen to have), especially when it comes to particle emissions.

    One problem is very low temperatures. Below -20 Celcius, Diesel can "flock" which prevents the engine from running (even with gas mixed for cold protections you don't get much lower than -20 celcius). Countries like Canada would require some external heating for the motor during winter.

    What is also relatively new is that the TDI Diesels get as much horsepower per engine-volume, of course coupled with a much higher torque. My 2.5 V6 TDI has 310Nm torque, which is more than the 2.9 gasoline Passat.

  • by selectspec ( 74651 ) on Saturday May 26, 2001 @10:32PM (#196036)
    Micro carbon soot from diesel combustion in automobilies is a deadly carcinogeon and causes lung cancer. You know that lovely smell when a truck or bus drives by. Well, that's diesel. Diesel proponents say that magic "filters" can do the job, however, application of such filters reduces engine efficiency making such engines no more effiencent than gasoline. There are many new technologies on the horizon, including a high pressure combustion which works much like diesil but works with any hydrocarbon that are far better than diesel.
  • Well my Dad had a Mercedes-Benz 300D (D for Diesel) maybe 15 years ago or so, in New Jersey.

    It was great, except for one huge problem. Diesel turns to jelly in the winter! Even plugging the thing in overnight didn't always work. You need a garage for the car, and maybe want to pour boiling water over the block.

    Same problem with new diesel tech? Sorry didn't read the article...
  • Take a look at Future Energies []. Their top article is "First Public biodiesel pumps open" which has happened in San Francisco. Lots of other articles there about fuel cell cars, electric cars, etc.

  • 3 liters is 0.792 gallons. 100 km is 62.1 miles. Actually this car did a round the world trip on an average of 2.38 liters / 100km, which is about 0.63 gallons / 62.1 miles. Flip it around and you have 98.8 mpg. Even with a more realistic 3l/100km you get 78.4 mpg.

    Yes, gas in europe is a lot more expensive and I can say two primary reasons. First, there is about 300% tax on gas in europe. Second, the octane level is generally much higher than in US. In usa I fill my car up with 87 but in europe generally the normal grade is 95.. It has to be more expensive to use something that you yanks call super extra hyper premium gasoline (I've yet to see 95 anywhere in usa, 94's been the highest octane) as your normal gas.. Price for 94 versus 87 is about 50% higher..

    Lack of short term price fluctuations during rapid changes in oil prices is because of the high taxes that create kind of a buffer zone where you can regulate the price to some extend. US gas prices follow the actual price of oil very closely and with little delay.

    But when was the last time you actually filled up in usa? Prices are now closer to 2$/gallon in the cheap places and expensive ones are way over.. I remember two years ago filling up for 0.79$/gallon. This was cheaper at the time than the cheapest gallon of store brand water at acme.. Now you get two gallons of water for the price of one gas gallon. Water still costs the same..

  • Sigh.. You got it off as much to the other direction.. 1 gal (US) amounts to 3.7854 liters. An imperial gallon is 4.5461 liters but that really has nothing to do with this..
  • There is a considerable improvement with mpg over this guys original estimate but being a european car they naturally use metric(si) system for their calculations.

    This guy seemed to be referring to usa mostly and as such it is natural to assume US gallons when doing conversions. See my post above for a little more detailed discussion..

    Just about nobody uses imperial gallons anyway, not with miles per gallons calculations in any case. Even the british are using mostly metric system excluding pub owners etc..

  • I've often looked at those signs at the gas pump that say octane calculated according to (ron+mon)/2 and wondered how it compares to europe. Now after some research on internet your figure seems about right.. I stand corrected..
  • Well, Diesel engines put more smog into the air than gasoline powered cars. However, there is actually something going on with diesel engines being able to burn natural gas... link []
  • Ford announced that the 2003 Ford Escape SUV would come with an option for a hybrid engine that would get 40 MPG, with performance comparable to a V6 and go approximately 500 miles on a single tank of gas.

    The article is here [].

  • Yeah, they can't survive when they get mauled by a Suburban...


  • by jeffsenter ( 95083 ) on Sunday May 27, 2001 @06:33AM (#196059) Homepage
    The US at least isn't on the right track to reducing emissions/pollution. A lot of pollution comes from smaller very very dirty gasoline engines used in things like lawnmowers and leafblowers. These should simply be powered by electric engines.

