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Old 01-05-2009, 11:28 AM   #1 (permalink)
Master EcoModder
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Upstate SC
Posts: 1,088

Aerocivic - '92 Honda Civic CX
Last 3: 70.54 mpg (US)

AerocivicLB - '92 Honda Civic CX
Team Honda
90 day: 55.14 mpg (US)

Camryglide - '20 Toyota Camry hybrid LE
90 day: 62.77 mpg (US)
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Ecomodding: there's more to it than just improving your fuel economy

The way I see it, ecomodding is doing all that you can to reduce your vehicle's impact on the environment while still performing its normal transportation functions. Of course, improving FE is a big part of it, remembering that the more fuel gets burned in the engine or that is used to generate electricity to charge the batteries, the more CO2 and exhaust pollutants that are produced as a result. Maintaining your vehicle's pollution control equipment is an important adjunct to this.

Another aspect of ecomodding is not using any products on/in your vehicle that are toxic to the environment (unless, like batteries they can be recycled).

Yet another aspect of ecomodding is modifying your vehicle to minimize the damage done to whatever people, pets, wildlife, and inanimate objects your vehicle runs into or over in the course of its travels. Reducing speed and vehicle weight help in this regard since the kinetic energy released in a collision goes up with the square of the velocity and increases linearly with increasing weight. Reducing weight also reduces the wear and tear on the road surfaces that your vehicle passes over, helping reduce the costs of road maintenance. Also changing the shape of your front end can help.

The traditional flat bumper is designed to absorb and transmit the energies of collision when you run into something. It mostly absorbs it when impacting a immovable object or when running into an object heavier than your vehicle and mostly transmits it when you run into an object lighter than your vehicle.

So if you are traveling in your car at 60mph when you run into lightweight object such as a pedestrian, the bumper first impacts their legs, shattering them as they are instantly accelerated from 0 to 60mph. Next the torso is rotated and accelerated from 0 to 60 in a leisurely fraction of a second as it is thrown onto the hood, which may hold them in place until the car brakes or corners. Its even worse with a truck or SUV where the flat bumper and flat grill combine to make a chest high battering ram that instantly accelerates their legs and torso to 60mph, shattering legs and crushing the chest in the process. Then, once up to vehicle speed, they drop off the front and go under the vehicle where more damage can occur; ba-bump ba-bump.

With my ecomodded vehicle it is different. With its sloped nose and a stagnation point one foot above the ground, when hitting lightweight objects the transmitted collision energies are redirected upward rather than straight forward as with a traditional bumper. So when hitting that pedestrian, their legs would be knocked out from under them and they would be scooped upwards, passing over and landing on the ground behind my vehicle while traveling at a maximum speed (mostly vertical) of around 25mph rather being accelerated to 60mph as with a traditional bumper. Needless to say, much less damage would occur as they were accelerated more gradually to a much lower speed.

But my bumper is two mode. When colliding with an object heavier then about 500 lbs, the rounded nose would absorb energy while crushing down to the car's stock flat bumper still in place under the aerodynamic nose, which would then function as a traditional bumper.

Modifying the shape of your front end can also reduce the toll your vehicle takes of the smaller wildlife (birds and bugs) as it travels down the road. That rounded front and low stagnation point on the front of my car sends them over rather than into the front of my car. Since modifying my car's nose, I haven't had to clean dead bugs off the front of my car. A large moth or beetle might make a rare impact on the windshield, but these impacts are few and far between (most of them go over without impacting) and everything smaller flows over the vehicle without impacting.

This front shape also helps with the mist and salt spray kicked up by preceding vehicles, as most of it also passes overhead without impacting the car's surfaces. This shape, combined with the four wheel well skirts, and the boattail, keeps my car almost completely clean even when driving on salt or dirt covered roads and greatly reduces the size of the mist or dirt plume kicked up by my vehicle, increasing the safety of other drivers.

As far as reducing road kill of the mid-sized wildlife, by mounting skinny tires, you can reduce the width of the "twin paths of death" laid down by your vehicle as it travels down the road. If designed properly, the air deflectors mounted ahead of your front wheels can also serve to deflect that squirrel to either side of your tires and save its life as your car passes over it.

So, as you can see, ecomodding is a many-faceted thing and there are many ways in addition to increasing FE that you can ecomod your vehicle.

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