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Lotus Teases With a Fuel-Agnostic Two-Stroke Engine

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the ask-a-lotus-eater dept.

Transportation 269

JohnnyBGod writes "Lotus claim to have invented a new, more efficient engine design. The two-stroke, flex-fuel engine can achieve, according to the surprisingly technical press release, 'approximately 10% better [fuel consumption] than current spray-guided direct injection, spark ignition engines.' The engine has a sliding puck arrangement to control its compression ratio, and has direct injection and a wet sump, to eliminate fuel leakage to the exhaust and the need to mix oil with the fuel, two common problems with two-stroke engines. Lotus engineering have released a video explaining the engine's operation."

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269 comments

low power consumption? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399712)

It's the year of Lotus on the desktop!

Re:low power consumption? (1)

3.5 stripes (578410) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399738)

Lotus do make some small two seaters, but I don't think I can fit one on my desk.

Re:low power consumption? (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399778)

Lotus do make some small two seaters, but I don't think I can fit one on my desk.

Anyone whose desk is too small for a Lotus needs a bigger desk!

10% improvement isn't that much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399962)

So I pay $30, not $33 when getting gas. Whoop-dee-doo. We need a car that doesn't USE GAS. Hydrogen or electricity please.

Re:10% improvement isn't that much (4, Interesting)

burne (686114) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400116)

You've missed the Flex-Fuel [wikipedia.org] . It will run on any variation of ethanol/gas mixture, from E5 all the way up to E100. You decide how green you want to be and this engine will adapt to your choice of fuel.

Re:10% improvement isn't that much (4, Insightful)

paiute (550198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400246)

You are assuming that ethanol is a green fuel. I'm not so sure about corn-based ethanol. Future technology may change that, but I am uneasy using a subsidized food crop to make fuel for cars.

Re:10% improvement isn't that much (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400268)

No one outside the USA uses corn for ethanol. It's only grown in the USA because it gets stupidly high government subsidies making it cheaper than everything else. If you drive across France, you'll see lots of bright yellow fields growing rapeseed [wikipedia.org] , which is used to produce fuel.

Re:10% improvement isn't that much (2, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400666)

And that's used for BioDiesel, not Ethanol. BioDiesel is MUCH more environment friendly in terms of production. A few simple catalysts and it's done, no waiting for or heating fermentation.

Re:10% improvement isn't that much (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400688)

And if you visit Indonesia you will see a lot of subsidised Palm Oil plantations where rainforest used to be.

Re:10% improvement isn't that much (1)

Darth Sdlavrot (1614139) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400718)

If you drive across France, you'll see lots of bright yellow fields growing rapeseed...

Petrol in France (currently about €1.29/litre* or nearly $7.50/US gallon) costs too much for me to drive across France.

But I might take the train.

*http://www.prix-carburants.gouv.fr/

Re:10% improvement isn't that much (1)

KDEnut (1673932) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400324)

For the most part, bioethanol is produced from whatever is the main sugar-crop in the area. For example: In the midwest it's corn, In the midsouth its switchgrass, Sugarbeets in the northeast & Europe, and Sugarcane in more equitorial regions (Like Brazil, who despite being an OPEC nation gets most of their fuel from bioethanol).

Lots of good information and links here. [newslib.com]

Internal combustion efficiency (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399762)

10%? So that's what? 22% instead of 20%? Whoope!

Re:Internal combustion efficiency (1)

Basje (26968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400026)

Yup. But it means the engine delivers roughly 10% more power or 10% less fuel consumption than a comparable "normal" engine. So it's significant.

Re:Internal combustion efficiency (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400486)

seriously, with the amount of petroleum (or equivalent hydrocarbon) fuel used in this world, a 2% improvement in a system that's been tweaked and optimized during one of the most productive centuries for mechanical engineering is no small feat.

According to http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/twip/twip_gasoline.html#demand [doe.gov]

The US alone uses about 9 million barrels of gasoline each day, or 3.3 billion (US) per year. So if everyone got 2% better, that's a 65M barrel a year equivalent reduction in usage. Unless you come up with the next form of free energy, this sort of incremental improvement is about all we have going for us.

Of course, I seem to recall that a similar level of improvement can be achieved just by making sure your tires are balanced and at the proper pressure. It's winter now, so with colder temps everyone needs to re-check the static pressure in your tires!

What took it all so long?? (2, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399768)

Ford built a Fiesta with a two-stroke engine that achieved 1.4l/100km (that’s 168 mpg!) in 1996! Not a drawing. Not a experimental model. No, a real driving prototype car. Looked just like a normal Fiesta.

I wonder why it took until now, for something that’s still worse to come out.
If I were the Ford engineer, I would be angry as hell.

Re:What took it all so long?? (4, Insightful)

_merlin (160982) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399782)

So where is this magical Ford engine at now? A one-off prototype car is no better than a single experimental engine.

