Thursday, 10 December 2015
Do car engines need to be so inefficient?
It's remarkable that the internal combustion engine, the heart of travel industry still, is so impressively inefficient. Around 25% of the energy generated from the fuel is actually used to move the car.
Eventually I have no doubt we'll all be driving electric cars - we're just waiting for a shift in battery technology that seems pretty close on the horizon. (If I had the money, I'd be driving a Tesla right now.) But there are bound to be decades of gradual transition when we still need to make use of fossil fuels.
I've had pointed out this remarkable project to produce an engine that should increase efficiency of an internal combustion engine more than twofold. It's a turbine-like design, but a variant that reduces the complexity of technical problems with turbines, plus has only one moving part.
Will it work? To paraphrase Scotty on Star Trek, I'm a writer Jim, not an engineer. Clearly the claim in the video that this could 'reduce global CO2 emissions by up to 20 per cent in the next five years' is not viable. Given that a prototype doesn't exist yet, it's hardly going to change the world in five years. What's more, the website is somewhat vague about what fuel the engine uses, but I'm guessing LPG, in which case it's not just a matter of needing new cars with new engines, but also a distribution network for a fuel that isn't currently widely available. Even so, the prospect of an internal combustion engine that is so much more efficient than current designs is an impressive one.
You can find out more at www.tomorrowsengine.com