Fuel additives (and gadgets) lack firepower - Dr Karl

Submitted: Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 08:49
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Last time, I began this series on fraudulent fuel economy devices, and discussed how an internal combustion engine actually turns petrol into forward motion.
Most of us have heard of the Australian-based company called Firepower. It built its considerable fortunes on selling a pill that would improve your fuel economy when you added it to your petrol tank — 42 per cent they claimed!
Firepower seems to be the latest in a long line of companies that appear with a miraculous product, siphon away buckets of money, and vanish, leaving a lot of people with empty pockets.
Firepower first burst into the media in November 2006, with the announcement of a $3 million sponsorship of the Rabbitohs, a rugby league football club.
Indeed, the actor Russell Crowe (a part-owner of the Rabbitohs) announced this sponsorship on Jay Leno's Tonight Show in the USA.
Firepower also sponsored the Sydney Kings basketball team, which kindly renamed itself the Firepower Sydney Kings.
Since then, Firepower has been linked to: federal and state politicians and bureaucrats; the Australian government agency Austrade; the former Australian prime minister John Howard; the former Australian ambassador in Pakistan; the arms trade in Romania; former German heads of Haliburton; the Western Force rugby club; the Tongan national rugby team; and even the Australian Superbike Championship; the Australian V8 Supercar racing team; and the Porsche Carrera Cup.
At one stage, Firepower was supposedly worth $3.5 billion. Pretty amazing for an empire built on a little brown pill (costing $1.50) that you pop into your fuel tank and which supposedly increases your fuel economy.
But there were problems. They refused to get their special pill independently tested, they didn't provide financial records to investors and they delayed their stockmarket listing.
Oh yes, there was another problem. The pill didn't actually improve fuel economy. What a surprise!
Getting back to the USA, the US Federal Trade Commission engineers have tested virtually every one of these fuel additives released over the last few decades. Not one has made any difference.
And think about the fuel line heaters and coolers. One bunch of salespeople reckons you can improve your fuel economy by heating up the fuel, while another bunch says the exact opposite and reckons you need to cool your fuel.
They can't both be right.
Let's move along from the fuel tank, and take a look at the mist of fuel droplets on their way into the car engine.
The ideal fuel-air ratio is about 1:15. If you have too much air, the engine runs too hot, and the emissions increase.
If you have too much fuel, you can lose economy, the emissions increase, and raw unburnt fuel accumulates on the inside of the cylinder walls.
This fuel can wash away the lubricating oil that sits between the cylinder wall and the piston, and so increase wear.
One 'gas-saving' device, the air-bleed device, allows small quantities of extra air into the fuel-air mixture. This supposedly allows less fuel in, so giving better fuel economy.
All it really does is overheat the engine and worsen the emissions out of the exhaust pipe. Vapour-bleed devices do the same thing, but they first run the air through a liquid, such as water, or water and anti-freeze, or something exotic.
Once again, neither of these bleed devices has ever been proved to work.
Another odd device in this category of 'gas-savers' is the mixture enhancer, whatever 'enhancing' the mixture means.
They claim to improve fuel economy by increasing the turbulence of the fuel-air mist. In reality, you want to reduce the turbulence.
They are placed inside the intake pipes before the fuel-air mist reaches the combustion chamber.
These mixture enhancers can be truly bizarre, with fans, tiny propellers, metal tubes with fins, and even a metal plate with holes in it.
You guessed it, they don't work either.
Another method is liquid injection. It has a little tank of water or methylated spirits that is hooked into the intake system of the engine.
These do give a very small improvement in fuel economy, but at a cost of increasing the engine emissions. And of course, they cost money.
The third category of fuel economy devices is quite technical. They have a mechanism to reduce the fuel burn by shutting down a few of the cylinders, when you don't need full power.
The big car companies have been trying to perfect this for a few decades.
In the early days, they had problems with engines self-destructing. But it's only recently that they have managed to shut down a few cylinders, improving the fuel economy without destroying the engine.
Can you believe that a backyard mechanic, without the massive resources that the car companies have, could make such a mechanism?
Some of these backyard devices did indeed give a tiny increase in fuel economy, but with an increase in emissions out of the exhaust pipe, and significantly less reliability in the engine.
Next time, I'll finish my visit to fuel-economy land with a few more devices, one of which works, but which you can use without actually buying.

