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Former Ricardo director joins Dearman liquid air engine company as CTO

15 May 2014

The Dearman Engine Company is strengthening its team as it prepares for its liquid-air engine (earlier post) to begin on-vehicle testing, with the recruitment of Nick Owen to the position of Chief Technology Officer. Currently with consultancy E4tech (UK) Ltd, Owen will join Dearman at the start of June. Prior to E4tech, Owen spent more than 20 years at Ricardo, including a number of years as project director of research and collaboration, responsible for the planning, execution & exploitation of Ricardo UK’s R&D portfolio.

Owen will be responsible for the planning and delivery of the company’s engineering research and development activities.

Having worked with Dearman over the last two years in my current role, I can really appreciate the potential this technology has for producing significantly cleaner, more efficient transport applications for both the UK and global markets. The Dearman Engine Company has a compelling business case and I am looking forward to focusing all my efforts on this project.

—Nick Owen

Air turns to liquid when refrigerated to -196 ˚C, and can be conveniently stored in insulated but unpressurised vessels. Exposure to heat (including ambient) causes rapid re-gasification and a 710-fold expansion in volume. This expansion creates pressure, which can be used to drive an engine piston, and also gives off cold, which can be used to provide refrigeration or air conditioning.

Engines running on liquid air (or liquid nitrogen, which is already widely available) are zero emissions at the point of use, and can be zero carbon depending on the source of electricity used to make it.

The novelty of Peter Dearman’s invention lies in the use of a heat exchange fluid (water and glycol) that promotes extremely rapid rates of heat transfer inside the engine. The Dearman engine is constructed almost entirely from the components of a conventional piston engine, requires little maintenance and has a light environmental impact.

The Dearman engine could be used in a number of configurations: on its own, as the prime mover of a zero emissions vehicle (ZEV); combined with an internal combustion engine (ICE) to form a heat hybrid; or as a power-and-refrigeration unit.

The Dearman engine extracts both shaft power and cold from the same unit of liquid air or nitrogen. First the cryogen is vaporized in a heat exchanger in the refrigeration compartment, so cooling it down; then the high pressure gas is used to drive the Dearman engine, whose shaft power can be used to drive a conventional refrigeration compressor or for auxiliary power.

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