Michigan researchers have built a prototype of a new auto motor that does away with pistons, crankshafts and valves, replacing the old internal combustion engine with a disc-shaped shock wave generator. It could slash the weight of hybrid cars and reduce auto emissions by 90 percent.
The generator is about the size of a saucepot, and would replace the 1,000-pound power train in most cars — no transmission, cooling system, emissions regulation or fluids needed. Norbert Müller and colleagues at Michigan State University showed off the new motor prototype at a meeting with the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency.
It consists of a rotor carved with wave-like channels. Fuel and air enter through central inlets, and the rotor spins to block their exit through a separate outlet. The sudden build-up of pressure generates a shock wave, compressing the mixture. Then it's ignited, and as the rotor keeps spinning, the outlet opens again to let the hot gases escape. New Scientist explains in further detail.
The novel generator would use about 60 percent of fuel for propulsion, according to MSU. This is a dramatic improvement over typical car engines, which use only 15 percent of fuel for forward movement. The system could also make cars 20 percent lighter, improving fuel economy even more.
MSU received a $2.5 million ARPA-E grant to develop the technology. Müller said he hopes to have an even larger 25-kilowatt prototype by the end of this year.
I like the simplicity of this though I am sure this took some hard work to build.
It would be interesting to see its efficiency to power output as compared to a gas/diesel engine?
Without a transmission I can't see how this would have any kind of usable torque at low rpm though.
This is outside of my engineering field but it is interesting to see new takes on standard technologies.
Holy Guacamole... could this be the great-great-great grandfather of UFOs?
Wow, I want one.
Love, Peace & Soul
This would be an amazing leap forward for automotive design.
From what I can understand of the link this is being developed only as a generator component to produce electricity in a hybrid electric vehicle. The description reminds me of a Wankel rotary engine, maybe just because it rotates. However I think it might still have problems with sealing each wave chamber especially over time as the engine ages, same as the Wankel.
I would like to know how they ignite the compressed mixture.
It looks cool and i think i will make one but i dont see it coming out any time soon because of greedy car companies like to hold out on all the best advances in tech.
Are there any sealing or lubrication problems? It reminds of the Wankel Rotary engine, simple to construct with less parts...until you add all the emission controls and lubrication systems.
@Rapier153, we were thinking the same thing at almost the same time. How many Rx7's have you owned. Myself 5 first gens, 2 second gens and tested a 3rd gen for a while.
@All4it I can't say I am so affluent or old enough to have owned more than a couple of cars so far neither of them Mazdas, also I think I'm too large in both height and girth to ride in most sports cars. I like the interesting and/or odd techs so I found out about them on my own... a coworker of mine where I used to work was a big enthusiast of them had just traded his 2nd for his 3rd before I left.
Love it! hope it works on diesel, ethanol, vegetable oil, waste restaurant oil, too. We will soon enough, be subjected to Thorium reactors, Thorium-nuclear/electric bullet train networks and their associated infrastructures. We will soon enough, pilot short-hop, ultra-light, rechargeables from trains to front doors. Oil is truly finite in this world, Hubbard and his curves were not a spoof. America will soon lose its fine highway systems to 400% more efficient, nuclear/electric rail. The jet fueled, inter-continental flights will soon rise in price, out of reach for American wage-earners. This little engine, powering a plug-in Hybrid, just could extend Americana similar to today's life-styles, for a little while longer. I certainly hope so.
Not much torque I'd bet... but who cares? The real value seems to be fuel efficiency and weight savings. Coupled with a generator, batteries and an electric drive this puppy could produce sports car performance with excellent mileage and long range... and all the torque you want.
As far as longevity is concerned, it must be super cheap to build so, what does it matter? A machinist could make one of these out of an old turbocharger in a few days.
It sounds like a Wanekel.
If gas is going to almost depleted within the next 20-40 years what does this technology matter? A little late....
ethanol, butanol, biodeisel, or straight up vodka could probably be used. the added efficiency of the engine itself would still make ethanol more efficient than gasoline in today's internal combustion engines. this would make developing those fuels much more attractive.
I think the automobile companies would actually make money by forcing people to purchase a new vehicle because gas prices would skyrocket by approximately 400%(60 / 15 = 4).
"I like the simplicity of this though I am sure this took some hard work to build. " yes in a way it does seem very simple but I have a feeling the psychics and thermodynamics involved are FAR FAR more advanced than a normal combustion engine.
"greedy car companies like to hold out on all the best advances in tech."
I have no doubt that car companies would endorse this technology. just look at a company like porche\audi\bugatti (all same parent compapy) so many firsts came from those copanies. they had no problems bring things like cermaic dics breaks to cars, magnesium rims, adjustable suspensions. all those were a first for car for the public from porche. tiptronic shifting now found in over 30 cars is also from Porsche. A lot of tech came from the Bugatti veron that we now see in everyday audi like the "W" engine configuration.
