# Living Car Free - miles/gallon bad measure of efficiency

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Eli_Damon
06-27-07, 12:19 PM
http://www.geektieguy.com/2007/01/26/more-on-pouring-away-gas/

The article also mentions a calculation of a bicycle's efficiency as equivalent miles/gallon (650 miles/gallon) but does not explain it or cite a source.

Tom Stormcrowe
06-27-07, 02:29 PM
I suspect it is figured through calorie equivalent. Gasoline = X Calories produced and Y distance
X/Y=Calories burned by an auto (C)

C/Y=calories/mile

Bicycle
C/Y=Calories/mile

pedex
06-27-07, 03:08 PM
500kcals in food per 20miles roughly for me, thats 25kcal's per mile

1 gallon of gasoline is roughly 31 million calories, at 25kcal per mile I'd go about 1240 miles if I did the math right, this of course doesnt include what it takes to make the gasoline or food

RebelWithACause
06-27-07, 03:38 PM
500kcals in food per 20miles roughly for me, thats 25kcal's per mile

1 gallon of gasoline is roughly 31 million calories, at 25kcal per mile I'd go about 1240 miles if I did the math right, this of course doesnt include what it takes to make the gasoline or food

This matches their estimate pretty well if you figure it takes 2 kcal of fuel input to produce 1kcal of food energy (tractor fuel and shipping)...

This sounds about right based on what I've heard about ethanol, that it takes more than 1 gal to grow 1 gal worth of corn....so I bet the estimate it right on.

07-01-07, 06:23 PM
A car's total consumption is less than what's posted on the window sticker when you consider a few other variables:
- Posted MPG is derived by driving the car at 48 mph, which is far less than most drive.
- Energy used to build, assemble, transport and sell the vehicle
- Energy used to drill, refine, transport and sell the fuel
- Poor driving habits such as idling, driving in traffic, having a heavy foot, driving in suburbia, etc.
- Excessively heavy cars. If we rethought the IC powered vehicle, it's total size could be much smaller and weigh no more than 500 lbs.

Doug5150
07-01-07, 07:44 PM
A car's total consumption is less than what's posted on the window sticker when you consider a few other variables:
- Posted MPG is derived by driving the car at 48 mph, which is far less than most drive.,,,
48 was the average speed.

- Energy used to build, assemble, transport and sell the vehicle
- Energy used to drill, refine, transport and sell the fuel
-These would be included in the costs, would they not?

- Poor driving habits such as idling, driving in traffic, having a heavy foot, driving in suburbia, etc.
Actually about the only place you could argue against car use is in central metro areas, because they have the worst traffic and the most mass-transportation alternative service....

It's odd how people who live in the center of a major urban area will look around and see constant bumper-to-bumper traffic, and assume it's a car problem and not just a city problem.

- Excessively heavy cars. If we rethought the IC powered vehicle, it's total size could be much smaller and weigh no more than 500 lbs.
This is true. What the US needs is a new vehicle classification, something like a motorcycle but that is allowed to have four wheels. It's not really possible to build a car much lighter than what we have now that can still pass conventional crash tests. Motorcyclists already exist with lower standards of crash protection than cars offer, so that's nothing new. And the "ultralight" cars would get relatively safer over time, as old heavy cars were removed from the road through regular wear and tear.
~

Wogster
07-02-07, 12:28 AM
Actually about the only place you could argue against car use is in central metro areas, because they have the worst traffic and the most mass-transportation alternative service....

It's odd how people who live in the center of a major urban area will look around and see constant bumper-to-bumper traffic, and assume it's a car problem and not just a city problem.

This is true. What the US needs is a new vehicle classification, something like a motorcycle but that is allowed to have four wheels. It's not really possible to build a car much lighter than what we have now that can still pass conventional crash tests. Motorcyclists already exist with lower standards of crash protection than cars offer, so that's nothing new. And the "ultralight" cars would get relatively safer over time, as old heavy cars were removed from the road through regular wear and tear.
~

Traffic isn't a car problem, or a city problem, it's a mindset problem, as long as the majority of people think that the only way to get from anywhere to anywhere (even if it's under 100m away), is to drive a personal motor vehicle, then you have this problem. Case in point, in a recent conversation, the topic was, how does a person get to an evening church service, when age has made it impossible to see well enough to drive at night? This in a city that has one of the best transit systems in North America, with a church that is close enough to a subway line, that you can hear the trains go by from the sanctuary, and a bus that runs from the nearest station past the front door. Of course the suggestion of transit was blown off, as unworkable.