Re:What took it all so long?? (3, Informative)

fruey (563914) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399858)

Various theories hint at the interests of the oil lobby to continue four-stroke dominance (just look at the low mpg of most american manufacturers in general) and perceived customer comfort being the most widely used trump. High fuel efficiency does not usually provide sporty acceleration, low engine noise, and high torque at low revs.

That being said, no doubt many consumers don't care as much about that as the marketing departments of the automotive industry. In reality, noisy diesels have sold well in Europe (thanks in part to diesel fuel subsidies) and customers have bought poor performing, smaller cars for everyday use. They just don't make big margins on cars that sell for less than €8000 new. So once again striking a balance between shareholder interest (increasing profits) and global economic / ecological interest (decreasing emissions and oil reliance both by better fuel efficiency and better combustion of cleaner, more varied fuel) is an impossible mission.

Until oil prices go up, don't expect any good technology to prevail. The four stroke petrol engine will die, but not before oil costs increase.

Re:What took it all so long?? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399898)

Diesel fuel subsidies in Europe!

Wow, that's impressively wrong, almost a slashdot record.

Re:What took it all so long?? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399944)

Not to mention the fact that modern diesels are most definitely not "noisy". Americans in general are painfully ignorant of modern diesel technology, which is a shame.

Toyota has a 2.2 turbo diesel engine so smooth that they are able to balance an upright coin on the engine cover with the engine running at idle, without knocking the coin over. Impressive.

Re:What took it all so long?? (3, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400032)

Something like 50-60% of new cars sold in Europe for the last few years are diesel. Nobody seems to see a problem with them.

nb. This figure applies to luxury cars (Mercedes, BMW, etc) as well. The rich people aren't seeing a problem either (in fact diesels are very good for long-haul highway driving).

Diesel engines would be a far better match than gasoline for American tastes (ie. lots of torque at low revs), I can't imagine why they don't use them.

Re:What took it all so long?? (3, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400244)

Cars, choosing them is one of the areas where decisions of people are being extremely influenced by perceptions and urban myths.

You know your extremely visible purchase will be witnessed by many people, you might want them to look at it in particular (depending on the area) way. Also, since it's a non-trivial expense, you rationalize your choices excessively. All this creates quite complex behaviors.

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

wlowe84 (614517) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400524)

We don't use them, because the car companies don't really sale them here. I personally love diesels.

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

emilper (826945) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400766)

I can't imagine why they don't use them

the clueless Naciremas did this right: diesel emissions are just awful, compared with gasoline, in terms of combustion byproducts.

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

GeckoAddict (1154537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400588)

Not to mention the fact that modern diesels are most definitely not "noisy". Americans in general are painfully ignorant of modern diesel technology, which is a shame.

That's because, for the most part, the only diesels we're exposed to are large SUVs and Semi trucks, which are actually quite noisy. Personally, I love the idea of a diesel, provided the cold weather isn't a problem anymore. The US doesn't really have diesel cars so most people (like myself) haven't had a need to research them at all.

Re:What took it all so long?? (2, Insightful)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400596)

If I remember correctly, some of these diesel vehicles cannot be sold here in the US due to emissions laws being more strict for diesel vehicles. This is odd. considering the average 18 wheeler belches visible and foul smelling smoke. Perhaps that is where we Americans get our ideas about these engines from.

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400764)

I have no idea if it's true but I remember reading that diesel sold in the US is "low quality" compared to diesel sold in the EU.

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

fruey (563914) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400004)

Indirect subsidies of course, based on the fact that levels of taxation vary according to fuel type.

Diesel costs more per gallon in the UK compared to unleaded, but less per gallon in France. However you explain it, it's a subsidy of sorts.

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400080)

Diesel costs more per gallon in the UK compared to unleaded, but less per gallon in France. However you explain it, it's a subsidy of sorts.

The same way paying 92% tax is the government subsidizing you because they could have charged you a 96% tax.

No wait, that's not what subsidy means.

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

Antity-H (535635) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400156)

Yes that is what it means. A subsidy is not alway a direct gift of money.

Subsidies can be provided in the form of a tax break which is exactly what happens in the case of French Diesel.

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400626)

Subsidy: [encyclopedia.com] transfer payment, usually made by government to individuals, groups, or institutions, to bring about a redistribution of welfare which could not be achieved through market forces.

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400146)

At the moment diesel is about 1p more per mile than petrol per litre in the UK, - £1.09 vs £1.08 for petrol but you get about 25% more miles out of it, so it is still cheaper.

Re:What took it all so long?? (2, Insightful)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399980)

Various theories hint at the interests of the oil lobby to continue four-stroke dominance (just look at the low mpg of most american manufacturers in general) and perceived customer comfort being the most widely used trump. High fuel efficiency does not usually provide sporty acceleration, low engine noise, and high torque at low revs.

Uh... explain then why European & Japanese manufacturers can make high mpg with the same four-stroke engine technology? Oil lobby aside, the technology has more efficiency possible.

And irrespective of that, two-stroke doesn't necessarily mean less fuel consumption - and is far more likely to mean higher lubrication oil consumption.

