Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Compressed Air Hybrids On Instapundit

Instapundit has, in its telegraphic style, picked up on the compressed air hybrid meme. He's linked to a company called Scuderi Group that makes air compressors. They're hawking a split-cycle engine, where compression and expansion are performed in separate sets of cylinders. For just a few hundred dollars more you can interpose an air tank and make the engine capable of storing and reusing compression energy. They have a publicity blog here.

I've previously discussed this kind of technology. Let's hope something comes of it.

45 Comments:

Blogger KFW said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:07 AM  
Blogger KFW said...

Paul,

Sal Scuderi has posted a response to many of the questions he has been getting about the air hybrid engine, including yours. I hope this helps. Thanks for your interest in The Scuderi Group.

Kevin

5:09 AM  
Blogger Iain McClatchie said...

Scuderi's engine looks like a supercharged two-cycle engine to me. His compression piston is the supercharger, and his power piston is the two-cycle engine. His disc valves are yet another attempt to rectify the intake/exhaust losses in a two-cycle motor, which are a fundamental problem: you are connecting your pressurized fresh air supply to a cylinder recently vacated to ambient pressure.

Where can your questions and Scuderi's responses be found? Their website is spiffy but I wasn't able to find a forums or Q/A section.

Has anyone done research on modifying a four-cycle diesel engine with a third head valve that would exchange a small amount of air between the cylinder at TDC after compression, and an external air tank? This would appear to be a more obvious and evolutionary approach.

Suppose that the timing of both the intake valve and this extra valve can be modified somehow.

In air-braking mode, the intake valve opens normally, and the third valve opens during the compression stroke when the cylinder pressure matches the tank pressure. The remaining compression stroke transfers compressed air to the tank. You have friction losses in the path from cylinder to tank, but no mixing of air at different temperatures or pressures.

In normal mode, the third valve stays shut, and the engine operates normally, at identical efficiency to a normal turbodiesel under load. I'll bet this is a crushing advantage over a split cycle engine.

In energy-recovery mode, the intake valve stays shut, and the third valve opens during the first portion of the intake stroke, which now reclaims the power stored during earlier compression strokes. By varying the time the third valve stays open, you get variable supercharging as well as energy recovery, which might let you get away with a much smaller displacement motor for the same peak power delivery, and thus smaller pumping losses.

Since the motor is supercharged, it would be important to add a conventional turbocharger to recover the excess exhaust pressure.

This scheme suffers the same losses as Scuderi's when introducing compressed air from the tank into the ambient-pressure cylinder after the exhaust stroke (and a turbocharger mitigates both to the same extent). But these losses are only suffered during energy-recovery mode, as opposed to all the time in Scuderi's scheme. And there are no friction losses from transferring air between two cylinders.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

Popular Science and Popular Mechanics (the white collar and blue collar versions of the same magazine) have touted the idea for many years.

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