UK LowCVP Launches ‘Technology Challenge’ to Accelerate Low Carbon Vehicle Innovation; Libralato Engines First Registrant
|The first registrant in the Challenge is Libralato Engines, developer of a novel rotary engine (cutaway shown) promising a 5.5% gain in combustion efficiency and 50% reduction in NOx emissions. Click to enlarge.|
The UK Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership is launching a Technology Challenge to provide a platform for promising innovations to be showcased to senior managers and directors of the component and vehicle manufacturers. The LowCVP is calling on UK innovators to submit creative concepts with the potential to cut emissions from road vehicles without the need for radical new infrastructure. The target of the Challenge is mainstream passenger cars producing less than 80 g CO2/km.
The LowCVP Technology Challenge is supported by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and with an associated media partner, Cleantech Investor.
Market access and investment funding are key barriers for automotive technology companies. The Technology Challenge is designed to address these challenges by identifying the ten most promising innovations and who will receive assistance to progress their concept and in pitching this to an ‘Innovation Executive’, an audience of leading directors and technical experts from the automotive industry assembled by the LowCVP. A parallel activity will promote their investment potential.
The only entry criteria for innovations are that they reduce CO2 emissions from passenger cars; could be commercially deployed in 3–5 years; are on-vehicle, and; are compatible or could be easily integrated into the existing transport, energy and fuel infrastructures.
This could mean, as examples: advanced combustion concepts; emissions cleanup solutions; improved aerodynamics and flow control; new and advanced powertrains; energy recovery; lightweight materials and structures, or; optimized designs.
The best innovations will also be promoted by LowCVP via the Technology Challenge website with regular updates on the challenge featured in other LowCVP media.
The Technology Challenge culminates in an awards ceremony and dinner with colleagues from the low carbon vehicles sector. It is open for applications which will close on 7 September 2009.
Libralato Engines. One engine developer has already registered for the Challenge: Libralato Engines.
|Libralato engine schematic. Source: Libralato Engines. Click to enlarge.|
The Libralato engine is a rotary engine comprising two interlaced circular chambers of slightly different diameters. The Libralato engine has only four moving parts which perform the four phases in every revolution of the engine.
Inside the chambers revolve two rotors about separate center. The rotors do not rely on casing contact for their location as in Wankel engines. Sealing of the rotors against the chamber walls is excellent because of their circular orbits and due to the large rotor sealing surfaces, Libralato says. The engine does not require high manufacturing tolerances and wear of the rotors is not a mechanical constant.
Induction air enters at the center of the engine and compression/expansion occurs at the periphery producing uniform heat flow characteristics as air circulates around the two sides of the engine. The two rotors are connected together by a connection rod that has a quasi-circular orbit. Rotor 1, Rotor 2 and the connecting cam form the total internal mechanism of the engine. The Exhaust port is located on the outer side of the engine block.
The engine, according to the company, does not have a traditional Otto or Diesel cycle. There are two compression phases.
The first compression phase, which has a low compression ratio, controls the later scavenge of the exhaust gases. This scavenge phase has several functions. First, it helps to oxidize the exhaust gases more fully. Second, it reduces the temperature of the exhaust gases. Third, the scavenge air can be partially recirculated within the engine to act again in the induction phase, while the remainder of the air goes on to be compressed again in the second compression phase. Finally, it avoids an extra phase for the mechanical expiration of the exhaust gases.
In the second compression phase, the air is compressed at a higher compression ratio where the fuel is added. It is this fuel/air mixture that ignites to form the expansion phase. The inlet phase is in part contributed to by the scavenged gases. This all provides for an extremely efficient handling of the gases, according to Libralato, with a significant reduction of exhaust emissions and improved fuel economy.
|Calculated comparative efficiencies. Source: Libralato. Click to enlarge.|
The expansion volume of the Libralato engine is larger than the compression volume, allowing complete expansion of the gases (Atkinson Cycle), and optimizing the amount of chemical energy from the fuel to be converted into mechanical work. Thermodynamically, Libralato calculates that the engine will produce a 5.5% increase in efficiency over conventional 4-stroke piston engines.
The Libralato engine will function with any fuel; the company calculates that the engine can attain about 50% efficiency using diesel as a fuel.
Libralato Engines is seeking financial and industrial partners to help commercialize the engine.
|Overview of the Libralato Engine.|