New gasoline engine design has 4x efficiency of pistons

This looks promising. It is basically a continuous combustion wave turbine. While not super powerful in this early design and not intended to replace a V-8 it can be brought to market for a hybrid vehicle application soon, according to the researcher. See the video below. While they’ve got a focus on CO2 for the usual reasons, I’ll take increased efficiency any day.

Schematic model of a wave disk engine, showing combustion and shockwaves within the channels. Source: Michigan State University.

Researchers from Michigan State University have been awarded $2.5 million from the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program to complete its prototype development of a new gasoline-fueled wave disc engine and electricity generator that promises to be five times more efficient than traditional auto engines in electricity production, 20% lighter, and 30% cheaper to manufacture.

The wave disc engine, a new implementation of wave rotor technology, was earlier developed by the Michigan State group in collaboration with researchers from the Warsaw Institute of Technology. About the size of a large cooking pot, the novel, hyper-efficient engine could replace current engine/generator technologies for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

The award will allow a team of MSU engineers and scientists, led by Norbert Müller, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, to begin working toward producing a vehicle-size wave disc engine/generator during the next two years, building on existing modeling, analysis and lab experimentation they have already completed.

Our goal is to enable hyper-efficient hybrid vehicles to meet consumer needs for a 500-mile driving range, lower vehicle prices, full-size utility, improved highway performance and very low operating costs. The WDG also can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 95 percent in comparison to modern internal combustion vehicle engines.

From ARPA-E

The Wave Disk Generator revolutionizes auto efficiency at lower vehicle costs. Currently, 15% of automobile fuel is used for propulsion; the other 85% is wasted. A Wave Disk Generator hybrid uses 60% of fuel for vehicle propulsion.
MSU’s shock wave combustion generator is the size of a cooking pot and generates electricity very efficiently. This revolutionary generator replaces today’s 1,000 pounds of engine, transmission, cooling system, emissions, and fluids resulting in a lighter, more fuel-efficient electric vehicle. This technology provides 500-mile-plus driving range, is 30% lighter, and 30% less expensive than current, new plug-in hybrid vehicles. It overcomes the cost, weight, and driving range challenges of battery-powered electric vehicles.

This development exceeds national CO2 emission reduction goals for transportation. A 90% reduction is calculated in CO2 emissions versus gasoline engine vehicles. Wave Disk Generator application scales as small as motor scooters and as large as delivery trucks, due to its small size, low weight, and low cost. This technology enables us to radically improve the atmosphere and human health of major global cities.

Last week, the prototype was presented to the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), this video was released:

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147 Responses to New gasoline engine design has 4x efficiency of pistons

  1. TerryS says:

    All of this is still theoretical. They haven’t even built a prototype yet and until they have done that and measured the efficiency of the prototype I’d take this with a pinch of salt.

  2. Something is impossible here: the piston motor has a fuel-to-force energy yield of about 25% (gasoline) to 35% (diesel), because of the difference in compression ratio. Electricity generation from mechanical force should be high in all cases. Thus a fivefold increase in yield seems rather impossible. Further, the Wankel motor which was based on some similar disk principle (be it not turbine-like), had one difficult to solve problem: the sideways sealing of the moving parts so that no combustion gases leak back to the input (and compression is lost). I suppose that this is not different for this type of motor.

  3. Another Ian says:

    This won’t fit in your SUV but look at the 50+% efficiency from the commom IC engine

    http://qualityjunkyard.com/2009/05/27/worlds-biggest-engine-the-wartsila-sulzer-rta96-c/

  4. DonK31 says:

    How does this engine differ from a Wankle Rotary engine?

  5. old construction worker says:

    Too Cool. Innovations we may be able to believe in.

  6. gianmarco says:

    there is one sure sign that this is a scam: they need government money to produce the prototype of something that would make its designer a billionaire.
    keep this stuff off your site, Anthony; things like this will destroy the hard earned reputation of this website in no time.

  7. Cold Englishman says:

    Why is it that when college professors use phrases like “five times less than”, that my BS detectors go on full alert. Am I just an old fashioned mathematical pedant? Or have we heard stuff like this before?

    promises to be five times more efficient than traditional auto engines in electricity production, 20% lighter, and 30% cheaper to manufacture.

    can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 95 percent
    Really? 95%.
    But then I always did believe in Father Christmas, The Easter Bunny and The Man in the Moon.

  8. anopheles says:

    If you had a car which ran on sunbeams by day and stardust by night, there are still people who would not like you to drive it. It appears that the personal freedom to drive is what they don’t like. Or at least it appears so from the way they are never satisfied.

    (I’ve lost count, over the years, of the new engine designs which were going to replace the piston. Only the wankel ever made it into production, yet pistons go on and on, or maybe up and down, getting more efficient every year. I sincerely doubt whether the headline (and misleading) 4X efficiency will be forthcoming with this device, but twice would be fine.)

  9. Ralph says:

    Umm, I don’t think any motor can achieve 4x the efficiency of pistons.

    A modern European turbo-diesel is already running as about 40% efficiency, and so 4x that efficiency would make the new motor 160% efficient. Wahayyy, perpetual motion here we come….

    4x the efficiency of some gas-guzzling American monstrosity designed in 1935, perhaps. But 4x 10% efficiency is … errr … about the same as a modern European turbo diesel.

    .

  10. Dave (UK) says:

    It will be interesting to see if this type of generator can be coupled to Lotus’s REEV engine technology. It likely be more compact and smoother than Lotus’s initial proposal of a 3-cylinder reciprocating ICE.

    http://www.lotuscars.com/engineering/en/lotus-range-extender-engine

  11. davidmhoffer says:

    Seems like a verrrry interesting technology.

    But also like they are playing with the numbers just a bit. OK, a lot. Why couldn’t they just present the merits of the technology?

    Sure, its 60% efficient and internacl combustion engines are only 15%, so “four times” as efficient? Let’s think through the numbers.

    First of all, modern internal combustion engines are more like 25% to 30% efficient in terms of converting fuel to useable power. Depends on any number of factors from turbo charging to compression ratio to material (aluminum vs steel block for example). Then you have to subtract about 6% for friction in the transmission and rest of the power train. So call it 20% worst case for easy figuring. We’re down to 3:1.

    Next, what’s missing out of the Wave Disk numbers? 60% efficiency in terms of converting fuel to electricity. Hmmmm. What makes the vehicle move forward? Magic? Maybe it should have some electric motors to turn the wheels? How about one big one and… a transmission? No? How about… two medium size ones? Or four small ones? And you still need a wide power range in most vehicles for uphill, passing, towing, etc that exceeds the power range of most electric motors… so you probably STILL need a transmission. and axles and a differential. So the Wave Disk powered vehicle doesn’t get off scott free on the friction score. Say its still better, 4% instead of 6%. Now we’re at 20% vs 56%.

    What else are we missing. Emission controls? I have no idea how the various emission control standards would affect the Wave Disk, but I know they affect internal combustion engines. Tack on another 4% for internal combustion to compare no emission controls to no emission controls. 24% vs 56%. A bit better than twice, not four times.

    Anything else missing? Generator maybe? From the ARPA web site:

    “Requires developing new low-cost, high rpm generators, which currently do not exist in automotive markets.”

    Oops. No transmission, but it does need a generator.

    What about power on demand? How fast can these Wave Disk engines ramp up and down? Perhaps not fast enough, again from the ARPA web site:

    “…resulting in a “hyper-efficient” serial hybrid vehicle…”

    Uhm… so its a hybrid after all. That means…. BATTERIES!

    Cost and weight of same not in their numbers anymore than the electric motors and generator were. And battery technology still has major issues with longevity (a well maintained engine will outlast several sets of batteries) and disposal (they have nasty stuff in them like acid and various not so good for the environment metals) so you have to include maintenance and disposal costs of the batteries…

    No idea how to quanitify that in terms of % efficiency. What are we at? 2:1 max? less?

    But it is still a very interesting approach, even of the efficiency claim is more than 50% hype.

  12. Mick says:

    IMHO, the horse-carriage replaced by the internal combustion engine not because
    people complained about the horse manure, but because its more efficient.

    Anthony you right, take increased efficiency any time.
    Now, where is my ZPF Gravity Drive …. :)

  13. Ralph says:

    The other problem with designs of this nature is always – blade sealing, seal lubrication, seal wear, and lubrication oil ingestion (with resulting smoke and EVIL EMISSIONS). Same old problems the Wankel motor had.

    You could get rid of the blade seals, if you span the motor at 150,000 rpm. But then you might as well just use a Bladon micro jet engine, which is a proven technology with very few moving parts, and available off the shelf now. But then you would still have the same old problem of the jet engine being less efficient when run at low levels in the atmosphere.
    http://www.bladonjets.com/

    If this new engine is to be run at slower rpms, as I suspect, then sealing all those blades will be an unsolvable nightmare.

    .

  14. Dermot O'Logical says:

    A four-fold boost in efficiency should be shouted out from the rooftops! Bravo.

