Exciting New Engine Technologies

Scuderi engine

A friend sent me this story about the Scuderi engine (above), which has been in development for nearly ten years. It is a weird, innovative concept but shows enough promise to have enticed “nine major carmakers” to look at it.

Called a split-cycle engine, the Scuderi, placed in a Nissan Sentra sedan, “showed a 36 percent reduction in fuel consumption, the equivalent of a 54 percent improvement in miles per gallon.”

The engine uses paired cylinders, one for compression and one for ignition/exhaust. A compressed air tank stores energy and feeds the power cylinder, where fuel is added and combustion occurs. A turbocharger controls air pressure in the engine.

It’s complicated, different and impressive. Read a good summary here.

Another engine, developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, claims to cut fuel consumption “by about 30 percent in cars and by almost 20 percent in heavy trucks.” In the car version, it involves injecting a precise mixture of gasoline and an additive into the combustion chamber, improving engine efficiency to 45 percent, compared to 30 percent for conventional gas engines. Pollutants are also reduced.

New technologies to improve gas engine efficiency have been coming thick and fast. One British study showed that over the past eight years, engine size in the small family car has shrunk 4 percent while power output has increased 12 percent. Fuel consumption is down 16 percent; CO2 emissions are down 18 percent.

Mazda just announced its impressive SKYACTIV-G 1.3 engine (right) which will power the Demio (Mazda2) in Japan but not here. With a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the car can achieve 70.5 mpg. Different measurement techniques in the U.S. won’t give us that kind of performance, but still, “the car will likely use about as little fuel as a hybrid such as the Toyota Prius–without that car’s added costs for its electric motor and batteries.”

Add to that 15 percent more torque than the current engine, which Mazda has achieved by developing a dual sequential valve timing system, direct injection, free-flow exhaust and a 14:1 compression ratio. These guys are very smart with engines, and their R&D has always been good.

Now, let them bring the new Mazda2 to the U.S.

Do you think engine-technology advances such as those mentioned above will eventually replace the current hybrid approach?

—jgoods

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  1. December 26th, 2013 at 16:25 | #1

    Recumbent is mistaken as usual. This engine is being sold as I write this short fact. Dont listen to nonsense. Scuderi group will be a multi billion dollar co in 2014.

  2. jgoods
    May 23rd, 2011 at 19:01 | #2

    @ recumbentrider
    Thanks for this. I should have mentioned that these were computer simulation efforts.

  3. recumbentrider
    May 23rd, 2011 at 15:10 | #3

    It should be made clear that Scuderi only ran a computer simulation in which a ‘simulated’ Scuderi engine was placed in a ‘simulated’ Nissan Sentra. After spending $60 million, so far they have only one small prototype engine. They have yet to put an actual Scuderi engine in an actual car.

  4. Randy
    May 18th, 2011 at 16:58 | #4

    Well, “complicated” usually translates to unreliable and expensive, and adding an additive to boost performance doesn’t mean much if the additive costs $100 a gallon. You’ve got to work pretty hard to make something more complex than a hybrid, which has all the elements of a gas powered car AND and electric car, plus some fancy power and control electronics. No wonder they are overpriced and unreliable. Some straightforward improvements in combustion engines (like direct injection) without the complexity and weight of hybrid technology will be easy to sell.

  5. tgriffith
    May 18th, 2011 at 13:46 | #5

    This is the kind of technology that should have been researched BEFORE the gas/electric hybrid technology took over. I’m all for better use of gas engines, but now the public would have to be convinced…

  6. panayoti
    May 18th, 2011 at 13:32 | #6

    Great research! I read the references, which made my head hurt, but my biggest question is “what does this technology cost”??

  1. September 15th, 2011 at 05:01 | #1