By Lawrence Ulrich
Posted 08.30.2011 at 1:22 am 0 Comments
In the wake of the 1973 oil embargo, Detroit automakers tried to convince regular, non-truck-driving Americans to switch to diesel. Diesel engines, after all, burn fuel 30 percent more efficiently than gasoline engines. The carmakers failed, in part because of poor engineering: Between 1978 and 1985, General Motors’s Oldsmobile division produced a series of shoddy, failure-prone engines that gave diesel a bad reputation that persists to this day.
Electric cars might be the future, but for some uses, like the demands of a delivery truck, they just don't have the power or range quite yet. But that doesn't mean giving up and using inefficient materials and construction while waiting for the electric revolution to come. UPS is testing out prototype plastic trucks that reduce the usual truck weight by 1,000 pounds, increase the mileage by up to 40%, and are even more easily serviced.
Volkswagen's latest eye-catching creation, the ultra-efficient diesel-hybrid XL1, debuted at the Qatar Auto Show, immediately garnering attention both for its looks and its specs. But according to German publication Automobilwoche (warning: German), VW actually intends to bring the XL1 to market, albeit in a (very) limited run.
Tiny organisms such as algae offer great promise for a clean energy future by creating biofuels or even hydrogen, if only scientists can figure out how to use them in a cost-efficient way. A startup named Joule Unlimited has hit upon a possible solution, with a genetically tailored organism that sweats out its fuel and lives on to continue making more, New York Times reports. The company broke ground recently on a Texas pilot plant that will house the single-cell plant organisms in flat structures resembling solar panels facing the sun.
A team of gearheads at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed an engine that can handle a blend of gasoline and diesel fuel. It outputs low emissions, and offers up to 20 percent greater fuel efficiency.
Could a diesel-producing tree be the key to fuel independence?
By Matt Ransford
Posted 04.04.2008 at 11:37 am 3 Comments
Money doesnt grow on trees, so it should stand to reason that diesel fuel wouldnt grow on trees either. And yet the Brazilian Copaifera langsdorfii tree has been quietly producing a natural diesel variant in the tropical rainforest, something weve known about since the seventeenth century. Its only now that farmers in Australia have decided to farm the tree on a large scale in the hopes of having 20,000 living, above-ground fuel wells.
A British backhoe manufacturer takes its new engine to an unlikely work site: Utah´s Bonneville Salt Flats
By Tom Colligan
Posted 11.01.2006 at 3:00 am 0 Comments
Past owners of the notoriously wheezy diesel Rabbit will find it hard to believe, but this blurry streak is also powered by a four-cylinder diesel. Two of them actually: one for the front wheels and one for the rear. Built for use in front-loaders and forklifts, the 4.4-liter engines were specially tuned to 750 horsepower each by U.K. construction-equipment company JCB as part of an effort to set a new speed record for a diesel-powered car. It paid off.
Technology beat the clatter and smoke of diesel car engines. It's time for a U.S. comeback.
By Michelle Krebs
Posted 01.29.2002 at 9:00 pm 1 Comment
During the 1980s, A diesel-powered Volkswagen Rabbit was briefly part of my household fleet. It was a particularly frigid Detroit winter, and we had to plug in the Rabbit's engine block heater if we were parked for even an hour or it absolutely refused to start. Even on warm days, our Rabbit hesitated at the touch of the ignition key. Its lack of power necessitated long-term planning for the simplest highway passing maneuvers. The engine clattered, smoked, and smelled like a city bus. The car's sole saving grace was that it traveled miles and miles on a single tank of fuel.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.