    Buses in the US do often use diesel. This is also foolish at this point as Hydrogen works well as a fuel for buses and is infinitely less polluting. Munich, Germany already uses Hydrogen powered buses and they are being taken up in other European cities. I think a few American cities are exploring the concept as well.
  • Moan moan moan. Cry cry cry.

    Nuclear plants have fuel changes once every few _Years_. You can build a whole new underground complex in less time than it takes a nuclear plant to need more fuel.

    You're also not keeping very up todate with reactor technology (no doubt because you're just as clueless as President Carter).

    Breeder reactors can do much to alleviate the pileup of un-usable radioactive byproducts...they can use non-uranium materials and if you put the right fuel in them to begin with, they'll create further fissionable material. Infact, i once read long ago that a breeder type reactor produces enough "waste product" after 10 years of operation to start fueling an additional power plant.

    IIRC this works because breeders _dont_ start with U235*, which quickly turns into boring lead. On the other hand, if you start with an element (PU244?) that has a decay series with many many more fissionalbe isotypes, you get a longer run of fuel.

    #define RANT
    All I can figure is that opponents of nuclear power are just looking for something to cry about. You take more radiation from a TV, a brick building, or a flight in an airplane than you do from any man made nuclear plant (that functions correctly.. and the world has seen.. what.. _1_ serious nuclear accident ?)

    And as far as where to put the waste we do have ?

    Pave Africa and ship it over there. I'm sick of their diseases coming across the pond--not to mention all the commercials with fly infested kids that can be fed for just 4 cents per year or whatever it is. If I'm doing my math right, the TV airtime thats ruining my evening costs a boatload more than any possible amount of donations they could take in.
    #undef RANT

    *Now that i think about it, i can't remember if its U235 or U238 (or 236 even?) thats used in reactors.. i remember quite cleraly that 235 was needed for weapons...but i dont remember if reactor core material was more or less straight 238 or just less "pure" 235.
  • Really interesting things are not, in fact, neccessarily either tidy ("neat") nor cold in temperature ("cool"). A faggot is a bundle of sticks, not a homosexual man or a cigarette. Your /bin directory is named such because it holds binaries, not because it is a bin to put things in. Hackers do not take an axe to their computers in order to program (usually).

    It's a colloquialism, get over it.

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.

  • this will allow the USA to same vehicles such as the amazing BMW 330d.

    I wish. I bet most of the Europeans reading this don't know that US trade policy has effectively eliminated most European auto imports. FIAT, Alfa Romeo, all VWs smaller than Golf, Peugeot, Citroen , Rover, Renault, smaller Volvos, all have been eliminated. Mostly through 'safety' regulations that penalize smaller (more fuel efficient) cars via crash tests.

    We'll never see the Audi A2, the Mercedes Smart Car or any BMV 330d in the Land of the Free (sic).


  • by MrDalliard ( 130400 ) on Sunday May 27, 2001 @01:11AM (#196084) Homepage
    I'm not entirely sure why this article states it's a 'Growing Trend'.

    In the UK, diesel cars tend to be just as popular as petrol. The old Diesel Peugeot 205 I had used to get at least 55 to the gallon.

    I think this just goes to show how insular the States is when it comes to seeing viable alternatives to problems.

    Another fuel on the increase is LPG (gas). My Dad, over 20 years ago, had an LPG car. The conversion was fairly cheap and easy. Effectively, you had a duel fuel car (petrol/ LPG), but LPG was half the price of petrol for more or less the same economy. After successive Tory goverments, the LPG stations disappeared (the Tories didn't care about viable fuel alternatives or public transport), but recently, they've started to come back, because the price of a gallon of petrol is now so expensive in this country. The quantity of LPG stations is on the increase.

    Petrol, like everything, is a finite resource. No doubt, US automobile manufacturers will only consider an alternative until the last oil well dries up.