In reality, noisy diesels have sold well in Europe (thanks in part to diesel fuel subsidies)

Where on earth did you get the idea that Europe subsidises diesel?

and customers have bought poor performing, smaller cars for everyday use.

That's more likely to be a pattern of behaviour - distances between cities and key locations are smaller due to higher density, and roads are narrower in Europe, so having a massive car is more likely to be an inconvenience.

Re:What took it all so long?? (3, Interesting)

fruey (563914) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400030)

Euro & Japanese manufacturers are less influenced by the US fuel lobby. Explain why petrol costs way less in the US : (the answer is taxation in Europe). The taxation strategy indirectly subsidises (it's not quite a subsidy, of course, but to the end user making one fuel cheaper than the other is akin to subsidy even if the difference is the level of taxation)

Agree in part with behaviour patterns in Europe, but I've seen roads from Fort Worth & surroundings to Dallas clogged with large vehicles mostly used for a less than 20 mile daily commute...

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400152)

Euro & Japanese manufacturers are less influenced by the US fuel lobby.

My main issue with your argument above is that the oil lobby is somehow colluding with the US auto industry to maintain the primacy of the four-stroke engine, which is simply not true. The oil lobby is more overtly acting to discourage high efficiency standards legislation in concert with the (former) Big 3 because they don't want to put in the extra effort.

The taxation strategy indirectly subsidises (it's not quite a subsidy, of course, but to the end user making one fuel cheaper than the other is akin to subsidy even if the difference is the level of taxation)

A subsidy is a reduction below market price; this is a case of a preferential tax rate. I'm being pendantic, but it's a difference in end-user behaviour - Venezuela has a subsidy for political purposes, while European countries encourage certain usage patterns through differential tax schemes.

Agree in part with behaviour patterns in Europe, but I've seen roads from Fort Worth & surroundings to Dallas clogged with large vehicles mostly used for a less than 20 mile daily commute...

People tend to buy for worst-case instead of average-case scenarios - just in case they ever take that holiday to Disneyland, they don't want to pack in to a compact. Europeans on the other hand take a train.

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

molecular (311632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400362)

People tend to buy for worst-case instead of average-case scenarios - just in case they ever take that holiday to Disneyland, they don't want to pack in to a compact. Europeans on the other hand take a train.

Across the Atlantic?

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400598)

People tend to buy for worst-case instead of average-case scenarios - just in case they ever take that holiday to Disneyland, they don't want to pack in to a compact. Europeans on the other hand take a train.

Across the Atlantic?

Beats driving though

Re:What took it all so long?? (3, Interesting)

plastbox (1577037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400510)

People tend to buy for worst-case instead of average-case scenarios - just in case they ever take that holiday to Disneyland, they don't want to pack in to a compact. Europeans on the other hand take a train.

What on earth are you talking about? You can't just make retarded, unsupported statements like that! We Europeans are quite fond of our cars, and have no problem packing a family of four into a typical European/Asian family car for vacation. if you think you need to drive a Hummer or a 2-ton pickup truck to get where you're going, then perhaps you should learn to pack your stuff with some common sense (and perhaps put your all-American family on a diet).

Yes, that diet comment assumed a very clique image of Americans. I allowed myself this small freedom, as you seem to have no problem making stupid statements and assumptions about us.

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

bazorg (911295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400038)

Where on earth did you get the idea that Europe subsidises diesel?

some 60% of the retail price usually consists on oil-products tax and then VAT on top of it. In some countries like Portugal and Spain the retail price for diesel fuel used to be some 25% lower because the oil tax was lower. Then the TDIs of this world became successful enough for people to used them on stuff that is not a lorry or a tractor and the price gap between petrol and diesel was reduced.

Re:What took it all so long?? (4, Informative)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399984)

Don't forget one of the big 2-stroke killers in the USA was the as usual the EPA. Because they set at the emissions requirements as ratios; rather than say an absolute value per horsepower hour. A 2 stroke looks dirty compared to a four stroke if you compare the various amounts of controlled gases in a sample but they are often allot better in absolute terms; because they can do more work per unit of displacement and revolution.

Re:What took it all so long?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30400022)

thanks in part to diesel fuel subsidies

Oh, you mean lower taxes on diesel fuel?
      For your information, Europe taxes fuels, and final cost at pump is close to 1 euro per liter (about 5.6 USD per gallon).
      So, there are not higher subsidies but lower taxes

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

weicco (645927) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400070)

For your information, Europe taxes fuels, and final cost at pump is close to 1 euro per liter

Wow! Where you live? It's 1,309 per liter at the nearest gas station here in Finland and it's about the cheapest there is.

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400458)

Wow! Sign me in! (this Finland of yours) It's slightly cheaper here in Poland, with around three times lower median income.

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

plastbox (1577037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400536)

Really? Here in Norway, where a significant part of the worlds oil products are produced, fuel costs roughly €1.53862 per liter.

