The Ergosphere
Saturday, August 13, 2005

Immediate responses

What you see on the roads is a window into the thinking of society.  If my past few days are representative, not much has changed; SUV's are still cruising 5 and 10 over the posted limit, drivers of 4x4 pickups are still rushing up to slower traffic in 35 MPH zones and then braking to tailgate, and old GM cars are still peeling out of parking spots and rushing to get to the main road.

Despite regular gasoline around $2.50/gallon and premium 20 cents higher, people aren't even trading their lead feet for aluminum, let alone feathers.  That's how seriously they treat high oil prices.

The public is in deep denial.  How long this will continue is anybody's guess; I suspect that it will take bankruptcies and mortgage foreclosures as owners of big status trucks run out of credit before the idea really takes hold in the public consciousness.  Until then the vast majority of people will do nothing, and pretend that nothing needs to be done.

On the day that things flip, it will finally be possible to sell solutions to the public.  Unfortunately, very few people are going to make and stock fuel-saving products on the off chance that demand will materialize in time to keep their business solvent.  Economic collapse in a host of places around the world could easily occur first, each one leading to sags in both oil and import prices and putting off the local reckoning for a while.  Absent action by the government to create demand (as it has done for ethanol), fuel-saving products are a risky business until the day the crisis can no longer be denied.

In every crisis, there is opportunity.  What kind of products could be rushed out in weeks or even days, and start making a difference right away?  The people who sell them stand to make a lot of money if they are ready.

There are things we could do to respond to a fuel crisis very quickly.  Here's a list of ideas off the top of my head: Combined with common-sense measures like slowing down on freeways, I suspect that a 20% cut in fuel consumption is possible for non-congested driving conditions.  This would achieve a similar effect to a drop in fuel prices from $3.00 to $2.40; enough to take the edge off until more permanent fixes can be implemented.

Entrepreneurs, I put these ideas which are not already patented by someone else into the public domain.  If you can turn any of them into a design and profit from it, more power to you. 
This guy has a method for increasing power at lower rpms thereby enhancing gas mileage up to 20 percent. A bit of anecdotal evidence seems to support him.
Why don't you just put a tax on petrol like we have here in Australia and most of Europe. I just filled me 1.5l 4 cyl car with petrol that cost me $1.23AUD per litre. Translated this is $4.92AUD per gallon.

What was found here is the higher price encouraged smaller cars that use less petrol. It is exactly the same in Europe where petrol is more expensive than here.

There are no technological breakthroughs required in putting on a tax only political ones.
Mr. Gloor:  Politically impossible.  Voters in Washington state are collecting signatures for a referendum to repeal a 0.10 USD/gallon fuel tax.  Do you seriously think that any politician could enact a 2.00 USD/gallon tax increase and remain in office?

Arturo:  That looks as phony as a three-dollar bill.  Singh's "advance" would just mean greater heat losses to the combustion chamber, with attendant efficiency losses.  The way to achieve greater efficiency is with compact fast-burn combustion chambers and greater turbulence in the charge to carry the flame front around faster; unfortunately, there is a limit to how fast you can burn the fuel at low speeds without getting torque vibrations and other behavior which make the car noisier and less comfortable.
What about a feed back system similar to the Prius, that gives you MPG feedback in realtime. I suppose it could hook up readily to the port where they read your car's computer under the dash. Seems like it could be manufactured to cost around $150-200 and could be purchased as an add-on for new vehicles. Just a thought.
This is a common feature in trip computers, but they tend to be high-end options.  The manufacturers don't like to release the sort of information regarding their proprietary (vs. EPA-mandated test) data formats which would be necessary for third parties to build such things, for obvious reasons.

I personally find it interesting that my instantaneous MPG in top gear can go from 45+ down to 14 as the turbo spools up to full boost for passing.  The real losses come from aerodynamic drag and the brakes, but the trip computer does not account for changes in the kinetic energy of the vehicle.
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Driving today, I kept my eye on the instantaneous MPG. With the cruise control at 75, and on a roughly level and straight stretch of highway, my trip computer told me I was getting 26-28 mpg. With the cruise control set to 65, I got between 27-29 MPG. Of course, slight inclines or declines push the MPG way up or down. (My car is a '97 Sebring convertible with a 2.5L V6.)

Based on this very unscientific test, I see little motive to slow down on the freeway. Unless you were referring to chronic speeders who aren't happy at anything less than 90?

I would trade my car in for a Euro-style smart car or an HEV before installing a throttle limiter in my current vehicle. As a single college student, a small, efficient smart car would be very practical. (Honestly though, as a college student I only need to fill the tank at most once a month anyway.)
Then if this is political suicide for your governmant then I think that you are in serious trouble. If you do not reduce your dependance on oil in the next 10 years then it will be very difficult for you.

