Gear Head Alert: How To Hack An Engine Into The Green Zone

Remember how Uncle Bob, the person everyone in the family looked to for automotive advice, once said 'you can't even tune your engine any more because of those computers they got in there, and how everything is crammed in under the hood. Got us over a barrel!" Over the barrel indeed.

Boost Mileage and Horsepower With A Simple Bolt-On Device
Rongjia Tao, Physics Department Chair at Philadelphia's Temple University (pictured), has published a report describing the science behind his newly invented way way to green-hack an engine (our term), boosting mileage up to 20%.

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."
There are other "green" benefits, as well.
From the full publication:-
Here, we present our technology for efficient combustion based on the new physics principle that proper application of electrorheology can reduce the viscosity of petroleum fuels. A small device is thus introduced, producing a strong electric field to reduce the viscosity of petroleum fuels just before the fuel atomization. This viscosity reduction leads to much smaller fuel droplets and cleaner and more efficient combustion. Our device could be easily applied on current engines to improve their efficiency. Both laboratory and road tests confirm our theory and indicate that such a device improves fuel mileage significantly. The technology is expected to have broad applications, to current internal combustion engines and future engines as well.

The schematic diagrams from the cited paper are not duplicated in this post because they are copyrighted; but, you can look at them yourself here.

There are many fine diagrams and photos, some of which are useful even for those of you who only took Physics For Poets. Check out these two engine installation pictures for example.

Why is the term "gear head" used in the post title? Because one of the bench trials boosted diesel engine horsepower substantially.

What else is green about it?

The emission tests also show that our device reduces the NOx emissions on the diesel engine. For example, at 1900 rpm, NOx emissions were down from 570 to 550 ppm. The error of the test device is 1%.

Update: As one comment on this post alludes, a scientifically documented mileage boost is not enough for a simple device like this to be incorporated in vehicles on a commercial scale. For a device based on this patent or similar patent to become part of OEM designs:
*the patent license cost to car makers, as well as the cost of the device itself would both have to be reasonably low (which has not been determined);
*it would have to be proven reliable for an extended period (30K miles range would be a minimum, parallel to that for tires and filters), and be cheap to maintain under warranty periods.
*it must be shown not to have any harmful effects on other engine components;
*it absolutely must have a neutral or favorable impact on power output and on per gallon emissions of CO, NOX, SOX, and and particulates. ( USEPA would have to certify that, which again has not been done.)
The problem with all the other one-off simple gadgets on the market is that they do not have much hope of meeting all the above criteria. The investigator, according to the published paper, has initially tested the effect on power, mileage and NOX emissions,all of which turned out favorably (net positive).

I for one hope that the investigator's team plunges ahead with more tests, including use of a dynamometer and with other engine types.

Incidentally, Go Owls!

Via::Temple University

Photo by Joseph V. Labolito/Temple University

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