Re:What took it all so long?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30400568)

I invite you to Turkey. Since Turkey is neighbor to 3 oil producing countries, produces 5 times more oil than Finland and have substantially lower income than Finland, our gas is just 1.489 €/l.

Re:What took it all so long?? (5, Informative)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400036)

"In reality, noisy diesels have sold well in Europe "
Speaking as an Englishman and part time car nut: noisy diesels would sell rubbish,
My GF's diesel Ford is quieter above 30mph than my petrol Honda, once you get above about 2000rpm when the turbo starts to kick in the diesel has more torque and the difference in noise is impossible to tell, but the extra torque means that you can rev the diesel lower. At idle my petrol Honda is slightly quieter but the idea of noisy/dirty diesels is old.
Now at peak revs the petrol produces more power and I don't see me putting a diesel engine in my motorbike anytime soon, but for me the competition in none race cars has already been won by the diesel.
Except of course that the last Monte Carlo 24 hour race was won by a diesel...

Re:What took it all so long?? (2, Informative)

plastbox (1577037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400594)

According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , Diesel has the highest energy density of all the more popular fuels and as anyone who has ever driven a new diesel will know, torque, noise, etc. are non-issues.

Would we even be having this silly discussion if not for those blasted average Americans? =P

Re:What took it all so long?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30400370)

High fuel efficiency does not usually provide sporty acceleration, low engine noise, and high torque at low revs.

This sounds the wrong way around. If what you hear are the explosions, higher fuel efficiency would produce less noise, right?

I guess it is time that we run out of oil. The oil price has to be up to push efficiency and other motors/fuels. Taxes on oil may help, some countries already do that.

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400644)

Various theories hint at the interests of the oil lobby to continue four-stroke dominance (just look at the low mpg of most american manufacturers in general) and perceived customer comfort being the most widely used trump.

That's not it. I worked in the automotive industry for almost 10 years, and I can tell you that the automotive companies don't give a rat's ass about Big Oil. But you do give the real reason:

They just don't make big margins on cars that sell for less than €8000 new.

And that's it right there, at least as far as the Detroit Three are concerned: they have never made money on small, inexpensive cars. Inexpensive cars have always been considered a "loss leader" to introduce younger people with less cash to the brand.

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

emilper (826945) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400734)

noisy diesels have sold well in Europe (thanks in part to diesel fuel subsidies)

pray, tell, which Europe are you writing about ? is it Europe nearby Jupiter ? Did NASA discover semi-intelligent life there (intelligent enough not to tax fuels, not intelligent enough to stop from subsidising them) ?

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

Skal Tura (595728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400768)

Actually, higher fuel efficiency does likely translate to more power. But when it translates to more power, it's swapped to smaller engine, underpowered one, and then the fuel consumption is again higher because it's currently going on high loads.

For example, an old RWD corolla.

Stock 1.6liter, carburated engine. Producing around 70JIS HP. Sounds like doesn't consume much, yes?
minimum 8liters per 100km (@80km/h highway), practically mixed city + highway (@100km/h) translates to 12liters per 100km, sometimes you can get as low as 10l/100km.
RPM limit: 6,000RPM

Newer, high power, high rev 1.6liter, fuel injected, twin cam engine, from early 90s.
Same engine has been used as a very tuned up version in Formula Atlantic, and continues to be used in Rally and Drifting.
Produces 124 to 165JIS HP, depending upon engine variation. No low rpm torque to speak of, especially with the very first versions.
RPM limit 6,800 to 8,500RPM depending upon version.

Comparison engine: Latest 16v (circa 91-93), steel exhaust manifold, freeflow air filter, 8k rpm rev limit, produces ~135HP
Fuel consumption highway 100-120km/h: 6.5-7l/100km
Mixed fuel consumption average 8l/100km

As for the oil companies stopping highly efficiently engines: I agree with you 100%. There's so many cool, very high fuel efficiency motors invented, but none makes in the market?

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399886)

Possibly it had problems meeting emissions standards? That's just a guess though. Two stroke engines aren't typically as clean as four stroke engines, although I don't know what technical marvels they implemented to get 168mpg.

That said, if it's burning 10% of the fuel of an SUV it can't have been that bad...

Re:What took it all so long?? (3, Informative)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400188)

I don't know what technical marvels they implemented to get 168mpg.

From my understanding, it'd be set up like the huge ship based two stroke diesels. You utilize a turbocharger and direct injection into the cylinder. That way you're not blowing gas/oil out with the exhaust. You can control precisely how much and when fuel is introduced into the chambers.

Then you end up with an engine that's almost half the weight for the power. Cooling needs can even be reduced because you can use the air during the flush phase to help cool the engine.

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

willy_me (212994) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400226)

I remember reading about super efficient fuel injected 2-stroke engines back in 1990 - so the idea has been around for a long time. Implementing it in an efficient and reliable manner must be difficult.

