This week's issue of The Economist reports (subscription required) that a new oil additive with the unfortunate name of "Clap" could improve the fuel consumption of old car engines by as much as 10 percent.
Clap (stop snickering!) was originally developed in Russia, as a nanoscale powder intended as a lubricant additive. The nanoparticles fill in cracks and abrasions in cylinder walls and pistons, improving combustion and thus fuel efficiency. The problem was finding a powder material that would do the job without compromising the lubricating properties of the oil.

The Russian project was taken over by engineers in Italy, who found the ideal material for the additive to be the mineral serpentine, which is rich in magnesium silicate.

Reportedly, a half-gram of the Clap added to your engine oil every 25,000 miles will do the trick. It goes on sale in December, hopefully under a different brand name.

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