2012 Invention Awards: A Higher-Efficiency, Lower-Emission Engine System

An engine mod uses waste heat to cut gas consumption

Over7

For the better part of Frank Will's life, he has been consumed with improving engine performance. He started racing motorcycles as a teenager in Germany in the 1970s, winning a world championship race in 1991, and later became an automotive engineer at Ford in Australia. When he left his job in 2008, he applied his passion to a new endeavor: Over7, a system that by redirecting and then heating an engine's oil, cuts gas consumption by 7 percent and emissions by up to 30 percent.

Over7 heats oil to higher-than-usual temperatures, making it less viscous, without burning up the engine. The temperature of a warmed engine in a car running at a moderate speed, and the oil inside it, hovers at around 200°F. When the same engine is modified with an Over7 system, oil runs through it at 250° to 300°, while the engine block remains at 200°. Because this makes it easier to turn the crankshaft and run the oil pump, the engine requires less gas. The increased engine efficiency also reduces the emission of carbon dioxides, carbon monoxides and nitrogen oxides.

In the Over7 prototype, a bypass hose collects hot motor oil before it returns to the oil pan, where it would have cooled down, sending it instead to a heat exchanger that transfers heat from the engine's exhaust gas and makes the oil even hotter. A thermostat ensures that the exit temperature of the oil does not get above 300°, so it's still within most car manufacturers' maximum temperature specifications.

Will is now testing his invention at the Ford emissions labs where he used to work. He says new cars featuring Over7-adapted engines could roll off the assembly line in less than five years. In that time, he also plans to finish a $200-to-$400 conversion kit that mechanics could use to install the system in older cars. Putting an Over7 system in every passenger vehicle in the U.S. would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 64 million tons every year, he says—and save drivers seven billion gallons of gasoline.

Inventor: Frank Will
Invention: Over7
Cost to Develop: $200,000
Distance to Market: short ● ● ● ● long

HOW IT WORKS

Oil flows through a bypass pipe into a heat exchanger, rather than flowing back into an oil pan to cool. Once the oil is heated to as high as 300˚, a flap valve in the heat exchanger redirects exhaust gas into an exhaust bypass so that no further heat transfers to the oil.