    I’m lost though as to why you just wouldn’t couple it up directly to a drivetrain? Surely there’s losses in efficiency in generating the electricity, and then converting the electricity back into rotary motion?

    As for the claim “replaces 1,000 pounds of engine, transmission, cooling system, emissions, and fluids”, surely you’d need some form of cooling?

    Or have I missed something? :-)

  15. Tom Harley says:

    blocked from linking this twice to Facebook, (2 different methods)… those people are off their tree…time to start a blog methinks…

  16. Tom Harley says:

    Third time lucky, they (Facebook) must block at random…

  17. Ralph says:

    What they may have produced is a Frank Wittle jet engine (circa 1938 – the first ever made), but with combustion inside the compressor rotor, instead of external to it.
    The Wittle jet engine:
    http://www.fiddlersgreen.net/aircraft/Gloster-E28/IMAGES/Whittle-jet-engine-testing.jpg

    An interesting design, if they can make it run. But an axial jet was always more efficient than a centrifugal jet, and so the Bladon micro jet will probably still be more efficient than this new design. Note the pencil near the Bladon engine – the diameter of the intake is only about 18cm.
    http://www.bladonjets.com/

    Of course jet engines do come smaller than this, as this clip demonstrates. But these engines are horrendously thirsty and inefficient.

    Shame that in all that advertising, nobody states the proposed rpm of this new engine. Is it a motor, or a jet?

    .

  18. Bob Barker says:

    Higher efficiency is always welcome. Maybe it is a good idea but more hype than facts in this story.

  19. Just showed this to my “green” group and they are all astounded, excited. The implications of parts no longer needed are amazing.

    One caveat: please redo the sound track!

  20. Brute says:

    From the folks who brought us the Yugo…………

  21. M2Cents says:

    With all those shcokwaves rattling around, I wonder what the noise output will be. That could kill the concept by itself.

  22. SamG says:

    yeah, there are lots of these whacky rotary type engines around such as The C.E.M.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cylindrical_Energy_Module

    Heaps of animations on youtube as well.

  23. Brian H says:

    Ever hear of the Wankel? Rotary engines can’t hold their seals; they lose lubrication and seize. Lots of other problems with this little wonder; the 10kW unit he’s holding is about as big as the design gets, so you need to gang them to get a reasonable output, even for a lightweight vehicle. Etc.

  24. Gary Mount says:

    Being a sceptic, at first glance I found the 15% figure for fuel efficiency to be rather low, so I looked it up. The fuel efficiency of a typical engine is 20% (much lower than I had imagined) with an additional loss of 5% through “the tranny and real axle mechanical friction losses (or the transaxle friction losses) and the drain of a few essential accessories,” and thought the comparison should be 20 to 65 for a 3.25 times improvement instead of 4.
    However, on thoroughly re-reading the article, I find; “replaces today’s 1,000 pounds of engine, transmission, cooling system, emissions, and fluids resulting in a lighter…”. Their calculation of efficiency seems to be valid.
    I congratulate them.
    I usually can’t stand reading an article that mentions CO2 savings and have seen this news item on various tech posts and haven’t read it until now.
    I wish a tech site like Engadget would have a “This week in Purple” that mentions these types of things stripped of all references to Carbon, CO2 and variants. Instead they have “This week in Green”, yuk.

  25. cedarhill says:

    Ah, the Wankel gets revised, modified slightly and used to generate electricity as a gasoline powered electric generator.

    This gives a good recap of the Wankel:
    http://www.hesston.edu/academics/faculty/nelsonk/PhysicsResearch/WankelEric/ResearchPaper.htm and Wikipedia has a larger section on the cons of rotaries in their Wankel engine article. Depends on how one measures efficiency but the Mazda RX-8 is rated around 20 mpg.

    What is missing is any hard numbers regarding simply taking one of those hybrid Volt things and replace the traditional ICE engine used after the batteries fail. Then ramp up the specs so there’s enough juice to run a very good A/C unit for you folks living around LA or Houston or New Orleans in the summer and a really good heater for those living in Quebec or Anchorage. These folks are engineers — it’s not as if they are really ignorant of these car designs.

    One thing to always remember about these flyers (investment term) is the billions spent by (a) car manufacturers, (b) ICE engine makers like those lawn things you cut your grass with, (c) gasoline power generators like I use when that AGW Ice Storm killed all my power for three weeks and (d) the big power generators like ConEd.

    Imho, maybe a good idea but I’d put an equal bet on cold fusion to power America.

    Electric power generation is very well understood today along with all the downstream in-efficiencies. Only The pros are covered in the video. The cons are not – check out the Mazda RX-8 sports car. Very cool but mpg is not a biggie.

    The engineers must know the simply huge problems of putting a tiny turbine in a car since they’ve simply ignore all the losses along the way. Electric generators that burn everything from natural gas to oil to wood are well understood by the 21st century.

  26. LeeHarvey says:

    …and how exactly are they going to ensure that the vanes are still sealed after one or two years of normal operation? That thing is going to be spewing raw fuel out its exhaust pipe faster than you can ask ‘what ever happened to the Mazda rotary engine?’.

  27. etudiant says:

    The idea of using a detonation wave is attractive, because the higher temperatures offer the potential for better efficiency. Also, the design appears to be nice engineering, following the engineering dictate to ‘simplificate and add lightness’.
    However, the reality is that the engine has no running prototype as yet, just parts that may or may not work as expected.
    The impressive performance figures should consequently be taken with a grain of salt.

  28. jmrSudbury says:

    Each explosion would push on both the leading fin and the trailing fin. Timing the ignition of the gas closer to the leading fin would be essential; otherwise, it would slow down and stop if not turn backwards. I wonder about how robust this system would be because those fins look rather thin to me. This could reduce the lifespan of the engine. As well, how difficult will it be to seal the engine from leaks? As it heats up, would it not warp? Even slight warping could kill the seal. — John M Reynolds

  29. Mark Petersen says:

    I would like to point out, that this is not some crackpot cold-fusion-esque pseudoscience. The principle of the wave rotor is proven technology, albeit very tricky and sensitive technology.

    The new aspect here, is combustion within the wave rotor.

    However, I suspect problems, when this engine is run at non optimal speeds, because exact timing of the process within the wave rotor is of immense importance. This is probably the reason, why it is proposed for hybrid cars only, because here the engine can run at a constant speed and with constant power output, and a battery/condenser buffers the varying power demand. Alternatively a battery of many small wave rotor engines that can be turned on and off individually might also do the trick.

  30. Joel Heinrich says:

    So, they got 2.5 $ million just to make a bad copy of a Wankel engine?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wankel_engine

    As for figure 1, where is the compression being made? Why should anything there rotate? Why shouldn’t the fresh air/fuel mix and the burnt exhaust just mix? At least this schematic concept is complete crap.

  31. Robert Christopher says:

    It is welcome new that there is a new contender for a more fuel efficient method of powering our transportation! I have been waiting so long, years in fact, for breaking news about the StarRotor engine here: http://www.starrotor.com/Engines

    and the MYT engine here: http://www.angellabsllc.com/cmparison.html
    that it needs another horse to enter the race.

    Now come to think about it, that’s given me an idea!

  32. Tom in St. Johns says:

    I agree with the comment that it is the efficiency that is the real story here. I actually envision that this engine would have a large market in portable generators.

  33. Bob in Castlemaine says:

    The efficiency claim sounds almost too good to be true. We’ve have had wonder engine claims in the past like the Wankel and the Sarich, but somehow when it comes down to it they just haven’t stacked up.
    Lets hope this one makes it, not for the CO2 fantasy stuff but for the claimed gains in efficiency and cost effectiveness of the basic engine design.

  34. Mark says:

    There was some thing similar to this being done in the 80’s for aviation. Much larger than this one and it had several chambers to it. The Canadian company working on it was having torque problems with it. Haven’t heard anything about it since about 1991.

  35. Cementafriend says:

    This has been around for a while. The video I think dates back to mid 2009. Norbert Mueller has some patents for injectors.
    There was a lot of hype around the Orbital engine and a lot of investor money lost. The Orbital engine company had a quite a few patents. As well as I can remember the engine had problems with fuel injection and exhaust. I believe they eventual sold some of the injector technology but never solved the exhaust problems. It seems to me that the same problems arise with this. However, as time moves froward there are improved materials with higher tolerances and better controls systems but these all come at a manufacturing cost.
    One can understand Universities wanting more money for more research.

  36. RexAlan says:

    Looks good to me.

    I don’t believe man made (global warming) climate change is a problem. But if it was, innovation not regulation is the answer.

  37. ScuzzaMan says:

    Seems that news of the death of us all has been somewhat exaggerated …

  38. Lloyd says:

    So this engine is more efficient, meaning less fuel used, therefore less taxes into the coffers of national governemnts? For that reason alone governments across the world will do their utmost to persuade motor manufacturers not to use the technology.

