Doe Science news source
The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
  • 2006-08-17 16:30:00
  • Article ID: 522842

High Gas Prices Here to Stay, Says Engineering Professor

Recent increases in gasoline prices have put a strain on budgets. "These higher prices are not a temporary blip; they are here to stay," says Dr. Krishan Kumar Bhatia of Rowan University, Glassboro, N.J., an assistant professor of mechanical engineering who studies alternative energy sources and powertrains specifically for automotive applications. According to Bhatia, there are many simple things consumers can do to help alleviate the high costs of fueling vehicles today:

"¢ Decrease driving: While most of us cannot easily change our commute distance to work, we do have control over other trips we make. Try combining trips to save gas. "There was an old saying in the auto industry that besides going to work, people use their cars only twice a week: church on Sunday and groceries on Monday," Bhatia says. "Today, we have gotten away from that completely. Most car owners make several dozen trips a week for things that could easily be combined into a single trip." By combining trips, the overall mileage driven generally is reduced. Furthermore, try making these trips at off-peak times when traffic is lightest. By avoiding rush hour, your vehicle's mileage will improve.

"¢ Drive conservatively: According to the Department of Energy's annual Fuel Economy Guide, aggressive driving (i.e. fast starts from stop lights, sudden braking, etc.) can reduce highway fuel economy by as much as 33 percent. Speeding also has a negative impact on fuel economy. Each 5 mph above 60 mph can reduce your fuel economy by 10 percent.

"¢ Maintain your vehicle: This includes simple things like keeping proper tire pressure and changing your spark plugs, air filter and oil. In addition, remove any unwanted weight from your car, as this also reduces fuel economy.

"¢ When it comes time, buy a more fuel-efficient car: When considering a new car, fuel economy needs to be top priority in today's environment. According to Bhatia, while most of us feel the pain of high gas prices on a daily basis, we generally don't realize the long-term financial strain that a low-mpg vehicle puts on us. "Over the lifetime of a vehicle, you will end up spending more for fuel than for the vehicle itself," he says. For example, if a vehicle gets 20 mpg and lasts for 200,000 miles, with gas at $3 per gallon, you are talking about $30,000 in fuel over the life of the car. However, Bhatia points out that a 35 mpg vehicle in the same scenario will require less than $17,200 over the vehicle's lifetime. "The nearly $13,000 in fuel savings over the life of a vehicle should be enough to make most people consider a small 35 mpg car rather than a 20 mpg SUV," he said. In addition to fuel savings, buying a smaller car instead of an SUV could save you roughly $10,000 in initial vehicle cost. If you absolutely need the space of an SUV, consider any one of the number of popular wagons and crossover vehicles available today. They offer a good compromise between space and fuel economy. For more information, as well as fuel economy data for all new cars, check out the Department of Energy's Annual Fuel Economy Guide, available free for download at http://www.fueleconomy.gov.

Bhatia received his B.M.E. from the University of Delaware and his M.S. and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. His graduate work focused on hydrogen fuel cells for transportation applications and hybrid electric vehicles.

Patricia Quigley

Assistant Director

University Relations

(856) 256-4241

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High-Speed Movie Aids Scientists Who Design Glowing Molecules

In a recent experiment conducted at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, a research team used bright, ultrafast X-ray pulses from SLAC's X-ray free-electron laser to create a high-speed movie of a fluorescent protein in action. With that information, the scientists began to design a marker that switches more easily, a quality that can improve resolution during biological imaging.

Biomass-Produced Electricity in the US Possible, but It'll Cost

If the U.S. wants to start using wood pellets to produce energy, either the government or power customers will have to pay an extra cost, a new University of Georgia study has found.

Scientists Make Atoms-Thick Post-It Notes for Solar Cells and Circuits

In a study published Sept. 20 in Nature, UChicago and Cornell University researchers describe an innovative method to make stacks of semiconductors just a few atoms thick. The technique offers scientists and engineers a simple, cost-effective method to make thin, uniform layers of these materials, which could expand capabilities for devices from solar cells to cell phones.

Titan Helps Researchers Suck Mystery Out of Cell's 'Vacuum Cleaners'

In cancer cells, a membrane transport protein called P-glycoprotein, or Pgp, actively pumps anticancer drugs out of the cell, contributing to multidrug resistance. Recently, a team led by computational biophysicist Emad Tajkhorshid from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) used the Titan supercomputer to uncover new details about Pgp that could help the drug discovery community manipulate Pgp function.

Laser-Free Method of Ion Cooling Has Range of Potential Uses

Prof. Daniel Zajfman's universal ion trap cools to a tenth of a degree above absolute zero. The new method does not depend on the type or the weight of the ion and, thus, might be used to investigate the properties of large biological molecules or nanoparticles, among other things.

Tiny Lasers from a Gallery of Whispers

Whispering gallery mode resonators rely on a phenomenon similar to an effect observed in circular galleries, and the same phenomenon applies to light. When light is stored in ring-shaped or spherical active resonators, the waves superimpose in such a way that it can result in laser light. This week in APL Photonics, investigators report a new type of dye-doped WGM micro-laser that produces light with tunable wavelengths.

