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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good afternoon everyone- I'm new here, but have been reading the forums for some time now. I have just completed a 600+ mile journey down the east coast (From New Haven CT to Chapel Hill, NC) in order to find out how far I could travel on the amount of energy in a gallon of gasoline.

A gallon of gas contains 31,000 Calories, which is a heck of a lot of energy. In order to measure my Caloric usage, I used a Polar F11 heart rate monitor with OwnIndex. Then I just started riding my head off each day. I went over 600 miles in 8 days, which was by far the most I've ever ridden in a week.

Here's a picture of the bike I rode, and you can read about the trip at https://onegallon.blogspot.com


And here's a picture of me right where I finished.



In order to calculate your MPG for a given ride, just do (31,000/# Calories) * Miles you rode
 

· Frog Whisperer
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you didn't drink the gas did you?.....hey isn't 31,000 kcal just about 23 double 1/4 pounders with cheese and large fires?.....ok....so I guess gasoline isn't REALLY that expensive!.....still in all I would rather ride and eat...support your local farmers! (disclaimer: I am NOT advocating eating 23 double 1/4 pounders with cheese and fries )
 

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What an awesome accomplishment! BTW, is that the planetarium behind you? I lived in NC until I was 13, when we moved to VA. I lived between Hillsborough and Carrboro on Old NC 86, but our address was Chapel Hill. I definitely sympathize with you in your love for Duke, and my GA Bulldog fan friends don't understand. (Of course, they also aren't aware that there are sports other than football. I am in awe of the Duke basketball program and Mike K! I still remember Christian Laetner [sp?] and the Dream Team.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
TouchO - You're absolutely right - Gasoline isn't expensive at all, when you consider all the energy that is in it. The closest thing we have to gas is vegetable oil, with 30,000 Calories per gallon. It costs $8 / gallon though, and would be a pretty grim way to get around.

Slowmo - yes indeed, that is the planetarium behind me. I went to Duke, so I was hoping that I'd run out of "gas" when I got there, but the last few drops (1.75 fl oz. effective) of gas took me from Duke to Chapel Hill. Mike K is totally brilliant. He has a fireside chat outside of Cameron every year before the last Chapel Hill game, and he has such a love for Duke and a very quick and funny, yet informative way of speaking. If you can make it there (there are no reporters allowed) it is a highly recommended experience.

Ricko- You've found a truly green way to get around! Naah though, I'm talking about caloric intake. Water in necessary but not sufficient.
 

· Frog Whisperer
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nick2ny said:
TouchO - You're absolutely right - Gasoline isn't expensive at all, when you consider all the energy that is in it. The closest thing we have to gas is vegetable oil, with 30,000 Calories per gallon. It costs $8 / gallon though, and would be a pretty grim way to get around.

Actually my future son-in-law is driving diesels ( he is a diesel mechanic by trade). He and a group of friends are modifying their vehicles to run on re-cycled fryer grease! Most are just blending it still but as soon as they get their hardware up and running they will be running separate tanks, starting and heating engine on regular diesel then switching over to filtered used oil.... pretty exciting stuff...his barn looks like it was hijacked by moonshiners...LOL
 

· Incredibly slow
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Not to get too far off topic here, but gasoline is actually a bargain relative to certain other items. Comparing tuition at my alma mater from when I entered in 1974 to today, and the price of gas from when I entered, if gas had gone up as much as college, we would be paying $9/gallon. I've checked a number of other schools, and found roughly the same increase. Health care is another cost that has risen far more than gasoline.
 

· Downhill Juggernaut
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Big fan of Biodiesel here! Just wish I had a vehicle that used it. I looked into it a while back. Myself and 4 co-workers were going to go in together and get the equipment to make our own. Even with the initial start up cost it's a fairly cost effecient fuel (around 30 cents a gallon IIRC). Just have to have a vehicle that can utilize it. If I ever find an old VW rabbit, that'll be the day I look into it seriously. Well, after I get rid of my Jeep... which will hopefully be by the end of the month. Aah, to be vehicle free for a while. A worthy goal in my opinion.
 

· Frog Whisperer
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my daughter's fiance just picked up a 75 mercedes no rust, nice condition for it's age 4 dr sedan...for 800 bucks. The hubcaps are probably worth 75 bucks each! He hates it, a real dog...(compared to the passat wagon) That is the one he is doing first. (the benz)
 

· Resident Curmudgeon
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I've often wondered how far I could go on a gallon of food. Natch, it'd depend on the food, but probably something liquid like the ultra-marathon riders drink / eat.
 