    Of course, if anyone should put a good electric vehicle my way, I certainly won't object... :-)

  • Well, the diesel engine from it's start was meant to be more efficient and cheaper. The designer had studied the internal combustion engine, and wanted to improve on it. The fuel can actually be MANY things (according to the design that is, not necessarily in practice with prebuilt engines). The design is ingenious, one can see why it is more efficient merely by understanding how it works. The engine in american cars works by spraying a mist of gasoline into the chamber, and then sparking an explosion. But the spark can occur at the wrong time, causing misfires, the mix of oxygen and fuel can easily be wrong... Many things can happen. A diesel engine causes it's fuel to explode by rapidly compressing it, causing the necessary reaction for explosion. This solves MANY problems, and the fuels can even be a bit more friendly to the environment. The big part of why big rigs always used it is because it's so much cheaper than gasoline. It's hard to see why it wouldn't be a winner with more people... but I can see pumping as a problem perhaps.... There's always truck stops :-)

  • I think that it has more to do with industry than the government. Just look at the DMCA, that was more industry and PACs, than the government. I think that as a whole, the government tries to cut down on the effects of these groups, but they only need to hit a few influential people to get what they want, or try a couple of underhanded things.

  • The Washington Times? Couldn't you find a more reputable source?
  • Moan moan moan. Cry cry cry.

    Ah, the call of the pro-nuclears.

    You're also not keeping very up todate with reactor technology (no doubt because you're just as clueless as President Carter).
    An engineer who helped develop the nuclear navy, and who did graduate work in nuclear physics? You think you know more about the subject than him?

    Wide-scale use of breeder reactors would create an enormous amount of weapons-grade plutonium. Personally, I'd rather not have that stuff floating around.
  • You obviously have no clue.
    No where in your reply do you address the SINGLE problem I pointed out with breeder reactors, i.e. the proliferation of vast amounts of weapons-grade plutonium. You do however go on to respond to attacks I didn't even make. But might as well respond to them, since they're pretty much wrong.

    The use of breeder reactors works just fine in France.
    I'm not sure where you're getting such incorrect information from. France has had several problems with their breeder reactors; they had to shut down their Superphenix reactor, the largest breeder reactor in the world, was shut down permanently because of the constant problems it was having. The Japanese have had similar problems.

    You don't hear anyone bitching about it there
    Except environmental activists, who have huge support in France.
  • You're going to have to face the sad fact that there is no perfect solution.

    Never said there was.

    And no other type of fuel has problems associated with it?

    Didn't say that either. I was just responding to the erroneous declaration that France didn't have problems with their breeder reactor program.

    If they developed ways to handle the nuclear waste produced by nuclear reactors (or by reprocessing nuclear fuel), and prevent the leaking of radioactive materials (which has happened on more than one occasion in France), I'd be the first to jump on the nuclear bandwagon. I have no problem with my tax dollars going to research on nuclear power; I just think that at the present they're not reliable or clean enough for widespread use. Of course I'd like to see more reliance on solar/wind/water power, or natural gas, but I think the only way to really hold out until we develop better technologies is to conserve. Make car engines more efficient, encourage people to turn off the lights and the computers when they leave an office or home.

  • VW is unfortunately currently the only passenger car maker still offering diesels in the U.S. (the TDI is a 1.9 liter turbo direct injection engine.) US consumers' aversion to diesels (largely brought on by the disastrous diesels of the early 1980s... don't get me started on my parents' '81 Cutlass Supreme diesel!) has led to other manufacturers' leaving the US market... Mercedes, for instance; you still see some of their diesels on the roads, but no more are being sold in showrooms.

    I've got a 2000 2.0L Golf GLS (it's white, and I love it!). Just to see if I should indeed regretting not purchasing a TDI due to the 44/49 ratings, I computed the monthly payment on a TDI (on my current loan) and the 2.0L that I got because gasoline is far easier to find where I am and because the up-front cost was lower.

    It turned out that the answer is no; there is no cost savings, at least on my 36-month loan, if I had done so. I pay about $490 a month; a TDI would have cost about $540 monthly. The extra $50 in monthly payments is about the same as what fuel costs, depending on how I drive and what the fuel prices are.

    This goes to show that until diesels either sell closer to the cost of a standard gasoline engine, or the price of gasoline and the price of diesel diverge significantly more, many others will also decide to keep the utility and easy fuel availability of a standard gas engine. Furthermore, under current US laws, diesel fuel is higher in sulphur than the fuels available in Europe, so diesel vehicles do put out more pollution. This can be solved by better fuel-content regulations.

