Ask The Best And Brightest: Wave Disc Engines?
We love staying ahead of the curve with new engine technologies like the Ecomotors OPOC engine, but without an engineering degree it can be hard to tell the the posers from the next big thing. So when something like the Wave Disc engine comes along, we throw ourselves upon the collective wisdom of our Best and rightest to help us make sense of it. In the video above, the Wave Disc engine’s creator, Michigan State’s Norbert Muller, explains his invention and its benefits including simplicity, light weight and efficiency. And, he claims, the technology is close enough to reality to have a Wave Disc-electric hybrid within three years. Hit the jump for more technical details, and be sure to let us know if this is worth watching or just another engineering dead-end.
New Scientist describes the Wave Disc’s operation:
As the rotor spins, the channels allow an air-fuel mixture to enter via central inlet ports. The mixture would escape through the outlet ports in the walls of the surrounding chamber, but by now the rotor has turned to a position where the channels are not pointing at the outlets.
The resulting sudden build-up of pressure in the chamber generates a shock wave that travels inwards, compressing the air-fuel mixture as it does so. Just before the wave reaches the central inlet ports, these too are shut off by the turning of the rotor.
The compressed mixture is then ignited. By this time the rotor’s channels are pointing towards the outlet ports again, releasing the hot exhaust. As the gas escapes at high speed, it pushes against the blade-like ridges inside the rotor, keeping it spinning and generating electricity.
In a hybrid application, however, Muller indicates that it would actually drive the wheels, and electrical power would assist in high-load circumstances.
In a PDF on the Wave Disc project, MSU describes the engine’s advantages:
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.
The engine is also adaptable to multiple types of fuel, including hydrogen and natural gas. The government sees it as promising enough to fund research to the tune of $2.5m. But do you see this technology coming to the roads in just a few years? Given how many once-promising engine technologies have failed to live up to their promises, it’s by no means a foregone conclusion.
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