  39. Lonnie E. Schuberts says:

    I’ve seen too many new engine designs with high promise. I’ll believe it when I see it. Consider the Scuderi. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124025229305035879.html
    Opposed pistons, slanted pistons, electrical generator pistons, etc. Popular Science has been covering such for decades. We shall see.

  40. polistra says:

    @Ralph: A little unfair. American cars of the 1930’s had a wide range of gas mileage, from 50 MPG for the tiny Bantam and Crosley, to 30 MPG for the ‘compact’ Nash 600 and Willys, to 10 MPG for the big Packards and Caddies. Pretty much the same range as American cars of the 2000s. In every decade you could find a small American car that would get 30 with careful driving.

  41. Scott Finegan says:

    Nothing new here.

    It looks like a “Comprex”. So I search on comprex engine and come up with…
    http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/showthread.php?s=e4ffa18802d8071505babb1d1d0985b5&t=1874750
    from October 31, 2009. This 2009 version has more text, but is nearly identical to to the article posted above.

    Variations on the comprex compressor have been around since 1906. My father spent an unreasonable amount of time designing a comprex engine for an airplane when I was in my teens.

  42. MikeH says:

    Since he has no current working prototype, I would presume these claims of efficiency are from computer models? And we know how that goes.

    I have no issue with a bit of support in developing a working prototype, but if the design is as simple as is claimed, what are the obstacles that are preventing a working model? With today’s CAD systems, I don’t think it’s very expensive to have a milling machine pump out a few revisions of the rotor system for trial. Even if the results are not exactly as claimed, that would show that the concept is valid, just that it needs fine tuning to obtain the desired results.

    One big obstacle will be the auto industry. Very slow to accept innovations, unless they come up with it themselves. But if this get government funding, this may get fast-tracked to Government Motor, whether they want it or not. :-)

    Regards..

  43. ShrNfr says:

    Remember the Wankel? Nice theory, but then the theory meets reality. The ability to seal the rotating guts and not have the seals fail in short order was just not there. The Otto cycle or the Diesel cycle are not the do all or end all, but you run up against the limits of the Carnot cycle. It is a heat engine like all the rest. These guys will not repeal the laws of thermodynamics either.

  44. Doverpro says:

    There is another design that is gaining excitement and it is about 60% more efficient then todays engines. It is a normal internal combustion engine but it uses shuttle tiles to allow for less heat rejection making it much more fuel frugal. It’s being developed by Dwight Engine Technologies and the DOT. The engine shown in this article looks very similar to the Wankle Engine that had so many problems.

  45. Joe Lalonde says:

    Anthony,

    Do you know what makes this a more powerful torque engine?
    The turbine is inverted the exhaust come from the center out which then centrifugal force is a friend to this design. It still can be more efficient as all the energy is not coming out at all 360 degrees.
    This is very similar to the power generating turbine I had created, 7 years ago.

  46. Robert L says:

    Wow, they’ve recycled the 1960’s wave rotor engine idea – perhaps more familiar as the comprex turbochargers used in some 80’s Mazdas – but presented it as something exciting different and new! (Comprex turbos weren’t as good as conventional turbos).

    Wave rotor engines have been assessed for myriad applications over the last 50 years, but never measure up once they get past studies and idealised assumptions into actual hardware. Ideally quite efficient (but not as efficient as IC engines) if only it weren’t for all of the severe loss mechanisms:

    1/ Seal leakage between fast moving rotor blades and fixed stator, made far worse by thermal expansion of hot blades that leads to greater gaps being required. Can’t use lubricated contact seals due to high speeds and gas temps and oil leakage into exhaust that is unacceptable for emissions (like two stroke).
    2/ The unwanted mixing between cool inlet air (to be compressed) and hot exhaust air (to be expanded) that heats and cools them respectively before compression and expansion process take place – this is highly undesirable thermodynamically and is made even worse in their radial layout by coriolis forces that increase the mixing.
    3/ Similarly hot blade walls that heats pre-compression air and cools pre-expansion air – very undesirable.
    4/Very low effective compression ratio, probably no greater than 3 or 4 – that as all petrol heads know severely limits efficiency.
    5/Power Turbine (that they haven’t shown), is lower efficiency than an IC engine piston at converting pressure to power, turbines that can only handle half the temperature that pistons can – again reducing efficiency.

    Unfortunately for me (as it’s what I do professionally) engine development is a fruitful area for BS artists, there are at least several hundred active ‘innovative’ engine projects in the world that are probably better than this but will never even match existing IC engines. Don’t back this dog.

  47. Jim says:

    Just some comments.

    The 15% efficiency quoted for IC is somehwat too low. Perhaps drivetrain
    efficiencies are factored in.

    Also 60% thermal efficiency from shock waves? Generally shock waves
    are to be avoided in any heat engine since they are irreversible processes
    which always leads to lower efficiencies. If high efficiency is achieved,
    then high temperatures must be involved which leads to materials issues.
    I would guess the 60% effiicency does not include the drive train. I also
    conjecture it also does not include the turbine.

    And yeah, if they can get 60% conervsion, then why not use them to generate
    electricity. 40% is a typical efficiency for a single cycle gas turbine. If
    you can get 60% efficiency, could conceivably justify replacing all electricity
    generating gas turbines in the USA.

    I suspect some major over-hyping is going on.

  48. Dodgy Geezer says:

    Saving CO2? CO2 is sooo 1990. Now everyone is worried about NITROGEN polution.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13025304 refers…

  49. Lonnie E. Schuberts says:

    I also recall that university development programs can usually run on anything over $200k per year; they are getting more than $1200k per year. I wonder what they are doing with all that money? They must be buying some equipment for the department, which has its pros and cons for all involved, even the tax payers.

  50. theBuckWheat says:

    Color me as hopeful but waiting for more proof.

    Two observations:

    1) the video shows components and diagrams but no working model;
    2) the design implies that the engine will operate best at a single speed where the velocity of the pressure waves from combustion will match the rotation of the vanes and the volume for expansion, (in other words, the resonant frequency of the device) Therefore it will be great for running a generator but lousy for running a transmission.

  51. Ed Boyle says:

    This seems like an annuncement which should have been made on April 1. I will wait and see on this one.

  52. Justa Joe says:

    Ironically didn’t the “greens” emission standards doom the rotary engine?

  53. LEN says:

    well the video is ~2 years old (see the date in the lower right)? and the goal is to put it in a car in 3 years……….video was made in 2009.

    IF if works, wonderful for the hybrid market.

  54. Bro. Steve says:

    Turbine cars have been done before, but weren’t enough better than piston cars to overturn the market. See Wiki:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysler_Turbine_Car

    According to Wiki, the turbine car program perished when Chrysler became the original Government Motors a generation ago.

  55. Sal Minella says:

    I’m a bit confused, is this a comparison of apples to oranges? When we say that a conventional gasoline engine is 20% efficient, are we saying that 20% of the fuel’s energy capacity is turned into rotating energy? If so, when the driveline efficiency is taken into account, what is the final result: 15% or so?

    This new turbine design is about 60% efficient – that is, it converts 60% of the fuel’s energy capacity to rotating energy at it’s output shaft. If that shaft drives an 80% efficient generator then it’s overall system efficeincy is is 48%. Now we have electricity to charge the batteries and assuming that the charging efficiency is 80% we now have a system efficiency of 38.4%. The batteries will then power electric motors to drive the vehicle’s wheels at around 50% efficiency giving an overall efficiency of 19.2%.

    I have been very generous with the conversion efficiencies at each stage of the overall system and still seem to come up with no efficiency advantage for the new technology. Now I’m no MSU professor but, I do know that the laws of physics are very rigid and unforgiving and, as such, probably need reforming. A little nuance would be nice. Maybe “green” technologies should be given a fantasy energy conversion factor just because green is nice. If you gave this tech a GFCF of 4.0 then it would be four times more efficient than it actually is.

  56. A new idea from NZ (well, actually, a very old one revisited) for higher efficiency and at least they have a real working prototype rather than just proto-hype.
    http://www.indranet-technologies.com/investment/ngen.html

  57. Steve in SC says:

    The woods are full of them.
    This is just a thinly disguised plea for funding.
    Not nearly as good as the Quasiturbine.

    http://www.quasiturbine.com/

  58. TerryS says:

    MikeH,

    One big obstacle will be the auto industry. Very slow to accept innovations, unless they come up with it themselves.

    You are kidding right? The auto industry, like every other industry, is profit driven. This means it will accept any innovation as long it increases their profits.

  59. gianmarco says:

    a large coal fired plant achieves 40-45% efficiency and this thing claims 60? ROTFL!

    seals in the Wankel work pretty well, the main rason for its low efficiency is the combustion chamber shape and its bad volume/surface ratio

    the current IC engine design is not the result of some conspiracy of MIBs going around executing inventors of new engine ideas, is the result of 100plus years evolution. and government interference.

    lots of better IC engine designs exist since ages. for example, the prius engine is a Atkinson cycle engine, which is more efficient that the Otto engine. so why other manufacturers dont use the Atkinson engine? once again, government intervention. Atkinson engine has lower specific power, and cars are taxes according to engine size. so if you dont see more efficient engines around is because of our stupid governments. the same ones that waste huge amounts of taxpayer money on pie-in-the-sky projects like this.