    On the other hand, I hear the TDI gets a lot of oomph if you put an Upsolute chip in it. :)

    Are you on the forums []? :)

  • Here in Oz virtually every petrol station has a LPG bowser. As all taxis & a good percentage of fleet cars are LPG or dual fuel (LPG/petrol) in Oz LPG is less than half the price of petrol & is cleaner too. All cars made in Australia (Holdens, Ford Falcons, Mitsibishi Magna/Diamontes & Toyota Avalons) are avaliable with factory LPG. & have engines with LPG compatible valve gear. BTW LPG is a by product of petrol refining, so its just wasted if its not used. Dual fuel cars loose about 5% of the power due to compromise tune, but when a petrol engine is converted to LPG only it looses no power/efficiency.
  • Before buying my Golf TDI, I did check the fact regarding such far-fetched claims. They are based on old study of health impact of industrial diesels such as train engines and construction equipment. Modern car diesel engines, such as VW's one, are very clean compared to those in that study, and their emission is comparable to gas cars. The make-up of the emission is different, and the impact of particular components is still a subject of much debate. If you consider that you burn much less diesel fuel than gas for the same amount of travel, the environment claims of anti-diesel lobby get even more debatable. Mandatory conspirological comment: would the oil companies be really interested in everyone switching to the cars that are ~2 times more fuel-efficient ? Sure thing ! Yeah, and I love getting 48 mpg.
  • I [heart] my 1998 Mercedes-Benz E300 Turbodiesel.

    3L direct-injection inline 6. Bought it in Harlingen, Texas at Cardenas AutoPlex. With about 50% highway miles I got about 38 MPG, not bad for heavy sedan. 0-60 acceleration is not too good, about 8 seconds, but that's a damn sight better than, say, a diesel pickup truck.
  • You can't forget that "trucks" are sold under different rules than "cars", meaning that car dealers have more flexibility in selling a truck and can offer incentives that they cannot offer with cars. They have different fuel requirements and even different financing requirements. Car dealers like selling trucks, it's easier. Trucks are popular all over the south, not just in Texas (though the gunrack is optional in the rest of the south ).
  • The recent resurgence in public debate about nuclear power has been really hard to follow. Both sides seem to disagree on the facts, so I can only conclude that someone (possibly both sides) is bullshitting.

    On the one hand, I recently read an editorial in the Washington Post in which a pro-nuke activist claimed that recent advances in reprocessing technology make it possible to process old fuel, without producing weapons grade plutonium and leaving behind stuff that has a half-life measured in decades (considerably alleviating concerns about long-term storage).

    On the other hand, I've never heard an anti-nuke type address this possibility. From their point of view reprocessing is always a proliferation risk and they never mention the possibility that reprocessing might help with the storage problem.

    Then there are completely conflicting accounts on whether nuclear power is economically reasonable. The anti-nukes claim that reactors have only worked because of subsidies. The pro-nukes claim that this is only because of lack of standardization in the industry and the burden of unreasonable opposition to building new plants.

    Figuring out who is bullshitting is starting to look like a major research project to me. I'd love to find a source that didn't bring in a great deal of biased axe-grinding, but I'm pretty sure I haven't seen it yet.

  • Actually, the EPA has already set a timetable to require that diesel fuel have under 80 parts million of sulfur compounds, similar to the current CARB standard. When you drastically reduce sulfur compounds--which are highly corrosive to common-rail fuel-delivery systems and direct-injection fuel injectors found on the latest European diesel engines and also will damage diesel exhaust catalysts and particulate traps--this will allow the USA to same vehicles such as the amazing BMW 330d, a turbodiesel vehicle that is capable of 143 MPH!!
  • by dr_db ( 202135 ) on Saturday May 26, 2001 @10:18PM (#196145)
    I just wish my Audi got 78 Mpg. It uses oil at about that rate though
  • by mr.ska ( 208224 ) on Monday May 28, 2001 @07:03AM (#196148) Homepage Journal
    One of the big bitches of electric cars is the poor power/weight ratio of the electric engine against the gas engine. Also, even more damning, is the relative reliability of the gas engine.

    First off, you are probably confusing the power ratings of IC (internal combustion) engines and electric motors. IC engines are rated at peak power (the most they can produce, which is at a very limited speed range). Electric motors are rated at continuous power usually, which is anywhere between 7 and 8 times lower than their peak power.

