Archive for ICE

Cyclone engine

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Car conception, Green Tech with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 16/01/2012 by Alexander

I’ve covered gas-turbine engines before, and they still live on in my mind as one of the best alternatives to ICE’s. Not as a direct substitute, mind you, but as a compliment to EVs as range extending technology. It’s a rather elegant solution, since it allows for regular, fossil-fuel consuming folk to adjust more easily due to the fact that they still have to pump in fuel, while at the same time it’s a cleaner, more eco-friendly electric vehicle. Everyone’s happy.

Perhaps their greatest advantage is that they can run on nearly anything that burns. Petrol, diesel, kerosene, whiskey, perfume, basically anything that’s liquid and combustible. And that includes all sorts of lovely biofuels that hopefully will be produced just as cleanly as they burn. However, this application of gas turbines to automotive propulsion is only being pursued by a consortium (that includes Jaguar), apparently.

It even crossed my mind to do something I’ve dreamt about for years: to get myself an old car, rip out the engine and turn it into an alternatively propelled vehicle (just as these guys turned a classic Toyota 2000GT into a solar-powered EV). In this case, a gas turbine electric hybrid. And I thought to myself, how hard can it be?! You just remove the ICE and strap in a gas turbine, batteries and some electric motors behind each wheel hub. But I’m absolutely certain that in reality things would be much more complicated than it sounds. The most elementary components that have a clear place in a conventionally-powered vehicle could become a nightmare. How many gears would it have, if it even had gears at all? What would power the brake servo, the air-con, or the rest of the HVAC system? Would it be the turbine or the batteries? How would someone who wasn’t a very clever engineer even begin to rig the readouts as to how much juice you have left on the batteries, what shuts down or comes to life when the turbine kicks in, etc., etc.? That’s complicated s**t.

I’m still curious as to how gas turbines compare with regular engines. I can’t seem to find any sort of specifications as to what mileage you could get from a gas turbine electric hybrid car or what’s their emission-per-km figure. After all, it’s a very nice technology in principle, but not really worth it if takes a gallon of fuel to keep the car fully operational for a mile. The Jaguar C-X75 concept has “an estimated fuel economy of 41.1 mpg, 778 horsepower, 0 to 62mph in 3.4 seconds, and a top speed of 205 mph”, which is very nice for a concept car, but that doesn’t mean it can to it in the real world. While trying to find some proper numbers, I stumbled across yet another type of engine I wasn’t aware of, called the Cyclone Engine. Its working principle is (if I’m not very much mistaken) a modern take on the steam engine, and has many real world applications, not just powering cars. And like the gas turbine idea (and unlike the split cycle engine and, from what I can tell, the shockwave motion generator), it can burn virtually anything in order to function. The website boasts a lot of advantages over conventional internal combustion engines, just like the split cycle and shockwave engines, from efficiency to number of components, which makes me wonder why these sorts of things aren’t being pursued more aggressively by more mainstream car manufacturers. If any one of these technologies (or hopefully, all of them) take hold, they’ll be tripping over themselves to play catch-up.

Rebirth of the internal combustion engine

Posted in Car conception, Green Tech with tags , on 20/07/2011 by Alexander

ICE’s have come a long way over the hundred-and-so years of its existence. More notably, over the last 10-15 years, their efficiency has grown tremendously, since I remember in the mid 90’s, having a car with triple-digit horsepower was quite a thing. Today it’s commonplace, while fuel consumption has gone down. I’ve already written this before, but to put it into perspective, my 1991 1.6l petrol Citroen BX had 94hp, and it was considered powerful when it came out. My 1992 Volvo 460 GLE had a 1.7l petrol engine and 105hp, and could to 8.7l/100km (32.5mpg) on LPG. In contrast, my current 2.3l, 5-cylinder, turbocharged, DOHC, 20-valve 2000 Volvo S60 can pull an impressive 8.8l/100km, or 32.1mpg (with 3 adults inside, as opposed to just me in the 460) on LPG, even though it has two and a half as many horsies under the bonnet. That’s quite some progress when you think about it, and the tendency for more efficient liquid chemical-burning engines continues, as this gallery from Popular Science attests. Some of the solutions have been talked about on this blog, while others are new to me. Interesting stuff.

Split cycle is back and could be here to stay

Posted in Green Tech with tags , , , on 24/01/2011 by Alexander

Split cycle engines are a bit different from our beloved, everyday, four-cylinder ICEs (in my case, beloved five-cylinders). Instead of having all the cylinders working in tandem, there’s two cylinders on either side, a bit like a V4 were there such a thing, but were the “suck-squeeze-bang-blow” four-step cycle is repeated by each pair of cylinders. The Scuderi engine was unveiled nearly two years ago, and was little more than a promise back then, with some haughty claims with nothing but Scuderi’s word to back it up.

But these crafty guys at Massachusetts-based Scuderi Group haven’t been sitting on their backsides all this time. They’ve been testing their engine in some American car, and have backed up their original claims, such as getting 135bhp from a single litre of displacement, high fuel mileage and drastically lower emissions.

This technology has been explored before without any meaningful success.

Other split cycle engines were hampered by low volumetric and thermal efficiencies that made them inferior to conventional engines. This new engine has pneumatic valves that open outward, pushing 100 percent of the compressed air out of the cylinder. This rectifies the problems of previous designs.

What does this mean for efficiency? Scuderi tested the engine in a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier and claims the engine reduces NOx emissions by up to 80 percent and CO2 emissions by up to 50 percent. It also claims an increase in fuel efficiency of up to 36 percent over the Cavalier’s standard engine. (According to the feds, a 2004 Cavalier with a 2.2-liter four-banger and a slushbox was good for 21 mpg city, 31 highway.) You may be skeptical, and you may wonder how real this is. Scuderi says it had the Southwest Research Institute verify its findings.

The fuel economy is brilliant but what’s superb are the figures for the emissions. I imagine that as soon as they start mucking around with bigger engines, these could be an even more exciting figures!

Scuderi says the engine is built from conventional engine components and automakers could easily adopt it to suit their vehicles. It claims it could have the technology licensed and on the road within three years if all goes well.

How more fantastic could this news be? No big industrial shift, since current manufacturing processes and equipment can be used, no long wait… I can just imagine the future: driving along in a split-cycle, petrol-hybrid car, sipping tiny amounts of algae-derived fuel… aaah….

A new level

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Desirable machines, Green Tech with tags , , , on 05/09/2009 by Alexander

BMW are usually full of shit, calling their cars “the ultimate driving machine”, a catchy publicity slogan but removed from reality. But now have unveiled what could be a fantastic look into the future, and something that can live up to the hype of their P.R. catchphrase, though not in the sense of a thug-streetracer driving machine.

Their latest brainfart has been dubbed the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept Car. Hardly catchy, but it’s characteristics are quite the opposite.

It’s powered by a 1.5-lite, three-cylinder powerplant with around 3.7l/100km, which makes it sound like a sluggish, tree-hugging bore-inspiring crapmobile petrolheads like to bash on. But then it sports a 0-100kph time of 4.8 seconds and 365 horsepower, a level of efficiency never before seen. It does this by joining the ICE with electric motors, giving it autonomy in all-electric mode and the extra oopmh for the performance.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the future. These are the kind of figures all carmakers should be aiming for. I’d never thought I’d say this, but congratulations, BMW. Now all you have to do is make your cars look nice like they used to.