Start the car on a hot summer day, and barely 20 percent of the precious gasoline injected into an engine vaporizes and powers the engine.
The rest becomes an important part of the engine's emissions of unburned hydrocarbon air pollutants. On a cold winter day, the waste and pollution is much worse. Multiply by 230 million cars in the United States and the picture is much, much worse.
Marcus D. Ashford and Ronald D. Matthews report new details on a light-weight, relatively inexpensive solution in an article scheduled for the Sept. 15 issue of the ACS journal, Environmental Science & Technology.
Their so-called on-board distillation system (OBDS) targets the root cause of the waste - gasoline's relatively low volatility, or willingness to change from a liquid to a gas.
The OBDS separates high-volatility components from gasoline and stores them for use right after startup, until the engine and other components warm and become more efficient. The system would add about five pounds to a car's weight and less than $100 to its cost when in full production, the researchers estimate.
The new tests show that OBDS reduced cranking fuel requirements by 70 percent, increased fuel economy by 1 percent, and reduced tailpipe hydrocarbon emissions to the point where smaller vehicles might not need exotic pollution control devices, the researchers said.
Reference: "On-Board Generation of a Highly Volatile Starting Fuel to Reduce Automotive Cold-Start Emissions." Environmental Science & Technology
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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