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Discussion Starter #1
I just found this website and have been thumbing through it. I think the insight is a very cool car and Id like to get one in the next year or so, but we'll see. I currently drive a Eagle Talon TSi.

Anyways, I was looking for a thread that talked about modifications people were doing to improve the insight's either emissions or mpg. I saw the K&N suggestion. Weight reduction probably isn't going to do much I'd guess as I bet its plenty light. What about a CAI (cold air intake)? They certainly can (theoretically, at least) improve performance, but what about mpg? Id also be interested in modifications that increase power output while keeping mpg or bsfc constant.

If I were to try to improve the mpg/emissions on an older non-hybrid car, Id consider trying to "de-tune" it to decrease power, but improve emissions. I doubt tuning would do much as this car was certainly designed to optimize those factors. Does anyone know of or has anyone attempted to mess with the tuning to improve either mpg or emissions. It probably isn't really do-able as there is probably not much power to spare.

What about removing the muffler (certainly not the cats, but just the muffler). I'm not sure how loud this little thing would be w/o a muffler. And it may need a re-tune with less backpressure.

Anyway, I really like your guys' cars, and hopefully I'll get one one day. I am looking forward to seeing what those auto engineers are gonna do here in the future.
 

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mods for mpg or emissions

I can only say that maybe I've experimented in this avenue. See Mods: TURBOCHARGED INSIGHT for a possible hint as to what can happen when you have to much time on your hands........... :twisted:
 

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While cool air would deffinitely give you better preformance if you wanted to get better mileage you'd go in the opposite direction. Some who live up north have actually done a hot air mod where they get hot air heated off of the catylitic converter to be sent to the engine so that they can use lean burn durring the winter months. Hotter less dense air would use less fuel and result in better mileage. If perhaps you could come up with some system that would put cool air to the enigne durring higher throttle positions and warm air durring light throttle position periods you would have something cool there on your hands.

As far as removing the muffler, I think there is something there that has to do with a specifically defined amount of back pressure that you probably wouldn't want to mess with, at least not if you want to keep your mileage.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Rick said:
While cool air would deffinitely give you better preformance if you wanted to get better mileage you'd go in the opposite direction.
hmm, I hadnt really thought about that. It makes sense though. Ive been trained to think that cold intake air is always desireable. Ive got to get into a fuel economy mindset and out of the performance mindset. Where does the stock intake on the insight open?

One thing I was thinking about, and it would probably be more doable (if doable at all) on a larger engine, was to add a rankine cycle to your car, using the exhaust as a heat source. I'm not sure how reasonable that is, but I wonder if anyone has ever tried it. Probably add a good amount of weight though.

The power out of the cycle could potentially be used for several things I suppose, depending on how much power it produced. Maybe just used to charge up the battery, maybe used for forced induction? Or maybe you could run the fluid through the engine block (in place of coolant) to both cool your engine and convert fluid to steam in your rankine cycle rather than using exhaust heat. I doubt you'd get that much heat out of your exhaust on this little 1.0L, but who knows.

Willie, I skimmed through that thread. I couldnt believe that you turbocharged it! Pretty impressive.
 

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I would think that if you're looking to "hot rod" something, there are much better choices then a 3 cylinder Honda. :) Aside from Will's turbocharger, I can't think of any "standard" modification that would result in a power increase while keeping emissions the same (or even decreasing). Well, besides a conversion to pure electric, of course.

Not exactly sure what you mean by "de-tuning" an engine to decrease emissions. If anything, that would result in INCREASING emissions as an improperly tuned engine will not burn as clean. Though I guess it depends on your definition of "tuning".

BTW, I have never had a problem acheiving lean burn in even the coldest of winter (-40) days here.
 

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Hmmm... how about this. Ive heard something about this before, so its not my original idea. It's been done before. That is, some sort of heating device on the catalytic converters to heat up the cats before you start up the car. Maybe you could remote start it a few minutes before getting into your car. As many of you know, cats arent effective until they reach a certain temperature. If you've ever seen an auto get emissions tested from a cold start, the emissions are terrible in the first few minutes until the car warms up. Someone ran a car for 30 minutes and 80% of HC emissions were in the first 5 minutes. This was in part because FI engines run very rich on cold start (not sure how true that is for the insight), and the cat isnt hot enough to be effective. Heating up the cats closer to operating temperature before sending exhaust gases through would decrease those terrible start-up emissions.