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Mr. Versatile said:
I've often wondered how far I could go on a gallon of food. Natch, it'd depend on the food, but probably something liquid like the ultra-marathon riders drink / eat.

you could put your big mac, fries and chocolate shake in the blender.......

OR.....isn't that about 10.66 beers?

be an interesting experiment...lol (just seeing if you could gag the blender stuff down)
 

· Resident Curmudgeon
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"you could put your big mac, fries and chocolate shake in the blender......."

Yuuuck!:nonod:
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
mhc said:
I'm curious. Do you count just the calories from the food itself? Or all the energy (gasoline, coal, etc.) that went into producing, processing, transporting, and refrigerating it?

-mike

Mike, I just counted the calories from the food itself. I am planning to do a well-to-wheel / ground to gob energy comparison (as best I can) in the next week or so. I think it will be tough though, as if you eat strawberries from your back yard, the energy to get them is next to nothing, while if you eat steak imported from japan or something, its taken a huge amount of energy to get it to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
bignose said:
I'm curious to know how far you could push a car with 31000 calories.

hahaha. I think I could push it approximately 3x as far as the mileage the car gets. This is a really interesting question. The reason I think I could push it so far is that ICEs are only 30% efficient, while I think people use nearly 100% of the energy they consume above BMR.
 

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Efficiency

nick2ny said:
hahaha. I think I could push it approximately 3x as far as the mileage the car gets. This is a really interesting question. The reason I think I could push it so far is that ICEs are only 30% efficient, while I think people use nearly 100% of the energy they consume above BMR.
Efficiency of the "human engine" varies from one person to the next, but human beings are roughly 22-25% efficient (i.e 22-25% of calories consumed is translated into physical work). Human beings are typically less efficient than better internal combustion engines.

Since a human actually pushing a car is not a particularly optimal use of his/her physiology, it is unlikely that that a human could push the car the same distance for anywhere near the same energy expenditure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yes, but I bet human beings are more efficient "on the margin" for calorie usage. If I consume 2000 Calories a day, maybe I can do 100 Calories of work, but if I consume 2100 Calories, I think I could do 200 Calories of work. Do you agree? I admit, I am not yet an expert on Caloric consumption, but I actually do kind of bet I could push a car (albeit slowly) with 31,000 Calories (above my BMR) farther than it could drive on a gallon of gas. No?
 

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Energy losses and efficiency

nick2ny said:
Yes, but I bet human beings are more efficient "on the margin" for calorie usage.?
What does "on the marging" mean? Energy efficiency is defined as work done divided by Calories expended.

nick2ny said:
If I consume 2000 Calories a day, maybe I can do 100 Calories of work, but if I consume 2100 Calories, I think I could do 200 Calories of work. Do you agree?
No. If you can do 100 Calories of work when you consume 2000 Calories, then you can do about 125 Calories of work if you consume 2100 Calories. (i.e., the 100 extra Calories expended yields only about 25 Calories of actual work.)

In an internal combusion engine, much of the energy expended is used up in internal mechanisms (valve trains, ignition systems, air induction, fuel distribution, exhaust removal, etc.) and friction from all the moving parts, and a large portion is simply expelled as heat. The net sum is that only about 30% of the energy consumed is turned into useful work.

In a human being, much of the energy expended is used up in internal mechanisms (chemical reactions for fuel conversions and waste product breakdown and removal, inhaling and exhaling, absorbing oxygen and expunging carbon dioxide, blood circulation to and from the muscles, etc.), friction (due to relative motion between cartilege, ligaments, muscles and tendons), and a large portion is simply expelled as heat. The net sum is that only about 25% of the energy consumed is turned into useful work.

nick2ny said:
I admit, I am not yet an expert on Caloric consumption, but I actually do kind of bet I could push a car (albeit slowly) with 31,000 Calories (above my BMR) farther than it could drive on a gallon of gas. No?
Fuel consumption of the automobile can vary widely with operating conditions - excess speed results in excess air resistance losses, and too slow a speed results in much energy lost simply idling the engine. But if you were to run the automobile at its speed of maximum efficiency, you really have no chance to be able to beat it on miles/calorie by trying to push the car by hand.
 
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