  60. Roger Tolson says:

    I am working on something similar powered by fairy dust, where do I apply for a grant?

  61. Ralph says:

    >>polistra says: April 11, 2011 at 4:49 am
    >>@Ralph: A little unfair.
    >>In every decade you could find a small American car that would
    >>get 30 with careful driving.

    That’s exactly what I mean, Polistra, thanks for confirming my claim. I get 60mpg if I drive carefully, and that is with a big 5-door saloon. Last week I got caught in slow traffic for nearly 200 miles, and did 67mpg. (UK mpg, of course).

    European turbo-diesels are in the 35-40% efficiency bracket.

    .

  62. Tom T says:

    I would be more impressed if they said that it would reduce operating costs and left it at that, instead they are really trumpeting the claim of reducing CO2. This is so they can sell the idea of funding it to the department of transportation (read dept of anti-CO2). If this was really as efficient as they claim they should have no problem in selling it to public and car companies.
    This is the type of program the Republicans should have cut. It is hard to see how Democrats could demagogue cutting this as wanting to kill women.

  63. Ken Harvey says:

    Great concept. It has earned $2.5M already! It doesn’t look as though it would work but that may be of little concern to the conceptors.

  64. Ian L. McQueen says:

    Why does my mind stray to 100-mile-per-gallon carburetors and other automotive dreams when I read articles like this?

    IanM

  65. How about the Carnot’s theorem and Carnot efficiency… What is the maximum theoretical efficiency of this engine? Real world efficiency? Probably less than stated in the article.

  66. David L says:

    A type of glorified Wankel rotary engine perhaps? Or scaled-down turbine engine?

  67. reason says:

    Great idea.
    Best of luck to the inventors.
    Stop using handouts from Uncle Sugar.

  68. John A says:

    Show me a working prototype or nothing. I appreciate that many people have great ideas but very, very few make it to market.

  69. David L says:

    This technology is going nowhere fast. Big oil will shut them down like they have done with every other idea that promised big efficiencies!
    /sarc

  70. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:

    Thanks, Anthony! I can’t help but smile….

    Remember the kerfuffle about fuel-cells not long ago? I was a scientist at the Gas Technology Institute in 2001 at the height of this feeding frenzy. Folks working on fuel cells were perturbed because they couldn’t match the efficiency of natural gas engines with their prize technology! This reminds of those happy times!

    These things seem to come & go, especially when gas prices start to climb. I’d like to believe in it, but others have brought up good points regarding design etc.

    By tweaking the Otto cycle with direct fuel-injection, better spark control and other tricks, it seems to have a few years left on it. I’m also fond of hybrids, but haven’t taken the personal plunge yet. It’s easier to simply reduce driving on “honey-do” type missions, if you catch my drift….hope your wife is doing well BTW.

  71. Doug Proctor says:

    http://www.coatesengine.com/technology.html

    There is already in (beginning) production, the Coates engine. Not a Wankel. 20% less fuel, 30% less emissions, high efficiency. Generates carbon credits. Going into California and the heavy oil production areas. Used now for power generation. Can handle up to 30% H2S without stripping. Also waste gas as in sewage plants and landfills. But well known right now?

    We don’t need much new technology, just the wisdom to use the current stuff. But there is no grant system or tenure for being practical. I don’t see Gore or Suzuki praising people for doing what is already available.

  72. Jeremy says:

    I really question that 60% number when you consider that their wave-generator hybrid goes through two more stages of entropy before reaching power to the ground than a normal gasoline engine.

    Gas engine:
    1) Chemical Fuel -> Heat/Kinetic Energy
    2) Heat/KE -> Torque
    3) Torque -> Ground

    Their Wave-Generator hybrid:
    1) Chemical Fuel -> Heat/Kinetic Energy
    2) Heat/KE -> Torque
    3) Torque -> Electrical Current
    4) Electrical Current -> Torque
    5) Torque -> Ground

    It becomes seven steps if the generator is charging the battery:
    1) Chemical Fuel -> Heat/Kinetic Energy
    2) Heat/KE -> Torque
    3) Torque -> Electrical Current
    4) Electrical Current -> Chemical charge storage
    5) Charge storage -> Electrical current
    6) Electrical Current -> Torque
    7) Torque -> Ground

    Yeah, Entropy is a b*@#&!

  73. Jeff Carlson says:

    for a real world improvement on the tradional ICE see these guys …
    http://www.ecomotors.com/

    prototypes built and tested … not a lab experiment … could be as high as a doubling of mpg …

  74. Bernd Felsche says:

    Put your wallet back in your pocket. Keep the cheque-book closed.

    It’s an interesting idea, but then so was the Sarich Orbital Engine. One which shared the Wankel rotary’s inability to seal, but also had the bonus of poor mechanical efficiency. The Sarich orbital engine was a technological failure (despite winning an award from a TV-science “Inventors” program), but produced a seredipidous offshoot; a fuel injection system with some commercial use.

    Conventional turbo-diesel engines achieve >45% efficiency. Way better than the 15% stated. Such convenient errors sound the alarm bells. This sort of PR is “grantsmanship”. It helps if ze professor ist shpeaking mit a Tshermun aksent. Alas, now seen as a legitimate method for getting research funds into a University.

    Müller mentions the Brayton cycle, which applies to turbo-machinery and also the optimum operating point, which’s be at a particular speed and load determined by the engine. The research seems to go back to at least 2004 with the roots of the design in pressure-wave superchargers. (operating principle by Janusz Piechna and David Dyntar)

    Pressure waves and shock waves through the air-fuel mixture and the end-gas have catastrophic effects on internal combustion engines. That is because the spontaneous combustion of the mixture as a result of the elevated pressure leads to super-sonic flow speeds which strip the thin, insulating boundary layer of “cool” air from the surface, exposing the metal to the full temperature of the combustion.

  75. Steve from Rockwood says:

    People criticizing the rotary engine should get up to speed. The seal problem has been resolved and the units currently powering the RX-8 are so small that Mazda gives you a back seat for free. I’ve had experience with a 2004 and the power output of these small engines is impressive.
    Of course there are other problems with the RX-8 but not leaking seals. Try starting the RX-8, moving 100 feet, turning it off and then re-starting it. Nope, not until a trip to the garage.
    If you take a look at energy efficient vehicles, the main “improvement” is the fact that they are made lighter. Actual motor efficiency hasn’t increased that much over the years. Swap out all them F-150s, Dodge Rams and GMC Sierras for a Prius and high gas prices are solved. But that would be too easy. Better to invent a new motor that will only power a 500 lb car.

  76. Michael Moon says:

    The diagram is incomprehensible. The video does not explain the cycle. Shock waves move at very very high speeds, this thing would have to spin so fast you could not make the vehicle corner both directions from the centripetal accelerations. The combustion is definitely internal here, and it is well known that achieving higher efficiency with internal combustion depends entirely on the temperatures involved. Letting pre-combustion gases mix with post-combustion gases destroys the efficiency and causes major emissions issues.
    Also , it is quite strange that this work would be done at Michigan State. The US auto industry has a far close working relationship with the University of Michigan, funds labs there, hires grads and professors from there. MSU Engineering school has been at risk of loss of accreditation more than once.
    Somebody involved has a close relationship with a Congressman, best way to get government funding. This technology is very dubious, far from proven, and the presentation is deliberately confusing. “Something is rotten in East Lansing.”

  77. Justa Joe says:

    Ralph says:
    April 11, 2011 at 2:22 am
    —————————————
    …4x the efficiency of some gas-guzzling American monstrosity designed in 1935, perhaps. But 4x 10% efficiency is … errr … about the same as a modern European turbo diesel.

    There are no American engines in late model American vehicles that were designed in 1935. That was the era of the flathead Ford, which are long gone except as nostalgia pieces. I’m curious to know what vehicle you have so that I can read up on your European turbo diesel to see how it differs from an American Turbo Diesel. Diesel engines and diesel fuel are inherently a tad more thermally efficient than gasoline engines to begin with so comparing the two may be a tad unfair. I personally prefer gasoline engines from a performance standpoint. Since Ford markets a Turbo Diesel Focus in Europe I’m curious to see why it is not marketed in the US? popularity? emissions?

  78. crosspatch says:

    “While they’ve got a focus on CO2 for the usual reasons, I’ll take increased efficiency any day.”

    Me too, but someone please show me exactly why I should care about CO2?

    A volcano in the Philippines just the other day started emitting 4000 tons of CO2/day. I am not sure my town emits that in a year.