What is needed for cities is an overall cohesive transportation plan. For example the city of Hamburg, Germany drew up a plan, to convey commuters from the far flung exterior suburbs of the city into the jobs down town, if you were in the downtown you could walk or take the subway, a little further out, you could use streetcars and buses, to get to the subway, a little further out, you could use intercity rail, again in denser areas this would be fed with streetcars, and buses. In outlying areas, where density was not high enough for bus service residents would be driving to the train station, and those people would have special parking passes, allowing them to park their cars at the station. This plan isn't recent, It was featured in a film that also featured Ontario Canada's then about-to-begin-service GO Transit. GO Transit just celebrated 40 years of service, so Hamburg must have put their plan in place in the early to mid 1960's.

The problem with most transit in most cities, is that it's a token service intended for those too poor to mortgage a car or who have lost their licence. So they implement it with stinky, dirty, slow, infrequent buses where the only thing that is reliable, is that the bus will not be on time. Thus it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, the only people who use it, are the ones that have no other choice.

To get people out of their cars you need fast, frequent, clean, dependable service, unfortunately, that costs a crap load of money to set up, especially in an existing city.

Doug5150
07-02-07, 11:07 AM
Traffic isn't a car problem, or a city problem, it's a mindset problem,,,,
No, traffic is largely a city problem, suffered by people who choose to live in urban areas.
If you drive to any town about 500km north of Toronto, traffic won't be a problem. Go to any of those tiny towns and try to sell "higher taxes for mass transit" to them, they'll laugh.

Not many people like slow traffic I'd bet--but people do like being free to choose where they live, and where they work. Traffic is a side-effect of that, but nobody is going to thank you for dictating where they can live and work. What if the gov't sent you a letter saying you had to relocate 500km north, because the city has a "traffic problem"? Would you protest, or just grit your teeth and do your part for society?

The problem with most transit in most cities, is that it's a token service intended for those too poor to mortgage a car or who have lost their licence. So they implement it with stinky, dirty, slow, infrequent buses where the only thing that is reliable, is that the bus will not be on time. Thus it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, the only people who use it, are the ones that have no other choice.
To think that people flee urban areas for the suburbs due to poor public transportation is misguided at best.

Probably the three main reasons people move to the suburbs and commute is because they want to avoid crowded urban living conditions, high urban crime rates and (if they have children) they want to avoid dangerous city school districts. Public transportation (or lack of it) usually isn't a factor, and at any rate isn't solved by moving to the suburbs, where public transportation is usually nearly-nonexistant.
~

07-02-07, 11:26 AM
48 was the average speed. ~
Ok, but why 48 mph when most average 65+ mph on the highway? Gas consumption increases 15-20+% when speed increases from 48-65.

These would be included in the costs, would they not?
Costs or environmental impact? I included the latter as it's a cost we haven't begun to understand.

Actually about the only place you could argue against car use is in central metro areas, because they have the worst traffic and the most mass-transportation alternative service....

It's odd how people who live in the center of a major urban area will look around and see constant bumper-to-bumper traffic, and assume it's a car problem and not just a city problem.~

The most egregious use of the car exists outside the city. Outside metropolitan areas it's perfectly acceptable to drive 40 minutes to work, 15 minutes to lunch, 35 minutes to the mall and 10 minutes to pick up a pack of cigarettes and most of this is because we've made career and living decisions assuming the car will seamlessly transport us from point A to B.

It's not really possible to build a car much lighter than what we have now that can still pass conventional crash tests.
I don't know about that. Much of it is momentum and lighter cars have less momentum. It's harder to protect occupants against a side impact from a 4,000 lb vehicle than the same type of accident from a 500 lb vehicle.

Doug5150
07-02-07, 01:44 PM
Ok, but why 48 mph when most average 65+ mph on the highway? Gas consumption increases 15-20+% when speed increases from 48-65.
I don't know the exact details of the past or future tests, but since it's an average, it likely presumes a wide range of speeds. It's VERY difficult to average 65 mph unless you are making a cross-crountry drive.