Mind you the tax here only reduced the petrol consumption not eliminated it. We will be in exactly the same boat. No-one in government here will do anything to promote electric cars. There is not even the same tax breaks for hybrids that you have.
Great post. I think it is a key point regarding human psychology that people tend to follow set patterns until forced out of them...

...and when that happens, the new pattern can be ALMOST ANYTHING.

It is up to us to have useful options ready and waiting. E-P - I know you have said as much before.
(The above comment was removed because it was spam.)

ryos:  Those are disappointing figures.  Of course, very small slopes could have upset your measurements.  I don't suppose that you tried driving the same segments at different speeds just as a cross-check?

My experience is quite a bit different.  My Taurus got about 26 MPG at 70 MPH, 30 MPG at 65 MPH and around 32 MPG at 55 MPH; that's about a 20% difference.  My Passat TDI gets about 38 MPG at 70 MPH, 40-42 MPG at 65 MPH, and the trip computer reports figures which correct to the high 40's at 55 MPH and upwards of 60 MPG at 45 MPH (it reads about 10% high).  That's something like a 50% improvement in distance/fuel.

Slowing down might not make enormous differences for present vehicles, but auto manufacturers could probably switch from V6's to I4's in short order.  They could also change transmission gear ratios to favor cruising economy over top-gear acceleration.  That would help a little, and buy some time.

OT:  The plug-in hybrid meme has hit Slashdot.
Why do you expect people to do much because of the cas prices?

A quick calculation:

Gas is up about $1.00/gal over a year ago. I average 17mpg. I drive abot 350 miles per week. That's 20.6 gals of gas per week, at an incremental cost of $20.60 per week over last year.

It's real money ($1,070 per year), but at the same time, people blow more than that per week on Starbucks coffee.

It's not enough pain, yet, to change their behavior. Especially when the best way to address the problem is to sell the current vehicle and get a more efficient one. With about half of the vehicles being 7 years old or less (and probably still being paid for), and driving more than 60% of the total miles driven (, the economics don't make sense to many. These vehicles are in good shape, run well, but aren't worth much at the used car lot. In selling them, you generally will take a bath, economically. It makes more sense to keep the vehicle and spend a grand extra this year, than to sell it, take a multi-thousand dollar loss, and lay out more thousands to get something that might save you half of that grand you were spending on fuel.
Joe:  Your total cost is around $3000/year, or $250/month.  That total is enough to get many people to notice.

Replacement of a 17 MPG truck with a hybrid achieving 42.5 MPG or more would save at least 60% of that.  That's $1800/year; you can pay off a $6000 premium inside the length of the typical car loan at that rate.

Still, that's something you do at vehicle-replacement time when you're thinking about the next 5-10 years; it's not an immediate response.  I wish I could find the article about the Tacoma owner whose fairings got his highway mileage up to 33 MPG; such retrofits would be easy, relatively cheap and could be slapped onto a great many vehicles within months.
One observation. These days, many cars are leased and not purchased. Getting out of an existing lease can be a bit tricky, but when the lease is up the car goes back to the car owner.
Pickup truck bubbles may not do as much as you might think. Detroit already designs pickups to create a static air-bubble over the bed (meaning those mesh tailgate replacements are hurting mileage).

I know of one guy who sold his F150 for a VW Golf; apparently he's saving more than enough in gas to finance his new purchase.
That's not the whole story; leaving the tailgate down improves mileage, and a tonneau cover improves it even more.  Here's the scoop.

The pickup fairing described in the article I can no longer find ran from the top rear of the cab to the top of the tailgate, eliminating all square surfaces in between.  Note that the 30% reduction in drag described at the link was achieved with a redesigned cap.

Good for your buddy.  Golfs are fun cars, and he's achieved some measure of future-proofing.
The Perodua Kelisa costs $8500 over in the UK (the cheapest new car available in the UK), and gets 46 mpg (mileage may not compare exactly, it's a European driving cycle and I had to convert from imperial to US gallons).

It's a small car, but still it seats five people with some space left for luggage or shopping.

So, if you are willing to go for a smaller car, there's no need to pay extra for fuel economy (46 mpg is better than any car on the US market other than the Prius, Honda Insight and Honda Civic Hybrid, and the Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid don't beat the Perodua Kelissa by much, and that's on the pretty generous US EPA assessment of fuel economy).

And I find it hard to believe that a 17 mpg truck can be replaced with a 42.5 mpg hybrid without making some hefty compromises on size and/or performance, and while spending just $6000.
Some purchases are driven by need, some by other factors.  The person who bought a 17-MPG truck as a fashion statement or to look patriotic could buy a 40-odd MPG hybrid next time for the same reasons.
Are we willing to dismiss Somender's ideas with out trying them first? I'm certainly not. I have modified the cylinder heads to his specifications on several race cars. Fuel consumption has been reduced by 35%, oil now runs clean allowing less frequent oil changes, engine temperature runs 20 degrees F lower, exhaust smell is greatly reduced and idle quality is drastically improved.

