Check out today’s high temp (and compare it to the forecast temperature for today in my last post):
Many apartments in Jerusalem, especially those lived in by students, do not have air-conditioning. In the States, you can go to your local Home Depot and pick up a 7000 BTU window unit for your bedroom for $100 or thereabouts. Here, a 7000 BTU unit costs upwards of $500, not including an installation fee of $75-$100 which entails drilling through walls; something that not all landlords approve of in lease agreements. Aging window units can be seen hanging precariously from some older apartments but are no longer manufactured or imported.
Read this. Then watch this:
If you can’t afford (or aren’t in the market for) a hybrid, flex-fuel, or diesel vehicle, there are still practical steps which you can take to reduce your fuel consumption. That doesn’t mean to go as far as some people (hypermilers) who always keep their windows closed, don’t use the A/C, and perform dangerous driving maneuvers in order to maximize fuel economy.
One of the most preventable fuel wasting activities is that of idling the engine. Idling is sometimes an act of choice, e.g., “warming up” your car during the winter for a few minutes or waiting to pick up someone while leaving the engine running. More often than not, idling is forced upon us by traffic jams and lengthy red lights.
Idling is detrimental in a number of respects:
- It is a waste of fuel.
- It contributes to engine wear and corrosion.
- It harms the environment.
A Canadian government study has offered a simple solution: if you know that you will be idling your engine for 10 seconds or longer, simply turn off the engine and restart when you are ready to go. As stated in the study, “Idling your vehicle for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel than it would take to restart your engine.” Apparently, the prevailing school of thought which supports idling over restarting is based on (like too many others things) an anachronism: the assumption is that modern, electronically supported combustion engines are to be run as their “dumb” predecessors. It is acknowledged that restarting your engine instead of idling may contribute to quicker wear of the engine starter. The cost of repairing/replacing the starter, though, is insignificant compared to the savings in gas. Anecdotal evidence shows a 10% savings in fuel per-tank.
The 10 second rule is apparently the law in Basel, Switzerland, and they have seen a tremendous reduction in pollution as a result.
I was walking on Shabbat with two colleagues (we’re colleagues too, right?) soaking up whatever sun the overcast Mediterranean sky had to offer after some ghoulish thunderstorms on Friday night. Suddenly, we found ourselves caught in a windswept torrential downpour. The route we chose to the nearest shelter entailed walking into the wind, such that only our fronts were wet, while our backs were bone dry.
This then catalyzed the perennial question: Does one get less wet when walking or running in the rain?
We got soaked while walking, but I’m relatively sure that had we run, we would have exposed ourselves to an equal amount of, if not more, rain, given the wind direction and the angle at which the rain was coming down.
Seaweed combines two of my favorite things: sea, and, um… biofuel.
A fledgling Israeli biotech company which goes by the name Seambiotic Ltd. (so fledgling that they have only two Google hits) has found–and is attempting to patent–an ingenious process which would harness the CO2 emissions from power plants and use them for cultivating seaweed, which can then be used as biofuel.
As stated in this study, “Increased CO2 concentration should lead to greater biological productivity with an expected increase in the photosynthetic storage of carbon and also stronger growth in many plants.” Using the scrubbed CO2 from the power plants is thus the equivalent of a free superfood for plants, which drastically reduces the cost of production, creates an attractive biofuel alternative, and ensures that power plant emissions stay out of the air we breathe. Apparently, one liter of fuel can be produced from every five kilograms of seaweed. (And I’ve just learned that algae is also a viable biofuel!)
And yet Israel is still hopelessly addicted to oil.
“In an interview with Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche indicated the company’s current philosophy of favoring the diesel engine over hybrid-drive technology has been overturned, citing pressure from customers.
‘We won’t develop any future models without a hybrid option,’ Zetsche said…” (Source)
It seems that before emulating the Toyota model of hybrid-synergy, in which the electric motor can run on its own for a short while, Mercedes will initially use the “mild hybrid” model currently favored by luxury car makers in which the electric motor is used to give an added, clean boost to the gasoline engine. Expected market date: 2009.
I think it would be interesting to see a BlueTec clean diesel Mercedes paired with an electric motor. Coming to a taxi near you?
UPDATE: Then I wondered: If taxis in Israel are bought tax-free, and Israel offers a tremendous tax incentive for purchasing the Prius, is it possible that a hybrid taxi would qualify for a tax credit, much like the incentives prevalent in the States?
A hypermiler is one who modifies his/her driving habits in such a way to maximize the gas consumption of the vehicle well in excess of the vehicle’s EPA rating.
Hypermiling tactics include:
- Keeping windows closed and A/C off… always. This supposedly minimizes drag and air resistance. And also fogs up the windows and makes you sweat like a pig.
- Finding the sweet spot in the engine’s torque curve, and staying there, even if it means upsetting other drivers. In many new cars, this sweet spot can be found by paying attention to the FCD (=fuel consumption display) which changes dynamically based on driving habits.
- D-FAS (Draft Assisted Forced Auto Stop): This means drafting behind a large vehicle in order to reduce wind resistance. It also means that you’ve put the car in neutral and turned off the engine as well. No wonder this is illegal in some states!
I read this fascinating article about a record setting hypermiler last night, and while some of his tactics do appear to endanger other drivers (e.g., taking turns at 50 MPH; tailgating with the engine off, so there are no power brakes…), I find his pursuit, and ideology, quite noble.