    If you check out AC Propulsion [], they have a motor that produces 165 lb-ft of torque, and 200 hp. It weighs 110lbs. Unless you get into motorcycle engines, or some of Honda's high-revving wonders, you won't find a comparable power-to-weight ratio in an IC engine.

    Electric motors are also much MUCH better at producing torque. If you look at the specs for any given motor, they will usually give two ratings, one from zero to a given rpm, which is its torque rating. How many IC engines do you know that can give 100 lb-ft of torque at zero rpm? None. You get a lot more grunt out of an electric motor than you could an IC engine, unless it's absolutely huge (Corvette? Mustang?).

    As for reliability.... IC engines have, what 500, 1000 moving parts? How often do you have to change the oil? Spark plugs? Timing belts, fan belts, water pumps, etc., etc.? An electric motor has ONE moving part. DC motors have commutators, which are sliding contactors that can wear. But AC motors have none, just the rotor moving inside the stator. How is one moving part less reliable than 1000? Unless you have some good solid (or even believable generalized anecdotal) evidence to the contrary, I can't believe that any combustion engine is more reliable than an electric

    Who says we need something bigger than a Honda CRX, anyways? How many people do you take to work with you when you drive? I don't take anyone... a 2 seater would be 100% too big! If you're thinking of using it as your primary vehicle, yes, you need something bigger. But right now the best place for EV's are as second cars, for commuting purposes.

    Mr. Ska

    I slit a sheet
    A sheet I slit

  • Electric engine - provides the power to move the car. Also acts as a generator when braking/coasting, thus providing extra power!

    Technically it's an engine, but usually they refer to it as a motor.

    A motor is "a rotating machine that transforms electrical energy into mechanical energy."

    An engine is "a machine for converting any of various forms of energy into mechanical force and motion."

    When you see anything technical related to the hybrid cars, they always say it has one [gas] engine and one [electric] motor.

  • I am a huge fan of American sports cars.... as soon as I can get a diesel one that can go from 0-60 in under 6 seconds, I will consider getting one.....

    East Bound and Down
    Proud 2000 Trans Am owner
    Black/Black leather
    top speed 150+
    top speed I have driven it at 120
    Mustang owners.. keep dreamin!

  • I'm curious about your take on this point, since you seem more knowledgeable about these issues.

    You say:
    2. Diesel/biodiesel looks promising but a few problems remain - more polluting than normal gasoline, different performance issues, and such. However, they are more efficient overall. Paired with an electric motor, diesel engines could turn out to be cleaner and more effective than gasoline-only vehicles.

    But the NYTimes article says:
    At the same time, compared with Europe, the United States has much dirtier diesel fuel - used by heavy trucks and in a slightly different form, as home heating oil - with far higher levels of sulphur.

    Please respond. If you're knowledge of the cleanliness of diesel is based on North American grade diesel, wouldn't a switch to European-grade change this problem?

  • Since I've been in Switzerland ( about a year now ), I've noticed an amazing number of electric/hybrid/experimental car designs. They are much more popular than in the rest of Europe. I am told this is because the government invests heavily in paying for universities that love to have clever students play around and come up with lots of eccentric engineering designs.

    Anyway, this is one vehicle that's quite popular here: The Twike []. It's a hybrid electric/muscle power vehicle. Not really a car, more a souped-up bicycle. Great for commuting and going around town though.

  • smaller particulate doesn't become embedded in the lung walls - it is able to traverse further down into the lungs. Larger particulate get's stuck early on in the larger passageways, and gets cleared more readily, as it is closer to the top of the lungs. Smaller particulate takes longer to be cleared because is has a longer and more convoluted route out.
  • Diesel has a major environmental disadvantage over even nasty ol' petrol ('gas'): PM10s, particulate matter about 10 microns in diameter cause significant health risks [] and are present in large quantities in diesel exhaust.

    Back to the drawingboard then.

    Personally, I have a very unpopular opinion on this subject. I think that we all need to get used to the idea that personal transport is a luxury, not a right. After all, mass personal transport has only been around for the last fity years or so. Not that cars should be banned, but the pricing needs to be vastly increased until the total environmental damage caused by them is reduced to acceptable levels.