Can the same results be had on daily driven vehicles? I have two daily drivers running with modified heads today and more being assembled, initial results are very favorable. All accomplished with minimal input. So what’s to lose, do we dismiss the idea with out giving it a try? Or should we let the results speak for themselves?
automotive breath, I checked your profile.  Your blog does not exist, and you have no e-mail address.  How do we know that you're not just a shill for Singh?

Better yet, if Singh's scheme works, why haven't all the auto companies in the world licensed it?  Do you realize how many billions of dollars a 54% improvement in gas mileage (35% reduction in consumption) is worth to Detroit under CAFE regulations?

Explain that.  If you can.
My name is Randy Naquin from New Orleans, Louisiana. My email is I have no idea why the automobile manufacturers haven’t licensed this idea; perhaps they have never tried it?
Well, I would love it if the trick worked as advertised.  However, I am extremely skeptical of any scheme which promises something for (effectively) nothing without a justification that satisfies both the scientists and the accountants.

If this thing works, I hope you get a chance to prove it.  Then I hope Singh pays you a commission on whatever fees he gets, because you will have earned it.

Me, I'm from Missouri.  I'd insist on putting the before-and-after engine on a dynamometer... and a calorimeter.
I called a friend of mine tonight to inquire about his truck. The results he is claiming don't mean much because many changes were made to his engine. The grooved heads were only part of the overall combination of modifications. Initial reports indicate an improvement from 11 to 16 MPG, not bad for an engine that is running a camshaft that is borderline race orientated and an antique carburetor design. Besides his clams are very “unofficial”.

The second daily driver will be put on a chassis dyno. Again the overall combination has been changed so grooves alone will not be created for the end results.

I will soon be testing a Truck engine with minimal modifications, if people would like I’ll have it dyno tested, I have never before seen a need for a dyno, but I understand others may like to see “official” results.
Another way to look at it is this way: the average household can save about $1,150 at today's gas prices by switching from an average 25 MPG to 55 MPG. At $5/gal, the potential savings goes up to $2,300.

So, how much of a change will be engendered relative to current demand distribution if the extra "pain" is $1,150 per year above where it is?

People often forget that the vast majority of auto costs are ownership costs. Even at $5/gal, those costs are at least 53% of all costs, on average. Just owning a vehicle is expensive, so cutting back on operating costs has somewhat of a limited effect, even when gas is expensive.
I have seen all of the proof I need. Pulling the heads off of a race engine, cutting grooves in the heads and reinstalling them. The results are something I have never seen before. I welcome you to Louisiana, you can personally talk to people that have learned to love the grooved cylinder head concept. Even better, we can groove the heads on your car!
Now tell me if it works on a fuel-injected, computer-controlled, emissions-tested road vehicle.

I don't need anything done with my cylinder head, I'm already getting 42.3 MPG and 247 ft-lb of torque out of a 4-banger.
I will be geting results from a modified LT1 Camaro daily driver soon. I'll let you know how it works out.
The thing is that gasoline prices really aren't that high. Someone who can afford to buy an SUV can afford $50 a tank gas. The time saved by driving faster still makes up for the extra cost of gas consumed. And in today's society, time is very expensive.

IMHO, gas prices will need to be substantially higher before you see this sort of behavior changing on the highways.
I bought a 2005 Altima for my daughter for collage. It’s a wonderful car with a
2.5 liter in-line 4 with 9.5 compression ratio, double overhead cam, variable valve timing/camshaft and four valves per cylinder. Power is good at 175 HP @ 6,000 rpm; 180 ft lb @ 4,000 rpm. The fuel economy is EPA highway (mpg): 31 and EPA city (mpg): 24. It has a multi-point injection fuel system, a 20 gallon fuel tank.

The advertised MPG is obtainable and it’s a fun car to drive. Some of us are never satisfied. Recently I added 6 ounces of acetone to the fuel tank before a highway trip. It’s long been known that acetone in gasoline reduces detonation and aids in fuel vaporizing. Driving the interstate at 70 MPH I was able to achieve 36 MPG.

My point is we can just say that the gas prices aren’t that high, or we can find ways to reduce fuel consumption. Driving a four cylinder with a standard transmission for daily transportation just makes good sense. I could have her driving a more expensive SUV burning twice the fuel. We don’t have much say on fuel prices, but the decisions we make can and will affect the amount we burn.
Karl:  At the margin, there are certainly people out there who can afford the SUV or the fuel, but not both.

