Showing posts from August, 2013

Ethanol, E85, and Burning Your Food

In our modern day we are constantly being bombarded with the potential for new fuel alternatives that we can use to run our vehicles, or that we might soon be able to use to run whatever car or truck we might have in the future. One of the new technologies, or perhaps not so new is ethanol. Ethanol works well as a fuel additive because it increases the octane rating of gasoline and it helps it to burn cleaner. When used as the primary component of the fuel, and not just an additive we usually refer to it as E85. This is a mix of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Cars that are labeled “flex fuel” are capable of running on gasoline, E85, or any mixture of the two. These flex fuel vehicles are actually very common but most people who own them never run them on E85 and likely don’t even know that they can. As an additive it’s great, as a fuel it leaves much to be desired. Ethanol takes so much energy to produce and provides so little energy in return that it is not very practical as a fuel. Wh

Removing Heat, Not Adding Cold

The air conditioning system in your car is one of those things that really has nothing to do with how well the vehicle runs, or how well the vehicle performs the tasks for which it was designed. However, it is a system that when not working can make the car more undrivable than something like an engine misfire. In the middle of July many people will put off getting new tires, or fixing that check engine light, in favor of getting the A/C system working. So what is going on with this magical system of super coolness? Honestly it works the same way as the refrigerator in your kitchen. The principles at work are no different, and the first thing to understand is the fact that A/C systems do not add cold to the interior of your car, they take away heat. Heat is a form of energy, and when it is taken away you are left with the absence of heat, or cold. Since heat is energy it can be stored and moved like many other forms of energy. The air conditioning system takes heat out of the air insid

New Owners by Federal Fiat

At the Chrysler Corporation things are changing dramatically and it’s certainly for the better. It’s been a rocky road for the house of the Pentastar over the last several years but since corporate restructuring that resulted from the bankruptcy of 2009 Chrysler is in new and seemingly capable hands. Fiat S.p.A. based in Turin, Italy has been gobbling up shares of Chrysler.  The federal government was in charge of the Chrysler bankruptcy proceedings back in 2009 and declared by ummm, fiat, that the Italian automaker would be allowed to purchase an initial share of 20% of Chrysler. This allowed Chrysler to stay in business. From 1998 to 2007 Chrysler was mostly owned by Daimler Benz (the Mercedes people) and the company was called Daimler Chrysler. During this time Daimler Benz tried very hard to keep the Mercedes line and the Chrysler/Dodge line of vehicles completely separate. They didn't mix vehicles back and forth much so they could keep things distinctly American or German. Th