Aaron Cake, eventhough I do think that Willies turbo project is pretty cool, I am not interested in hot rodding an insight. Just improving the mpg/emissions. I did mention that id also be interested in performance improvements as long as the emissions or mpg were'nt noticeably effected. To be truthful, what I am really interested in is specific fuel consumption. i.e. (the mass flow rate of fuel)/(Power output). That is why I mentioned increasing power output while keeping mpg the same. That would also decrease my sfc.

How I would tune it exactly, I guess I havent gotten that far. Looking at how HC, NOx and CO emisions change as A/F ratio changes, one will see that they each rise/fall drastically depending on how rich or lean youre running. Running lean, you would see a big decrease in HC and CO, but a big jump in NOx (note: the very lean running diesel produces high NOx emissions). By tuning, I suppose I was referring to changing the A/F ratio in an attempt to change both my fuel usage and which emissions I wanted to minimize.

james, I'm not sure how I could use exhaust heat to charge a battery (unless, of course via a Rankine cycle)? As far as lowering back pressure, thats what I was hoping for by omitting the muffler, but someone already discouraged that idea.
 

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Thermocouples would not nearly produce enough power to be effective.

Adding a Sterling engine to recover heat losses would increase the weight so much that the modification would be pointless.

Remote starting the car, then letting it idle for a few minutes to "warm up" results in a much slower warm up then simply driving it, and thus higher emissions.

I would think that people would have to look long and hard to make the Insight a more efficient car.

The only thing that might hold a possibility would be to increase the size of the electric motor and battery pack, while reprogramming the ECU to make the car more electric then it currently is. And of course, adding an external charger to the pack. This, of course, is a significant modification.
 

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If you want to improve your emissions, the first step is to stop driving that Eagle Talon TSi. It is hard to take your interest in modifying an Insight seriously while you still roll down the highway in a 4x4.

You are just daydreaming. Commit.

Walk the walk.
 

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4WD is only a small factor in overall MPG. I owned a number of pre-85 Subarus (before they started growing), which were 4WD and pretty darned good in the MPG department. Plus which I'd have the pleasure, several times each winter, of pulling some flatlander's honking big SUV out of a snowbank :)

Or on the other side of the argument, what's the MPG difference between say a Chevy Suburban with and without 4WD? Then compare that with reasonably-sized vehicles, either 2 or 4WD.

---

FYI King, thermocouples are neat little solid-state devices that generate an electric current when the ends are at different temperatures. I don't know offhand just how efficient they are.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Aaron Cake said:
Remote starting the car, then letting it idle for a few minutes to "warm up" results in a much slower warm up then simply driving it, and thus higher emissions.
Remote starting the car isnt what I had in mind. Reread my post. What I was talking about was a remote that would start some sort of electric heater wrapped around the cats to heat them up before you started the car.

Will M said:
If you want to improve your emissions, the first step is to stop driving that Eagle Talon TSi. It is hard to take your interest in modifying an Insight seriously while you still roll down the highway in a 4x4.

You are just daydreaming. Commit.

Walk the walk.
What a welcome I'm getting. If you must know, I am a laborer who is in a decent amount of debt. My talon is worth about $2500. Not nearly enough to swap out for an insight. My talon doesnt get great gas mileage, but Its too bad I gotta have an insight to be welcome to a discussion. Guys'll come by the forum I frequent and say they want that particular car, and they'll get a lot of encouragement. I assumed Id get the same.

I was thinking, "Thermocouples? We used those as thermometers. " But once you explained it, I realize/remember that they worked by reading the voltage difference between two points at different temperatures. I appreciate the response, james. That idea was the kind of response I was hoping for, even if its not practical its interesting to consider different ideas. I'm a little discouraged to bring up any other ideas, it doesn't seem that I was too well received, in general.
 

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Large radial aircraft engines after ww2 used what they called a PRT. Power Recovery Turbine. Basically it's a air motor driven off the exhaust and the power connected directly to the crank shaft. The Wright R3350 "Turbo Compound" engine gained about 21% power with no increase in fuel consumption. A few years ago I read in some auto mag that someone was trying it and they got about a 8% power increase.
It seams to me that 8% all the time, compared to 10% once in a while for the IMA, would be a better system. What the heck use them both.
 

