History of ecofriendly driving?

The history of greener driving has it's routes in the natural evolution of the internal combustion engine. In the quest for better performing more efficient engines, automotive engineers produced several innovations which helped cars become more fuel efficient and produced lower emissions as a by-product. One of the key innovations was the way in which the fuel and air mixture enters the cylinders for combustion, most modern day cars use a fuel injection system which is controlled by an engine control unit or ECU as it's known.

Prior to this, the air/fuel mixture was controlled by a carburettor with valve float chambers. This was a very simplistic design by comparison. A lot of cars had poorly tuned carburettors which produced large amounts of unburned hydro-carbons which left the engine through the exhaust manifold or they would burn too lean and produce very poor emissions. Reconditioning a carburettor was a complex task on some engines so it was not something most users could do by themselves so they would often remain poorly tuned.

The engine timing was also in no way monitored by the carburettor. If the engine was timed inefficiently, either with the distributor or the engine timing chain, it would also cause inefficient burning of the fuel. When the Engine Control Unit came along, at first they would monitor and control the air /fuel ratio in the carburettor to try and ensure the car was running efficiently. This made the vehicle run at it's optimum performance as well as ensuring less hydro-carbons left via the exhaust manifold unburned. So the miles per gallon ratio was greatly improved saving valuable resources.

Over time as Engines and ECUs developed they would come to monitor and control almost everything to to with the engine. Not only could they now monitor the air/fuel ratio but they would also monitor the timing of the engine. Later still, with fuel injector rails becoming more and more popular they could now not only monitor the air/fuel mixture and the timing but they could now more precisely control the optimum point at which to inject already vaporized fuel into the cylinder. As well as these benefits they also informed the mechanic working on the car precisely what was wrong and where. Most modern vehicles have a connector port located under the dashboard, which can be connected to a computer which can read through the various sensors a fault code specific to a certain problem.

Greater testing of the road worthiness of the vehicles also led to improvements, for example in the UK we have the Ministry of Transport test or M.O.T test. During this test the vehicle is monitored to make sure it's not producing too many harmful emissions. If the car fails an emissions test it is then taken off the road until improvements are made to the efficiency of the engine. This is usually carried out at the same service garage in which the test was taken. There have also been several other innovations in the way of greener driving as people become more concerned about their impact on the planet, not just with the internal combustion engine. To mention just a few we have hybrid cars, gas converted cars and electric cars, all of which are becoming more popular.