  79. John Michalski says:

    A penguin takes his WDG Hybrid vehicle to a mechanic with power issues. The mechanic says he will take a look at it and that it shouldn’t be long. The penguin deciides to go to the ice cream parlor across the street while the mechanic worked. He comes back after a short time and the mechanic says “I figured out the problem. It looks like you blew a seal.” The penguin wipes his mouth and says “No, that’s just ice cream.”

    John

  80. Ann In L.A. says:

    Was just blocked from posting this to Facebook. Seeing the above @Tom Harley, I guess I’ll try a couple times more.

  81. Ziiex Zeburz says:

    Looks like it was taken from one of the first issues of Buck Rodgers,
    Fantasy and miles don’t equate

  82. R. de Haan says:

    I am interested in any light weight engine for light aircraft application where weight and redundancy are the most important specs.

    At this moment the absolute winner is a 100 hp Rotax 912 S, a four stroke boxer engine with conventional Bing carbs.

    The only developments over the past 15 years has been the introduction of the Thielert Centurion diesel engine which runs on Jet A1 and is based on the Mercedes A Class car production engine and a rotary engine based on the Mazda 13B rotary engine, http://www.mistral-engines.com/Media2/Mistral-News
    Both are certified, very expensive and not entirely without problems.

    The rotary performs at high revs = high fuel consumption but also high heat production, so the promised weight reduction from the rotary concept is destroyed because the additional weight of a heavy reduction gear and additional water and oil coolers. See: http://www.rotaryeng.net/

    Boxer is still king. The cylinders are air cooled and only the cylinder head is water cooled which means a small radiator = small drag.

    Another development is the introduction of small jet engines but their gain in weight is lost on noise and fuel consumption but just like electric there are niche applications for example on gliders. http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/08/sailplane-launches-itself-with-retractable-jet-engine/

    I think the presented engine which in fact is a turbo with two combustion chambers, call it a self propelled turbo, will have to make lots of revs to deliver it’s performance.
    This means it will suck in lot’s of fuel.

    This engine won’t have a better performance than a rotary and I think it will need a lot of cooling.

    The only interesting engine design I have seen lately comes from the inventor of the Eco Mobile (Switzerland) and is now tested in a scooter. It’s called the ‘Ball Engine” and it didn’t take 2.5 million of Government funding to reach the working prototype stage.

    http://www.monotracer.ch/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=55&Itemid=137&lang=de

    As a last note:
    What people tend to forget when we talk about engine efficiency is the fact that the energy density of a liter gasoline or diesel is the best we have available (apart from nuclear) but that it has a limit. Thermal losses are all in the game.

    Yes, we can make engines more fuel efficient but that always comes with a price of additional weight and additional technology and costs.

    Weight is something we don’t need in an aircraft and additional technology always goes at the costs of redundancy, read reliability.

    That’s why the only real innovation is the elctronic engine management and electronic fuel injection which eventually will replace the carburators in aircraft engines.
    Today double EMC’s and injection systems have been developed that are more redundant than carburators.

    As for the current trend in hybrid electric and electric energy density of batteries and weight is still the limiting factor and I don’t see this problem disappear.

    Any person out in the market today must be crazy to buy a Toyota Prius or a Honda Hybrid if you can by a Beamer Diesel, a bigger, more comfortable, safer and more reliable car with a similar fuel consumption.
    Honda and Toyota still have a conventional drive train which means you can still drive the car when the battery is out.
    The Chevy Volt however is all electric and the engine only functions as a range extender. This is nothing more but a driving laptop with a power generator and it’s just as vulnerable. In extreme weather conditions, hot or warm these cars are crap.

  83. R. de Haan says:

    As for the CO2 claim: If you burn a gallon of gasoline, you burn a gallon of gasoline.
    No matter what type of engine you use.
    So I really wonder what the theory is behind the reduced CO2 claim.
    Must be another invention?

  84. CDJacobs says:

    Jeff Carlson says:
    April 11, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Ditto, Mr. Carlson. When you see a truly elegant design concept, one that makes you say “Of course! [facepalm] Why didn’t I think of that?” you know you are likely to be on a good path. I can’t “intuit” the wave disk. That doesn’t mean I’m the ultimate arbiter of goodness, but if you can’t see the elegance up front, be suspicious.

    The OPOC is a lovely design. It has been a great performer so far, and packaging would allow much more effective automobile internal layouts. Combined with an intelligent hybridization (mild hybrid with start/stop capability), you could have the American “family sedan” — Accord/Malibu/Sonata/Altima/Fusion/Camry seating and storage — that achieves better than 60mpg (under 4l/100km) in the Urban cycle with no change in driveability or comfort from the current ~2.5l 4cyl versions.

    I think it might have some challenges with oil in the exhaust because of the way the piston rings move over the port, but it is a MUCH smaller challenge than this very questionable idea.

  85. George E. Smith says:

    Well if you look at that wiki article on how the Wankel engine works, you can see that one of its problems is simple geometry. There are few configurations for the engine cavity, and rotor profile, that enable continuous rotary motion with accuarte sealing of the tips of the triangular rotor, to the casing, and a direct result of this geometry restriction is that the maximum compression ratio that the Wankel engine is quite low; somewhere aropund 6:1 as I recall. This low compression contibuted both to the lousy combustion efficiency, and also to the low thermal efficiency; which resulted in high gasoline consumption, and high unburned hydrocarbons. For the same reason (low compression), I believe the Wankel was actually very good on low NOx production.

    One of the reasons that gas autos sold in the USA are required to operate properly on 87 (or lower) octane regular gas, is because it is known that very high compression engines, which require premium gas, generate oodles on NOx by burning the air (nitrogen and oxygen). The NOx does NOT come from the fuel; it is simply burnt air.

    Higher performance imports often suggest (in the owner’s manual) that you use premium fuel; they can’t require that you do. The premium fuel permits them to support their 50,000 mile between service claims. On regular fuel they would be pinging much sooner due to carbon deposit buildup in the engine.

    I would prefer that the promoters of the rotary wave engine, build a lawn mower sized prototype, before shouting out from the mountain tops about their solution to our four dollar gas prices.

  86. Mike Bromley says:

    gianmarco says:
    April 11, 2011 at 1:57 am
    they need government money to produce the prototype of something that would make its designer a billionaire.

    That one always gets me. Then, their on-cue reduction-of-CO2-emissions-grant-justification/plea statement, for good measure.

    The conspiracy theorists have already thrashed it on Farcebook, saying that it “will disappear as soon as the oil companies get a hold of it”. Personally, I’d like it to APPEAR first. This is either BIG NEWS, or another slowly-fizzling thing…like the water engine claims of a few years ago.

  87. Wilky says:

    PHD = Pile it Higher and Deeper…

    Until they get a B.S. degreed engineer to actually fabricate, build and test it, it is a Doctroral wet dream.

  88. JFA in Montreal says:

    This is very similar to the Quasi-Turbine developped by a Quebec physicist, Gilles Saint-Hilaire, PhD several years ago.

    http://quasiturbine.promci.qc.ca/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quasiturbine

    They used flexible vanes instead of hard seals and rollers.
    One major advantage of the quasi-turbine is that the seal remain at constant angle relative to the chamber wall, which avoids a lot of problems inherent to Wankel configuration. The QuasiTurbine website has a lot of information. I’ve seen one in operation.

    The big advantage to this configuration is that it can detonate the mixture without breaking the engine. Conventional gas Otto engine is destroyed by mixture detonation, and the maximum force is applied at the point of least leverage in the cycle, when the cranking arm is aligned with the piston. In the Quasi-turbine (or the design above), the max force is not applied in such a mechanical lock-up context.

  89. By the 1st of April 2012 pigs will use these marvellous engines in all their aeroplanes.

  90. R. Shearer says:

    Nice cartoons and models!

  91. tarpon says:

    Yes theoretical …

    While a University of Texas study for Canada built a coal to diesel refinery process that proved in a real world test refinery was quite doable. Using a modified Fischer-Tropsche process(they would not disclose the process modifications) the refinery converted coal at a barrel of oil equivalent of under $30 a barrel. No word on how the refining process is too be used — by Canada.

    The Crow Indians have a plan submitted to the EPA for approval, and have a $7 billion funding set up, using reservation mined coal, and would employee the entire reservation to staff the coal to diesel refinery. To date the EPA has not responded.

  92. Tenuc says:

    Doug Proctor says:
    April 11, 2011 at 8:19 am
    “…There is already in (beginning) production, the Coates engine. Not a Wankel. 20% less fuel, 30% less emissions, high efficiency. Generates carbon credits. Going into California and the heavy oil production areas. Used now for power generation. Can handle up to 30% H2S without stripping. Also waste gas as in sewage plants and landfills. But well known right now?

    We don’t need much new technology, just the wisdom to use the current stuff. But there is no grant system or tenure for being practical. I don’t see Gore or Suzuki praising people for doing what is already available.”

    Totally agree! Back in the 20’s Nikola Tesla patented his Disk Turbine. Just imagine if this had been developed how much less of our precious ‘black gold’ would have been consumed. Unfortunately the oil companies where only interested in maximising consumption, and along with governments who were keen to have more oil taxes, were able to suppress more efficient technologies (and alternative fuels).