Costs or environmental impact? I included the latter as it's a cost we haven't begun to understand.
Costs can be counted in units of currency. Presumably the financial costs of doing any particular type of environmental damage, or of mitigating such damage, is included in a product's end price.

"Environmental impact" is a meaningless buzzword; you might as well insist we discuss the costs of automobile use in terms of "groovyness", "funkability" and "spiritual vibes".

The most egregious use of the car exists outside the city. Outside metropolitan areas it's perfectly acceptable to drive 40 minutes to work, 15 minutes to lunch, 35 minutes to the mall and 10 minutes to pick up a pack of cigarettes and most of this is because we've made career and living decisions assuming the car will seamlessly transport us from point A to B.
-Yea, but mass transit is most efficient in high-density areas, and least efficient otherwise. Trying to cover sparsely populated areas with mass transit that stops often enough to be even halfway convenient would involve running most of that mass transit empty most of the time. How efficient is a bus or a train if the only guy riding it is the one driving? Under those circumstances it's more efficient overall to make people pay for their own transportation and use it at their convenience.

-------

Just a friendly reminder: if your dreams of bicycle advocacy involve forcing other people to live differently than they choose, you're doing it wrong. :)
~

Wogster
07-02-07, 01:52 PM
No, traffic is largely a city problem, suffered by people who choose to live in urban areas.
If you drive to any town about 500km north of Toronto, traffic won't be a problem. Go to any of those tiny towns and try to sell "higher taxes for mass transit" to them, they'll laugh.

Not many people like slow traffic I'd bet--but people do like being free to choose where they live, and where they work. Traffic is a side-effect of that, but nobody is going to thank you for dictating where they can live and work. What if the gov't sent you a letter saying you had to relocate 500km north, because the city has a "traffic problem"? Would you protest, or just grit your teeth and do your part for society?

To think that people flee urban areas for the suburbs due to poor public transportation is misguided at best.

Probably the three main reasons people move to the suburbs and commute is because they want to avoid crowded urban living conditions, high urban crime rates and (if they have children) they want to avoid dangerous city school districts. Public transportation (or lack of it) usually isn't a factor, and at any rate isn't solved by moving to the suburbs, where public transportation is usually nearly-nonexistant.
~

I said nothing about taxing people outside the city to pay for transit, I said nothing about restricting where someone could live or work, what I did say is the mindset that the only way to get from where you live to anywhere else is by private motor vehicle, is what causes traffic. If you have a city of 5,000,000 people and nobody drives or owns a car, then you do not have a traffic problem. That's why I said, it's not a city problem, it's a mindset problem.

The key with transit is it needs to go where people want to go, and that is why you need a plan, if 2500 people want to move from Toronto to Brooklin, that's no problem, if they want to work in Toronto, that is still no problem, but you need a way to get them from Brooklin to Toronto that is an alternative to a car. It should be a service where it's fast, frequent, clean and dependable. Now maybe the population of Brooklin is too small for it's own transit system, so you plop a station in the middle of town, with adequate parking, and run an LRT line to the GO station in downtown Whitby. This could start around Beaverton or Sunderland, head South East through Seagrave and Port Perry, before shifting a little West through Brooklin. Such a line would create small pockets of traffic in those communities, but this is where the bicycle comes in.

07-02-07, 02:22 PM
So can you figure miles per gallon equivalent for an electric car ( or as I tell my neighbor who has an electric GEM car, a coal-fired car, since our power is from a coal plant)?
http://www.gemcar.com/

evblazer
07-02-07, 03:02 PM
So can you figure miles per gallon equivalent for an electric car ( or as I tell my neighbor who has an electric GEM car, a coal-fired car, since our power is from a coal plant)?
http://www.gemcar.com/
Pretty good. Electric cars tend to be very efficient at all speeds and well the GEM can't go very fast so it's very non-aero shape doesnt' hurt it. It's batteries are better then 97% recycled and ideally would be made safely and without much pollution.
This is an older article, can't find much newer, about how having a centralized managed efficient power plant can provide cleaner electricity to EVs making them cleaner then Diesel/Gas.