But just the other week I found a mass produced engine that implements the idea. Have a look at the new 600cc engine from ski-doo [ski-doo.com] . It's a 2-stroke engine that runs on gas - without the oil mixture. Oil is still used, but it is injected directly onto the main crank on an "as needed" basis. Overall oil consumption is dramatically reduced.

Re:What took it all so long?? (3, Funny)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400408)

So where is this magical Ford engine at now? A one-off prototype car is no better than a single experimental engine.

Oh, please, isn't the location obvious? It's sitting in the "high-priority" warehouse, right next to the Ark of the Covenant and the Roswell "balloon debris"...

We'll get to it, in 30 years, 8 months, 4 depressions, 12 corruptions, and 20 trillion dollars in oil profits from now...

Until then, YMMV...

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399860)

Purely out of morbid curiosity, what was the acceleration like? The last fiesta I had you needed to boot the damn thing to get to motorway speed before you ran out of slip road to merge into the motorway traffic - and that was a vanilla 4-stroke petrol engine (albeit the 1.25l model)

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

TheEvilOverlord (684773) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399890)

I wonder why it took until now, for something that’s still worse to come out.

Worse in what aspect? While that is an impressive mpg for any car, the lotus engine has addressed several specific deficiencies with traditional 2-stroke engines, principally the requirement to mix oil with the fuel to lubricate the engine. This has a significant impact on the emissions. It can also run on a variety of fuels. This is one heck of an achievement

oh and

Ford built a Fiesta with a two-stroke engine that achieved 1.4l/100km (that’s 168 mpg!) in 1996!

[citation needed]

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

rcs1000 (462363) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399936)

I've googled and can't find this car.

Source please?

Re:What took it all so long?? (1)

Raptoer (984438) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399946)

If I had to take a guess it would be because the ford used the same design as previous 2 stoke engines, just in a different form factor to fit into a fiesta. Two stroke engines usually suffer from having to burn their oil at the same time as their fuel and letting fuel leak out the exhaust (since the intake and exhaust from the chamber happen at the same time).

Re:What took it all so long?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399998)

Any references? Light googling reveals nothing, just 1.2 l. / 3 cylinder Diesel prototypes. This is NOT the same as 1.2 l/100 Km.
But look up for the volkswagen "1L": it took light (and expensive) materials and a narrow aerodynamic design (just two people) to get 1 l / 100 Km. I think that your 1.2 l in a Fiesta shape and weight highly dubious.

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_1-litre_car (2002 prototype)
http://www.volkswagen.com/vwcms/master_public/virtualmaster/en2/unternehmen/mobility_and_sustainability0/technik___innovation/Forschung/1_Liter_Auto.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qY6K-1NSRWs (new prototype)

Re:What took it all so long?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30400182)

It took so long because now the engine makers have to worry about emissions instead of just mileage.

I have in mind a superior fuel-agnostic engine (3, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399872)

They can be run on multiple fuels [wikipedia.org] (or indeed, mixtures thereof) and would be ideal for a series-hybrid vehicle, where the drivetrain could be eliminated (it was the weak point in the turbine cars [wikipedia.org] .)

Re:I have in mind a superior fuel-agnostic engine (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399900)

There is definitely an advantage in running very hot and fast. Waste heat might actually be of use that way as well.

Re:I have in mind a superior fuel-agnostic engine (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400576)

The Chrysler turbine engine actually had a regeneration system to feed exhaust gases back to the intake to lean the air-fuel ratio instead of decreasing speed, so that it would keep the motor spooled up and hot. The biggest problems with it were in the primary gear drive which brought output RPMs down to transmission levels, and in the volume of exhaust gases. A smaller, more modern car could have a smaller turbine yet, and thus less exhaust.

Re:I have in mind a superior fuel-agnostic engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30400614)

It's being done again (by multiple suppliers, but I'll show you one).
http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2009/12/01/cmt_380_microturbine/

There is too much in 'new' engine technology to follow at the moment. Some will survive, most will die.

Uh huh. Just add to the Copenhagen free promotions (2, Funny)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399878)

This drives me nuts.

What about this is new? Does it exist due to breakthroughs and material science we didn't have available thirty years ago? Not that I can see.

Which means this is nothing that a team of imaginative engineers couldn't have come up with long ago, and likely would have, (and probably did) if they'd been allowed to. Fuel efficiency means the oil billionaires, (the people who have been running things since forever), make less money. The only reason this is happening now is because the corrupt deals being cut in Copenhagen [cop15.dk] with regard to carbon trading and various other ass-backward plans are a means of making more profit in different ways and promise greater control over every aspect of our lives.

Look, I'm all for efficiency and I'm sure the engineering team on this project are fine people. But this is bullshit. It's a press release which appears in the same breath as that Israeli company and their silicone battery. The people allowing this stuff to float to the top of global media-consciousness don't care about the actual state of human affairs or about the genuinely awesome things we could be actually doing with technology. This is about agendas and sculpting public awareness and making damned sure the slaves are tightly locked down.