Copper Catalyst Yields High Efficiency CO2-to-Fuels Conversion

Berkeley Lab scientists have developed a new electrocatalyst that can directly convert carbon dioxide into multicarbon fuels and alcohols using record-low inputs of energy. The work is the latest in a round of studies coming out of Berkeley Lab tackling the challenge of a creating a clean chemical manufacturing system that can put carbon dioxide to good use.

Solar-to-Fuel System Recycles CO2 to Make Ethanol and Ethylene

Berkeley Lab scientists have harnessed the power of photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide into fuels and alcohols at efficiencies far greater than plants. The achievement marks a significant advance in the effort to move toward sustainable sources of fuel.

New Evidence for Small, Short-Lived Drops of Early Universe Quark-Gluon Plasma?

UPTON, NY--Particles emerging from even the lowest energy collisions of small deuterons with large heavy nuclei at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC)--a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility for nuclear physics research at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory--exhibit behavior scientists associate with the formation of a soup of quarks and gluons, the fundamental building blocks of nearly all visible matter.

New Insights Into Nanocrystal Growth in Liquid

PNNL researchers have measured the forces that cause certain crystals to assemble, revealing competing factors that researchers might be able to control. The work has a variety of implications in both discovery and applied science. In addition to providing insights into the formation of minerals and semiconductor nanomaterials, it might also help scientists understand soil as it expands and contracts through wetting and drying cycles.


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PPPL Physicist Francesca Poli Named ITER Scientist Fellow

Article describes new ITER Scientist Fellow.

Los Alamos Gains Role in High-Performance Computing for Materials Program

A new high-performance computing initiative announced this week by the U.S. Department of Energy will help U.S. industry accelerate the development of new or improved materials for use in severe environments.

UK Commits $88 Million to LBNF/DUNE in First-Ever Umbrella Science Agreement with U.S.

The UK has committed $88 million to the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility and Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment as part of an umbrella science and technology agreement with the United States.

Wayne State Receives $1.2 Million NSF Grant to Develop Autonomous Battery Operating System

Researchers at Wayne State University led by Nathan Fisher, associate professor of computer science in the College of Engineering, received a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to address the need for effective, integrative battery operating systems that provide sustained and reliable power.

UAH leads effort that secures $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation

A partnership comprising nine universities in Alabama, including The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) as the lead institution, has been awarded a $20 million, five-year grant by the National Science Foundation's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

Sandia Labs Wins 5 Regional Technology Transfer Awards

Sandia National Laboratories won five awards from the 2017 Federal Laboratory Consortium for its work to develop and commercialize innovative technologies.

Tulane Receives Grant to Reduce Auto Emissions

Members of Tulane University's Shantz Lab will work with industrial scientists to assist in the development of next-generation materials designed to reduce harmful automotive emissions. The three-year old lab and its group of students have received a grant and equipment resources from SACHEM, Inc., a chemical science company.

Lab Leads New Effort in Materials Development

Lawrence Livermore National Lab will be part of a multi-lab effort to apply high-performance computing to US-based industry's discovery, design, and development of materials for severe environments under a new initiative announced by the Department of Energy (DOE) on Sept. 19.

ORNL Innovation Crossroads Program Opens Second Round of Energy Entrepreneurial Fellowships

Entrepreneurs are invited to apply for the second round of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Innovation Crossroads program.

Los Alamos Recognized as Top Diversity Employer

For the second straight year, Los Alamos National Laboratory was recognized as a top diversity employer by LATINA Style and STEM Workforce Diversity magazine.


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Fungi: Gene Activator Role Discovered

Specific modifications to fungi DNA may hold the secret to turning common plant degradation agents into biofuel producers.

First Look at a Living Cell Membrane

Neutrons provide the solution to nanoscale examination of living cell membrane and confirm the existence of lipid rafts.

High Yield Biomass Conversion Strategy Ready for Commercialization

Researchers convert 80 percent of biomass into high-value products with strategy that's ready for commercialization.

Consequences of Drought Stress on Biofuels

Switchgrass cultivated during a year of severe drought inhibited microbial fermentation and resulting biofuel production.

Clay Minerals and Metal Oxides Change How Uranium Travels Through Sediments

Montmorillonite clays prevent uranium from precipitating from liquids, letting it travel with groundwater.

Tundra Loses Carbon with Rapid Permafrost Thaw

Seven-year-study shows plant growth does not sustainably balance carbon losses from solar warming and permafrost thaw.

Crystals Grow by Twisting, Aligning and Snapping Together

Van der Waals force, which that enables tiny crystals to grow, could be used to design new materials.

Vitamin B12 Fuels Microbial Growth

Scarce compound, vitamin B12, is key for cellular metabolism and may help shape microbial communities that affect environmental cycles and bioenergy production.

Carbon in Floodplain Unlikely to Cycle into the Atmosphere

Microbes leave a large fraction of carbon in anoxic sediments untouched, a key finding for understanding how watersheds influence Earth's ecosystem.

Bacterial Cell Wall Changes Produce More Fatty Molecules

New strategy greatly increases the production and secretion of biofuel building block lipids in bacteria able to grow at industrial scales.


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