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.
  • 2017-09-28 14:05:57
  • Article ID: 681963

Sensible Driving Saves More Gas Than Drivers Think

  • Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

    ORNL researchers examined several previous studies, developed a new vehicle energy model and applied it to two similar mid-sized sedans: a hybrid electric vehicle and a conventional gasoline vehicle.

  • Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

    ORNL researchers used a hybrid electric vehicle and a vehicle with a gasoline engine for the study.

It’s common knowledge that driving aggressively can dent gas mileage, but it’s difficult to determine exactly how much gas drivers waste. 

A new study by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has quantified the impact speeding and slamming on the brakes has on fuel economy and consumption. 

They found that aggressive behavior behind the wheel can lower gas mileage in light-duty vehicles by about 10 to 40 percent in stop-and-go traffic and roughly 15 to 30 percent at highway speeds. This can equate to losing about $0.25 to $1 per gallon. 

“Our findings added credence to the idea that an aggressive driving style does affect fuel economy probably more than people think,” said ORNL’s John Thomas, who led the study published by engineering professional organization SAE International. 

To address this complex topic, ORNL researchers examined several previous studies, developed a new vehicle energy model and applied it to two similar mid-sized sedans: a hybrid electric vehicle and a conventional gasoline vehicle. 

The researchers ran the two test vehicles through driving experiments at the lab’s National Transportation Research Center to compare the differences in fuel consumption. In particular, they evaluated the HEV’s limitations when recapturing energy to replenish the battery during different levels of hard braking. 

“The new vehicle energy model we created focused on the limitations of regenerative braking along with varying levels of driving-style aggressiveness to show that this could account for greater fuel economy variation in an HEV compared to a similar conventional vehicle,” Thomas said. 

The results confirmed a large dataset of gas mileage values self-reported by drivers on the government-maintained fueleconomy.gov, which helps consumers make informed fuel economy choices. This dataset also implied that HEVs are more sensitive to driving style than conventional gasoline vehicles, although HEVs almost always achieve much better fuel economy.

The study’s findings appear on the website—which is maintained by ORNL for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy with data provided by the Environmental Protection Agency—along with other simple fuel-saving measures such as obeying posted speed limits, avoiding excessive idling or carrying too much weight, and using cruise control. 

Understanding the impact of aggressive driving on fuel consumption is relevant to broader studies on improving traffic flow through “smart” traffic control systems and autonomous vehicles. 

The study titled, “Fuel Consumption Sensitivity of Conventional and Hybrid Electric Light-Duty Gasoline Vehicles to Driving Style,” was coauthored by ORNL’s John Thomas, Shean Huff, Brian West and Paul Chambon and was funded by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office. Larry Moore, an ORNL subcontractor, provided professional driving services during the vehicle experiments. The National Transportation Research Center is a DOE-EERE designated user facility operated by ORNL. 

The current research references five previous studies performed at the Flemish Institute for Technological Research in Belgium, Argonne National Laboratory, Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research, and ORNL.  

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the DOE’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

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Two ORNL-Led Research Teams Receive $10.5 Million to Advance Quantum Computing for Scientific Applications

DOE's Office of Science has awarded two research teams, each headed by a member of ORNL's Quantum Information Science Group, more than $10 million over 5 years to both assess the feasibility of quantum architectures in addressing big science problems and to develop algorithms capable of harnessing the massive power predicted of quantum computing systems. The two projects are intended to work in concert to ensure synergy across DOE's quantum computing research spectrum and maximize mutual benefits.

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As nuclear physicists delve ever deeper into the heart of matter, they require the tools to reveal the next layer of nature's secrets. Nowhere is that more true than in computational nuclear physics. A new research effort led by theorists at DOE's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) is now preparing for the next big leap forward in their studies thanks to funding under the 2017 SciDAC Awards for Computational Nuclear Physics.

Matthew Latimer Receives 2017 Lytle Award

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Jefferson Lab Completes 12 GeV Upgrade

Nuclear physicists are now poised to embark on a new journey of discovery into the fundamental building blocks of the nucleus of the atom. The completion of the 12 GeV Upgrade Project of the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) heralds this new era to image nuclei at their deepest level.

Sunderrajan to Lead Science and Technology Partnerships and Outreach Directorate

Suresh Sunderrajan has been named the associate laboratory director (ALD) for the Science and Technology Partnerships and Outreach (STPO) Directorate at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory.

Career Awards Advance Research for Jefferson Lab Researchers

Two researchers affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility have received 2017 Early Career Research Program awards from the DOE's Office of Science.


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Heavy Quarks Probe the Early Universe

New studies of behaviors of particles containing heavy quarks shed light into what the early universe looked like in its first microseconds.

Discovering the Genetic Timekeepers in Bioenergy Crops

A new class of plant-specific genes required for flowering control in temperate grasses is found.

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Tiny Green Algae Reveal Large Genomic Variation

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A Complex Little Alga that Lives by the Sea

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Seven-year study explains how packets of light are exchanged when protons meet electrons.

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Genome-wide rice studies yield first major, large-scale collection of mutations for grass model crops, vital to boosting biofuel production.

Bringing Visual "Magic" to Light

Scientists create widely controllable ultrathin optical components that allow virtual objects to be projected in real environments.


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