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KingChooser said:
...it doesn't seem that I was too well received, in general.
If you drive the Insight (especially the 5spd) and interact with it on the highway while watching the real-time fuel consumption display you will get a very good sense of how finely engineered the Insight is. By that I mean that there is not a lot of room for error or changes. For example, people have changed to non-OEM tires and found that the extra drag keeps them from being able to maintain lean-burn while driving at their usual speeds. Or look at the MPG hit that the CVT takes to get lower NOx emissions and hence an SULEV rating.

So I think people here are going to treat ideas for improving the Insight with justified skepticism. I wouldn't take it personally. Best of luck in getting your Insight ASAP.
 

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KingChooser said:
Will M said:
If you want to improve your emissions, the first step is to stop driving that Eagle Talon TSi. It is hard to take your interest in modifying an Insight seriously while you still roll down the highway in a 4x4.

You are just daydreaming. Commit.

Walk the walk.
What a welcome I'm getting. If you must know, I am a laborer who is in a decent amount of debt. My talon is worth about $2500. Not nearly enough to swap out for an insight. My talon doesnt get great gas mileage, but Its too bad I gotta have an insight to be welcome to a discussion. Guys'll come by the forum I frequent and say they want that particular car, and they'll get a lot of encouragement. I assumed Id get the same.
Keep in mind that a person can only respond to the context that is provided. You didn't say, "I can't afford an Insight just yet, but I really want one, and I'm curious about whether you guys who have them think they can be modified in ways to improve the already impressive technology." All you said was, "I drive a Talon. I don't have an Insight. I have suggestions for modifications."

The most impressive thing about the Insight is that Honda stopped drawing on napkins and actually built the thing and offered worldwide distribution in 2000 at normal car prices and three years later, they are still doing it. They are walking the walk. I respect that.

Now, given the new context you are providing, I'm thinking, "If you can't afford to buy the car, you probably can't afford to modify it." Even if you come up with a good idea, you probably can't implement it.

I understand your position. While I've never been in a lot of debt, I've had quite a few years with remarkably low income, and since I was unwilling to take on debt, I didn't have much stuff. I've had dreams of stuff I couldn't buy. Playing with the dreams made life more interesting.

I openly invite you to dream. I also hope that as the market for used Insights increases its supply and your debt situation improves, your dreams of owning an Insight will still be rich when you find one you can afford.
 

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Ah, warming the cats makes sense. However, I would think it would take quite a lot of time and energy to "warm it to the core". By the time your cats are warmed, your traction pack could be half discharged. The combustion engine warms it much quicker, from the inside-out.
 

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I've come to believe that if you can post at a forum with members from all over the world, you would do well in Public Relations. At other boards, I have found that even when you try not to offend, it may happen anyway. Still, it's good to fight the temptation to assume things about other members.

This is a very good forum. Evidence of that is I've not known a disruption here. Apologies have been made over this honest misunderstanding.
 

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Install an engine block heater that connects to 120V AC outlet.
In winter (any time of year actually) the engine will reach it's operating temperacture much more quickly when it's started warm so it will pollute a lot less an use less fuel in the first 5 to 10 minutes of driving. This also greatly reduces engine wear because most engine wear occurs at start up and when the engine is runnning cold.
As a bonus you get heat out of the vents 3X quicker too!
 

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"Large radial aircraft engines after ww2 used what they called a PRT. Power Recovery Turbine. Basically it's a air motor driven off the exhaust..."

And isn't this exactly what the output side of a turbocharger is? So replace the compressor side with a small generator, and there you are! And of course a larger pipe on the downstream side, to increase the pressure differential...

However, then you have the problem of re-doing the control software. Not impossible, but instead of having an in/out flow from the motor/generator, you'd have a varying level of turbo/generator assist that's almost always there: very little at low speed, more at highway cruise. Only during actual decelleration would anything go from t/g to battery pack.
 

