A ‘self-supercharging’ 400cc single-cylinder engine has been developed in the UK, as a possible mass-production powertrain of the future.
Small engineering firm Oaktec is behind the new design, with creator Paul Andrews believing the tiny engine could have a big future as an EV range-extender, along with powering light or city cars and motorcycles.
As the engine requires no external forced induction to achieve its ‘supercharged’ state of power, CO2 emissions are lower and none of the engine’s power is ‘wasted’ through driving a supercharger.
Mr Andrews said the engine uses only simple and inexpensive components, with no futuristic (and therefore, expensive) lightweight materials or sealing compounds required.
The new design is based on a Yamaha racing diesel engine, with early testing showing a 20 percent improvement in power. Andrews said further optimisation of the components could see that figure jump to 30 percent.
While the current design is only a single-cylinder, Andrews said the technology can be adapted for multi-cylinder applications.
Propane gas is currently the fuel of choice for Oaktec’s new design, but the engine could also run on petrol, diesel or ethanol.
Wondering how it works? So are we.
The engine's operation is a closely-guarded secret, for now, with Andrews revealing only that the design uses the engine’s gases in a different way, changing the flow in a way that somewhat emulates the forced induction of supercharging.
The self-supercharging engine was unveiled at the 2014 Niche Vehicle Symposium, and Oaktec hopes to secure support from a major manufacturer for several new versions, along with a mass-production program.
(Engine image via autocar.co.uk - website opens in new window)