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.
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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)
No. I despair every time a new oli field or coal field is discovered. Currently man emits almost 50 times CO2 of earth - 8,500 M T P.A. vs 200 MT P.A. We are killing the planet. Steady state CO2 level for current emissions is ~ 1.2 % - 43 times pre industrial.
First off, internal combustion (IC) technology is what, 100 years old? Still I see few improvements other than pressurized oil system, overhead valves/cam, electronic controls/fuel metering, and super finish bearings.I see little truly radical innovation.IC is clunker technology compared to electronics, and is super inefficient.Last time I saw anything published, it was 12% to 20%!That's 80% converted to noise and heat.It requires power to cool and quite them.I recently installed a 97% efficient furnace, which reclaims the latent heat.Seems like innovation could really be ramped up, but as long as we coddle and bail out Big Auto, they will continue to do what they are doing.
At risk of making many folks really irate, EVs are not non-polluting.They simply move the pollution elsewhere.Then there are the unseen consequences.Battery replacement and disposal loom large, as does the impact of processing the raw materials. The metrics of dangers in crashes also have to be measured.Other than fires in home charging stations, I have read little on this.
One of the guys I work with considered buying an EV and asked about air conditioning.The recommendation was to run the AC at home before the car goes on the road. We line near Key West, and the 20 mile drive without AC would be pure torture, even in the winter.
My last, and biggest problem is with lawmakers pretending to be automotive engineers.Several points come to mind.Lawmakers mandated so-and-so PPM of pollution. Engineers responded with "smog pumps" that mix fresh air into the exhaust stream.Same amount (or more) pollution, mixed with more air reduces the PPM percentage.But does nothing to reduce pollution.Another case, in the 1970s where lawmakers mandated so-and-so PPM per cubic inch engine displacement.Result:My 76 Caddy sported at 500CID engine that got 8mpg on the highway.Another example:Cash for Clunkers.Result: A shortage of used cars to the even older high polluters are still on the road.My solution is no to let engineers be lawmakers, but rather let us do what we do best unhampered by the Invisible Foot of government.If nothing else put out a $10M or $100M X-Prize for a new type of high efficiency car motor, say better than 90%.Money talks and BS walks!
If we want to see a great example of central planning in action and in transportation visit Cuba!
The fact that nobody has come up with a fundamentally different system in a hundred years is quite a testimony to the suitability of these engines to the task. There certainly have been a whole lot of important improvements that have made them work much better. My point being that the lack of a better solution is not from a lack of trying!
A thermal fuel cell that would convert petroleum directly into electricity to drive electric motors would be a nice alternative, except that the physics don't quite seem to work that way.
The real problem is that it takes some source of energy to move a car, and the means to convert some form of chemical energy into thermal energy to drive our engines is the best found, so far. Of course, people have been searching for those alternatives also. Of course, aside from the pesky laws of physics that do limit things, we also have all kinds of safety and emissions regulations that also restrict drive options. And on top of that, we have to assure that when a car is damaged in a collision that there are no serious secondary hazards created.
So actually, given all of the constraints, the current ICE is pretty good.
It's not that something was lost but that something was gained - weight. With increasing government regulation comes added mass. Door beams, air bags, more stringent crash test standards - the list goes on - all add additional weight to the vehicle.
You are correct that turbocharging allows higher power from a smaller displacement engine (higher specific output). This can cause more spirited driving , therefore defeating the purpose, but don't forget that one of the most critical cost variables in long haul trucking is fuel economy and I don't think there's been an over the road semi built in the past three or four decades that wasn't turbocharged. Keep your right foot out of it and the smaller turbo engine will almost always be more economical than a larger displacement engine with the same power output.
I seldom get it right but this is how I see it: Anywhere between 20 and 40% of an ICE engines cooling comes from the incoming fuel mixture - thus excess fuel is needed to keep the engine from self-destructing. Remember the ceramic engine toted a few years ago as the next-big-thing? Once the fuel mixture is leaned out to optimize economy, the combustion temperature soars, causing excessive NOx. Vehicles using ICEs need enough acceleration to satisfy the market-place, but need to run efficiently at constant speed crusing. ICEs have very poor torque at low speed so they must be overly large to meet the acceleration requirements - thus the apparent benefit of electrics, torque is maximum at stall. So it would appear the perfect vehicle for today's market is a hybrid diesel/electric. The engine would run at constant RPM, torque would be provided by an electric motor with supercapacitors for low end acceleration with the diesel engine running at max efficiency when at cruising speed. It seems the compromises needed to meet the somewhat arbitrary requirements of Congress and the even more fickle needs of the buying public, mixed with the current state-of-the-art in ICEs have created our current slate of 5,000 pound pick-up trucks that carry nothing but can go zero to sixty in 8 seconds mixed with 40 MPG economy vehicles that can go from zero to sixty eventually.
Important points Bob. I keep thinking about all this energy wasted by converting it to heat, then using energy to run the cooling system, pump, fan(s), etc. Then there is the loss due to noise that must be muffled. I work at an airfield with F5 and F15s, and thinking while they are launching "if all that noise could only be converted into useful thrust they would have a super fighter". I have been told that the F35s are twice as loud, yet not twice the performance.
And as you point out, the best combustion is at a perfect air/fuel mix, but I know this will at least burn the valves and melt the pistons. As I recall California was worried about hydrocarbons from rich mixes so they mandated a lean mix. The result was the nitrogen byproducts.
Maybe a perfecting the "muscle metal" heat engine? It's easy for me to throw stones as I'm an electronics guy, not a ME, so I probably should say sorry in advance.
MOMMY Earth has been self-inflicting wounds to her body eons before you had a nose. To rationally deduce that mankind is going to kill her, is just plain naive!!!! Long before your ancestors roamed this planet, there were massive upheavals in climate, etc. Who you gonna blame on these occurrence? .... the dinosaurs? Get real!!!!
In the 1970s, the fringe scientists were predicting a new Ice Age. When that failed to materialize, they concluded that a 0.1 degree rise in average temperature was man's fault, and we were headed for a "hell" armageddon. And, so, what's it gonna be? Wait another couple of years ... you'll see icebergs in NY harbor!!!!
OLD, you are completely correct. The Earth will survive just fine no matter what we do. The problem is that this infestation of humans on the surface might not fare too well if we screw things up badly enough.
Then things will self correct with a lot fewer humans and other creatures around. But the Earth will be trucking along just fine.
Yes, I agree the Earth will do just fine. I'm not so sure about human comfort. We're pumping a lot of carbon into the air. If the permafrost melts, we'll see tons of methane. We don't know how this will affect human life on the planet.
Tesla Motors’ $35,000, 200-mile electric car may not revolutionize the auto industry by itself, but it could serve as a starting point for a long, steady climb to a day when half of the world’s vehicles will be plug-ins.
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