See the article athttp://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2010/02/16/2821231.htm?site=science/greatmomentsinscience
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Reply By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 09:06

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 09:06
There's another one that should be Hi gh on your list too, Oh and what about the Magnet myth.

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Follow Up By: Member - joc45 (WA) - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 17:24

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 17:24
The Peter Brock (God rest his soul) Polariser saga would make another epic story....

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Reply By: Time - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 09:14

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 09:14
I've posted up this linkon a number of occasions, it is a good read, I commend it to anyone who is tempted to believe there is a miracle device that will save them money!
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Follow Up By: harryopal - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 09:41

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 09:41
My fuel saver sounds as good as most of those developed by those huge companies at enormous expense.
I got a bunch of small Kenyan dolls that look like most people's idea of a voodoo doll and then attached them to laminate with the following message.
`36.7% Fuel Saver'
Simply place this figure anywhere in the car. (Not inside the fuel tank.) This figure has been processed by a Kenyan `Mganga uchawi' (witch doctor). Scientific research has shown that if this figure is carried in any diesel or petrol driven automobile, boat or aircraft there will not only be a stupendous, 36.7% fuel economy but an 28.4% power boost. This offer is backed by a 100% money back guarantee (conditions apply).
CONDITIONS: Purchaser must validate the guarantee by personally applying to the guarantee manager, Mr Maina Ombuor at Loitoktok foothills of Mt Kiliminjaro, Kenya. If Mr Ombuor is not immediately available place notice on noticeboard at the Safari café and wait…. possibly up to 6 weeks. . The guarantee is otherwise null and void.
Now you might have thought the conditions were a hint that this is just a joke item but it is amazing how many people read the copy and then ask, deadly seriously, `Does it work.?'
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Follow Up By: Pete Jackman (SA) - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 13:26

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 13:26
Can I buy one - sounds exactly what I need.
Any mug can be uncomfortable out bush

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Reply By: Dave(NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 12:48

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 12:48
You can always use one of these

Bundy HiclownNew to the Australian market - the Bundy HiClown!

Image Could Not Be Found

Image Could Not Be Found

Guaranteed* to give you:

~ 40% - 90% power increase
~ 15% - 28% displacement increase
~ 7.5% - 31% less fuel consumption
~ will find your lost remote controls and car keys
~ walks your dog when you're too exhausted
~ friendly, child-safe design
~ bus stop conversation start with hot chicks (or blokes, if that's your thing)
~ doubles as a romantic candle lit dinner holder
~ comes in a range of sizes

Buy now! Only $187.24 a set - or three monthly payments of only $99.95

Add $72.34 for postage/handing/insurance (sharp edges, puts the insurance price up).

* Depending on your application (vehicle type, NA/turbo induction, number of wheels, your mental condition and level of guillability) results may vary.
When placing an ordering, please specify where your rego papers and spare keys are stored - our development pool is running low.
By placing an order you indemnify us from responsibility for any or all of the following: paper cuts, public transport inconvenience, irrational fear of beards, unexpected results and/or damages to your vehicle.


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Follow Up By: Member - Willie , Sydney. - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 12:59

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 12:59
I would have bought it, if it had restored the sight to the blind and made the crippled walk again. Bugger.
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Follow Up By: Dave(NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 13:13

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 13:13
Hey Willie,
You'll have to wait for the new model to come out LOL.
Cheers Dave..

