Banner Vehicles July 2019

Internal Combustion Engine Talk

Heavy VehicleDon’t completely dismiss the internal combustion engine (ICE) and its longevity as a solid source of powerplant beyond 2025, as we are convinced that it will never completely disappear.

Many transportation tasks or vehicle operating environments simply don't work for battery powered electric vehicles.

Be aware that 1L of petrol weighs 0.77Kg’s and contains the equivalent of 8 kWh of energy. Most current EVs use a lithium-ion battery that can store at most, 24 kWh of energy, that’s fully charged. That’s equivalent to 3L’s of petrol energy.

Lithium-ion BatteryTesla, currently the most powerful EV on the market, can store the equivalent of 53 kWh when fully charged. That amount of energy is equivalent to just under 7L of petrol. You can see that battery technology has a long way to go to provide what petrol can offer.

The internal combustion engine has been around for 150 years and exposed to massive amounts of research and development. The automotive industry has greatly increased the efficiency and performance throughout that time.

Engine R & DAuto engineers have loads of additional tricks up their sleeves that promise to extract even more energy from a molecule of fuel while producing fewer emissions. There are a few that are worth watching as the EV market and all its associated hype continue to entice governments around the world.

Just a few worth looking at:

  1. HIGHER COMPRESSION: Increasing the compression ratio of an engine coupled with higher-octane fuels greatly improves the thermodynamic efficiency and power density, enabling smaller engines.
  2. FUEL MANAGEMENT: Cylinder deactivation improves efficiency during less extreme driving situations by making fewer cylinders work. Engines are sized for worst-case scenarios from fast acceleration to heavy towing. Dynamic Fuel Management (DFM) can shut off any or all cylinders to boost fuel economy.
  3. AIR POWER: Most of an engine's power comes from the amount of air it can intake, which is why superchargers and turbochargers were developed. We also see electric superchargers gathering recovered energy from engines. Adding a motor/generator to a turbocharger eliminates lag under power and permits energy harvesting while driving.
  4. FUEL IGNITION: New schemes to ignite more of the fuel mixture promise faster combustion. Transient Plasma's drop-in spark plug replacement injects low-temperature plasma that promises to ignite ultra-lean mixtures fast and cool for a fuel economy boost of up to 15% with reduced nitrogen oxide.
  5. VARIABLE COMPRESSION: The ability to switch between high-compression for thrifty driving and low-compression when the turbo is on boost. Varying the engine's stroke, altering compression noticeably between 8:1 and 12:1, offering better fuel consumption.
  6. COMPRESSION IGNITION: SkyActiv-X operates in a conventional spark ignition phase from cold starts and under higher loads but achieves efficiency and torque gains by transitioning to the compression ignition phase across most operating conditions. Mazda estimates their engine runs in the compression ignition mode in about 90% of normal driving.
  7. NEW BIOFUELS: Cellulosic feed stocks like corn stalks, miscanthus grass, or other crops provide material for numerous processes converting those materials or even trash to ethanol, methanol, or butanol.
  8. DIRECT CARBON CAPTURE: Schemes have been proposed to pull CO2 out of the air and hydrogenate it to form a hydrocarbon fuel, there are even plans to make petrol from CO2, and make diesel by using green electricity to combine carbon from CO2 with the hydrogen from water. Carbon Engineering in Canada is planning a commercial-scale production by 2022.

August 2021

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