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Published on September 26th, 2016 | by Guest Contributor

Designing for Efficiency

The way that modern infrastructure and culture has developed, we’re certainly not expecting to see the death of the motor vehicle any time soon. From the morning commute to the family holiday, cars have become a fundamental part of modern life, offering ease, convenience and, in many cases, luxury.

However, as you all already know… there’s a dark side. Everyday, inefficient cars spit CO2 back into the atmosphere, damaging the environment and contributing to climate change. And, while we’re incredibly excited to see big innovations such as electric cars changing the very shape of the industry, smaller changes also have a part to play.

One of these is embedding the principle of fuel efficiency into new cars at the design stage, to ensure that every vehicle we see on the road is emitting as little CO2 as possible. Here are a few different considerations and techniques that can be used to give automobile designs an edge of efficiency.

Dynamics of Motion: Aerodynamics

When it comes to the actual design of a car, a strong understanding of aerodynamics may well be the single most important step for an efficient end result. In simple terms, aerodynamics means thinking about how the air will interact with a vehicle when it is in motion. If we’re thinking specifically about cars, the most important consideration is drag – which means how the air will push back against the car and try to slow it down.

By minimising drag, design teams can ensure that a car needs to use less fuel to get up to an optimum speed, quickly improving the efficiency of the vehicle. While this can be simple for small, sleek cars that can easily take on an aerodynamic shape, real reductions in the amount of CO2 being released into the air will come if we can take the same principles and apply them to gas guzzlers such as trucks and lorries. And, as the aerodynamic lorry seen in this Wired article shows us, this doesn’t necessarily need to be as much of a challenge as it sounds!

Two Technologies for Better Efficiency: Hybridization

Aerodynamic design is something that we have known about, and been implementing, for centuries – something a little more modern, and equally exciting, is the possibility for hybridization. This means bringing different types of technology together in an effort to power vehicles in a more efficient way; for instance, combining the use of diesel fuel with an electrical motor.

The use of hybrid engines in heavy vehicles such as trucks and buses is already being implemented, and saving money as well as helping to clean the air. However, they are still relatively rare; if more large companies were to start adopting hybrid engines as standard for their delivery fleets, we could expect to see a substantial improvement in efficiency across the board.

By bringing in these considerations very early in the design process, and using technology such as Elite Process investment casting to ensure that these designs translate into high quality, highly effective finished results.

This post has been sponsored by Dean Group, a specialist investment casting company who serve the recycling and renewables industry, as well as many others. Car dashboard image and car image from BigStock

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