Update: Indy tests the Eco System



Update, 1/13/11:

I haven't updated this blog posting in quite a while, mainly because there's been nothing new to say and I've just been collecting data on my gas mileage. But I did recently go to get another emissions test to see if there's any improvement since the Eco System has been installed.

First, my gas mileage, which has dropped in efficiency as expected due to the reformulated winter gas blends on the pumps currently (see info below for more on that). I should note that I tend to warm my car up for a minute or so during extremely cold weather, so there has been more idling time also:

Sept. 19 — 334.4 miles/8.61 gallons = 38.84 average
Oct. 24 — 372.7 miles/10.72 gallons = 34.77 average
Nov. 14 — 322 miles/9.33 gallons = 34.51 average
Dec. 4 — 345.4 miles/9.54 gallons = 36.21 average
Jan. 2 — 299.8 miles/9.32 gallons = 32.17 average

As for the emissions test, David Van Dinter was less than pleased with the results, which show a very slight drop (which is a good thing) in HC (unburned hydrocarbons) and NOx (nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide) readings, but an increase in CO (carbon monoxide) and CO2 (carbon dioxide) readings.

Here's the test, which you can contrast with the original, pre-installation test below:

In response to the data, the folks from Fuel Eco Systems offered a few explanations for why the emissions didn't notably improve, including a possible difference between summer gas blend testing (done first) and winter gas blend testing (done last week); ethanol content in the fuel; a difference in fuel stations used; and condition of the oil.

As well, they only now suggested that we should have tested only 100 miles after the installation on the same tank of fuel — a failure in communication on their part as well as a strange contradiction to a 90-day break-in period.

My personal take on this: If there are so many variables to achieving improved emissions that run counter to an average driver's habits (such as refueling at various stations, particularly while traveling out of state) and factor in the latest oil change as well as seasonal gas blends, then the Fuel Eco Systems website should make this clear next to a claim for improved emissions.

My car, at this moment, simply didn't show improvement, for whatever reason, as I understand it from the data and from Van Dinter's and the company's reaction.

We have nothing to lose at this point (and no time deadline to meet) by continuing to collect data on gas mileage through spring and into summer, when the summer gas blend comes back to pumps. Assuming my mileage increases again, this would help illustrate and prove the difference between the blends.

And ultimately, even if my emissions don't improve significantly (at this time, we aren't planning to re-test again) but I am getting better mileage, then I will have to decide if that improved mileage is by a percentage high enough to warrant keeping the part in my vehicle.


Update, 8/30/10:
A quick update to yesterday's post: Eco System representative David Van Dinter wants to be clear that the company actually guarantees between 8 and 12 percent fuel savings (as noted on this home page), not the 10 percent savings noted on another Eco System representative's page that I had been looking at yesterday. The company notes that some folks have even seen up to a dramatic 35 percent savings.

So at 6.67 percent, I'm certainly closer to the 8 percent than 10 percent guarantee.

Also, I wanted to note that I have noticed an increase in horsepower since having the part installed. I especially noticed the difference while ascending mountain passes at higher speeds than usual. The car just has a bit more punch than usual, the kind of subtle change that only a driver familiar with his or her vehicle would notice.

Update, 8/30/10:
I just returned from a two week vacation in which I traveled 4,242.5 miles round trip to the Pacific Northwest. (Some might not call all that driving "vacation," but I like a good road trip.)

This obviously provided a lot of data for this trial, as I got gas 14 times, using 102.52 gallons of gas. Do the math and this works out to an average of 41.38 miles per gallon. Considering that my pre-trial average was 38.79 miles per gallon, this shows an improvement of 2.59 miles per gallon. Not bad — it works out to be a 6.67 percent increase in mileage.

But we aren't quite at the 10 percent guarantee promoted by the Eco System folks. We also aren't yet near the 90 days the company asks folks to allow for the part to prove itself — so it'd be early to register a complaint. We can at least say at this time that the part does work to some degree, and we'll test our emissions later to find out potential improvements on that front.

Below I will post a log of my trip mileage, which shows one surprising tank where I averaged an uncharacteristic 48 miles per gallon, as well as an under-performing tank where I only got 34 miles per gallon (That's the one tank on which I used my car's air conditioning for a couple of hours — yikes.) Other driving factors to consider are of course high winds (which I encountered often), mountain passes (plenty) and a mix of high-speed highway and stop-and-go city traffic.