So, yeah, thanks Lotus. Very courageous of you to cautiously advance this lukewarm idea past the oil barons. Because crop-based fuels are SUCH a good idea.

-FL

Re:Uh huh. Just add to the Copenhagen free promoti (1)

squizzar (1031726) | more than 4 years ago | (#30399960)

This engine looks to be a lot more complex than the usual two strokes, so it will cost a lot more to manufacture and maintain, a lot more to design and engineer, will have lower yield rates/higher failure rates so it will cost the customer a lot more money. So, as a consumer of engines, do you spend possibly twice as much on the engine because it is 10% more efficient? If the major cost is the engine itself and fuel - as has been the case up until recently - is comparatively cheap which will you buy? As a manufacturer who has to compete with other companies, which design is the best choice for you to focus on? Yes these could have been designed earlier, but the reason they weren't is nothing to do with propping up oil companies profits, it's to do with whether there was any profit to be made in building the engines.

What drove the adoption of fuel injection over carburettors? It wasn't oil companies, it was the pressure of emissions legislation: it's cheaper to produce an engine that meets the requirements with FI. Before that was a factor, carburettors are much cheaper so that's what was used. As fuel becomes more expensive and the quantity of emissions becomes a significant factor it becomes profitable to build more complex and expensive engines because that cost is recouped by the lowered consumption and emissions.

30 years ago we didn't have the electronic control systems, the precise manufacturing and the economic pressures we do now, so suddenly these 'designs we should have thought of years ago' become viable.

I talked to some guys who were doing automotive engineering apprenticeships at Lucas, and they said one of their projects was to design a super efficient carburettor for a motorcycle engine (this was around 1997). Their design was hugely efficient in comparison to the existing product, something like 20-30%, but significantly more complex and hence it was not suitable for production.

It would be great if we actually had all the technology and knowledge that we need to survive for an eternity in peace and harmony with our surroundings, but the likelihood of that being the case, and that it is all being held back by a few greedy corporations seems pretty slim...

Also wrt. the crop based fuels, since this can run on pretty much anything, wouldn't that open up the possibilities for switchgrass, algae based fuels etc. which are not based on food crop sources? Ethanol from corn is a bad idea - and one that is actually promoted by some big evil corporations

Re:Uh huh. Just add to the Copenhagen free promoti (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400224)

This engine looks to be a lot more complex than the usual two strokes, so it will cost a lot more to manufacture and maintain, a lot more to design and engineer, will have lower yield rates/higher failure rates so it will cost the customer a lot more money. So, as a consumer of engines, do you spend possibly twice as much on the engine because it is 10% more efficient?

They key words there being "two strokes". It's very possible it's still cheaper to make and simpler to maintain than the equivalent powered four stroke engines.

Re:Uh huh. Just add to the Copenhagen free promoti (4, Insightful)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400092)

Dude, Chill!

Let's assume you're right and it could have been done 30 years ago (it couldn't but I'll get to that later). It's newsworthy because no-one has done this before, in fact it's more newsworthy if someone has a really obvious idea that no-one has done before. I'm sure the first person to stick an internal combustion or steam engine on a cart was told it was a really obvious idea, but the first horseless carriage still deserved to be big news. I'd certainly class a major engine development as being as newsworthy as the latest revision of the Linux kernel being released.

As I understand the article they're using direct injection similar to that used in modern performance diesels. This is a relatively new technology that requires very high pressure fuel injectors which are still a developing technology and weren't available 10 years ago never mind 30. Don't forget mechanical engineering is a much slower moving field than software - they have to design and test things in their field before they release them ;-)

Re:Uh huh. Just add to the Copenhagen free promoti (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400760)

Thank-you for offering the first reasonable-sounding notes among this spate of responses.

What a day!

-FL

Re:Uh huh. Just add to the Copenhagen free promoti (1)

Raptoer (984438) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400118)

Oh, and the government has put spy chips in our heads too!

In all seriousness, this whole big oil conspiracy is a load of junk. I'm sure the oil companies would do that if they could, but look at it from the car company point of view. If a car company could come out and say "Hey! we got a car that gets amazing mpg and behaves just like any other car!" they would have an instant fortune. How exactly would oil companies go about stopping these companies? I've never heard of oil companies buying car companies, left and right. Did they go and kill everyone who has worked on a high efficiency engine program?

Whats changed more than anything recently is modeling software and rapid prototyping. There is only so much math you can do by hand when trying to model an internal combustion engine while it's running. For a long time we made engines with trial and error and whatever math could be done by hand, but now we're at the point where we can make accurate simulations of the workings of an engine. Hell I wouldn't doubt if they run these simulations with genetic algorithms trying to find the right shape or timings to run in a prototype.

As for this engine compared to that battery, there they've said "we have this working battery, it's not all that good, but it works!" and here we have "Not only does it work, but it's current form is better than other engines!"