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The input side, or the hot side, of a PRT is exactly like the hot side of a turbocharger. The output side of a PRT produces rotary horse power exactly like the crankshaft of a reciprocating engine. The PRT H.P. could be used to power anything you wanted, such as fluid pumps, generators, compressors, etc. Curtiss Wright used a internal gear driven "supercharger" for boosting manifold pressure, so chose to apply the PRT H.P. directly to the crankshaft.
The advantage of the PRT over the turbocharger (or the supercharger for that matter) in producing extra H.P., is that the turbocharger adds more air to the engine and in order to maintain the optimum fuel/air ratio needs to add more fuel. The PRT adds "free" H.P. meaning no extra fuel consumption. There is still all the heat related problems that a turbocharger has, and the extra weight and cost.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Tim Maddux said:
If you drive the Insight (especially the 5spd) and interact with it on the highway while watching the real-time fuel consumption display you will get a very good sense of how finely engineered the Insight is. By that I mean that there is not a lot of room for error or changes.
I can believe that. I dont have any experience with the insight so I wasnt really sure. What made me think it could be done was the fact that Honda was surely on a budget and may have cut a few things that would have further improved mpg/emissions. For example, as stellar of a sports car as the $50,000+ Z06 is, people still find many modifications to improve its performance, from an aftermarket exhaust to a visit with LPE.

sno779 said:
Large radial aircraft engines after ww2 used what they called a PRT. Power Recovery Turbine. Basically it's a air motor driven off the exhaust and the power connected directly to the crank shaft. The Wright R3350 "Turbo Compound" engine gained about 21% power with no increase in fuel consumption.
When someone acts as if while a supercharger takes power right off the crank, their turbocharger is generating "free" hp, I usually explain to them that that isnt entirely true considering how much harder the pistons have to work on the exhaust stroke pushing the exiting gas through a turbine blade.

Connecting the output shaft directly to the turbine is something I havent heard of, I dont think. If they saw an increase in power, and Id believe it, thats something to consider. Thats pretty interesting... (I suppose I should maybe add a little side note here. That is, Im just talking here, no immediate plans to actually atempt any of these Ideas. Im just interested in talking about it in an attempt to learn something. I'm definately interested enough where I could see myself trying something like this someday, but not anytime in the near future and surely nothing as complicated as a PRT. Very cool idea though.)

Will M said:
Keep in mind that a person can only respond to the context that is provided. You didn't say, "I can't afford an Insight just yet, but I really want one, and I'm curious about whether you guys who have them think they can be modified in ways to improve the already impressive technology." All you said was, "I drive a Talon. I don't have an Insight. I have suggestions for modifications."
Well, close. I did say, "I think the insight is a very cool car and Id like to get one in the next year or so, but we'll see." But, regardless, I may not have been as clear as I should have been.

Will M said:
Now, given the new context you are providing, I'm thinking, "If you can't afford to buy the car, you probably can't afford to modify it." Even if you come up with a good idea, you probably can't implement it.
I sometimes answer posts by new members at the earlier mentioned car forum I frequent. Some kid'll say something like hes got $400 and wants to add a turbo to his car and you can tell right away that this is just some kid who has no idea what he's talking about and you'd bet any amount of money that he will NEVER do what he is claiming hes planning on.

I typically don't discourage him or anything, just explain to him/her that it is a very difficult project and try to clue him in on a few things as well as clear up any confusion he has about it. I dont tell him what I really think, I cant see the point in that. Course, all I wanted to read were some ideas, whether they be WAY too expensive to actually do or way too heavy or whatever. Maybe I should have been more clear about my intentions. I am not exactly looking to start a new project. I was just looking for some ideas which many guys have replied with and I'm very pleased to read them.

Aaron Cake said:
Ah, warming the cats makes sense. However, I would think it would take quite a lot of time and energy to "warm it to the core". By the time your cats are warmed, your traction pack could be half discharged. The combustion engine warms it much quicker, from the inside-out.
Yea, I wasnt too sure how realistic of an idea it was, I am pretty sure I have heard of such a device existing, but as I remember it wasnt really effective or convienient enough to be popular. I think Guillermo has a pretty reasonable idea.

I wonder if any auto makers have every experimented with a PRT-like device. What about the wheels? Someone commented that someone upgraded them and didnt see good results. Anyone know how heavy the stock rims are? Again, cost may have keep Honda from putting the lightest rims on it. Generally, from what Ive seen, light-weight racing wheels are forged from a strong material and they usually arent too cheap. The stock rims look like they have some sort of aerodynamic benefit too though as flat as they are...........I bet lighter wheels probably wouldnt make a noticeable difference anyway.
 
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