New engine and gas mileage

One reader noticed the difference between new and older engineers and hopes the newer ones are up to the challenge when they become the ones in charge. Other readers are troubled that the EPA doesn’t account for E85 gas in mileage ratings.

Will they step forward?

One of the biggest problems I found with the new generation of automation engineers and techs is their lack of initiative (“Seven Ways Older Automation Experts Can Help the Industry,”by John Rinaldi, Jun. 3). Although many of us have decades of experience under our belt, we leave an industry that still relies on old technology. New engineers have a hard time incorporating or adapting the old with the new.

New engineers just don’t have the drive and rely too much on computers instead of good old creativity or problem-solving ability. If, or when, we arrive at a major change in technology, there will be an explosion of technology that should surpass anything we have available at the moment. The entire manufacturing sector will have to change and those who don’t will be left behind.

That’s when our young engineers will have an opportunity to shine and prove they can accomplish far better advancements than those on who’s foundation they stood before they started to climb the ladder.

Joaquin Cardena

 

EPA comes clean

The miles-per-gallon of any particular vehicle is an extraordinarily difficult parameter to measure because there are so many variables. Brooks Lyman (Letters, May 23) listed several, but there are more, including air temperature and wind speed, even altitude. I drove an ’85 Chevy Sprint (Suzuki Swift) for 10 years and consistently got 50 mpg with a daily 72-mile commute (round trip). The engine was a three-cylinder, four-stroke one-liter design. And I was no slouch speed-wise. Tires lasted 75,000 miles, brakes 85,000. At 110,000 miles I gave it to a friend who was ecstatic and said that the government should buy them for poorer folks to reduce air pollution. Where are they now?

Robert H. Russell

Just finished reading the letters regarding mileage and the EPA. I drive a 1999 Corvette with a 350‑hp engine, aftermarket exhaust, K&N air filter, and six-speed transmission. The car’s EPA numbers were about 19/26 mpg on the sticker. Funny thing about EPA numbers is that they are usually not correct. Also, most people believe you should have a small car with a small engine to get good numbers.

On the round trips between our home in Connecticut and our vacation home in Florida, my average mileage, while driving as fast as traffic allows (around 80 mph most of the time with plenty of jack-rabbit starts), is about 30 mpg. This is both the calculated number and that shown on the car’s trip computer. I put in 87 octane gas (with 10% ethylene) unless it is really hot. Then I buy 89 or 93. Most people with similar Corvettes get about the same mileage or more with conservative driving.

What is the magic? How about good aero design, low weight, and high horsepower and torque taking advantage of good overdrive ratios? At 72 mph, my engine turns at about 1,500 rpm, which is exactly twice the engine’s idle speed.

Let’s figure out how to do the same on some of the boring “high-mileage econoboxes” many people feel they need to drive to get fuel economy. Imagine how much could be accomplished without ethanol. And how about some of the very economical European diesel engines?

Robert Bubello

Believe it or not, the EPA must be listening to the public for once. A recent check at http://www.fueleconomy.gov shows that some newer vehicles now have fuel-economy ratings based upon standard gasoline and on E85. The vehicle I was interested in suffers a 25% reduction in economy when E85 is used instead of gasoline. I guess I’ll be looking even more closely at getting one of the new crop of diesel-powered vehicles because the mileage should definitely be better and the fuel cost is generally less than 10% higher. As for the up-front diesel powerplant cost, I can recoup that at resale.

Duane Levine

 

Room for a crew?

Looking at the crew module specs for NASA’s Orion capsule (NASA’s Orion Goes International, Apr. 11), it says the return payload is only 220 lb. Is this a one-man capsule?

Howard Chin

 

No, NASA does not include crew weight, or that of the fuel and breathing gasses among other things, in the payload weight.