“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” - Often attributed to Plato but likely from Ian McLaren (pseudonym of Reverend John Watson)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Searching the journals

As is my wont, I have spent a bit of time on the web googling (I've come to accept this term as a verb) on "mathematical model automobile fuel consumption." This search produces 612,000 hits today. Many of them are irrelevant to my obsession ("Pricing for Environmental Compliance in the Auto Industry" for example). Some of them are to abstracts of journal articles and not relevant enough to my interest to cause me to spend the money to buy them. But there is a Ph.D. thesis from 1992 entitled " Automobile fuel economy and traffic congestion" by Feng An. Its abstract is reproduced here :

"An analytical model for automobile fuel consumption based on vehicle parameters and traffic characteristics is developed in this thesis.^This model is based on two approximations: (1) an engine map approximation, and (2) a tractive energy approximation.^This model is the first comprehensive attempt to predict fuel economy without having to go through a second-by-second measurements, simulation or a regression procedure.^A computer spreadsheet program based on this model has been created.^It can be used to calculate the fuel economy of any motor vehicle in any driving pattern, based on public-available vehicle parameters, with absolute error typically less than +/-5%.^Several applications of this model are presented: (1) calculating the fuel economy of motor vehicles in 7 different driving cycles, (2) determining the relationship between fuel economy and vehicle average velocity, (3) determining the vehicle optimal fuel efficiency speed, (4) discussing the effect of traffic smoothness on fuel economy, (5) discussing how driving behaviors affect fuel economy, (6) discussing the effect of highway speed limit on fuel economy, (7) discussing the maximum possible fuel economy for ordinary cars, and finally, (8) discussing the impact of vehicle parameters on fuel economy."

Now that's what I'm talking about. I ordered it from the source referenced on the page and am looking forward to reading it and seeing what it can teach me.

Now, there is another hit from the journal "The Engineering Economist." The title of the article is "The Economic Impact of Obesity on Automobile Fuel Consumption." Fascinating. In the abstract, it is stated that "results indicate that, since 1988, no less than 272 million additional gallons of fuel are consumed annually due to average passenger weight increases." Talk about hitting the jackpot on constructive ways to save fuel! An extremely quick and dirty calculation indicates that, if the above is true, 0.18% of our annual oil consumption can be attributed to weight gain since 1988.

So, in addition to adopting the driving methods I've described over the past months, we can all resolve to achieve our ideal weight. This will not only reduce our oil imports, trade deficit, and carbon footprint (are you getting this Al?), but it will increase our health, reduce our health care expenditures, and make us more attractive to the opposite sex (or, for those so disposed, to the same sex).

Further, the fuel savings don't stop with the reduction in automobile gas consumption. Food that needn't be produced needn't be fertilized, shipped, cooled, etc. I haven't yet set up estimates for the potential savings here, but they have to be huge.

So my recommendation is that, if you are overweight, get on a weight reduction program. It's the patriotic thing to do!

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