Hybrid powertrains grab all the headlines these days, but conventional internal combustion engines are also advancing at a torrid pace. Technologies such as variable valve timing, cylinder deactivation, direct injection, and turbocharging are boosting engine performance and fuel efficiency as never before.
Here, we've collected photos of engines representing some of the latest innovations in powertrain technology. From tiny inline-fours to muscular diesels to split-cycle engines, we offer a potpourri of engine technologies.
Click the image below to start the slideshow:
The Chevy Cruze Eco punched up its fuel economy to 42mpg highway by using a 1.4-liter Ecotec turbocharged engine. The engine's Turbo Airflow uses a compressor wheel (driven by hot exhaust gas) to draw air into the intake. The air is forced through an intercooler and then travels to the engine's intake manifold. The intake manifold subsequently distributes air to cylinders, where fuel is added, and combustion takes place. (Source: GM)
naperlou - not sure why the specs of the never-meant-to-be-practical Tesla roadster are cited after raising the issue of practicality of electric vehicles - seems the Leaf is the the more appropriate vehicle to cite with still impractical issues. However, since when do Americans buy cars on the basis of just practicality or just cost? My neighbor just fired-up his huge diesel powered truck to drive 2 miles to McDonalds. I have never seen anything in the back his truck - he is an office worker. My wife's molecules arrive at work in her Honda Fit the same as her friend's Mercedes. Both the truck and the Mercedes cost well over the 40,000 for the Leaf yet based on usage provide no practical advantage so some people may choose to pay extra for the Leaf - love that we all have the choice!
When I lived in Ohio the specs on the Leaf and other electrics would not have worked well with cold snowy winters, hills, and distances driven. Now I live in a medium size city in California where nothing is more than 35 miles away RT and it is flat - the Leaf would handle well over 90% of our trips with a second gasoline car for long trips. When I lived in Ohio I probably would never have fully appreciated how practical an electric car would be for some parts of the country and for some users.
To your last point on operating cost - I just carefully calculated this based on our (high) electric rates and our (even higher) $4.15 CA gas prices. The Leaf would cost us 2 cents per mile compared to 13 cents for the Honda Fit. Would the wife and I ever save this back? No way, we do not drive enough miles, but hey, instead of buying the impractical Merc or the big truck we are looking at the new (impractical) electric Fords because this interests us.
Before I get rants back about subsidies - yea, agree, but get rid of the oil subsidies first - including military expenses to keep the gulf safe for our oil. companies.
I think you have a point on the turbo. I have read dozens of posts of people complaining that their F150 EcoBoost gets nowhere near the advertised 20 mpg. First problem is they aren't going 65 which is the rated speed. More importantly, there aren't being nice to it. The turbo engine allows good mileage from a smaller engine while out of boost. The turbo allows more power from the smaller engine with boost when needed such as towing. The problem with the EB F150 is that most of the people who drive them beat on it since it has so much power at low rpm they feel obliged to use it.
I was somewhat disappointed not to see Mazda's SKY-G and SKY-D engines on the list. They are a big advancement both in turbo diesel and naturally aspirated gasoline engines.
I agree that EV is a long way off. I'm not buying a $40,000 compact just to be "green." It's even less economical where I live since the electricity cost is so high.
Natural gas and clean diesel ICE's are where it is if you ask me. I lean more so toward the NG. Clean diesel is too complicated. The Ford 6.7 trucks and other 2010 diesel trucks will suffer due to high repair costs of dpfs, scr heaters, pumps, sensors, and all the other crap related to SCR, EGR, and DPF. The advantage to diesel was simplicity. I will drive my '97 Cummins ram with 326,000 miles for a long time to come. Why? Becaues is just runs. No engine computer, no emissions computer, no egr, etc. Wire the stop solenoid and it will run without a battery. Emissions diesels lost their reliability advantage over gasoline and actually got worse IMO.
I find the combination NG/gasoline vehicles like the up and coming Ford Super Duty conversion to be quite practical. By using gas or NG there is the cost and emission advantage of NG where it's available and no range anxiety since it will run on gasoline too. The big compromise is some cargo space, cargo capacity, and $9800. Not a huge payback at the claimed $2 per gallon advantage to NG.
Where's the recent advancement in ICE's? My wife drives a 2003 Honda Civic manual with ULEV engine and has consistantly gotten 42 MPG or better all these years without complex, expensive hybrid technology.
Ironically, later model year Honda's have reduced fuel economy. Something was lost along the way to the next decade!
Turbocharging does not really save fuel. Rather it improves performance so a smaller displacement engine can produce a bit more horsepower for those who insist upon burning rubber.
Forsake peeling out from stop lights and you can gain the same economy with a lower cost engine.
cvandewater, I am not sure that I can agree with you that EVs are practical. This is more true of the current generation of EVs that of the first or any previous. The problem is in the battery pack. It is monstorously expensive. The Tesla roadster boasts a 900lb battery pack with a manufacturers cost of at least $25K. Replacements, if you have let it completely discharge, can run the consumer $40K. The older EV's had more conventional batteries. It was fairly easy to either recharge them or replace them. That is not the case with the Li-ion batteries.
The car's initial cost is $100K. That is not practical. The new Tesla, the S model costs less. It is still in the $50-75K range. Now, I mention the Tesla and not the Leaf, becuase at least the Tesla cars have a reasonable driving range. The Roadster is just a toy, like any other roadster (I know, I started out driving such cars). For practical cars, the electric vehicles still have a way to go. They are much too expensive and have some major limitations that gasoline vehicles do not have. Frankly I have not calculated the price of gasoline at which the cost curves cross between electric and gasoline vehicles, but it is very high. Much higher than even what we are seeing today.
The items shown in the slideshow great advances for the internal combustion engine. One great thing about improving on existing technology is that repair technicians are already trained in the workings of the internal combustion engine, so the training on repair techniques for the upgrades is not starting from scratch. Repairing an EV requires an entirely different skill set that mechanics may or may not have.
I agree, naperlou. The Chevy Cruze ECO is a perfect example of the advancement of internal combustion engine. In terms of fuel efficiency, it's competitive with the Chevy Volt, which has a series hybrid powertrain.
currently, variable timing (and variable length inlet tracts, and a bunch of other things) are banned in f1. look elsewhere for power/efficiency gains in ICE, at least until 2014. bmw's valvetronic comes to mind.
EVs *are* practical and have been for a long time (over 100 years), though they have limitations and those limitations have been under the magnifying glass of the marketing depts of the people with oil-interests for a long time. Reason to focus on the limitations was the potential to take over a majority position in vehicle technology, just like a century ago. The rapid increase in Nissan Leafs also show that the times are again a'changing. I have been driving an EV since some 8 years, others have for decades. I find that it satisfies over 90% of my driving needs, so I hardly need to use an oil burner. I hear from others who have a Volt and use the car every day, still they have been to the pump no more than 3 times in a year.
I see that there are performance improvements in the shown engines, though I think there were only 2 engines that had a concept I never saw before in a commercial vehicle and which I would classify as innovation. The other 10 engine simply looked at what was already there and designed a new engine (no small feat) that reaches high output or low consumption, but no innovations were claimed, they simply used state-of-the-art technology.
Funny that a lot of these improvements come from what made "ricers" claim big power from small blocks, while the American motto was "there is no replacement for displacement". That is - until you need a highly efficient engine...
Remember the old BMW E32 750 with 5 liter V12 that was designed as if it was two separate V6, run by two sets of everything - sensors, injectors, computers. If one of the crankshaft position sensors or computers or even a dumb wire had an issue then you lost performance because it suddenly started running only on 6 cylinders. Today that would be a feature....
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