JanGeo - that idea of having an extra reservoir is something I have already toyed with (also designed), and have considered fitting to my car at some point.
I also have an idea for solar-powered block heaters....
(1) Insulate the engine bay quite well
(2) Have some way of doing quickly adjustable grille block. Make sure this is closed overnight.
(3) Have a full undertry to reduce convertion cooling
(the above will mean that the engine will warm more quickly (due to less environmental loss).
Then... Get hold of a matt-black-painted 'solar panel', a mini version of what is used for hot-water heating on home solar setups. Then, get a small 12v water pump, with just enough solar-electric/voltaic panel, to power it. Then, you will get 10% efficiency or so from the electric panel... But much more efficiency of capturing heat on the 'matt-black' heat absorbing panel.
Then, when you drive to work, make sure you park where the sun will shine strongly enough towards the end of the day, flick the switch in the cabin to activate the engine heater, and away you go!. You could even use a layer or two of glass to provide insulation to the water-heater-panel (or even get some form of vacuum there, like double glazing), to reduce conducted loss, improving efficiency further.
__________________ Team GasMisers5 - #1 for first three rounds of the original GS Fuel Economy Challenge
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I have found a 250 watt heat unit that says it will heat the fluids in the engine (from "the oil pan up") for vehicles up to 12 liters in one hour. I believe that time will be a bit quicker if I did insulate the system really well so that as much heat as possible would have been maintained from the drive from home to work. I am looking into that now. So one hour of a 250 watt heater on a 1000 watt battery would be about 3/4 of the battery, which isn't taking it under that half way point, so I am going to research how fast batteries charge up. And I am pretty sure I can manage to have two batteries. Do those trickle solar panels you always see advertised everywhere that you just plug into the outlet in the car work at all? It seems like any extra energy I could provide would help out.
Yea, it's mspaintacular. If anyone has a better idea, feel free to put your money where your mouth is and post it up.
1991 Toyota Pickup 22R-E 2.4 I4/5 speed
1990 Toyota Cressida 7M-GE 3.0 I6/5-speed manual
mechanic, carpenter, stagehand, rigger, and know-it-all smartass
"You don't get to judge me for how I fix what you break"