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# Standardised fuel pricing

Energy by the £/lb
 (+2) [vote for, against]

Fuel prices are confusing. In the UK we typically pay for liquid fuels by the litre, solid fuels by the kilogram, and natural gas by the "unit". This makes cost comparisons between different fuel types all but impossible for your average pleb. Why don't we just price all fuels on a kWh basis? After all, does anyone really care how many cubic yards (at STP) of fuel they own? It would then allow the public to make informed decisions. For example, it would be obvious that domestic heating via electricity is very expensive and that diesel is actually about 5% cheaper than petrol (rather than vice versa).
 — EnochLives, Mar 20 2014

[link]

 The main problem with this idea is that it's sensible and practicable.

Could you, perhaps, recommend using the foe (=10^44J) as the fundamental unit? On this basis, a gallon of petrol is 1.2132x 10^-36 foes.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 20 2014

I was concerned about these problems too. However, I felt I needed some balance to my "Penis Toggle" idea which is also currently doing the rounds on HB.
 — EnochLives, Mar 20 2014

"Balance" is the last thing we want here on the HB.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 20 2014

 ^I think "penis toggle doing the rounds" comes pretty close.

megaJoule's not bad for fuel consumption. A gallon of gas, 36'ish mJ, is about 10kWh. That'd make diesel (45mJ) at 12kWh.
 — FlyingToaster, Mar 20 2014

 This pricing strategy would render the student gap-year in Australia prohibitively expensive. A serious down side, they would be forced to mope around in Britain.

 On the other hand, the student gap-year in Britain would be rendered prohibitively expensive. Consequently, there would be fewer Australians moping about in Britain.

 Tough choice.

 In all seriousness, this is a great idea. It was a great idea when I had it in 2008, then again in 2012, I also thought it was a good idea when I read it somewhere, once. Maybe.

 In general I'd love to know how this would change the world. I suspect shipping wine from Chile, or toilet tissue from China would look like a silly idea (which it is). Huge monoculture crops would be disincentivized, as they'd skew the supply/demand too much in their area, the same with all big heavy bulky products.

I'm not sure charging per unit of energy works, some fuels are really energy dense and convenient. Diesel, for example, is worth more than coal per unit energy, because it's way more useful.
 — bs0u0155, Mar 20 2014

 I think you'd have to somehow have to bend the Litre until it adapted itself to the useable energy in whatever was being supplied.

 So diesel fuel tanks would have different Litres than would petrol ones. Trouble is people think in terms of filling their tanks when fueling up, so you have to adapt to their expectations.

I don't know how you'd label jerrycans in this case.
 — skoomphemph, Mar 21 2014

 //This makes cost comparisons between different fuel types all but impossible for your average pleb.

 Like when a pleb is deciding whether to fill their car with gasoline or firewood?

I like where you're going with this, but the idea doesn't go all the way. A pleb deciding between a diesel car and a gasoline one wants to know total cost over N years. Maybe diesel fuel is cheaper but diesel engines are more costly to maintain. Maybe it's the opposite. Maybe a super expensive fuel is also super efficient. \$/kWh is only part of the equation.
 — the porpoise, Mar 21 2014

Why only fuel? Why not standardise the price of everything?
 — pocmloc, Mar 21 2014

I'd like to vote for standardized beer pricing. Predictability is a good thing in this area.
 — bs0u0155, Mar 21 2014

 //So diesel fuel tanks would have different Litres than would petrol ones. Trouble is people think in terms of filling their tanks when fueling up, so you have to adapt to their expectations.

Well I guess fuel tanks would just be re-labelled with an energy capacity rather than a volumetric capacity. For example a 55litre diesel tank could basically be re-labelled as 2000MJ capacity. I can't see a problem with this.
 — EnochLives, Mar 22 2014

 You could just tell most people it's the new unit of volume.

The volumetric megajoule would probably need to be replaced with the deca-megajoule, though, so the numbers stayed small.
 — skoomphemph, Mar 22 2014

 //diesel is actually about 5% cheaper than petrol //

Usage efficiency differences make this unimportant.
 — Voice, Mar 23 2014

i wish gas stations could identify my car model by querying an actively powered RFID. And then sell an amount of gas based on how many miles I wanted to travel.
 — bob, Mar 25 2014

So in summer cars might have a 2000MJ tank and in winter only a 1500MJ tank? Fuel blends vary somewhat throughout the year, and also between suppliers, so would a volumetric energy value be adopted regardless of the actual energy content, or would the stronger blends be 'watered down' to a standard?
 — TomP, Mar 26 2014

 //So in summer cars might have a 2000MJ tank and in winter only a 1500MJ//

Also, simple alkanes change their volume with temp. About 7% between -40 and +40C
 — bs0u0155, Mar 26 2014

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