I see no reason why they would hold this tech back. When the rotary (Wankel) engine was made for the winning F1 car, mazda could not wait to bring to that to public in the their rx-7.
I could not begin to imagine how much faster we could make cars with this engine. Most of the super cars and high end sports cars attain their speed merely by increasing the efficient of the power lower ratio. being able to simply get more power to the road. its no about the HP. Plenty of cars from the 70's had MORE hp than many of the super cars today. but its no contest.
Interesting. Sounds somewhat like the Wankel rotary engine, but has similarities to turbine engines. How fast does this spin? What's the efficiency at different speeds? Is that 60% efficiency a theoretical number or has it been demonstrated in working prototypes?
Wonderful! A new way to burn hydrocarbon fuel and emit CO2. Oh yes, and it still has all the thermal efficiency defects of any combustion engine -- thermodynamics still applies and over 60% of all the fuel energy & $ put into it will be wasted as heat out the exhaust.
It might be good for a hybrid, but doesn't eliminate any "1000 lb drivetrains", since they don't weigh that much even in our 25-year-old, 5000lb Jags.
Dr. A. Cannara
PS, call me about my special $100, no-food diet plan!
60% thermal efficiency?..."Too good to be true" detector is going off. Show me the math.
This is interesting, but I wonder who is generating all of the hyped up numbers. The New Scientest site is a lot more modest. The Next Big Thing Site has these same numbers, but I'm not sure that they are attributing them to the inventor.
At any rate, it would be nice to just concentrate on the tech with some mention of the hopes for the future. (Perhaps with some mention of why the improvements are likely).
Anyway, I hope that this tech is a success -- it looks like fun.
I too greet this news with raised eyebrow. I guess we'll find out a year from now.
Note that the idea of US automakers and oil companies keeping a fuel-efficient technology locked up with patents no longer seems applicable in an era when China offers strong competition. An automotive engineer in China is probably going over the specs to reverse-engineer a prototype right now.
60% efficiency my a$$. Well, unless the combustion temperature is significantly hotter, or the compression ratio significantly higher than a conventional petrol engine, it's still going to be limited to the theoretical Carnot efficiency of about 45% assuming a 10:1 compression ratio and petrol fuel.
I wish someone would just build one of these genius engines and show us. Instead of always telling us how great it is and we never see it. The rubber needs to meet the road.
sdchanman is exactly right! Unless I can buy it its just vaporware.
I would buy this tomorrow! We all so sick and jaded of articles about revolutionary new designs that NEVER EVER see the light of day.
Why would car companies hate this tech?
Better fuel efficiency = govt off their backs, increased fuel costs (artifically through new taxes to drive consumers to the new engine), thus new car sales, and increased maintainance as the system wears. All increase $$$ for the car companies.
Big Oil can always maintain profits by reducing supply (which saves them money on production and maintaince price per barrel profitability).
What Big Oil fears is an electic car (which is really a coal/natural gas/nuclear car on the grid). Since this makes the electric car a non-plug in gas burner, they still make money - albeit off of $20 a gallon gas.
It's not limited to 10:1 compression. There is no compression. The ignition creates a shock wave that compresses and burns the fuel simultaneously. Timing and fuel air ratio variances are the only limitation on power generation. As RPM increases the amount of time the fuel has to burn decreases so there is a limit but this is a piece of genius at work. It will not have as much torque but it's real value is generation of electricity... they'll get the torque from an electric drive. Speed, distance, performance... Tesla should have thought of this.
I'm exhausting CO2 right now... good stuff... grows trees, they love it.
I wonder what it will sound like? Will it have the rumble of a cherry bomb fitted street rod? -- Hum like the Jetson's family car? -- Or, will it whoop like a 50s era flying saucer? (Ala, "War of the Worlds:1953")
Joking aside, just like good sci-fi shows get cancelled by pinhead network execs, (Firefly), for being too damned smart, innovative, and -- Gasp! -- intelligent, auto manufacturers will reject this idea for the very same reasons.
"no transmission, cooling system, emissions regulation or fluids needed."
Um, why not? How do you use the power with no transmission? There is still combustion happening, seems like it might get hot, and hence need cooling, same idea with emission regulation. And I would think with the spinning metal parts you would want some lubricating fluids.
Hi i am a young inventer. I thought this engine up as well, just over a month ago, and have been trying to design it with via cad to attain some credibility. It bothers me that i only have a grade12 diploma and i was held back from being one of these innovators because i could not afford post secondary and i dont have funding. A large amount of inventions and ideas are passed by just for this reason, and it really bothers me because we could be advancing much faster if people were willing to listen to deep thinkers without necessarily caring about their education. I have many inventions if anyone wants to talk about funding me feel free to contact me lol. If anyone at MSU involved in this project is stuck on a problem contact me and i might be able to help figure it out.
... Also i forgot to mention i have designs for this type of engine for everything from a compact to a semi up to a prop plane engine. Contact me