Size Matters

24 03 2009

The latest car from India’s Tata Motors is worth every penny. In fact, it’s the cheapest car in the world with some models selling at $2,200 a car. The pint-sized Tata Nano also gets outstanding gas mileage, averaging 50 miles per gallon, making it the most fuel efficient car in India.

Tata's Nano

Tata Nano

However, despite the obvious benefit of conserving gasoline, some criticize how easily it can be mass produced and worry that Nanos will only add to India’s traffic problem, even going as far as predicting a “disproportionate impact on greenhouse gas emissions.” Also the vehicle “has minimal exhaust filters and an engine that can burn kerosene, which is even dirtier than gas.”

What Is Diesel

6 03 2009

I realized I’ve been writing a lot about biodiesel and diesel engines, but I’m not entirely sure how diesel is different from gasoline. Here’s what I learned:

The diesel engine was created in 1892 by Rudolf Diesel who considered vegetable seed oil as fuel for his invention.

Air Compression in Diesel Engine

Air Compression in Diesel Engine

A diesel engine is different because air is compressed (which heats it up) then fuel is injected. In a gasoline engine, both air and fuel are compressed together then ignited.

The compressed air reaches hotter temperatures in a diesel engine as opposed to a gasoline engine, thereby making the diesel engine more fuel efficient.

Fuel Injection in Diesel Engine

Fuel Injection in Diesel Engine

Biodiesel is very similar to petroleum diesel. It is made when plant oils are combined with methanol and chemically altered to make fatty acids.