I decided that I didn't want to have to trade speed against cost; my car gets 35+ MPG at 75 MPH versus about 42 MPG at 65.  The difference in cost between 65 MPH and 75 MPH is about 1.26¢/mile; unless I've mis-divided something, the additional cost is about six dollars per hour saved.  I still cruise under the speed limit unless I am pressed for time.

automotive breath:  You could have gotten her a Jetta TDI getting 50 MPG.  That would have influenced what you pay even more.  Any reason why not?
My point is we can just say that the gas prices aren’t that high, or we can find ways to reduce fuel consumption. Driving a four cylinder with a standard transmission for daily transportation just makes good sense. I could have her driving a more expensive SUV burning twice the fuel. We don’t have much say on fuel prices, but the decisions we make can and will affect the amount we burn.

Why change our behavior? If gas is cheap, then consuming it must not be a problem, right?

My point is that the cost of something should be the best signal for how much of it should be consumed. If it is cheap, then expect it to be consumed in large quantities.

In the case of oil, I don't see the problem. If the price of $2.50 reflects adequately the cost of using gasoline including pollution and other things that are usual externalities, then there isn't a problem. If these costs aren't reflected in the price, then moralizing about SUV usage doesn't work. After all, people do get value from SUVs. The extra mass provides a safety factor and SUVs get a lot of useful luxury options as well.

The users are insulated from some of the costs of their actions. The remedy is to eliminate externalities.
"You could have gotten her a Jetta TDI getting 50 MPG. That would have influenced what you pay even more. Any reason why not?"

The best I can say is I was a victim of my own ignorance. I just reviewed the specs; I had no idea the mileage was that good. I have always steered away from the diesels especially with a turbo. When I purchase a car I expect to keep it for ten plus years, I fear expensive repairs over the long run. This fear may be unjustified. I do all of my own repair work and I know from experience I can get 200,000 plus from a gasoline engine with out expensive repairs.
With mileage this good I may have to reconsider my thinking!
I also tend to run my cars into the ground, but from what I know about turbodiesels it made no sense to get a non-turbo.  The extra airflow not only increases their efficiency, it lowers exhaust-gas and exhaust valve temperatures and makes the whole thing last longer.  I expect fuel costs to be a much bigger part of ownership expenses than they've been in the last 10 years, so I went for efficiency.

Gas engines and diesels are very different beasts, the turbo versions even more so.  Gas turbos are more highly stressed than normally aspirated, the diesels are less stressed in many ways.

One last advantage of a diesel:  they have fairly good low-end torque but they are not fast, so they do not present much of a temptation for a relatively new driver to speed. ;-)  (Offset this by cold-weather troubles if that's an issue in your climate.)
I don't know much about turbo engines, when ever I hear of one I remember an article I read in the mid eighties about Smokey Yunick and his Hot Vapor Cycle Engine. He was able to extract more thermal efficiency out of a gas engine than anyone dreamed possible. 60 MPG out of a turbo gas four banger. I don't remember the details but this much I remember. He heated the fuel for better vaporizing. The air/fuel mix was so hot he needed the turbo to keep it flowing into the engine. Power was unbelievable and engine efficiency was extremely high. Look it up on the net, I think I have the article up in the attic.
Okay, there's ANOTHER one.  If the HVCE actually did that, it would make untold billions for the auto industry (they would be able to sell luxury sedans while still meeting economy standards worthy of the Focus, etc).  It's past patentability.  Why aren't those things in every vehicle rolling off the line?

If either Singh's or Yunik's scheme actually works, you have to explain some conspiracy between every company in the auto industry to leave huge amounts of money on the table.  And I don't just mean Detroit, I also mean Japan, England, Germany, Korea and China (and you can count at least one nation which thumbs its nose at "intellectual property" in that list).

Or you can just conclude that they don't work, any more than the thermodynamically-impossible "200 MPG carburetor".

Which explanation do you hold, Mr. Naquin?
As the story goes, Smokey was bought out and the concept never made it to market. I don't know if this is true. The concept was very complex and I don't think anyone else tried to duplicate it. He stopped talking about it.

With Somender's invention it's different. I have tested it on six cars with the same results. I read of a guy in Canada that has done the same. When I first tried it I expected improved performance similar to what I get when I improve volumetric efficiency. What I get is something I have never seen before. Like I said before "Fuel consumption has been reduced by 35%, oil now runs clean allowing less frequent oil changes, engine temperature runs 20 degrees F lower, exhaust smell is greatly reduced and idle quality is drastically improved" The results I see have always been imposable. Sure a dyno test will help; I don't need one to tell me these engines are very different, something very desirable. I have been modifying engines for 30 years this I have never seen.

Here's one example, yesterday I changed the oil in my daughter Altima, and it was black from carbon blowing past the rings. In my racecar the oil is clean after 100s of 7000 rpm runs down the drag strip. I firmly believe the internal combustion engine of the future will have some form of Somender's invention in the combustion chamber.
You use the words "bought out".

