Simple device which uses electrical field could boost gas efficiency

Sep 25, 2008

With the high cost of gasoline and diesel fuel impacting costs for automobiles, trucks, buses and the overall economy, a Temple University physics professor has developed a simple device which could dramatically improve fuel efficiency as much as 20 percent.

According to Rongjia Tao, Chair of Temple's Physics Department, the small device consists of an electrically charged tube that can be attached to the fuel line of a car's engine near the fuel injector. With the use of a power supply from the vehicle's battery, the device creates an electric field that thins fuel, or reduces its viscosity, so that smaller droplets are injected into the engine. That leads to more efficient and cleaner combustion than a standard fuel injector, he says.

Six months of road testing in a diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz automobile showed that the device increased highway fuel from 32 miles per gallon to 38 mpg, a 20 percent boost, and a 12-15 percent gain in city driving.

The results of the laboratory and road tests verifying that this simple device can boost gas mileage was published in Energy & Fuels, a bi-monthly journal published by the American Chemical Society.

"We expect the device will have wide applications on all types of internal combustion engines, present ones and future ones," Tao wrote in the published study, "Electrorheology Leads to Efficient Combustion."

Further improvements in the device could lead to even better mileage, he suggests, and cited engines powered by gasoline, biodiesel, and kerosene as having potential use of the device.

Temple has applied for a patent on this technology, which has been licensed to California-based Save The World Air, Inc., an environmentally conscientious enterprise focused on the design, development, and commercialization of revolutionary technologies targeted at reducing emissions from internal combustion engines.

According to Joe Dell, Vice President of Marketing for STWA, the company is currently working with a trucking company near Reading, Pa., to test the device on diesel-powered trucks, where he estimates it could increase fuel efficiency as much as 6-12 percent.

Dell predicts this type of increased fuel efficiency could save tens of billions of dollars in the trucking industry and have a major impact on the economy through the lowering of costs to deliver goods and services.

"Temple University is very excited about the translation of this new important technology from the research laboratory to the marketplace," said Larry F. Lemanski, Senior Vice President for Research and Strategic Initiatives at Temple. "This discovery promises to significantly improve fuel efficiency in all types of internal combustion engine powered vehicles and at the same time will have far-reaching effects in reducing pollution of our environment."

Source: Temple University

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User comments : 27

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wawadave
2 / 5 (5) Sep 25, 2008
interesting concept hope its not more repub prop.
loboy
5 / 5 (5) Sep 25, 2008
Here is the link to the paper:
http://pubs.acs.o...898.html
Glis
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 25, 2008
This sounds like the same things that are on Keelynet every week. I hope this one is legit! I'm still waiting for a ultrasonic gas vaporizer...
loboy
4.5 / 5 (4) Sep 25, 2008
After reading the paper, the design of the device is a simple electrolyser. There are two meshes, one negative, one positive, separated by 1 cm, inserted in the path of the fuel flow. An electric field of around 1.0 kV/mm is established between the two meshes before the fuel enters the fuel injector.

The paper states that the device is based on the "new physics principle that proper application of electrorheology can reduce the viscosity of petroleum fuels."

I am not an electrical engineer nor a scientist but, a simple analysis of the the electrical topology of electrolysis, would provide further data into this investigation. It would be of interest to look at the current distribution through the fuel when passing between the meshes. If the power applied to the meshes was raised several orders of magnitude, I would hypothesize the viscosity of the fuel to be even lower.

Please, someone correct me if I am wrong.
GIR
4.3 / 5 (4) Sep 25, 2008
Sounds like it has potential but I'm a little suspect of the 20% improvement in efficiency. From the article

"current gasoline vehicles can only sustain a fuel pressure less than 3 bar"

When testing:

"For diesel fuel, the fuel pressure was 13.79 bar (200 lb./in.2)"

"with gasoline (with 20% ethanol), the fuel pressure was 7.59 bar (100 lb./in.2)"

If more efficient combustion is achieved through more efficient atomization of fuel then I wonder how much of the improvement comes from reduced viscosity and how much comes from increased pressure. I would like to see the results at less than 3 bar.

holmstar
1.2 / 5 (6) Sep 25, 2008
This explanation doesn't make any sense...

If the product does what they claim (reduce the viscosity of the fuel) then the vehicle would actually use MORE fuel.