  93. Tenuc says:

    Just found a link which explains Tesla’s engine…

    http://www.rexresearch.com/teslatur/teslatur.htm

  94. Richard Sharpe says:

    tarpon says:

    The Crow Indians have a plan submitted to the EPA for approval, and have a $7 billion funding set up, using reservation mined coal, and would employee the entire reservation to staff the coal to diesel refinery. To date the EPA has not responded.

    Aren’t the Crow a separate nation? Why do they need EPA approval? Don’t casinos represent a precedent that they are independent, or is their independence on a short leash?

  95. dave ward says:

    “A modern European turbo-diesel is already running at about 40% efficiency”

    The legendary Gardner 6/8 LXB series Diesel engines were achieving that over 40 years ago, without any fancy electronic controls or turbochargers….

    AND they have an incredibly good reputation for long life and reliability, with many examples running for over a million miles. Most of my school buses in the 60’s & 70’s were powered by them, and they are still the mainstay of travelling fairground generator sets.

    http://german.gardnermarine.com/75/section.aspx/download/3
    http://italian.gardnermarine.com/77/section.aspx/download/4

  96. DCC says:

    Bladon micro jets – where have I heard that name before? Ah, here it is: “Tata Ltd to Acquire Minority Stake in Bladon Jets 29th September 2010.” Government money on the intake side, Tata money and inside information on the outtake side.

    Goes right along with the headline “New gasoline engine design has 4x efficiency of pistons” when matched against the text which says “promises to be five times more efficient than traditional auto engines …”

    Hey, it’s just a computer model. That’s within the range of the slop.

  97. Marc says:

    This is a far simpler design than a Wankel; the comparisons are not apt. This has more in common with a piston two stroke and a traditional gas turbine . The challenges are in wave timing – there is limited need for valving or sealing. It will have an extraordinarily tight operating range, but that makes it ideal for a series electric hybrid.

    It’s actually quite elegant. I could see this getting to commercialization in ~5 years.

  98. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:

    Nothing is new under the sun, is it? Our neighbor was lucky enough to be given one of the Chrysler turbine cars in the early 1960’s to test:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysler_Turbine_Car

    It made the most impressive, Batmobile-like sound! 1963 apparently. It could run on castor oil, diesel, whatever…not picky.

  99. Wellington says:

    A few minor things to work on: Sealing. Lubrication. Friction. No cooling?

    60% efficiency? That’s the dream number to break for existing combined cycle electrical plants.

    I hope their naively-phrased grant application hype shows they are better engineers than promoters because they’d better be to pull it off. I’m afraid though that the opposite might be true and ARPA-E doesn’t have too many credible choices if such hype doesn’t disqualify the applicants.

    I hope they succeed but I am very skeptical.

  100. jorgekafkazar says:

    To half the commenters: This concept has nothing to do with the Wankel engine. Zero. Zip. Nada. It is in no way analogous, except for (1) going around, and (2) probably never gaining a foothold in the market.

    The video sound was indistinct. I suspect Herr Mueller gargled the KoolAid before he drank it.

    Mark Petersen says: “…I suspect problems, when this engine is run at non optimal speeds, because exact timing of the process within the wave rotor is of immense importance.”

    Yes. Immense is the right word. Power may relate to rpm’s by as much as the square thereof. I suspect turning a corner or going up a hill under the right conditions might cause the engine to hiccup. For this and other reasons, they could blow $50 million bench testing this contraption and find that it doesn’t work worth a poop in an actual car. Good luck to them, though. Sounds nice on paper. These ideas always do.

  101. Ralph says:

    >>Ralph says: April 11, 2011 at 2:22 am
    >>There are no American engines in late model American vehicles
    >>that were designed in 1935.

    Try this one for starters, originally designed in 1938.
    Most obsolete rubbish still in production.
    http://www.lycoming.com/engines/certified/index.html

    .

  102. Knut Witberg says:

    Invitation: Invest in the completely emission free engine.

    I propose the rebirth of the steam turbine engine, this time driving an electrical generator. It can be burn almost anything with the obvious exception of fossil fuels. Wood, waists form your garden, newspapers and magazines, cardboard, you name it… Politically it’s of course best to use wheat or corn. Then we can get the big farming companies on our side with their very efficient lobby in Washington. A good argument is that the current conversion to alcohol to use in cars is very inefficient use of the energy compared to burning the corn directly in a steam turbine engine. “A much more efficient way of using our food!” is proposed as the company slogan!

    This alternative offers zero CO2 pollution!

    Anyone who is interested is welcome to invest! Just transfer $ 5000,- to my bank account and I will send you a share in the new company. Of course, the next step will be to apply for enormous government grants…

  103. ferd berple says:

    Isn’t there are theoretical limit on all heat engines. They can never be more efficient than the ratio of the hot and cold sides of the engine in degrees K? So, unless they can make the hot side hotter and/or the cold side colder than today’s engines, they cannot be much more efficient. Which is the problem facing the IC engine. As you try and make the hot side hotter, you need exotic materials (ceramics) which don’t yet have the longevity.

  104. woodNfish says:

    So, this isn’t just more efficient, or highly efficient, it’s hyper-efficient! I think the key syllable here is “hype”.

    This engine has similarities to the wankel rotary engine. Both of them have their combustion chamber walls dependent on a good seal to the outside casing. The three combustion chamber seals in wankels had to be replaced every so often at huge expense. This engine looks even worse with its many vanes. It will probably stay in the research lab with sterling engines. Nice concept, not practical.

  105. agimarc says:

    I am old enough to remember Andy Granatelli’s two turbine cars racing in the Indy 500 in 1967 and 1968. They worked so well and scared the racing community so badly that they regulated the turbine powered car out of the race the next couple years with rules changes. Think the 1967 car led 171 laps and broke a gearbox / transmission on 197th lap. Finished the 200 laps 6th. Cheers -

  106. Hans Erren says:

    I see now I wasn’t the first to notice :-D

  107. exNOAAman says:

    Not a new idea.
    Not 4x efficient.

    Not impressed. Sorry.

  108. SidViscous says:

    I’d seen this earlier and then watched the video. I thought it odd that he was just waving about the disk with the plexiglass cover, which I’m sure is not a working prototype. But from teh comments here I realize he didn’t even have a working prototype at that time.

    But as to his efficiency numbers, I read between the line (or is it heard between the lines) that his is basing it all on final efficiency and playing silly buggers with the numbers.

    i.e. he compares the weight of his engine (the bit with him waving it about and saying “see I’m holding it in my hand”). to correlate to savings in weight, which he is using for efficiency, then saying using a hybrid system like a Prius, he’s using the comparison of that weight of that system. Problem being based on the size of this thing and it’s relatively low output he needs to squeeze and save every erg of power and store it. That means the battery size of the Prius isn’t going to work for him, he needs very many more battery packs, thus much higher weight and he has to depend on A. generating and saving lots of juice while at a standstill (sitting at a light), sotring enough juice to get up to speed on the highway, and then using that small amount of juice to sustain that speed.

    But then as soon as you put decelerate and accelerate into the factor (say traffic) then his numbers start to fall apart. So he has to build in more redundancy. More batteries, maybe a second motor, etc.

    When he’s done he as a car that weighs just as much as a standard hybrid with similar mpg.

    Of course I knew he was full of so much BS that it was leaking out of his ears when I read the comment “only suitable for hybrids” that means it’s just marketspeak. Any can work in any type of vehicle, just may be stupid to do so. i.e the jet engine in the go kart.

  109. TRM says:

    Cool but this one already has a prototype built with measured displacement etc.

    http://www.angellabsllc.com/

    The MYT Engine (Massive displacement Yet Tiny) has it beat already. Cool design though. I like the subject of alt engine designs.

  110. Stephen says:

    Its the Wave Motion Engine! Just in time for that road trip to Iscandar I’ve been planning.

  111. peter geany says:

    This product is another example of publishing bull and hoping the audience is ignorant. Total hype and understates the efficiency of the latest diesel engines that approaches 50% not 15%. Use turbo-compounding, the hyper bar process, or the adiabatic turbo compound engine and that can be 60%. Given a more reasonable approach to the current NOx and particulate trade off formula and we could push these figures even further, as the current US on highway diesel engines are now classed as zero emission engines, a far cry from 20 years ago. This is an extraordinary achievement and a change of emphasis is now needed of reducing fuel burn to the exclusion of all else. This will stimulate innovation again.

    Regulation is the holdup at present as it forcing all manufactures down the same path leaving no room for innovation. It is slowly creating monopolies reducing choice for commercial operators and consumers alike. Let this lot bring a product to market and pit the actual hardware to competitive analysis and then we can judge its merits. Sorry Anthony but nothing exciting here yet. Maybe a pitch for funding.

  112. Dr A Burns says:

    A 50% higher efficiency than a power station … sounds like a scam to me … or am I too much a sceptic ?

