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Old 01-05-2009, 11:28 AM   #1 (permalink)
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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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Old 01-05-2009, 01:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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So to sum up your message, "save a squirrel, build a boattail" is that it?
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Old 01-05-2009, 03:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Atomic Ass View Post
So to sum up your message, "save a squirrel, build a boattail" is that it?
A boattail has nothing to do with saving a squirrel, although having one on your car might save the life of a fellow motorist whose sight hasn't gotten partially blinded by the trail of spray kicked up by your car when driving on a wet road. Boattailed cars throw up almost no spray behind them and the little there is remains within 3 feet of the ground. If you want to save a squirrel, you'd need to concentrate of modifying the front of the car, mainly the front wheel air splitters to keep them from getting under the wheels.
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Old 01-05-2009, 04:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by basjoos View Post
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.
I cannot agree with you more. I did not do drastic changes to the front of my Metro, but it is very clean and rounded since I modified it. I noticed I no longer get the dead bugs all over my windshield. I also have almost hit several birds, but before impact, the birds would fly upwards and over the car.

Bunnehs have no chance! My new, wider tires kill dem wabbits
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Old 01-05-2009, 04:11 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm glad ecomodding has gotten you to think about the total impact of your motoring on the world, other motorists, and other taxpayers. Although I may disagree with you on the value of the life of a wild animal, I thank you for your thoughtful post.

P.S. if you build your very aerodynamic nose too strong, you'll sever the ped's legs mid-shin before launching him 21 feet into the air, to fall down to the pavement.
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Old 01-05-2009, 04:45 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Said I'd get back to you about the deer impact in your build thread, but decided that might lean to much toward thread jacking and let it slide. You're analysis is basically correct, but here's how I see it ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by basjoos View Post
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.
The bumper first impacts one or more of their legs (closer to the knees, than to the ankles) most likely breaking/shattering one or more leg bones near the 6" to 8" tall zone of initial impact. Various sorts of damage may be inflicted on the knee(s) depending on various factors such as weight supported and the angle of impact. As the legs are accelerated to 60 mph (88 ft/sec), the torso begins falling (32 ft/sec *sec) and rotational energy is imparted to the center of gravity (torso) via the legs which act as a lever. The induced rotation of the torso means the upper portions of the torso will be accelerated towards the vehicle and the lower portions of the torso will be accelerated in the direction of the vehicles travel. The lower the hood, the more closely the rotational speed of the lower edge of the torso will match the forward speed of the vehicle. The lower the hood, the greater the downward force induced by the falling torso, but since the impact of the torso on the hood occurs about .02 - .07 seconds after initial impact this may not be all that much. The slope of the hood (and possibly the windshield) will impart upward momentum in addition to any effects induced by air flow over the vehicle.

Quote:
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.
Since the nose of your vehicle (zone of initial impact) is smaller than the stock bumper, bones are more likely to break, but less likely to shatter. Since the point of impact is lower, less trauma is induced on the knee(s) and more trauma is induced on the ankle(s). Because the point of impact is lower, you have a longer lever acting on the center of gravity (torso) which means rotational speed of the torso when it contacts the hood will be closer to the car's forward speed.

Quote:
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.
Think you may be assuming that the impact against the 500 lbs object is at the height of the 500 lbs object's center of gravity. For 500 lbs think calf. For 1500 - xxxx lbs think full grown cow or horse. Don't think your nose piece will absorb all that much of the impact. The main force of impact will occur on your hood and/or windshield. You're nose piece makes the point of initial impact: smaller, lower, further forward.

The gist of it? The nose piece means you're less likely to suffer serious damage to the vehicle when hitting a deer, sheep, dog ... . The nose piece probably won't help all that much when hitting a cow, horse, moose ... and may even adversely affect operator safety??? (Haven't decided if those sorts of animals are more or less likely to come through your windshield. Probably far too many factors to make it predictable)
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Old 01-05-2009, 07:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Cow-catchers, pitching wedges...
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Old 01-06-2009, 07:08 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I dont get it...I've driven for 30 years and only hit a couple of birds.

Maybe I'm doing something wrong or living in the middle of a city....
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Old 01-06-2009, 08:12 AM   #9 (permalink)
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For me there's no philosophical underpinning or an expectation of a far removed exterior preventative effect that I could never hope to measure. I also don't do it to feel good about myself as a person.
I do it because it saves me money in the long run.

It's also not particularly difficult stuff to learn and do on my own, and I prefer engaging in pursuits that further my personal independence.
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Old 01-06-2009, 08:58 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Based on the last three posts, some here must find this discussion divorced from everyday experience. Maybe, but I drive a 150 mile route in the middle of the night in very rural South Dakota. Last night, I only saw eight deer on or crossing the road - the late winter deer season opened up last weekend and they are shy again. The previous week I was seeing more like 20 - 30 per night. About 120 miles of my route is on narrow two lane black top (25 to 30 feet total width) with little or no shoulder and steep ditches on either side. Sometimes (approaching the crest of a hill or pull-out) deer come charging up out of one of those steep ditches and I have less than a second to react.

Aside from the deer, there is also the occasional escaped cow or horse to worry about. (Rancher's here abouts seem to have a real preference for Black Angus - stealth cows. A species I wouldn't mind going extinct)

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