Additionally it is in the oil companies' best interest to develop production of producible fuels (rather than extracted fuels) because the costs for extracting keep going up, and the amount of energy required to extract keeps going up. Eventually we will run out of oil, it's a matter of when. Once the price gets high enough if one company has been investing in producible fuels while the others have been slacking off, they have an opportunity to make massive amounts of money.

Ideally the best solution is using the electricity generated from a fission nuclear power plant to power the vehicles, indirectly through some storage medium. The question then becomes which storage medium? Hydrogen is inefficient and a compressed gas, making cars into mobile flamethrowers (since there is no oxygen in the tank it won't explode, but any that escapes will sure burn, and any rupture in the tank is a lot worse when working with a compressed gas than with a vaporous liquid like gasoline). Batteries will require large amounts of certain metals (I don't know what the current estimates for usage versus supply of battery metals are, but there are a LOT of cars in the world) and don't have the energy density of gasoline. This leaves us with biologically derived fuels. Let me first say that this whole 'ethanol from corn' is the true load of crap that being fed to Americans, corn is terrible for production of ethanol. It would be better if we could get the enzymes that break down cellulose into a fuel to work right, but we're not quite there yet. Algae grown in large salt water ponds are our best option currently, but that doesn't get the corn area swing votes quite as well as making a whole new use of the staple crop for several states.

So, in conclusion, nuclear fission power plants (with reprocessing, and newer reactor designs) used to power a storage medium for cars. Tada! Ok, not that simple, but more or less, yeah.

Re:Uh huh. Just add to the Copenhagen free promoti (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400412)

In all seriousness, this whole big oil conspiracy is a load of junk.

You say that with such certainty that you must have some pretty solid reasoning and knowledge on the subject. --Or be operating from a comfortable state of nearly perfect ignorance. Let's see which it is. . .

I'm sure the oil companies would do that if they could, but look at it from the car company point of view. If a car company could come out and say "Hey! we got a car that gets amazing mpg and behaves just like any other car!" they would have an instant fortune. How exactly would oil companies go about stopping these companies? I've never heard of oil companies buying car companies, left and right. Did they go and kill everyone who has worked on a high efficiency engine program?

Oh boy. I don't want to be insulting, but this is extremely naive.

You could benefit from some reading on the events of the last century. First of all, it isn't oil companies. It's the oil elect. Many of them are politicians and decision makers in other key industries and boards. Oil is just one of the dominant forms of wealth, and so it is controlled by old money, along with every other significant sector of society, including the media, pharma, arms, banking and information industries. Collectively, this has been variously dubbed the Military Industrial Complex, and you can bet your socks it does whatever necessary to control power and wealth. Usually people don't need to be killed in order for secrets to be kept. Rather, you only hire on people who have been effectively programmed through schooling to be cognitively dissonant, (able to look facts in the face and yet continue believing contrary dictates), you silence them with non-disclosure agreements involving harsh threats for failure to comply, use simple bullying when that is not enough, character assassination when they get out of hand, and when things are dire, resort to murders, of which there are far too many examples. But primarily, simply training people to have a fear of seeking beyond orthodox beliefs is 99% effective. --As a practical example, consider your own reactions; You'd probably have a lot of trouble telling somebody that you believe in Astrology, and not just from any logical perspective, but rather from a deeply-felt gut wrenching imperative stemming from deep within. That sweaty-palmed sick feeling is evidence of the Pavlovian mind programming we've all been exposed to. It is both invisible and ubiquitous throughout society. It is deliberately inserted through simple techniques, it is easy for our controllers to modify after it is implanted, and it is incredibly effective in controlling human behavior.

I barely even know which way to point you on this. Perhaps this book would be a good start. [voxfux.com] "Farewell America" is fairly well accepted to have been authored by the French equivalent of the CIA, and based on hard intelligence gathered from French, Russian, and even American sources. It was originally published in French in 1968, but it was unavailable in the United States for many years. With the coming of the worldwide web, this is no longer true. With regard to this posting thread, it covers the involvement of the oil and arms industry.

Good luck.

-FL

Re:Uh huh. Just add to the Copenhagen free promoti (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400290)

Which means this is nothing that a team of imaginative engineers couldn't have come up with long ago

So is most of the new technology that you see. Even special relativity is obvious in retrospect.

Re:Uh huh. Just add to the Copenhagen free promoti (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400570)

So is most of the new technology that you see. Even special relativity is obvious in retrospect.

You appear to be suggesting that everybody who has been thinking about how to improve internal combustion engines over the years simply failed to come up with anything smart.

If you read through just the examples posted among the comments for this story, I think you'll find such a position is untenable. Heck, there's one example in an adjacent response to this exact post which describes a significantly more efficient carburetor mechanism designed by apprentice engineers which was rejected because of the supposed manufacturing costs. (Which is ridiculous; the whole point of the industrial revolution is that manufacturing costs become negligible once factories are tooled up and a market for millions of copies exists.)

The brain spark was burning gasoline in the first place. Everything since then has largely been a matter of mechanics and efficiency management. If good ideas are only just now coming up, then the last half century's worth of engineers have been pretty thick. I think in this instance, one can safely invoke even Occam for guidance on that question!