I really dont' know who to believe. Gasoline and Diesel have made great strides in being cleaner burning and they do so under tests. But right after you drive off the lot their emmision system gets worse and worse from what I understand. Many times for the first few minutes after starting they just chuck out crap until the emmision system warms up, some cars do sequester particles until it is warmed up or take other means to warm it quicker.
Electric cars in theory do benefit from centrally managed power plants and if they make plants cleaner then all EV's benefit at once. Add a few wind farms or a better scrubber or something and it gets better for all but I really don't think that is what is going on.
Sure Greenmount power is out there and other companies putting up wind farms, solar panels and whatnot (ignoring if those are better/worse for the moment) but then we have TXU (Big texas utility) was going to build a bunch of coal plants. New standards in emmisions would have meant they were cleaner then any coal power plant and it would be a benefit to all right? Well they gave them a free pass to build the old style because TXU said the new ones won't work and are unproven so what do we get. More mercury and anything else spewing coal plants and well that can't be good. The reason that we have such old plants supposidly is they can't afford to build ones to meet emmisions standards so we have many very old plants.

07-02-07, 03:26 PM
Interesting article. I liked the part about a car port that you park your EV under that has solar panels on the roof to charge it.

lyeinyoureye
07-02-07, 05:48 PM
The article also mentions a calculation of a bicycle's efficiency as equivalent miles/gallon (650 miles/gallon) but does not explain it or cite a source.
Best article (http://constructal.blogspot.com/2006/03/whats-mileage-on-that-bicycle.html) I've found on the subject. In terms of efficiency, human/bicycle>car, but unfortunately, the human generally gets all of their food from a process which is very fossil fuel intensive, so ~100-200mpg@15mph fossil fuel equivalent is what we see. Unless we grow all our own food using no fossil fuels.

wahoonc
07-02-07, 05:53 PM
Best article (http://constructal.blogspot.com/2006/03/whats-mileage-on-that-bicycle.html) I've found on the subject. In terms of efficiency, human/bicycle>car, but unfortunately, the human generally gets all of their food from a process which is very fossil fuel intensive, so ~100-200mpg@15mph fossil fuel equivalent is what we see. Unless we grow all our own food using no fossil fuels.
I agree that currently this is true, but it doesn't have to be. We have an organic farm just up the road from us and they minimize the use of trucks and tractors as well as no commerical fertilizer. The greenhouses they use in the winter are heated with a geothermal heat pump, and being organic no commercial fertilizers there either. If enough places did this it would be a big improvement. Unfortunately they do take their stuff to market which requires trucks. I pick mine up on my bicycle, so at least that portion is transported relatively oil free:p

Aaron:)

lyeinyoureye
07-02-07, 06:04 PM
Organics only drop fossil fuel use by ~20-30% iirc, maybe approaching 50% if you take out transportation too. There's some info attributed to Pimental regarding this if you care to Google it.

wahoonc
07-02-07, 06:08 PM
Organics only drop fossil fuel use by ~20-30% iirc, maybe approaching 50% if you take out transportation too. There's some info attributed to Pimental regarding this if you care to Google it.

I'll take 30% over 0% any day. At least it is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately the current infrastructure is based on fossil fuel use and that is going to be hard to overcome. Just think what we could do if we reduced our entire fossil fuel use nationwide by 20-30%.

Aaron:)

pedex
07-02-07, 08:56 PM
This matches their estimate pretty well if you figure it takes 2 kcal of fuel input to produce 1kcal of food energy (tractor fuel and shipping)...

This sounds about right based on what I've heard about ethanol, that it takes more than 1 gal to grow 1 gal worth of corn....so I bet the estimate it right on.

actually food here in the US means 5-10kcal of energy in to get 1kcal worth of food out

what matters here though is people have to live, machines dont, and food can be grown quite well without hardly any fuel/chemical inputs at all, its just hard to do with livestock on any scale and to cut down on the inputs for animals or plants invariably means more human labor........and here in the US, physical labor is deemed abhorrent

ChipSeal
07-03-07, 03:51 AM
Electric cars + nuclear power = carbon free transportation.

pedex
07-03-07, 05:39 AM
Electric cars + nuclear power = carbon free transportation.

nope, not even close

the cars and nuke plants are carbon intensive to build and operate

lyeinyoureye
07-03-07, 11:51 AM
I'll take 30% over 0% any day. At least it is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately the current infrastructure is based on fossil fuel use and that is going to be hard to overcome. Just think what we could do if we reduced our entire fossil fuel use nationwide by 20-30%.