Try sticking to the facts.

His site proves that he's not respecting any confidentiality agreement(s).

The patent was granted in 2001 and has no notes regarding assignment to other parties.

Even if it was "bought out", it would be worth billions in use.  It's worth nothing unused... assuming it works.  Heck, if it worked you'd have companies fighting tooth and nail to use it (prove prior art and invalidate it so they could use it without royalty, etc).

There are only two, mutually exclusive possibilities:
1.  The invention is being ignored despite the billions in savings and profits it represents.
2.  The invention does not do what it claims.

Human nature says #1 is close to impossible.  I'll take door #2.
The only fact I know about Smokey's car is that I read about it 20 years ago, nothing more. It was a very interesting article.

With Somender’s grooves I can speak of facts. I am able to enjoy the benefits every weekend, receive inquires every day. Not documented by me with a dynamometer and a calorimeter but facts indeed.
I think you misunderstood my post. I said "As the story goes, Smokey was bought out" not Singh. Somender is looking for interest from manufacturers.
That Yunick patent would appear to be this one.  It was assigned to MotorTech, Inc. of Daytona Beach, Fl. (which appears to be Yunick's company).

Nobody bought the patent out.  Nobody appears to have licensed it despite the billions in profits (had it worked), and nobody's using it now that the patent is expired.

What better proof could one have that the "hot vapor cycle engine" was (ahem) vaporware?

More to the point, schemes to radically improve the power, efficiency and other characteristics of the venerable Otto-cycle engine are legion.  The ones which end up in production vehicles tend to be things like variable valve timing (cuts pumping losses), lean-burn (ditto), combustion chambers designed for swirl/tumble (burns the mixture faster after ignition, allowing the end gases to do more expansion work), more compact combustion chambers for faster flame propagation and reduced heat loss, etc.  They all operate by well-understood principles; Singh's claims are closer to magic.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  I'll believe it when I see results posted by people who could not possibly be shills, such as university researchers or auto companies.  Unfortunately for you, that list does not include a guy who claims to be posting from Louisiana and who claims to have tested this on a drag racer but whose name does not turn up in a Google search.
Yes indeed the results are also close to magic.

All of my testing is done with a small block Chevy engine. I rarely use production heads with one exception being the LT1 head. Best results can be had with a very compact combustion chamber like the LT1. I use pro topline heads with a 49 cc combustion chamber, unfortunately the are no longer available.

Chevrolet tried the LT1 head and the early vortex head in the late 90s. The compact combustion chamber allows a very high squish percentage of as much as 36%, that’s what I run. The problem GM had is detonation under heavy loads, the fix proved to kill performance and economy, that being a dish piston reducing the squish percentage to 12%. The generation III small block has gone back to an open combustion chamber, I presume because of the detonation problems.

I am now able to run 36% squish percentage with out detonation under heavy loads. I have seen engines ruined running the squish percentage this high. The condensed fuel rocks the piston in the bore, results can be devastating. With the modification I’m able to run 36% squish percentage with a cast piston with out engine failure. The burn is much faster measured by the amount of ignition timing required for maximum horsepower.
Automotive Breath: good to see you here.

This article explains Sommender's struggle to get hard numerical data on the benefits of his discovery.

He did get permission to modify a briggs and stratton engine in 2002 and put it on a dynamometer. The result is here.
if Singh's scheme works, why haven't all the auto companies in the world licensed it? Do you realize how many billions of dollars a 54% improvement in gas mileage (35% reduction in consumption) is worth to Detroit under CAFE regulations?

Maybe a little something called the "not invented here syndrome"?
Yes Arturo we may have a case of "not invented here syndrome".

I'm way past determining if it works, I was hoping to find someone that would be interested in discussing why it works. Actually it's quite simple, but to someone that doesn’t understand the claims they appear to be "close to magic".
There is so much wrong with that story that it's hard to figure out where to begin.

1.  He had to get permission to test a modified engine?  That's just retarded.
2.  Instead of working with e.g. an auto manufacturer to test on their setups and let them claim some of the bragging rights, Singh modified an engine of a type that nobody uses in modern vehicles.
3.  When major auto companies noted that changes to the combustion chamber of a side-valve engine probably are irrelevant to results for e.g. a pent-roof chamber, Singh whines that nobody pays attention to him.

And that's way over and above the guy's sense of self-importance; he wouldn't use Ford's public submission processes, instead demanding attention that he had not shown that he deserved.

There's a word for people like that; we call them cranks.

Singh had, and still has, dozens of avenues to get his data out.  All he would have had to do is develop ennough interest to persuade one graduate student (or even an undergraduate team) at one engineering college to perform the A-B test.  Just one.  At any university in the world!  Anyone who was associated with proving such a significant advance would reap a lot of free positive publicity from it.