    I know this sounds like flamebait or troll, but it isn't. Yes, I can see why this will never happen, and why 99% of people will think it a bad or crazy idea in the first place. Mod me down if you will. Oh, you did already ;)
    "I'm not downloaded, I'm just loaded and down"

  • GE introduced the first diesel-electric hybrid in the 1920s in trains. That was the technology that allowed them to replace the steam engine. It turns out that only an electric motor could provide the tremendous starting torque necessary to replace the steam engine. The diesel engine acted as little more than a generator. Stop singing the praises of "new" hybrids. Chances are that you have been looking at them for years.

    Also, CARB (California Air Resource Board) is comprised of a bunch of fucking idiots. They also want to rid southern California of the riding lawnmower and the outdoor grill. It was nice to finally see an article that did not completely kowtow to these environmental anti-scientists.
  • by meeder ( 264870 ) on Saturday May 26, 2001 @11:56PM (#196179) Homepage
    what a laugh.... have you ever seen or driven a modern european diesel car? you won't even notive it's a diesel besides the slightly higher engine noise. for the rest it drives better then petrol. much more torque at a lower rev count. for example, VW has a 1.9liter (in prehistoric measures it's 116ci) which produces 150bhp and has a torque of 310Nm (228 lb-ft) available at 1900 rpm.... do I need to say more.... and what I sayd earlier modern petrol engines which use direct injection like mitsubishi's GDI and VW's FSI engine produce about the same amount of particles as a diesel engine, but they are much smaller so the penetrate the lungs deeper....
  • by BarefootClown ( 267581 ) on Sunday May 27, 2001 @05:33PM (#196180) Homepage

    There's one big (by which I mean HUGE) problem with flywheels, particularly high-speed types. A flywheel is a large weight spinning around a central axis; it is a particularly efficient way of storing energy, if the bearings are good. Unfortunately, flywheels have another name: gyroscopes. Gyros are not used primarily for the purpose of storing energy, but they are functionally the same thing, a weight spinning around a central axis. Now, ask any pilot or physicist a few questions about gyros, and you'll hear the word "precession."

    Precession is the tendency of a gyro react to an applied force as though the force was applied 90 degrees ahead in the direction of rotation; that is, if a gyro is spinning clockwise, and you apply a force at the top (12 o'clock) position, the gyro will react by moving in the direction of the force, but at the 3 o'clock (right side) position. The result of this precession in a car would be to induce a force 90 degrees away from an applied force. The applied force could be anything--a bump, a turn, or cresting a hill (changing directions in the vertical plane); cresting a hill is a particularly insidious problem, as it would reduce the weight on the wheels (if done at any significant speed, like on the highway), and thus reduce the traction between the tires and the ground. That processional force would tend to induce a roll, pitch, or yaw moment in the vehicle, depending on the applied force and the orientation of they gyro-flywheel. Such a force could be very strong indeed, as it is related to the mass and rotational speed of the gyro (related to stored energy); at 100,000 RPM, or even at lower RPM and significant mass, you are still faced with a potentially significant precessional force, which would tend to reduce the controllability of the vehicle. I, for one, would not want to be on the wrong end of that equation.

    One possible solution to that problem is to use dual, contrarotating gyros, but that poses problems of its own. The gyros must be properly synchronized; loss of sync will result in one gyro having a stronger precessional moment than the other. Another is that a synchronization system adds weight, complexity (additional points of failure), and reduces efficiency of the system.

    Lesser problems, also mentioned in other posts, include imbalance (a slight imbalance, rotated to high speed, will result in significant vibration, causing rough running and substantial bearing wear) and flywheel damage--the slightest imperfection in the flywheel, accelerated to 100,000 RPM, could easily result in flywheel failure, including the assiciated problems of shrapnel (ever see a rotating object come apart? pieces everywhere) and imbalance (lose a chunk, suddenly the balance is gone).

    In short, while flywheels sound like a good solution, they are really quite impractical for automotive use. The drawbacks are far too significant, and have too much potential to be dangerous, to allow flywheels to be effectively used in cars.

    (And yes, I know that cars do have small flywheels in the engine, but they are just that, small, and only spinning at a few thousand RPM's. They just provide steady energy for the engine between power strokes.)