-FL

Dear Conspiracy Nut (1)

amcdiarmid (856796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400560)

Yes, Two stroke engines have been around for a long time. However, this engine purports to be a clean two stroke - something that has not been around a long time. Anyone with an mid-70's two stroke motorcycle could probably go around the block before biking in their own smoke - so yes, this is new.

The advantage of this "system" is obviously 1) it's light, 2) it's clean; 3) it can use multiple fuel types.
1) A light engine can be combined with a generator; a battery. Think Electric-Car.
          If the battery in an electric car is large enough to run ~30 miles; the car has a sufficiently strong auxillary motor (not enough to drive the car fast uphill, but enough to repower the battery between the downhill & uphill) - this makes an electric type car better. A "more complex" two stroke should be lighter than a four stroke; make the Electric car significantly better. (Personally, I drive under six miles most days. Occasionally I want to visit friends who live outside the range for a purely electric vehicle - requiring me to have a conventional vehicle, or an expensive one with multiple power systems.)

2) If the engine is as clean as a four stroke, then the engine is as clean as a four stroke. EG: you will be able to use it in a production vehicle without as much pollution as a conventional two stroke.

3) It can use multiple fuel types: EG: You can fill it with Gas, Diesel, Algie-Diesel - or if you're in a 3rd world country: you can use Strained Fryer Grease (Diesel Fuel) from Bob's Yak stand. (May only work in warm climates, not recommended for stoned hippies, etc...)

So yes, if this works as implied this is a good solution that represents a significant improvement over a four stroke engine. (Not to say that the moving-puch cylinder head would not work in a four-banger.) For a company that makes very light vehicles, and is working on an "electric-type" vehicle - this solution makes emminent sense. Please insert this in your tin-foil hat so the Govenment does not leak it to the Big Oil companies.

Re:Dear Conspiracy Nut (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400712)

Yes, Two stroke engines have been around for a long time. However, this engine purports to be a clean two stroke - something that has not been around a long time. Anyone with an mid-70's two stroke motorcycle could probably go around the block before biking in their own smoke - so yes, this is new.

That's apples and oranges. Two stroke engines of the kind you're referring to had (and still have) oil mixed in with the fuel so that they self-lubricate. As the oil burns, it is indeed very smokey. This has exactly nothing to do with what is being discussed here.

Anybody who suggests that a team of smart engineers in the 70's couldn't have come up with a motor more clean and efficient than a crappy lawn mower engine is not considering things carefully enough.

I'm not saying that this new engine isn't Clever. I'm saying that "Clever" has been around a lot longer than just the last couple of years; And that the thing holding it back has been greed, fear and evil.

-FL

Yeah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399912)

Yeah but Notes still sucks.

damn unamerican activists (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30399988)

Why are people always trying to destroy the American way of life ? Efficient automobiles are
unamerican and a conspiracy from communist loving engineer. I want my automobile to be as energy inefficient as possible. This way I can show off and increase mùy social status by let tingothers know that I have enough money not to care one bit about oil prize.

New news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30400008)

The comments on the youtube video date back to 9 months ago, how is this recent news?

Agnostic engine (1)

ptjapkes (36669) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400130)

So Lotus has created an engine that believes that nothing is known or can be known about the existence of fuel.

Lotus is making Car Engines? (0, Redundant)

rssrss (686344) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400284)

I thought they did software like Notes and were owned by IBM.

Re:Lotus is making Car Engines? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400360)

They now make alternative fuel engines. They run on the screams and nightmares of users.

I'm a fuel atheist (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400390)

I don't believe in fuel and I have no need for it. Our engines would be better off abandoning those superstitious beliefs they need any of this "fuel" to do anything.

How does this compare to OPOC engine? (1)

georgep77 (97111) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400548)

I wonder how this compares to the OPOC engine that is being developed by the same guy who did the TDI for VW. Check out the nifty flash animation: http://www.ecomotors.com/ [ecomotors.com] . I think the new found focus on economy is starting to (finally) spur some innovation in this area.

A very promising engine (1)

fgaliegue (1137441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30400686)

Not only is it a two-stroke engine, which are inherently more efficient than four-stroke engines, but it also limits the moving parts to a minimum. And Lotus never boasts about something it cannot do. However, I'd like to see a multicylinder version of it.

And that's no mean feature when you see the number of moving parts in today's engines fitted with variable valve timing/lift systems (which, of course, the switch to electric propulsion will avoid altogether).

The question is, however, is it too late? And imho, there is a "yes" and a "no".

Yes, the electric motors have been long proven to work.

No, the weight/energy ratio of electricity sucks. No, other (really!) "CO2 clean" fuels already exist, with engines already able to run on them (this particular engine included).

The future looks promising anyway. Now, I just wish that the car manufacturers turned more effort into removing weight. Even if that means stepping back on safety features - after all, nothing has been done yet on the driver training front.

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