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Follow Up By: harryopal - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 14:22

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 14:22
Ahh yes, Dave, you may offer better results with your fuel but mine has a money back guarantee. And, as I explain to people, it is a not like your house insurance after your house has been flooded and they point to the very fine print to explain why you won't get compensation. In our case we do offer full refund.... but you do have to go to Kenya to make the application.
I also have magic rings from Kenya that are guaranteed to make you live forever with a full refund if you don't. The only limitation on that guarantee is that you can't ring up and say you're dead. We do have to see the body. But as we have never had a claim I have to assume they work.
And as for those people who say they don't want to live forever I explain that you just take the ring off when you get tired.
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Follow Up By: Member - Timbo - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 21:46

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 21:46
Ha ha ha Dave, great laugh! (unless you were serious?!) - increased displacement?! Reminds me of a bloke at uni (few years back now) explaining that if you used premium ULP in lieu of regular ULP that your engine revs would be lower while driving at the same speed. Wow, I thought, it can even change the gear/diff ratios! :-)
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Reply By: Member - barry F (NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 17:58

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 17:58
Mmmmmmmmm!! I think there was a post on this Forum a couple of years ago on the various ways and systems that are best suited to saving fuel and the many $ssss we spend on this expensive but essential commodity!

The post I am thinking of asked the question as to which was the most efficient shape of a fuel tank. Round, square or rectangular?

The consensus of opinion at the time seemed to favour round fuel tanks as they presented less friction as the liquid swirled around over bumpy winding roads, thereby preventing heat build up and back pressure to the fuel pump which in turn allowed the fuel to flow without restriction to the injectors & because the fuel had not been pre heated by friction, as it would have been in a tank with corners, then the cooler fuel was more efficient. More "Bang for your Buck" sort of thing.

The comments made at the time were compelling evidence that a round fuel tank was certainly the way to go & influenced me to rip out the factory fitted fuel tank ( a square one ) & put in a round one. Not only do I now use less fuel, thanks to my round fuel tank, but it saved me the cost of putting in a long range tank. Forget all the gadgets and things Fellahs, get yourselves a round fuel tank like me! LOL & cheers
AnswerID: 404581

Reply By: DIO - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 18:24

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 18:24
So in a few words of plain simple language, what's your point? Yes I know that you have outlined a few examples of the fraudulent action of some product promoters, aapart from that, by now most people are well aware of the con involved and steer clear of them. Ain't newsworthy anymore.
AnswerID: 404585

Follow Up By: Member - Willie , Sydney. - Thursday, Feb 18, 2010 at 11:13

Thursday, Feb 18, 2010 at 11:13
Thank you for your helpful input.
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Reply By: _gmd_pps - Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 18:29

Wednesday, Feb 17, 2010 at 18:29
I do not have a problem with those businesses.. just clever, I woudn't do it though.

It only confirms my opinion about people .. most are just stupid, greedy, selfish and ignorant. They deserve to be screwed ..

have fun
AnswerID: 404586

Reply By: Bob of KAOS - Thursday, Feb 18, 2010 at 07:20

Thursday, Feb 18, 2010 at 07:20
If you think its amazing that so many gullible people will put a pill in their fuel tank and expect a miracle, you should see what they put in their bodies.

The number of Australians taking herbal concoctions, vitamins, and so called 'therapeutic drugs', all without a scintilla of evidence of efficacy, let alone safety, would amaze you.

Even people without a cracker are spending up big on miracle potions, magnetic mattresses and the like.

There a lot of fools out there with a lot of money. Its no wonder that 'Firepowers' surface from time to time to assist in the separation of the two.

AnswerID: 404683

Follow Up By: Member - Willie , Sydney. - Thursday, Feb 18, 2010 at 11:16

Thursday, Feb 18, 2010 at 11:16
Yeh Bob,
I am one of those fools. Every morning I have three horse pills - one glucosamine and two fish oil. Probably as much use as tits to a bull.
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Follow Up By: Alloy c/t - Thursday, Feb 18, 2010 at 11:25

Thursday, Feb 18, 2010 at 11:25
Nah Willie , its not tits on a bull at all ,its all about modern mans diet , processed this and processed that ,we dont get the good stuff in our every day diet anymore so we need the processed extras as in concentrated pills to make up for it , catch 22.
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