Brainy Quote of the Day

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Physics of Gas Mileage...

Credit: John Moreno/Argonne National Laboratory
Topics: Applied Physics, Mechanical Engineering, Physics and Pop Culture, Semiconductor Technology, Thermodynamics

If you bought a car in the late 2000's - post 2010 - you likely have a feature in your vehicle that calculates your gas mileage and range you have on the amount of fuel. This can be a little confusing for sure, but surprisingly (or if you follow this blog, not so much) a lot of physics goes into the LED display on your dashboard. This article from gives a good overview of the five properties that goes into that calculation your integrated circuits do for you. After all, it's summer in the northern hemisphere, and wherever you are on that part of the globe, we're all driving SOMEWHERE.

Physics is inescapable. It's everywhere, making your Frisbees fly, your toilets flush and your pasta water boil at a lower temperature at altitude. We've harnessed these forces, along with chemistry and engineering, to build a marvelous contraption called a car—but many of the same properties that allow you to fly along the freeway also affect how much gas mileage you get out of your car. We talked to Argonne transportation engineer Steve Ciatti to explore some of the forces at work in your engine when it's on the road.

1. Vapor pressure
2. Friction
3. Drag coefficient
4. Momentum
5. Rolling resistance

Bonus: Air temperature Five properties of physics that affect your gas mileage, Louise Lerner

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