  113. sophocles says:

    Interesting concept. At a brief glance, the engine looks similar to Ralph Sarich’s Orbital Engine. So much so, it could run into a little trouble from Orbital Corp’s (Australia) patents … (http://www.orgeng.com.au).

  114. Cold Englishman says:

    Ever heard of Venture Capitalism?

    If this really was an efficient replacement for the IC engine, venture capitalists would be all over this design like a rash. Unfortunately, the owners have instead raided the taxpayer, which almost certainly means it will be a failure.

    Again, we should make forward diary notes for these claims, and hold them up to ridicule when the first car is NOT running in 3 years with 95% emmisions saving yadayadayada.

  115. Don Shaw says:

    “Researchers from Michigan State University have been awarded $2.5 million from the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program to complete its prototype development of a new gasoline-fueled wave disc engine and electricity generator that promises to be five times more efficient than traditional auto engines in electricity production, 20% lighter, and 30% cheaper to manufacture.”

    One has to realize that the DOE funding has not produced anything useful in all the years of it’s existence.
    Since Dr Chu and most of his employees have little or no knowledge of practical energy solutions, there are numerous institutions scamming us with outrageous claims.
    No responsible engineer would announce such outrageous claims absent anything but a paper design, except to fool Dr Chu into awarding $$$.
    Of course I hope I am wring but over 50 years in the energy business including numerous research projects causes one to temper such wild claims from even well intentioned scientists.
    I witnessed the DOE wasting $$ on useless studies back in the 80’s, Has anything changed?

  116. brothersmartmouth says:

    I’d like to see the emisions. NO2, CO, etc. Reducing those might require to much back pressure and emision controls.
    But, if it had a single, air cooled (thanks Dermot O’Logical), easily replaceable, cheap rotor, it might be great for electric production in remote areas.
    Last fall I started my 64 327, after being notstarted for 15 years. No problem.
    Pistons still rule.

  117. R. de Haan says:

    I am sure GM is very interested in this new engine design as you could use it as a steering wheel.

    GM has a lot of problems lately with steering wheels.

  118. Justa Joe says:

    Ralph says:
    April 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm
    >>Ralph says: April 11, 2011 at 2:22 am
    >>There are no American engines in late model American vehicles
    >>that were designed in 1935.

    Try this one for starters, originally designed in 1938.
    Most obsolete rubbish still in production.
    http://www.lycoming.com/engines/certified/index.
    ————————————
    Sorry, I am unaware of this engine being a power plant in any late model American automobiles. Actually I’m unamware of this engine ever being used in any automobile from a major MFRYour links seems to suggest that is used in some aircraft applications.

  119. HERB says:

    The leftist Feds don’t want a fast solution to their contrived emergency of global warming. They want to tax it, sell permits, grab power, and change the world’s economic structure to that of socialism. Conservatives can fight this by defunding the EPA’s power in this area and push innovation for energy independence instead of Obama’s idea along with his czars of pushing fossil fuel cost sky high to deter it’s use. Punishingly high energy cost on us is sadistic and is without natural affection. It will also result in lost jobs, recessions, depressions, rolling blackouts, lower standard of living, energy poverty, and loss of life in extreme weather. This is a politcal battle, not ecological. This is like having an enemy on American soil in which slow motion elections battle once every two years while they have 729 other days to destroy this greatest nation ever built in which they APOLOGIZE for while in other countries.

  120. Justa Joe says:

    Ralph, The OHV V8 engine, which was the mainstay of US engine design for a long time, came into into use in 1949, And no modern engine is based on the design of the original OHV “Rocket 88″, for example. All late model American engines are of fairly recent design. I’m unaware of any significant technological divide between American gasoline engine technology and EU technology.

  121. Gary Mount says:

    Justa Joe says:
    ” Most obsolete rubbish still in production.”
    in reference to the lycoming engine.

    The lycoming engine offers good aerodynamics for aircraft though the fuel efficiency might not be the best. Its horizontal piston layout provides good sight past the nose cone for the pilot as apposed to say the radial engine or a V engine.

  122. Jim S says:

    There are too many engineers on this site giving this guy a hard time. If we live in an age of Post Normal Science, why can’t we live in an age of Post Norman Engineering?

    If the consensus says that this engine will work, then this engine will work!

  123. Bernd Felsche says:

    sophocles, Re OEC Patents. … nothing like the Sarich Orbital Engine.

    I worked on modelling the airflow through the disc valve of the Sarich orbital engine in the summer of 78/79. (Vacation work … undergraduate Mechanical Engineering.)

  124. John Marshall says:

    We have tried several engine designs in the past, Wankel rotary, Gas turbine with a centrifugal compressor by Rover in the UK, and all ahve suffered from excessive fuel consumption. (I had a Ro80 and sub teens mpg was the best I could get).

    This may have the same problems. Lean burn, pioneered by Ford, is good but frowned on by the UK Government due to the projected loss of fuel tax revenue.

  125. Justa Joe says:

    Gary Mount says:
    April 11, 2011 at 8:02 pm
    Justa Joe says:
    ” Most obsolete rubbish still in production.”
    in reference to the lycoming engine.

    The lycoming engine offers good aerodynamics for aircraft though the fuel efficiency might not be the best. Its horizontal piston layout provides good sight past the nose cone for the pilot as apposed to say the radial engine or a V engine.
    —————————————————-
    I never said that the lycoming engine was obsolete rubbish. Ralph did. We were discussing late model American automobile engines, and then he brings up the Lycoming engine as an example? Actually if the Lycoming engine is still in production it must be serviceable in some niche application(s). Fuel efficiency isn’t the #1 priority for every engine in existence.

  126. Dave Springer says:

    This is a load of crap right from the word go. First of all modern piston engines are 25% to 35% efficient not 15% as the article states and that number is still going up.

    This engine’s efficiency only exists in a computer model. In a computer model a piston diesel engine is 56% efficient. Compare that to the disk wave engine’s theoretical 60%. In reality modern diesels attain 35% and the new TDI diesels are probably pushing 50%.

    The bane of this engine will be the same as all other rotary internal combustion engines. The Wankel is a case in point. Nobody can make a rotary seal that lasts for long under high temperature and pressure. Carnot’s law bites them in the ass every time they try. The maximum efficiency of any heat engine is determined by the difference between inlet and exhaust temperature. That’s why you get better fuel economy in the winter. That’s also how inexpensive add-on nitrous oxide systems boost the efficiency of gasoline engines – they super-cool the fuel-air charge before it enters the combustion chamber.

    Diesel engines are more efficient because of the way the fuel-air mixture is ignited. Diesel has a lower self-ignition temperature such that it can self-ignite from adiabatic compression of 25:1 and it burns slower & cooler. Therefore the engine runs at a lower RPM, cooler, and with a very long stroke which makes everything last longer. Gasoline explodes under compression-ignition at significantly higher temperature and pressure. Therefore gasoline engines must be short stroke, low compression for a non-explosive burn, and ignited by a spark.

    The spark ignition is the efficiency killer. Igniting the fast burning mixture at a single point means you have combustion starting at one point and progressing through the mixture all the while the combustion chamber is enlarging as the force of the expanding gas is extracted as mechanical force. Timing this perfectly is nigh on impossible under all the varying conditions. Computers and electronic fuel injection help a lot but they still can’t get it done as well as a diesel engine. You see, in the diesel combustion chamber the fuel ignites all at once everywhere for a slow perfectly uniform burn that can push for a long time into a larger volume which translates into a lower exhaust temperature. This is where Carnot’s law comes into play – even though the diesel combustion temperature is lower than gasoline the diesel’s exhaust temperature is lower by a greater amount – and the name of the heat engine efficiency game is getting the greatest difference in temperature between inlet and exhaust.

    This wave disk engine might be a little better than spark ignition. If I understand correctly compression is achieved by centrifugal force and a shock wave ignites the fuel along a wave front so instead of a single point of ignition you get ignition along a wave front which is still not everywhere all at once as in diesel ignition but should be an incremental improvement over spark ignition. There’s still nothing that can be done about gasoline’s explosive nature. So even if the theoretical efficiency is greater the life of the rotary seals is still going to be its Achilles Heel. The appeal of rotary engines has never been about efficiency but rather about simplicity. Unfortunately the rotary seal problem has never been overcome and it certainly isn’t for a lack of trying.

    Just sayin’…

  127. Dave Springer says:

    Correction to my last:

    I said difference between inlet and exhaust temperature is what determines maximum efficiency. I should have said the difference between combustion temperature and exhaust temperature is what matters. In Carnot’s general law for heat engines this is referred to as the hot side and the cold side.

  128. Dave Springer says:

    Gary Mount says:
    April 11, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    “The lycoming engine offers good aerodynamics for aircraft though the fuel efficiency might not be the best. Its horizontal piston layout provides good sight past the nose cone for the pilot as apposed to say the radial engine or a V engine.”

