Re­duc­ing fric­tion to save fuel


CARS will im­prove their fuel econ­omy by 18 per cent in the next five to 10 years, ac­cord­ing to a joint Fin­nish/amer­i­can study.

Sav­ings will be made by us­ing slick new sur­faces on the in­side of your en­gine, lu­bri­cant ad­di­tives, low-vis­cos­ity lu­bri­cants and low-fric­tion tyres in­flated to pres­sures higher than nor­mal.

A joint study by VTT Tech­ni­cal Re­search Cen­tre of Fin­land and Ar­gonne National Lab­o­ra­tory (ANL) in the US has found these tech­nolo­gies can re­duce fric­tion by any­thing from 10 to 80 per cent in var­i­ous com­po­nents of a car.

The study pre­dicts that re­duc­ing fric­tion will lead to fuel sav­ings and re­duced emis­sions up to 18 per cent within the next five to 10 years, and up to 61 per cent within 15 to 25 years.

Re­searchers have found that fric­tion ac­counts for a third of all en­ergy loss in a car. To­gether with other losses through cool­ing, air re­sis­tance and ex­haust emis­sions, only 21.5 per cent of the en­ergy out­put of the fuel is used to move the car. The study found fric­tion can be cut by 10 to 50 per cent by us­ing new sur­faces in­side en­gines such as di­a­mond-like car­bon ma­te­ri­als and nanocom­pos­ites.

A fur­ther 25 to 50 per cent of fric­tion can be re­duced by laser tex­tur­ing to etch a mi­cro­to­pog­ra­phy on the sur­face of en­gine in­ter­nals to chan­nel lu­bri­cant and re­duce in­ter­nal pres­sures, re­duc­ing fuel us­age by 4 per cent.

Ionic liq­uids made of elec­tri­cally charged mol­e­cules that re­pel one an­other will pro­duce a fur­ther 25 to 50 per cent re­duc­tion in fric­tion.

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