Monday, August 15, 2005

250 miles per gallon? Tinkerers do what automakers won't

AP - Politicians and automakers say a car that can both reduce greenhouse gases and free America from its reliance on foreign oil is years or even decades away. Ron Gremban says such a car is parked in his garage.

It looks like a typical Toyota Prius hybrid, but in the trunk sits an 80-miles-per-gallon secret -- a stack of 18 brick-sized batteries that boosts the car's high mileage with an extra electrical charge so it can burn even less fuel. Gremban, an electrical engineer and committed environmentalist, spent several months and $3,000 tinkering with his car... The extra batteries let Gremban drive for 20 miles with a 50-50 mix of gas and electricity. Even after the car runs out of power from the batteries and switches to the standard hybrid mode, it gets the typical Prius fuel efficiency of around 45 mpg. As long as Gremban doesn't drive too far in a day, he says, he gets 80 mpg...

University of California, Davis, engineering professor Andy Frank built a plug-in hybrid from the ground up in 1972 and has since built seven others, one of which gets up to 250 mpg. They were converted from non-hybrids, including a Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Suburban. Frank has spent $150,000 to $250,000 in research costs on each car, but believes automakers could mass-produce them by adding just $6,000 to each vehicle's price tag.

Instead, Frank said, automakers promise hydrogen-powered vehicles hailed by President Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, even though hydrogen's backers acknowledge the cars won't be widely available for years and would require a vast infrastructure of new fueling stations.

"They'd rather work on something that won't be in their lifetime, and that's this hydrogen economy stuff," Frank said. "They pick this kind of target to get the public off their back, essentially."


At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

See interesting post on our "Patriotic Oil" companies reducing our dependence on Middle East oil by surpressing ultra-efficient carburators and fuel injection technologies.

I worked many years for a major oil company.

Every once in a while I would go out to the R&D organization and look in the warehouse where they put all those carburators, and their design documents, test results, etc that the company had bought up. There were dozens of them!!!!

The company merged with another major. They then combined both companies bought-up carbs. It made an even larger amount.

As I understood it, there was a rotation list of major oil companys names. Whenever one of these devices came near to being marketed, or having widespread public knowledge, the next company on the rotation list had to 'take care' of it.

Fuel injection then came along. Since it had gotten into the public eye years ago, there wasn't much to be done about it. Mercedes, Corvettes, etc had developed it years ago. The car makers really needed it to reach the new government polution specifications. So, the auto manufactors started using them.

But, when the private inventers started improving on it, just like they had done with the carb, and getting V6 fuel injected motors up over 200mpg, the oil companies started buying them up too. The last trip I took to the warehouse, the latest positions in there were the new high-milage fuel injection systems.

And just think, I've only seem the storage for 2 majors. Think about what is out there in the other majors storage bins. It must be hundreds and hundreds.

It's the truth.


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