Effect of Intake Air Filter Condition on Vehicle Fuel Economy

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jointly maintain a fuel economy website (www.fueleconomy.gov), which helps fulfill their responsibility under the Energy Policy Act of 1992 to provide accurate fuel economy information [in miles per gallon (mpg)] to consumers. The site provides information on EPA fuel economy ratings for passenger cars and light trucks from 1985 to the present and other relevant information related to energy use such as alternative fuels and driving and vehicle maintenance tips. In recent years, fluctuations in the price of crude oil ... continued below

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Norman, Kevin M; Huff, Shean P & West, Brian H February 1, 2009.

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jointly maintain a fuel economy website (www.fueleconomy.gov), which helps fulfill their responsibility under the Energy Policy Act of 1992 to provide accurate fuel economy information [in miles per gallon (mpg)] to consumers. The site provides information on EPA fuel economy ratings for passenger cars and light trucks from 1985 to the present and other relevant information related to energy use such as alternative fuels and driving and vehicle maintenance tips. In recent years, fluctuations in the price of crude oil and corresponding fluctuations in the price of gasoline and diesel fuels have renewed interest in vehicle fuel economy in the United States. (User sessions on the fuel economy website exceeded 20 million in 2008 compared to less than 5 million in 2004 and less than 1 million in 2001.) As a result of this renewed interest and the age of some of the references cited in the tips section of the website, DOE authorized the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Fuels, Engines, and Emissions Research Center (FEERC) to initiate studies to validate and improve these tips. This report documents a study aimed specifically at the effect of engine air filter condition on fuel economy. The goal of this study was to explore the effects of a clogged air filter on the fuel economy of vehicles operating over prescribed test cycles. Three newer vehicles (a 2007 Buick Lucerne, a 2006 Dodge Charger, and a 2003 Toyota Camry) and an older carbureted vehicle were tested. Results show that clogging the air filter has no significant effect on the fuel economy of the newer vehicles (all fuel injected with closed-loop control and one equipped with MDS). The engine control systems were able to maintain the desired AFR regardless of intake restrictions, and therefore fuel consumption was not increased. The carbureted engine did show a decrease in fuel economy with increasing restriction. However, the level of restriction required to cause a substantial (10-15%) decrease in fuel economy (such as that cited in the literature) was so severe that the vehicle was almost undrivable. Acceleration performance on all vehicles was improved with a clean air filter. Once it was determined how severe the restriction had to be to affect the carbureted vehicle fuel economy, the 2007 Buick Lucerne was retested in a similar manner. We were not able to achieve the level of restriction that was achieved with the 1972 Pontiac with the Lucerne. The Lucerne's air filter box would not hold the filter in place under such severe conditions. (It is believed that this testing exceeded the design limits of the air box.) Tests were conducted at a lower restriction level (although still considerably more severe than the initial clogged filter testing), allowing the air filter to stay seated in the air box, and no significant change was observed in the Lucerne's fuel economy or the AFR over the HFET cycle. Closed-loop control in modern fuel injected vehicle applications is sophisticated enough to keep a clogged air filter from affecting the vehicle fuel economy. However for older, open-loop, carbureted vehicles, a clogged air filter can affect the fuel economy. For the vehicle tested, the fuel economy with a new air filter improved as much as 14% over that with a severely clogged filter (in which the filter was so clogged that drivability was impacted). Under a more typical state of clog, the improvement with a new filter ranged from 2 to 6%.

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-2009/021
  • Grant Number: DE-AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/948545 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 948545
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc901944

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • February 1, 2009

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Oct. 31, 2016, 4:28 p.m.

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Norman, Kevin M; Huff, Shean P & West, Brian H. Effect of Intake Air Filter Condition on Vehicle Fuel Economy, report, February 1, 2009; [Tennessee]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc901944/: accessed November 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.