September 22, 2008

Electricity gets more out of gas

Send gasoline or diesel fuel through a strong electric field just before it goes into a fuel injector and you can boost a vehicle's fuel efficiency by about 20 percent.

Electric fields reduce the viscosity of fuels, which means that when the fuel is sprayed from a fuel injector the droplets are much smaller. Smaller droplets burn more thoroughly, which increases fuel efficiency and results in cleaner combustion.

Lab tests showed that the process increases fuel mileage by just over 20 percent. A six-month road test with a Mercedes-Benz improved highway mileage from 32 miles per gallon to 38 miles per gallon, an 18.75 percent efficiency gain. The gain for city driving was 12 to 15 percent.

The device's small size and simple design mean that existing cars could be retrofitted to use it.

Research paper:
Electrorheology Leads to Efficient Combustion
Energy & Fuels, published online September 12, 2008

Researcher's homepage:
Rongjia Tao

Back to ERN September 22/29, 2008



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