And Singh instead blew his money on an old Briggs and Stratton.

As for "not invented here":  Delayed windshield wipers were worth perhaps $100 per vehicle, but all 3 Detroit manufacturers adopted them despite the inventor not being from any of them.  Off the top of my head, I can think of 12 auto manufacturers worldwide:

Ford, GM, Daimler-Chrysler, Fiat, Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Renault.

An invention at any one of these is by definition "NIH" at all the rest, but evidence shows that they all copy worthwhile innovations where they can and adapt where they must.  It's all about money.

Then you tell me that all of these companies, each of which could make billions of dollars from such an advance if it worked, are ignoring it.

You're also asking me to believe that this thing improves efficiency, when it:
1.  Increases the surface area of the combustion chamber, which would tend to increase heat loss and thus cut efficiency.
2.  Decreases the compression ratio, which would decrease the efficiency.

You've got to provide much more than your unsupported word or an article in a magazine (which I quit reading years ago because it was too credulous and inaccurate) before I'll accept this as fact.

You need evidence.  Extraordinary evidence, to support this extraordinary claim.  Go to your local engineering school and have them do the A-B test under controlled conditions.  Let them publish.

Until you have that, you have no business yakking about it on my blog.
Yes sir, I will quit yakking on your blog. You chose to ridicule people you know little about, I chose to find someone that is interested in discussing ideas.
E-P nobody's asking you to believe anything. We're just bringing something to the table here to talk about. Automotive Breath's tinkering was the anecdotal evidence I mentioned in the first comment.

Everything else aside you've made a reasonable request: A-B test, local engineering school, publish.

Ok thanks we know what to do.
The plural of "anecdote" is not "data".

What's really ironic is that I found a mechanism that could make this thing work.  It's the same principle as riblets for drag reduction, but applies to diffusion of heat rather than diffusion of momentum.  Reduced heat transfer would reduce engine temperatures and the greater heat retained in the end gases would increase expansion work and efficiency.  The slower diffusion is also the cause of greater emissions; fuel in the grooves does not diffuse out fast enough to be burned completely, and winds up in the exhaust.

If this turns out to be the case, it suggests that the emissions problem could be fixed using something like the Orbital direct-injection fuel system to stratify the charge and keep fuel from penetrating the grooved area.

Now, why does it fall to me, a solid skeptic of this and all other "something for nothing" notions, to come up with an explanation (testable, no less) for how it might actually be real?  Neither the inventor nor any of the advocates seem to have done any theoretical work which would explain what's going on and how to improve the known deficiencies.  That's sad.
Hi Auto~breath, how do you stomach the barrage from uninformed doubters? If any of the naysayers looked hard they would find that almost nothing done by detroit to improve efficiency in todays engines was implimented within ten years of invention! Louis Chevrolet (yeah that Louis Chevrolet) was building 4-OHC engines in the '30's. Jaguar has been building twin OHC engines since around '49. How long did it take to become commonplace? Jaguar went to 4 wheel disc brakes on all its' cars in 1957 after kicking Ferrari's and everyone else's butt at LeMans the previous 3 consecutive years. Many companies were still saying they wouldn't work on production cars. It took 'til the '80's for most of them to catchup. There are at least 2 engine developers who have been designing and building engines w/16:1 (and above) compression ratios that run without detting on pump gas. They've been at it over 15 years each. High compression is a straight line to increased HP, torque, and mileage.....until it detonates. NO race builder is trying to lower his compression ratio! How come everyone doesn't know the secrets? No matter, it doesn't change the fact that some do, and most will not apply them. Maybe they are like the people who reply AT you! Mr Somenders' modification couldn't possibly work.....everyone knows that.....except the people who are doing it! Increased surface area? Practically every combustion chamber design in use today has a greater surface to volume ratio than a hemi. Does that mean Corvettes can't be fast if they're non hemi-headed. Oh, about that 36% quench? How about 50%+ quench/bore ratio with smoothness? It's been done. Years ago. Dave
I can vouch for Sommender's idea. I run a GMC 4x4 Pickup with a throttle body injected 350 c.i. engine and an auto transmission. I would normally get about 13 miles to the gallon with my driving. (200 miles a day communting to and from work) That is 260 miles per 21 gallons that I put in when I fill up. I grooved the heads just to see what results I would get, and much to my surprise I now average 440 miles a tank which figures to be 21 miles per gallon. That was the only thing I touched. Wether it makes sense or not -- it works.

you can't explain how all those people got the results they did. You can't explain the other dyno results. Besides the Briggs n Stratton there have been an Arctic Cat snowmobile and a SMC that was a 'grooves only' test showing smoother torque curves and +6 lbs of torque at WORST. You can't explain why big auto mfr's don't include this no-cost addition to their head design other than to say (illogically in the face of the evidence) 'it must not work at all'.