    Nonsense. You could point the V downwards and get better sight clearance. Even better sight clearance would be an inline configuration pointed downwards. Boxers (like the Lycoming) have a natural dynamic balance that is only matched by inline-6 and V-12 configurations. The advantage of natural dynamic balance includes fewer main bearings and longer bearing life but the critical thing for aviation engines is the boxer requires no balance shaft or counterweights which means they are a much lighter weight engine.

  129. Mike M says:

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:April 11, 2011 at 1:19 am Further, the Wankel motor … had one difficult to solve problem: the sideways sealing of the moving parts so that no combustion gases leak back to the input (and compression is lost). I suppose that this is not different for this type of motor.

    My first thought as well. They really haven’t cured that premature seal wear problem in the Wankel after 80 years. This thing looks like the surface speeds will be plenty faster and the rigidity of the vane structure to carry the seal is going to be far less.

    Looking how thin the vanes appear to be, I think it is safe to say that the heat problem for them is going to be something in the realm of what a gas turbine has to deal with which means exotic materials, coolant oil vias, and then then you have to seal them on top of all that running with no lubrication. They have be sealed well enough for start up but then not seize as they expand from all the heat.

    I’m from Missouri on this one, it might end up working but still find itself on the scrap heap like the Chrysler gas turbine car 50 years ago.

  130. othercoast says:

    If this has really gotten gov’t funding, it’s already beating the last revolutionary (rotary valve? opposed-piston? I forget which scam it was) engine design presented here, which only scammed private investors out of their money. (Even though in that case, the folks who made a career out of continously being just a few years away from production actually put their (notorious) own names on the scam, and were successful regardless).

    Personally, if I was some combusting fuel, I’d blow through that no-compression pinwheel in the first picture as straight as possible, bouncing of the left convex bit and then the right convex bit causing nary a hint of net revolution.

  131. banjo says:

    Turbines in cars? old news.

  132. othercoast says:

    Can you imagine coming up with this idea, honestly believing you’re on to something, and then never make a prototype?

    Obviously there are some ideas that need massive infrastructure/$$$ to make even the slightest protoytpe (e.g. nanotech), but even novel circuitry that would have to go on a microchip to achieve its absolute potential can be prototyped with discrete components or programmable logic to show the relative improvement the innovation produces.
    You’d think the university in question (though the nearly-not-accredited bit suggests they are merely the US marketing outlet/$$$ inlet for the Polish brains behind the operation) could have loosened up a few thousand $ for machining a small protoytpe to see if there’s any truth at all to the theory, before spending time to draw more pictures, make non-prototype videos, and beg for a grant.
    Of course, getting the grant shows their strategy, though it sounds nutty, worked.
    Do you have to have special connections to get that much money for that little actual realism in your proposal, or are the grant writers really that easy to convince?

  133. Kip Hansen says:

    Does anyone know if they have built ANY kind of a working model? This is reportedly a product of a school of engineering…engineers just go ahead a build things, they don’t just talk about them. Plastic models don’t count with me. I have trouble believing that the engineer Mueller is serious without a running model. Who gives a boiled peanut about the theoretical stuff….have they built even a rough-and-ready working version? — that at least burns fuel and spins?

    If not, I would have to label this ‘press release science’ and relegate it to ‘Popular [Pseudo-] Science Magazine’.

  134. Ralph says:

    >>Dave Springer says: April 12, 2011 at 7:45 am
    >>the critical thing for aviation engines is the boxer requires no balance
    >>shaft or counterweights which means they are a much lighter weight engine.

    You could have fooled me. The Lycoming is the most rattling, vibrating, thirsty, ancient and unreliable engine to have ever graced the front (or back) of an aircraft. Give me a modern car engine any day.

    .

  135. pk says:

    hey guys:

    this is the money making part of the whole thing. the publicity to pull in investment capital. i would expect that these people know that this thing will never work but it looks shiney enough to pull in money.

    its just like the investment business. the only sure way to make money in investments is to sell books on how to waste your money and if they do well enough hold seminars at $1000 a head to listen to you bull@#$% the rubes.

    C

  136. George E. Smith says:

    “”””” Dave Springer says:
    April 12, 2011 at 7:45 am
    Gary Mount says:
    April 11, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    “The lycoming engine offers good aerodynamics for aircraft though the fuel efficiency might not be the best. Its horizontal piston layout provides good sight past the nose cone for the pilot as apposed to say the radial engine or a V engine.”

    Nonsense. You could point the V downwards and get better sight clearance. Even better sight clearance would be an inline configuration pointed downwards. “””””

    Well they actually used to make inline inverted aero engines, and inverted V 12s as well. Funny thing is that the Merlin, and especially the Griffon engines in the WW-II Spitfires, all had the Vee up, even though it created considerable visibility problems for the pilot; specially with the larger Griffon engine. The visibility problem was mostly a taxiing problem, as they wouldn’t tolerate a lot of combat limitation of visibility. There are lubrication headaches that go with head down engines.

    However the Napier Sabre Engine of the Hawker Typhoon, and Tempest fighters, was a boxer; a horizontal H 24 cylinder engine having two over and under crankshafts. But it used sleeve valves also, which changed the head gear a bit. The Napier Sabre-7 engine, was the most advanced piston engine ever put into an aeroplane.

  137. PhilJourdan says:

    It will never come to market. The high priests of AGW cannot allow it to survive, so they will come up with some excuse to kill it.

  138. Dave Springer says:

    Ralph says:
    April 12, 2011 at 11:45 am

    “The Lycoming is the most rattling, vibrating, thirsty, ancient and unreliable engine to have ever graced the front (or back) of an aircraft. Give me a modern car engine any day.”

    It rattles & vibrates because it has a 6 foot propeller chopping the air instead of a machined flywheel inside the engine case.

    It is noisy because it doesn’t have a muffler.

    It is thirsty because it’s usually producing 75% of its rated power when it’s in the air.

    It IS ancient. It is NOT unreliable.

  139. Dave Springer says:

    Mike M says:
    April 12, 2011 at 7:48 am

    “Looking how thin the vanes appear to be, I think it is safe to say that the heat problem for them is going to be something in the realm of what a gas turbine has to deal with which means exotic materials, coolant oil vias, and then then you have to seal them on top of all that running with no lubrication. They have be sealed well enough for start up but then not seize as they expand from all the heat.”

    The easy fix for the lubrication problem is to put oil in the gas like you would with a two-stroke motor. Simplifies things a lot except perhaps the emissions system. Maybe the EPA will give it a waiver of some sort like they do for motorcycles.

  140. Mac the Knife says:

    JFA in Montreal says:
    April 11, 2011 at 11:07 am

    “This is very similar to the Quasi-Turbine developped by a Quebec physicist, Gilles Saint-Hilaire, PhD several years ago.”

    Quasi Turbine? Is he the Sikh Indian cousin of Quasi Moto? Just a hunch….. };>)

  141. Harry Bergeron says:

    It’s a mistake to dissmiss it out of hand, or compare it to the IC engine.
    Instead of mechanical compression, it uses a “shock wave”, which in itself could increase both combustion efficiency and decrease emissions.

    But even as a gearhead, I can’t make much of the diagrams.

  142. Rajesh Rana says:

    surely i welcome the new developments in rotary engine,. However i am coming with new type of rotary engine having compression, ignition, expansion and exhaust just as in normal I C engine, but in my design just the piston is missing, still it works as rotory engine. Now it is being fitted in 950 Kg saden car and is under trial.
    Will soon come up with new design and will prove India is the best

  143. pochas says:

    Harry Bergeron says:
    April 12, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    “It’s a mistake to dissmiss it out of hand, or compare it to the IC engine.
    Instead of mechanical compression, it uses a “shock wave”, which in itself could increase both combustion efficiency and decrease emissions. But even as a gearhead, I can’t make much of the diagrams.”

    Think of it as a jet engine with compressor, combustion and turbine all on the same disk, or as a turbocharger compressor with two combustion sections in the middle.

    I have trouble with the claim that it is more efficient than, say, a diesel engine. Jet engines or gas turbines pack a lot of power into a small space, but are not as efficient as a piston engine such as a diesel. But if they are that efficient, we’ll see a lot of them.

  144. Rajesh Rana says:

    I have developed new type of rotary engine having compression, ignition, expansion and exhaust just as in normal I C engine, It is piston less and it works as rotory engine. Now it is being fitted in 950 Kg saden car and is under trial.
    Any body Interested may contact me on 919825041633

  145. David S says:

    Claim “A 90% reduction is calculated in CO2 emissions versus gasoline engine vehicles.” CO2 is a normal product of combustion for hydrocarbon fuels. The only way to reduce CO2 is to reduce the amount of fuel consumed. But to reduce CO2 by 90% would require a 90% reduction in fuel consumed, but that’s much better fuel efficiency than even the professor claims.

    No working model? Wake me up when you have one.
    Michigan state started as an agricultural school. That’s why it is sometimes referred to as Moo U.

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