Pill-poppin’ autos

Erica Crist

Capsule may increase MPG to save money

There are new pills, called MPG-Caps, on the market people can use in their cars. Makers of the pill claim it can stretch hard-earned cash at the gas pump. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY DAVID RANUCCI | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

The company Fuel Freedom International claims to have created a miracle pill – pop the $2 MPG-Cap in your car’s gas tank for more power and miles per gallon.

However, Yuriy Tolmachev, an assistant professor in the department of chemistry whose research is related to the on-board power production in automobiles, said it sounds like another scam.

“It’s not completely unreasonable in terms of increased fuel efficiency, but only marginally,” Tolmachev said. “I do have to warn against snake oil salesmen. If there are no independent studies, I’d personally not spend a penny on it.”

Since 1973, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has banned tetraethyl lead from gasoline because it was poisonous. MPG-Caps contain a additive that uses an iron compound to boost octane instead.

“Iron is much less toxic than lead,” Tolmachev said. “In theory, you would get more power from the same amount of gasoline.”

FFI claims the pill can “break the fuel down to its molecular level so that it is presented to the combustion chamber in a much finer mist.”

However, Tolmachev said there is no scientific meaning behind that statement at all.

When an expert from the AAA tested the pill, no significant results were found.

“AAA saw no improvement while driving at 34 mph and a 4 percent increase in mileage at 65 mph,” reported ABC News.

Evidently, it takes awhile to get the “increase in fuel mileage of 10 percent to 30 percent or more” that FFI said would be instant.

“It depends on the condition of your car,” said Heidi Grubaugh, 18, of Streetsboro. “Some people see results right away, and for some people it will take three or four tanks of gas before you see results.”

Grubaugh said she sells MPG-Caps for a little extra income and because they help people.

Shana Hindley, senior marketing major, said she can use all the help she can get when it comes to better gas mileage.

“I have an hour drive to Kent,” said Hindley, who commutes from Mentor. “But is it worth the inconvenience of buying the pills? I’m still skeptical.”

Tolmachev’s only advice on getting better fuel efficiency is to get a new car.

“There is going to be no gas on this planet in 50 years anyway, so the ultimate goal is a switch to hydrogen cars,” he said. “The intermediate solution would be hybrid vehicles.”

Contact features editor Erica Crist at [email protected].