  • But diesel cars and trucks are responsible for a huge amout of particulate pollution too.
  • by Migelikor1 ( 308578 ) on Saturday May 26, 2001 @11:17PM (#196184) Homepage
    Forget diesel, I want a grease powered car []! Those fancypants Detroit automakers and Texas oil drillers may think they have a hold on the American market. They may think the American people are too stupid to convert to cheaper, cleaner, more efficient technologies already proven overseas, but we'll prove them wrong. Pull up to a McDonalds and siphon some fuel from the Fry-O-Lator, that'll show 'em.
  • The really funny thing is that during the "Summer 2000 Gasoline Crisis" in the US, my price never went all!

    That's because the EPA couldn't alter the blend in Italy. The gas price hikes that happened in the USA last year, and to a point this year, are a direct result of the EPA requiring many cities to use a different blend of gasoline. The refineries cannot make the "Phase II ReFormulated Gas" as fast, plus they have to flush their entire systems out before starting to make this new gasoline to prevent contamination. The pipelines also have to flush out the pipes before this new gasoline can flow. Both requirements reduce the output, which creates an artificial shortage. Since gasoline is traded on the open market, any reduction in the supply without a corrosponding reduction in the demand will result in price increases.

    The Washington Times had an article about this on July 14, 2000. The article even that an internal Energy Department memo dated June 5, 2000 says the Clinton Administration new price increases would result from their policy. I have the original article saved here and have found a link to it at a news archiver here []. The link on this page to the full text was broken when I tried it but the 1 paragraph summary is accurate with the full article.
  • You live in America, but you call it petrol?!?!

    It's gas!

    And you call a freeway a "motorway" too. You'd better switch over before you start getting a Texas accent - it would just be wrong to hear a guy with a Texas drawl talking about petrol and motorways :-)

  • by (-)eretic ( 444633 ) on Saturday May 26, 2001 @10:50PM (#196201)
    The article forgot to mention the fact that diesel engines can run on biodiesel [], a renewable fuel made from vegetable oils like soybean oil or -- dare we say it -- hemp oil. Biodeisel is technically superior to regular diesel in many ways; cleaner to burn, cleaner to produce, better for the engine, economically feasible, with equivalent performance characteristics.

    Check out the hemp car [], a Mercedes Benz touring the U.S.A using hemp-based biodiesel. Hemp is such a great plant, it's a shame the D.E.A won't let us grow it!

    Biodiesel could be the next great thing, outside of the US of course. Plus it helps out the farmers of this country that have been struggling to make ends meet.

    It's time for the USA to take the lead in adopting new transportation technologies, and time to ditch the gasoline engine. Unfortunately, with the ExxonMobil Bush/Cheney team in command, it's gonna get worse before it gets any better.

  • I drove a 1980 Ford f250 diesel truck for a while. After having it, I think I'll leave the diesel for big trucks, and stick with gas for my cars. The problems I had with diesel were 1) fuel avalibility. Everywhere had a pump, but usually only 1, most of the time it was seperate and uncovered, and usually in bad shape. This was in Texas, where diesel trucks ARE common. If it rained, you didn't have the luxury of an island, but were stuck on some unlit corner of the station getting soaked. Those that did have a diesel pump in line with the rest of the gas pumps I often found it occupied by a car getting regular gasoline, and have to wait until they were finished to get my diesel. 2) Noise. My truck was freakin loud. I've ridden in diesel cars (most notably a Mercedes) and while they were better, still had a noticible diesel "knock." Nothing says "Hello Mom, I'm breaking curfew." quite like a diesel engine pulling into the driveway late. If my windows were down it was quite unbearable in towns where the noise would bounce off buildings. 3) Performance. My current vehicle is a Datsun pickup with a 92 horsepower I-4 engine. However, it feels like a racecar compared to the 6.9L V-8 diesel in my old truck. The truck had plenty of pulling power, but was slow as christmas. I like my cars to have ooomph, mileage be damned. Now there were some good things about that truck- we sold it with 240,00 miles on it 4 years ago, and it now has well over 300,00 on it, and the person we sold it to is still using it as a work truck. Other than a starter going out I never had any mechanical problem with it. However, until I can get a quiet car with acceleration more like my Camaro than my pickup, I'll stick with gasoline.

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.