And for NO reason you can't bring yourself to admit that Mr. Singh might be on to something.

Who is the narrow minded huckster here? You yourself describe Singh's claims in your own advice to Arturo here: "The way to achieve greater efficiency is with compact fast-burn combustion chambers and greater turbulence in the charge to carry the flame front around faster"

You leave out burning the normally raw mixture as indicated by typically poor burn patterns. You ignore the 15 degree cooler finding that is consistent. You also don't mention anything about Singh's modification's ability to enable advantageous tunings that just-aren't-possible in the same engine prior to the groove placement.

Everyone describes a silky smooth engine after grooving despite your theorizing the opposite.

So, is it that

#1 everyone else is wrong and their engines are not really doing what they say and the dyno tests are synchronistically inaccurate?


#2 you have some mind opening to go through

My vote is for #2.

Please, your opinions seem well formed and you are a sceptic with some amount of theory under your belt. Is it all just hot air? Is there room for practical knowlege to appear? This page looks like a discussion about everything *other* than something truly new but poorly understood. You should be up to the intellectual challenge to figure out how so many people are "wrong".
"you can't explain how all those people got the results they did."

Bullshit.  I proposed the first explanation I've seen anywhere, including on Singh's site.

None of the proponents seem to have done anything to confirm it.

"You can't explain the other dyno results."

Nobody posted them.  Hard to explain things I haven't seen.

"You can't explain why big auto mfr's don't include this no-cost addition to their head design other than to say (illogically in the face of the evidence) 'it must not work at all'."

Or they can't use it and still meet emissions (can't sell a vehicle that way).  Or the rights are so tied up by inventor intransigence that the lawyers won't let it be done.

The USA burns ~140 billion gallons of gasoline per year.  A 1/6 reduction in this is about 23 billion gallons/year, worth close to $70 billon at today's prices.  At about 1/15 replacement of the vehicle fleet per year, that's about $4.7 billion/year/year in savings that Detroit is allegedly leaving on the table.  (Yes, that's per year-squared; the savings accelerate with each year the savings accrue.)

Do you have any idea how much the CAFE-related revenue improvements would be worth?  Plus the green cred?  The "energy security" points?  The ability to capitalize on the current desire to "stick it to the oil companies"? An industry desperate for money should be all over something like this...

If it works.

"#2 you have some mind opening to go through"

All you have to do is all you ever had to do.  Prove it.  It's supposed to be easy, but nobody's posted a link to a paper by an agent who's performed an authoritative test.

Proof is the difference between prophets and cranks.
It's a little weird that you seem hell bent on saying that his development doesn't work, couldn't work, then supply a turbulence inducing mechanism then basically ignore turbulence completely. Mr. Singh and others ( ) have proffered a whole bunch of ideas about how it works. It has never been studied, so how can there be links to papers? Are you seriously trying to bag on his discovery because nobody has discovered it yet? Sheesh.

Citing the big $ saved would echo Mr. Singh's confusion about why it is so hard to get Big Motor to try it out. The only thing I've seen about the legal issues was his unwillingness to use the "Leave your rights at the door" GM submission policy. That seems prudent.

Since you write as if you never visited his site after concluding that it doesn't work, here is a link to the Arctic Cat Dyno Test page offered by a Mr. Podgurney in Canada
I'd include his telephone no. and social security no. in case you think he's a hoax as well, but I don't have them. Perhaps a link to would help.

So, 'prove it' you say.

What proof on a barefoot Indian man's budget would you accept?

What does "work" mean anyway? What would you and your esteemed following consider 'useful'?

Fuel savings from 15-45%, smoother & cooler operation, cleaner oil, more power that sounds pretty good.
That link is:

I think automotivebreath and others are trying to understand the concept and you seem to have a lot of insight.

It makes your vehemence that much harder to understand.
Brian Bauer please contact me at
Everyone seems to be talking about results at low speed.  Are the results just a consequence of lowered compression?  You can run slower without detonation, so the charge burns while the piston is higher and the end gases do more work?

My skepticism is due to all the unanswered questions.  You'd think that this phenomenon would fascinate someone at a university (think of the cred a grad student could get from the press release alone!), so why haven't we seen an un-biased researcher reproduce this and publish?

I take testimonial postings on web sites as being worth the paper they're written on.  There are lots of people who swear by magnets on their fuel lines; in a world full of people who are out to fleece folks or are just credulous, I ask for something a little more dependable.

And stop calling me a heretic because I expect a decent standard of proof before believing something with so many contrary red flags.  Again, it should be a simple matter to do at any facility with an engine dyno (which includes lots of universities); get someone to do the test and publish.  If you want to get your name on the paper, provide the engine for the before/after test and do the machining!

