Beyond Tomorrow didn’t reply to my feedback last week, but never mind.

Something that caught my eye on this week’s show was the Mila Gas Car. The styling of the Mila reminded me a bit of an old Citroen 2CV, but that wasn’t what had me thinking. In the segment they claim it’s a purpose-built environmentally friendly car, but later mention it has a gas consumption of 76 litres for 200 kilometres, which sounded very inefficient to me, so I decided to do some research:

According to formula1.com, a Formula One car at full racing speed will consume about the same amount of petrol to cover 100 kilometres. So the Mila is only twice as fuel efficient in terms of volume. But I think the weight might be more important than the volume.

According to simetric.co.uk, a litre of petrol at 15 celcius weighs 737 grams, or about 55 kg for 75 litres.

I couldn’t find much specific information on the weight of the compressed natural gas (CNG) that the Mila uses, but since the gas is compressed, I assume the gas tank would need to be built strong to withstand the gas pressure, thus presumably increasing overall vehicle weight of the car. They claim the car weighs about 850 kilograms though. Hmm.

Actually, they mention that CNG is 95% methane, which is 464 grams at -164 celsius. This is getting confusing. OK, let’s ignore the weight for now.

Of course, the other issue is how environmentally friendly the production of CNG is compared to ordinary petrol. This was not expanded on at all in the segment, but is a crucial factor of whether the vehicle can be truly called “clean”. There is a Wikipedia article on CNG but nothing to expand upon just why it’s seen as a cleaner fuel than petrol or diesel.

Then there is the question of how this compares to liquified petroleum gas (LPG), which has been used by a small number of cars in Melbourne for as long as I can remember.

Update: OK, apparently CNG is just a compressed form of the same sort of natural gas that many cooking stoves use. There is actually a fairly decent sized Wikipedia article on it, mentioning “natural gas vehicles” and a picture from 1980 of a bus in Romania powered by a set of gas tanks on its roof. So the idea of CNG vehicles is not new…

The Beyond Tomorrow reporter Hayden Turner thinks the Mila is the closest thing to driving an F1 car. I suggest he read up about the Enzo Ferrari. It’s only… 100 km/h faster. Admittedly, the Mila does look like a lot of fun to drive, and quite a bit cheaper!

 

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