Higher viscosity means a greater resistance to flow. If this thing lowers viscosity, then the fuel would flow easier, meaning that the fuel injectors would now allow more fuel to flow into the combustion chamber, and fuel economy would go down, not up.
tpb
1 / 5 (2) Sep 25, 2008
There is no electrolysis happening, the hydrocarbons are non-conductive and there is essentially no current flow.
holmstar
5 / 5 (2) Sep 25, 2008
current gasoline vehicles can only sustain a fuel pressure less than 3 bar


Totally untrue... My car is direct injected and the fuel pressure goes well above 10 bar.
tpb
5 / 5 (2) Sep 25, 2008
holmstar, if more fuel flowed into the combustion chamber and was also burned more efficiently, the user or test setup would then reduce the flow to get the amount of power required.
holmstar
3 / 5 (2) Sep 25, 2008
I'm getting the impression that the only thing this does is pre-heat the fuel. Hot fuel is less viscous, and gasoline expands quite a bit when heated, which would increase the fuel pressure.

so my guess is that the decreased viscosity and higher pressure increases flow rate through the injectors. This is offset somewhat by the fact that the fuel is now less dense, and contains less energy per volume.

All in all I still would bet that this thing actually reduces fuel economy.
holmstar
2 / 5 (1) Sep 25, 2008
holmstar, if more fuel flowed into the combustion chamber and was also burned more efficiently, the user or test setup would then reduce the flow to get the amount of power required.


The only way it would be able to use the fuel more efficiently is if the higher pressure and temperature and lower viscosity allow the injector to better atomize the fuel.

I'll concede that it seems reasonable that this could be the case, however, if it were really this easy then car makers would have been doing this for years.
tpb
5 / 5 (4) Sep 25, 2008
holmstar, whoever is controlling the power out of the engine is controlling the throttle, everything else is done by the engine computer that sets the air-fuel ratio by looking at exhaust oxygen.
As I said before, if more fuel flowed into the combustion chamber and was also burned more efficiently, the user or test setup would then reduce the flow to get the amount of power required.

Also, the actual paper says they were consumming less than 1/10 watt, this won't warm the fuel.
Soylent
4.3 / 5 (4) Sep 25, 2008
A 10-20% fuel efficiency increase can quite trivially be achieved with very lean burn. You'll fail all NOx emissions standards by a wide margin; but it's certainly possible.
grampo
4.6 / 5 (5) Sep 25, 2008
BS in MHO. If there were ANY technologies that would actually improve efficiency especially in such a primitive way - ALL car manufactures would have adopted it right away.

Today market is flooded with offerings of different "unique" & "new" technologies to boost fuel efficiency from 10% to 20%. All of them are pure hoax targeted at naive customers who want a quick fix for $100.
TJ_alberta
3.5 / 5 (2) Sep 25, 2008
so what happens when you run out of fuel and an arc forms between the electrodes through the air-fuel mixture?
Arikin
5 / 5 (1) Sep 25, 2008
Too bad the gas peddle isn't computer controlled as well. You can probably save the same % of fuel by the way you drive.

Hint: Ease into and out of speeds. Don't jump the gas peddle each time. Emergencies exempt here of course.
superhuman
5 / 5 (2) Sep 26, 2008
BS in MHO. If there were ANY technologies that would actually improve efficiency especially in such a primitive way - ALL car manufactures would have adopted it right away.

Today market is flooded with offerings of different "unique" & "new" technologies to boost fuel efficiency from 10% to 20%. All of them are pure hoax targeted at naive customers who want a quick fix for $100.


I'm also somewhat skeptical but this is published in a peer reviewed journal by scientists so it's almost certain its not a pure hoax, at worst they only reported the best results and real world improvement might be significantly lower.

The authors claim the applied electric field makes larger molecules of fuel clump together which leaves the smaller ones in between, this temporarily lowers the viscosity. Lower viscosity leads to lower droplets.

The described mechanism makes sense, although I can't see how it can give 20% fuel efficiency improvement. The first test they report which was done by an outside company reported 5% improvements which sounds more realistic.

Authors claim they then changed their setup and run another test, but this time on their own engine and got a number of 20.4% (error within 5%), this test however was done on an engine which only produced 0.3677 hp, so its far from a typical operation range and engines are less efficient in such conditions.

Then they made some road tests but those are often troubled by other problems, weather, driving habits, engine condition all can have significant impact on results. For example it could be that fouled injectors benefit much more then clean ones. There is no specific information on how they performed the road test.

A conclusive test would involve two identical brand new diesel engines working side by side under identical load conditions typical of everyday driving.