(I've been trying to post this comment for most of this week, frustrated by the screwed-up "broadband" provided - if you can call this provision - by Time Warner Cable where I'm now working.  Lack of comment from me does not mean I'm not writing, it means I'm being blocked by their incompetence or malfeasance.)
“Everyone seems to be talking about results at low speed. Are the results just a consequence of lowered compression? You can run slower without detonation, so the charge burns while the piston is higher and the end gases do more work?”

Somender Singh does not recommend lower compression; actually he suggests the grooves provide enhanced turbulence that speeds the flame front velocity to help reduce detonation. With the reduction in detonation tendency, compression can be raised with the same quality fuel. This has many benefits like the one you mention “You can run slower without detonation, so the charge burns while the piston is higher and the end gases do more work?” another being milling the head to lower the compression reduces the combustion chamber surface area.

Skepticism in this day and age is understandable with all of the scams we see every day. It’s important to remember that just because the evidence provided does not provide the proof that you need to be convinced does not mean that this idea doesn’t work, it merely means that you personally have doubts.
Well Engineer-Poet you got my interest again, but this time it appears you got your self in a pickle. I’m a long time reader but first time poster. With all the hoopla about the grooves I decided to read up on it. Engineer-Poet it looks like ether you don’t have your facts straight or you have decided to distort the facts.

Engineer-Poet stated

“You're also asking me to believe that this thing improves efficiency, when it:
1. Increases the surface area of the combustion chamber, which would tend to increase heat loss and thus cut efficiency.
2. Decreases the compression ratio, which would decrease the efficiency”

After reading up on the subject Somender Singh recommends reducing surface area of the combustion chamber by milling the head. In addition he is recommending raising the compression ratio.

In another instance you demand

“Try sticking to the facts”

You Engineer-Poet got the facts all backwards, so in your own words what he is doing, reducing the combustion chamber surface area, raising the compression and increasing turbulence intensity, will increase the engines efficiency.

This guy has developed quite a following, read more:

Les from the UK says:
“I've tried his grooves on a 530 and with 25 degrees static advance and could not get the engine to ping/knock under any load/speed combination, in my experience anything over 15 degrees produced high load low rev knock on a normal head, the engine set at 10 degrees static advance (normal) will pull happily down to 1000 revs in 5th and thats with a bad exhaust leak, i can't comment for the moment on fuel economy and high rev power because of the exhaust, i've took it up to a hundred and it seemed ok”

“the grooves have returned the plugs to "as new".

And Harish Sosa from India says:

Recently I made grooves in my 95 make Suzuki Esteem 1.3 ltr carburetor as per Mr Singhs instruction.......found very good improvement in performance.....I have LPG gas as an alternate fuel....most interesting thing is my mileage went from 480 kmpl to 650 kmpl with improved performance in LPG mode.....earlier my full tank of lpg of 45 Liter was giving 480 km in city its giving whooping 650km in same driving condition.....remember this is not straight line driving... . engine is also running colder.....

Groove effect is really working good.... Enjoy.......

And it appears dozens of people at NO Problem Raceway love it.

But the people that really have my interest are MPGMike and the folks at; they are taking the grooves to a new level.

Maybe time to take you own advice:

“Try sticking to the facts”
Now that I have real Internet access again, I can post real replies:

"It's a little weird that you seem hell bent on saying that his development doesn't work..."

I didn't say that.  I said:
1.  It hadn't been proven to work in published laboratory tests (a higher standard),
2.  The increase in emissions could be a show-stopper (this hasn't been quantified either).


3.  Nobody has shown that grooving still yields an improvement when combined with other advances like spray-guided direct injection.

"What proof on a barefoot Indian man's budget would you accept?"

Whatever he can get for free, like an American or European engineering graduate student performing a before-and-after test and publishing a paper?  Look how many people have claimed to have tried this on their own engines, in this discussion thread alone; why haven't one of you gotten together with an engineering school with a dyno and emissions measurement gear and done some in-depth testing?

"Fuel savings from 15-45%, smoother & cooler operation, cleaner oil, more power that sounds pretty good."

So why has nobody written and published a paper on this earthshaking advance?  Doesn't it deserve an independent appraisal on all of its merits?

"But the people that really have my interest are MPGMike and the folks at; they are taking the grooves to a new level."

Have they published a paper yet?  Got a cite for me?

I would love for this to be real.  It would be a huge down payment on the reductions we need to make in oil consumption.  If it could be retrofitted to the existing fleet with a remanufactured cylinder head and some pollution and computer adjustments, that would be astounding.

I just want some confirming evidence that's stronger than anecdotes.  Something like "Across the range of 1500 to 3000 RPM and 15 inches manifold pressure, torque increased between 22% and 27% with no change in fuel consumption."

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