It seems impossible that a gallon of gasoline, which weighs about 6.3 pounds, could produce 20 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned. However, most of the weight of the CO2 doesn't come from the gasoline itself, but the oxygen in the air.
When gasoline burns, the carbon and hydrogen separate. The hydrogen combines with oxygen to form water (H2O), and carbon combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO2).
A carbon atom has a weight of 12, and each oxygen atom has a weight of 16, giving each single molecule of CO2 an atomic weight of 44 (12 from carbon and 32 from oxygen).
Therefore, to calculate the amount of CO2 produced from a gallon of gasoline, the weight of the carbon in the gasoline is multiplied by 44/12 or 3.7.
Since gasoline is about 87% carbon and 13% hydrogen by weight, the carbon in a gallon of gasoline weighs 5.5 pounds (6.3 lbs. x .87).
We can then multiply the weight of the carbon (5.5 pounds) by 3.7, which equals 20 pounds of CO2!
According to this data, since the Fort Wayne Bike Commuters have biked 7,522 miles as of 9/26/2011 (assuming each of us would have been driving cars that get 20 miles per gallon, this keeps the math easy)as a team we have kept 7,522 pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere! (7,522 miles/20 miles per gallon = 376.1 gallons of gas and 1 gallon of gas = 20 pounds of CO2)
With that 7,522 miles traveled we are leading in the miles traveled category and we are also leading the trips category with 1,339 trips by bike!
See all the stats of the 2011 Bicycle Indiana Commuter Challenge HERE.
Way to go everyone! Hats off to the other Fort Wayne teams as well (Summit City Bicycles and Three Rivers Velo Sports)!!
Just a few more days, keep up the good work!