Top 10 Gas2 Stories Of 2011

It seems hard to believe, but 2011 is all but over. In my first year as Editor of Gas2, I’ve tried to bring you lots of cool, weird, and interesting stories on alternative fuels. But which stories did you, the readers, respond most to?

Well to round out the year, I’ve compiled a list of the 10 most popular posts Gas2 published in 2011. Did your favorite story make the cut?

#10: Prius-Inspired Bike Shifts Gears With Your Mind

To commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the Toyota Prius, Parlee Cycles has teamed up with Toyota to create a bicycle based on the Prius design. A fun project indeed, and one that does celebrate green fuel alternatives. But what really sets this bike apart is the use of a special neuron helmet created by DeepLocal that allows the rider of the Prius bike to shift gears with their mind.

#9: Jay Leno Drives Chevy Volt 11,000 Miles, Nets 2,365 MPG

The Chevy Volt has its supporters, and its detractors. You can famed car enthusiast and talk show host Jay Leno as an avid supporter. The late-night funnyman has wracked up a whooping 11,000 miles in his Chevy Volt in the past year, while using only 4.5 gallons of gas.

#8: MIT Students Develop Liquid Fuel For Electric Cars

One (of many) complaints against electric cars is that they take too long to “fill up” with electrons. But a group of MIT students have developed a semi-solid electron-laden “fuel” that could completely change how we power EV’s.

Companies like Millenium Airship Inc., Aeros, and Lockheed Martin (you may have heard of them) are all developing helium-based freighters equipped with the latest in navigation technology and advanced landing systems which allow the airships to land both on earth and water. All of these models should be in commercial use within a few years.

#6: Petition To Bring Ford’s Global Diesel Ranger To America

Ford has already built the savior of the small truck market though, and it’s the new global Ford Ranger. This diesel pickup being marketed and sold in all the Blue Oval’s other markets (188 other countries in total) except America. Ford claims it is because the new Ranger is only 10% smaller than the F-150, and it doesn’t sell the F-150 anywhere else in the world. So what? This new Ranger has two diesel engine options; a 2.2 liter four-cylinder with 276 ft-lbs of torque, and a 3.2 five-cylinder with 346 ft-lbs of torque. For those keeping score at home, the bigger diesel engine is nearly as powerful as Ford’s much-touted EcoBoost V6, but with one less cylinder and, in all likelihood, much better gas mileage. That’s enough torque to tow a train. Why can’t we have that?

Things are heating up in the small car segment. GM has rated its Chevy Cruze Eco model at 42 mpg highway. That beats out many pricier hybrids and sets a new bar in the under-$20,000 segment.I hope you can drive standard though. Otherwise, you are stuck with the six-speed automatic transmission, which gets 26 mpg city and 37 mpg highway, not bad but not class-leading numbers either.

#4: 2011 Fiat 500 Falls Short Of 40 MPG

While 2011 marks the return of Fiat to America, the vanguard 500 already isn’t living up to the hype. The five-speed manual is rated at 30/38 MPG, while the six-speed automatic manages only a 27/34 rating.

Truth is stranger than fiction, or so the saying goes. And I could not make this story up if I tried. A Finnish politician has converted his American-built El Camino to run on woodgas. How’s that for awesome?

Juhas Sipilä’s 1987 El Camino, affectionately dubbed “El Kamina” (The Stove), features a very steampunk-like woodgas generator taking up about half of the truckbed. El Kamina’s 400 Chevy engine can take the 4,400 pound truck about 125 miles on 175 pounds of biomass, or about 1.4 pounds of biomass-per-mile. The truck itself can carry enough fuel for around 800 total miles of travel.

The basic design of the internal combustion engine has not changed much in the last 100-something years. I think its time for a change, and the disk wave engine could be the answer to a future free of combustion engines.
To power any combustion engine you need fuel, air, and either compression or spark to cause an explosion that provides the moving power most of us rely on. The wave disk engine is no different, as it combines air, fuel, and compression to produce power. Developed by researchers at Michigan State University, this small engine could be up to 3.5 times more efficient than the piston-driven engines found in most cars.

And finally…


With something like an RV camper, however (which is 100% on its tow rig for mpg numbers) there can be little doubt that a recycled / renovated RV leaves a smaller footprint than a new-from-the-ground-up approach – and that’s where Santa Barbara architect Matt Hoffman comes in.

Hoffman is making a strong case for recycled RV’s, who lovingly restored a 1970s Airstream towable … which looked like this when he found it.

And there you have it, dear readers. From all of us here at Gas2.org, thanks for frequenting our little blog, and we hope to bring you more cool stories come next year. Until 2012, we bid you adieu!

 
 

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.