Aaron:)Shoot. That'd be cake. CFLs and driving 55 could do that, with no other changes. I'm sorry to say this, but as long as there's a buck to be made, we're gonna see gross waste.

nope, not even close

the cars and nuke plants are carbon intensive to build and operateI can see to build, but how are they Carbon intensive to operate, assuming we migrate to fission. We have to use fossil fuel energy to build just about anything in today's world, because that's all we're setup for, but the point of fission is to transition away from fossil fuels. The more nuclear capacity we build, the fewer fossil fuels we burn for generation in the grand scheme of things. Now that's not to say measures such as conservation/aka efficiency wouldn't be nice too, but aside from the construction fission is pretty Carbon neutral compared to fossil fuels.

vulpes
07-03-07, 11:59 AM
Shoot. That'd be cake. CFLs and driving 55 could do that, with no other changes. I'm sorry to say this, but as long as there's a buck to be made, we're gonna see gross waste.

That's why I'm always advocating replacing production for profit with production solely for use. One of the reasons, anyway.

Thomasdregos
07-03-07, 09:30 PM
The flip side of the coin. As has been noted, fuel production from corn is entropic; that is, less energy is produced than consumed. Nuclear power is carbon neutral but the half life of the waste is in the hundred of thousands of years before the wastes are clean of radioactivity. Solar power requires acreage as does wind. Wind power is clean but hazardous to birds when they fly through the blades. Sea power is another clean power source, however, what shoreline habitats will we destroy to create the power stations? Think of the damage the Hoover dam has done to the environment! I do believe we need alternatives. I try do my part, however, money for change is the biggest obstacle and I think that it is many people's main stumbling block as well.

Thor29
07-05-07, 08:04 PM
Costs can be counted in units of currency. Presumably the financial costs of doing any particular type of environmental damage, or of mitigating such damage, is included in a product's end price.

"Environmental impact" is a meaningless buzzword; you might as well insist we discuss the costs of automobile use in terms of "groovyness", "funkability" and "spiritual vibes".

You presume wrong. When you buy a car, you are not required to pay for other people's lung cancer, roadkilled animals, polluted streams, loss of habitat, damaged watersheds or a million other effects. Environmental impact is a very real thing even if you can't easily put numbers on it. Even so, people HAVE calculated the economic cost of environmental damage and those costs are NOT paid for when you buy a car, they are paid for by everyone else in other ways.

If environmental impact is a meaningless buzzword to you, then you are probably able to breathe pure car exhaust. I suggest you wrap your lips around a tailpipe and find out.

lyeinyoureye
07-06-07, 10:25 PM
The flip side of the coin. As has been noted, fuel production from corn is entropic; that is, less energy is produced than consumed.
Meh? From
ENERGY BALANCE OF BIOETHANOL: A SYNTHESIS, E. Gnansounou, A. Dauriat, Proceedings of European Biomass Conference, Paris, France, Oct. 2005.
http://i13.tinypic.com/66mfwhe.png

07-07-07, 09:51 AM
So can you figure miles per gallon equivalent for an electric car ( or as I tell my neighbor who has an electric GEM car, a coal-fired car, since our power is from a coal plant)?
http://www.gemcar.com/
I contacted GEM, it would be very cheap to operate an electric car here, as we have the cheapest electricity in the country. But I would be unhappy doing it, as the source of our electricity is primarily coal fired plants. A coal powered car is not exactly what I had in mind when I think of "green"

lyeinyoureye
07-07-07, 11:26 AM
It's greener than a gas powered Prius.

lauren
07-07-07, 12:30 PM
Ok, but why 48 mph when most average 65+ mph on the highway? Gas consumption increases 15-20+% when speed increases from 48-65.
Maybe the head needs to come out of the butt?

Most people get their BEST gas mileage on the highway.