Sunday, June 01, 2008

Hyper-what, "miling"?

With all my ranting about the need to reduce energy demand, you'd think I would know about hypermiling; nope, I learned about it at an ISPE event (of all places) from a gent I did not know. It is good to know that more people are thinking about fuel use and consumption.
So, being one of the wannabe greenies, I tried some hypermiling a few weeks ago. Here’s the data:
Car: 2004 Passat Wagon Auto 1.8L turbo (needs high octane…ouch!) ~50,500 miles on the odometer

Waltham, MA (near Boston) – Albany, NY
Set cruise at: 65 mph
Average velocity: 54 mph
Time: 3hr 15min (some noodling around the destination and when I left)
Distance: 175 mi
Avg. mpg: 32 mpg (usually get around 26-28 mpg with cruise set at 75 mph)
Albany - Waltham
Set cruise at: ~62 mph
Average velocity: 55 mph
Time: 3hr 9min
Distance: 172 mi
Avg. mpg: 37 mpg (usually, around 26-28 mpg with cruise set at 75 mph)

West to east is more downhill and there was a strong tailwind at times. I could not help but do some drafting with some trucks in both directions. Tire pressure WAS NOT maxed…I wonder what that will do?
Here are the comments from the gentleman I met at the ISPE event that introduced me to hypermiling:
I hit 29.8 on Friday. After a day of running cumulative avg. mpg dropped to 29.6 and then ticked back up to 29.7.

I bought the car 07 Taurus with 30k miles on it and at that time it was showing 18.4. So I am overcoming the mpg history. My fist goal is 30mpg combined city and highway. Not sure how high it will go but I am increasing the tire pressure to recommended max and am looking into a K and N washable air filter. More air flow will also improve the mpg.

So you have improved approx 6mpg. So you have picked up approx 90 more miles to the tank saving 3 gallons at 4 bucks is 12 bucks savings per tank. Filling 3 times a week saves 36 at 50 weeks is 1800 dollars annual savings and approx 6k miles further annually. Nice job. Do the tires and drive like you have very little brake. I'm driving to Williamsburg, VA week of July 4th and that will take a chunk out of the negative mileage history...I wonder what increase I will see.

Some press related to increasing fuel prices, gas mileage, and traffic patterns that may be of interest.
Gasoline demand has fallen sharply since the beginning of the year and is headed for the first annual drop in 17 years, according to government estimates. The Transportation Department reported Friday that in March, Americans drove 11 billion fewer miles than in March 2007, a decline of 4.3 percent. It is the first time since 1979 that traffic has dropped from one March to the next, and the month-on-month percentage decline is the largest since record keeping began in 1942.

Traffic Wave Experiments , from a gentleman in Seattle, an interesting (and potentially intuitive) excerpt:
Once upon a time, years ago, I was driving through a number of stop/go traffic waves on I-520 at rush hour in Seattle. I decided to try something. On a day when I immediately started hitting the usual "waves" of stopped cars, I decided to drive smoothly. Rather than repeatedly rushing ahead with everyone else, only to come to a halt, I decided to try to move at the average speed of the traffic. I let a huge gap open up ahead of me, and timed things so I was arriving at the next "stop-wave" just as the last red brake lights were turning off ahead of me. It certainly felt weird to have that huge empty space ahead of me, but I knew I was driving no slower than anyone else. Sometimes I hit it just right and never had to touch the brakes at all. Other times I was too fast or slow. There were many "waves" that evening, and this gave me many opportunities to improve my skill as I drove along.

I kept this up for maybe half an hour while approaching the city. Finally I happened to glance at my rearview mirror. There was an interesting sight. It was dusk, the headlights were on, and I was going down a long hill to the bridges. I had a view of miles of highway behind me. In the neighboring lane I could see maybe five of the traffic stop-waves. But in the lane behind me, for miles, TOTALLY UNIFORM DISTRIBUTION. I hadn't realized it, but by driving at the average speed of the traffic around me, my car had been "eating" the traffic waves. Everyone ahead of me was caught in the stop/go cycle, while everyone behind me was forced to go at a nice smooth 35MPH or so. My single tiny car had erased miles and miles of stop-and-go traffic. Just one single "lubricant atom" had a profound effect on the turbulent particle flow within the entire miles of "tube."
Driving slowly and thinking about the impact this has on me and the world around me made me wonder, "What is the value of speeding up?" We drive faster, we "get away", and we ship goods to more people in more places faster than ever before...all in the name of economic growth. What are we growing, an economy that supports what we want or an economy that promotes consumption? What would slowing down accomplish? Would we refocus locally? Would we run off the rails of growth and fall into complete chaos?

Are we ready for this?

Perhaps mindfulness on a national level would do us some good.

1 comment:

Lory said...

Awesome website! I came across it today while doing some research for my own blog ( on hypermiling. I particularly enjoyed your description of the"wave" of traffice that you controlled! Keep up the good work~ Lory