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Internal Combustion, Version 9.4.6.beta

Posted: May 31st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Auto News | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Internal Combustion, Version 9.4.6.beta

If we believe everything we read, it may seem that the internal combustion engine is on the out. Everyone wants to talk about alternative , hybrid and electric vehicles, what we will be driving in the future and what will propel it. If you believe the hype: we’ll no doubt be driving pod shaped vehicles, powered by bacteria regenerating lithium batteries.  If you believe everything you read, we’ve written off the internal combustion engine!  I’ve got news for you: the traditional petroleum powered internal combustion engine isn’t going anyplace soon. In fact, this 125-year-old invention is just getting started. Google “better fuel economy than a prius” and the list of articles stretches endlessly. The fact is the internal combustion engine has barely hit momentum yet. BMW’s 2011 520D, Ford’s 2010 Fiesta, even Hyundai ravages the poor old Prius on fuel efficiency. Clearly a large part of this anomaly is the 125 year history – evolution – the internal combustion engine has under it’s belt. Hybrid and Electric Vehicles are new technology, and no doubt will grow into worthy advisories. Hybrid and EV are at the moment novelties, take Porsche, the 2011 Panamera Hybrid has a fuel economy of 45 mile per gallon, the 2011 911 has a fuel economy of 50mpg, go figure?

We are definitely not discounting Hybrids and EV’s, we are questioning their place in motoring.

The point, well what we’re trying to say is the evolution of the automobile has reached a pinnacle, we now have the ability to produce transport in many different guises. The next big evolution is how we drive, what we drive and why. A couple of years ago we interviewed expert driver Ian Luff on Driving Efficiently. Ian pointed out that it doesn’t really matter what you drive but how you drive. When asked what drivers can do to drive More Efficiently? Luff said “leave the car keys on the fridge and walk”  point being, it’s our over use of the automobile that is least efficient. Hybrid and EV’s will no doubt have a major plae in our motoring lives, but where? We’re quite fond of the Renault approach, building cars to fit into well defined lifestyles. Renaults Twizy – grilled/twizy – an all electric city runabout is not only innovative in design, Twizy’s whole approach is revolutionary. Renault has taken some serious RnD time on this vehicle, aimed it squarely at a Use as well as A Consumer. The result is one of those genius moments that might just change the way we think about using transportation.

Then there are genius innovations like the twin cylinder gasoline-powered Scuderi Engine. The Scuderi Engine divides the four strokes of a combustion cycle between two paired cylinders—the left cylinder functions as an air compressor, handling intake and compression, while the right cylinder handles combustion and exhaust. Key to Scuderi’s split-cycle design is that it compresses the air before it fires. By optimizing the split-cycle concept, the engine when fully developed will reduce NOx emissions up to 80 percent and improve fuel efficiency by 50 percent, compared to a conventional gasoline engine. The engine requires one crankshaft revolution to complete a single combustion cycle and is projected to have higher torque, thermodynamic efficiency, and lower emissions than possible with today’s engines. Scudari is reporting massive leaps in fuel economy. A recent computer simulation conducted by the Southwest Research Institute found that a turbocharged version of the Scuderi split-cycle, air hybrid engine boosted the fuel economy of a 2011 Nissan Sentra by 54%, to about 50 miles per gallon, simply by replacing the factory engine with a Scuderi engine. The Scuderi Group, an independent engine company in Springfield, Massachusetts, estimates its engine, which uses off-the-shelf parts, would cost a couple of hundred dollars extra, compared to $3,000 or more for a gas-electric hybrid powertrain. Scuderi’s technology is more of an evolution than a revolution, but it’s the unique combination of systems that allows the engine to achieve such huge mileage improvements, as well as improved torque and lower emissions. The basic idea is to separate the compression and power chambers, add a small air tank to capture and store energy that can then be recycled. Adding a turbocharger obviously gives the engine even more boost. Scuderi Group reckons it’s technology can replace the standard internal combustion engine in applications such as cars, trucks, lawnmowers, boats, agriculture equipment, etc. Securing $70M in funding to date, Scuderi Group’s business model is to license its technology to qualified engine manufacturers worldwide. The company’s global patent portfolio contains more than 476 patent applications filed and 154 issued in 50 countries. Early tests of the Scuderi engine have caught the interest of at least 11 major automakers that have signed non-disclosure agreements, including Daimler and Honda.

With major automobile manufacturers like DaimlerPorscheRenault~Nissan – buying into Hybrid and EV technologies – committing seriously to innovation – these technologies are bound to evolve at a rapid rate.

Brief History: 1859, French engineer J. J. Étienne Lenoir built a double-acting, spark-ignition engine that could be operated continuously. 1862 Alphonse Beau de Rochas, a French scientist, patented but did not build a four-stroke engine. 1878 when Nikolaus A. Otto built a successful four-stroke engine, it became known as the “Otto cycle.” 1885 Gottlieb Daimler constructed what is generally recognized as the prototype of the modern gas engine: small and fast, with a vertical cylinder, it used gasoline injected through a carburetor. In 1889 Daimler introduced a four-stroke engine with mushroom-shaped valves and two cylinders arranged in a V, having a much higher power-to-weight ratio, since then we’ve been adding bits that have refined and rationalized Daimler’s design, effectually achieving incremental improvements in the design, power and economy of the internal combustion engine. Popularity of the automobile has consistently moved with the state of the economy, growing during the boom period after World War I and dropping abruptly during the Great Depression. It was once said that Henry Ford freed common people from the limitations of their geography. The automobile created mobility on a scale never known before, and the total effect on living habits and social customs is endless. In the days of horse-drawn transportation, the practical limit of wagon travel was 10 to 15 miles, so that meant any community or individual farm more than 15 miles from a city, a railroad. Motor vehicles and paved roads have narrowed the gap between rural and urban life. Farmers can ship easily and economically by truck and can drive to town when it is convenient. In addition, such institutions as regional schools and hospitals are now accessible by bus and car.

 

More History: The U.S.A has been instrumental in driving the evolution of the internal combustion engine. In order to meet U.S. government restrictions on exhaust emissions, automobile manufacturers have had to make various modifications in the operation of their engines. For example, to reduce the emission of nitrogen oxides, one modification involves sending a certain proportion of the exhaust gases back into the air-gasoline mixture going into the engine. This cuts peak temperatures during combustion, lessening the amount of nitrogen oxides produced. In the stratified charge piston engine two separate air-fuel mixtures are injected into the engine. A small, rich mixture that is easily ignited is used to ignite an exceptionally lean mixture that drives the piston. This results in much more efficient burning of the gasoline, further reducing emissions. Another device, the catalytic converter, is connected to the exhaust pipe; exhaust gases travel over bars or pellets coated with certain metals that promote chemical reactions, reducing nitrogen oxide and burning hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide.

For many years engine knock (rapid uncontrolled burning that sometimes occurs when hot spots in the cylinder preignite the mixture causing loss of power) was fought through the introduction of lead into gasoline. However, concern over air pollution and lead’s destructive effect on catalytic converters forced its removal. The state of California, with the worst air pollution in the United States, has instituted a series of measures designed to reduce automobile emissions; these include special gasolines, different air-gas mixtures, and higher compression ratios. All cars, trucks, and gasolines sold in California must comply with these regulations.


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