We will see, if it is real it will be adopted in diesels in a few years. (the benefit for gasoline engines is much lower)
E_L_Earnhardt
1 / 5 (1) Sep 26, 2008
Energy in = energy out - losses. Negativly charged fuel would EXPAND molecules and increase compression. If expansion occurs before injection, and is not bled off by grounded injectors, the volume of reactant gas improves.
Keter
2 / 5 (4) Sep 27, 2008
Wow. They were selling a permanent magnet device back in the 80s that made an absolutely identical claim: odds are that a magnetic field, not electricity, is doing the work. Folks I knew who tried the magnetic version said it gave them about 10% improvement, and a few had decreases. Yes, it probably does affect viscosity and your benefit is almost entirely dependent on whether or not you can set your car up to deliver LESS fuel than it was designed to do - very hard on modern cars (it requires a hack to modify the signal the controller gets from the sensors). It's a lot easier to do on older vehicles that can be manually adjusted.

My husband has been tinkering with a hydrogen system that gives 15-20% increase for gasoline engines plus an increase in apparent horsepower, significantly cooler burn, and less exhaust; on diesels it is yielding nearly 30% better mileage. That reaction appears to be catalytic; the hydrogen itself does not burn, rather it modifies the way the gas burns in the cylinder. There is also a difference between these hydrogen systems: those that produce monatomic hydrogen (H) are much more effective than those that produce H2.

With any of these systems, I would suggest that you closely monitor your engine until you know how it will react: the most common issue will be carbon deposits from running too rich. If you let that go too long, you will have an expensive mess on your hands. ;o)
superhuman
1 / 5 (1) Sep 28, 2008

My husband has been tinkering with a hydrogen system that gives 15-20% increase for gasoline engines plus an increase in apparent horsepower, significantly cooler burn, and less exhaust; on diesels it is yielding nearly 30% better mileage. That reaction appears to be catalytic; the hydrogen itself does not burn, rather it modifies the way the gas burns in the cylinder. There is also a difference between these hydrogen systems: those that produce monatomic hydrogen (H) are much more effective than those that produce H2.

Sorry Keter but this does not make much sense.
Hydrogen has to burn in the engine if there is oxygen present. It will react with oxygen and produce water. It might not burn completely if theres not enough oxygen but it certainly will burn.
Production of monoatomic hydrogen is only possible in extreme conditions and requires alot of energy, H will also react with itself and produce H2 as soon as it has the chance.
localcooling
not rated yet Sep 28, 2008
IF this should work, just a lowering of say 5% fuel consumption would just have an immense impact. After reading the ref. in scientific paper posted, it seems that at least it is "real" scientists behind this. But I don't understand why they haven't run two identical engines, one with these device and one without, in one of those many standardised laboratories for motor test that exist.
This seems to be a bit amateurish to say the least, to run some old IVECO truck and as i understan an old Mercedes model.
to base sth
Duude
1 / 5 (1) Sep 28, 2008
so what happens when you run out of fuel and an arc forms between the electrodes through the air-fuel mixture?


Ka-boom!!
NOM
not rated yet Sep 28, 2008
... and if you just add a little snake oil, you get a 50% increase in efficiency :P
Bazz
not rated yet Sep 28, 2008
I`ll pass, at any moment Steorn will give me my free energy and when i convert my car i get over 100% efficiency.

http://en.wikiped...i/Steorn
dconine
3 / 5 (2) Sep 28, 2008
I've used a device in the past (not magnet) which supposedly did something similar on a gas truck. It helped by reducing emissions, making the engine run smoother, and had a slight increase in efficiency (perhaps 5%). I now have a diesel, and will try out this idea if I have time. Easy to install if I want to buy new fuel injector lines to make it with. Two reasons this might work: first, a low viscosity fuel doesn't matter so much for fuel delivery quantity if the density doesn't change, as far as the injectors are concerned, and on low flow situations, would allow the injector to open a little less physically and close faster. Second, a thinner fuel would disperse faster, allowing a quicker burn. Just the opposite of a gas engine, a diesel loves the faster burn because it means more precise timing. More precise timing means it can be advanced a little more and result in a longer burn time before the exhaust stroke, and either generating more expansion energy in the cylinder or in the turbocharger to be recovered as boost.

P.S. The ultrasonic vaporizers worked very well. I helped a friend build one in the '80's. The problem is they were somewhat above the average mechanic's abilities to make, and they tended to explode.
goldengod
1 / 5 (1) Sep 28, 2008
This device combined with the plasma spark plug circuit could increase efficiency dramatically more than 20%.

http://www.google...q=plasma spark circuit&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

http://yeswaterisfuel.com

jeffsaunders
5 / 5 (1) Sep 28, 2008
lowering viscosity - come on - adding some detergent to your fuel will do that. heating the fuel will do that as well.

I have a diesel and for some reason the fuel is heated as a matter of course - it seems that it is heated by being pumped through a fuel pump at a rate far in excess of what is required for fuel consumption.

Maybe it does have a lower fuel consumption than if it was not heated but since it is already done I would have to wonder if installing something which would tend to reduce the flow of fuel would have a positive effect.

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