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Orbital Corporation and Changan to Develop Concept Engine

The ChangAn CA18 FlexDI Concept Engine shown at Auto China 2008. Click to enlarge.

Orbital Corporation Limited and Chongqing Changan Automobile Co., Ltd, China’s fourth largest automotive manufacturer, have entered into a joint development contract for a concept engine. The development will be carried out on Changan’s current gasoline engine platform with an objective to achieve a significant fuel economy benefit utilizing Orbital’s FlexDI technology. (Earlier post.)

The program is focused on fuel economy improvement while achieving Euro IV emissions level. Orbital was selected as the technology with the best potential to meet the aggressive targets required for the program.

If the program is successful, Changan plans to take the FlexDI concept engine to mass production in a Changan vehicle.

Changan will pay Orbital AU$2.4 million (US$1.74 million) to carry out the proof of concept development work in Orbital’s engineering facility in Perth over the next 18 months.

In April 2008, Changan displayed a prototype engine developed with Orbital at Auto China 2008 (the Beijing International Motor Show). (Earlier post.)

The concept engine on display there incorporated a twin turbocharger to enable very high levels of performance while maintaining a desirable flat torque curve across a wide speed range. The combination of engine down-sizing and the FlexDI combustion system can deliver significant fuel economy benefits and offers the potential to utilise both gasoline and other gaseous fuels in the same combustion chamber, Changan said at the time.

Orbital’s FlexDI is a patented direct injection technology utilizing low pressure and air assist rather than high-pressure injection to atomize the fuel charge. Fuel is first metered into an injector pre-chamber via a conventional automotive port injector (MPI), and then delivered into the combustion chamber with the assistance of air at pressure.

FlexDI is currently applied in non-automotive applications including outboard engines, motorcycles, autorickshaws and ATV’s achieving fuel economy and emissions reductions.

The Orbital FlexDI system provides a significant fuel economy benefit in a gasoline engine application. We believe that this project, if successful, will provide Changan a competitive advantage in the Chinese market.

—Zhan Zhangsong, Vice President of Changan Auto Research Institute



I like it. I am not sure air blast fuel nozzles are the way to go.

They add complexity.

So do twin cams - sweet.

Let the market place decide.

Much more exciting than BEVs with lead acid batteries.


Orbital better do something, their patents may expire soon. They got a break in outboard motors a while back and now need a win.

Henry Gibson

There is a great deal of innovation available for piston engines before the technology dies, if ever. Steam turbines replaced piston engines for ships and now pistons are replacing turbines. Very low ash coal suspended in water can be used in the giant ship piston engines at very high efficiency. Such engines placed on land to run generators get much better efficiency running on suspended coal powder than do steam turbines and use much less water. Both land and ship based units could add steam pistons with Still technology and get even more power and efficiency. The Still technology could even use steam turbines geared to the engine shaft. Some automobile companies have tested exhaust heating for turbine operation. See recent posts.

The Kitson-Still loconotive was the first steam-diesel hybrid locomotive and would have been very succesful if invented and built by Southern Pacific. Union Pacific needs to build a few as competitors to GreenGoats or even road-switchers. ..HG..

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