Aug. 14 — 227 miles/5.54 gallons = 40.97 average
Aug. 14 — 232 miles/5.37 gallons = 43.2 average
Aug. 15 — 344 miles/7.89 gallons = 43.59 average
Aug. 16 — 423 miles/8.79 gallons = 48.12 average
Aug. 18 — 327 miles/8.45 gallons = 38.67 average
Aug. 19 — 170.5 miles/5 gallons = 34.1 average
Aug. 23 — 262 miles/6.54 gallons = 40.06 average
Aug. 26 — 364 miles/8.18 gallons = 44.49 average
Aug. 27 — 262.7 miles/7 gallons = 37.53 average
Aug. 27 — 383.3 miles/9.3 gallons = 41.22 average
Aug. 28 — 219.5 miles/5.17 gallons = 42.46 average
Aug. 28 — 238 miles/5.44 gallons = 43.75 average
Aug. 28 — 404.5 miles/9.91 gallons = 40.82 average
Aug. 29 — 385 miles/9.94 gallons = 38.73 average

Update, 8/13/10: As you can read below, we're at the beginning of a product trial for the Eco System, which claims to reduce emissions and enhance mileage. After having the part installed on July 27 (there was 22 miles on my odometer at that time), I filled up this morning and basically fell in range with my pre-installation mileage (which you can see in the extended entry below). I got 399 miles out of 10.399 gallons, for an average of 38.37 mpg.

This is no surprise, as local distributor David Van Dinter said to expect a break-in period of up to 90 days to allow the Eco System to reach optimal performance. I'm also getting an oil change today, as Van Dinter says Eco System installation will essentially clean out and inject a fair amount of gunk into my oil (for lack of a better term) in its first couple weeks. The layman explanation for this that he offered me is: Apparently, once the fuel interacts with the Eco System, a chemical reaction takes place that breaks up the structure of the molecules and allows the fuel to burn more completely, leaving less residue and sediment down the line, so to speak. The supposedly cleaner lines would then be able to toast off and dispel some buildup of impurities. (Again, this is in my layman wording — call him or visit the Eco System website for more scientific terms.)

Check back for future updates as I track my mileage and eventually return for an emissions test.

— — — Original post date: Aug. 5, 2010 — — —

This post, which I intend to update regularly over the next several months, is meant to begin a data log for a product trial that I, on behalf of the Indy, have agreed to conduct.

We'll be testing the Eco System, which we first wrote about in this April 22 feature for our annual Eco issue.

This is the small gadget thats installed on your fuel line.
  • This is the small gadget that's installed on your fuel line.

For transparency: Colorado Springs-based Eco System distributor David Van Dinter has agreed to provide the Eco System at no cost to the Indy for the trial, and local mechanic Steve Gardella from the Garden of the Gods AAMCO has generously installed the gadget into my 1996 Nissan Sentra at no cost as well. The Indy has paid for a pre-trial emissions test (which I've posted below) from Castle Rock-based Air Care Colorado. (A post-installation test will be conducted at a later date to determine any emissions pollutant improvement.) I will pay for a post-installation oil change (after a couple weeks of driving) and all my fuel consumption as I would anyway for regular driving. At the test's end, should I wish to keep the Eco System, I will pay regular price for it; should I decide not to keep it, Van Dinter will take the part back.

Please see the extended entry for the pre-installation emissions report and pre-trial mileage averages and a letter from Van Dinter.

A copy of my pre-installation emissions test:

My pre-trial average mileage, as measured on both city and highway driving and by miles driven and gallons added at fill up:
June 10 — 456 miles/11.324 gallons = 40.27 average
July 6 — 395 miles/10.689 gallons = 36.95 average
July 24 — 446 miles/11.386 gallons = 39.17 average

This is a link to a local FOX 21 story from 2008, in which the news outlet describes the results of their test, which weren't favorable, and which Van Dinter will address in his letter below.

Here are excerpts of a letter from Van Dinter, written just before the Eco System was placed in my car and our test began:

Rich Prilliman and I are thankful that we have another opportunity to show Colorado Springs that the Eco System product really works. When thinking back over the testing completed with Fox News, I believe we did not receive a fair chance. So many mistakes went unmentioned, and too many rules applied. In the end, we were accused of “Making up excuses.” The part they did not take into consideration is that I sought Fox 21 to do the story, they did not come to me. Why would I ask to test a product that does not work only to be humiliated?
Here is a list of the items not taken into consideration.
1. When testing finished, we were only in the 5th week. The Eco System requires at least 90 days fully taking effect and seeing the results. Some will see results sooner, but 90 days is the minimum.
2. Emissions testing by Auto Tech Plaza showed no decrease in emissions. Emissions testing machines, according to Clean Air Colorado in Castle Rock, require calibration weekly. The Auto Tech Plaza emissions tester used was not calibrated. The comment received when asking about calibration is "the machine will tell us when it needs calibration". According to the experts, we found this comment was incorrect and this machine should have been calibrated prior to testing.
3. In April and October, fuels are exchanged. Two types of fuel exist: summer fuel and winter fuel. Fox's testing began in September and in the middle of the testing, the fuel changed from summer to winter. Winter fuel is known for reducing fuel efficiency due to the increase in ethanol. This means that without the decrease in fuel efficiency with winter fuel, the increase in MPG could potentially have been higher.

This is a link to a treehugger post on winter fuel.

Here's another from the Environmental Protection Agency that discusses the 1 to 3 percent decrease in fuel economy with winter gas.

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