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A New Type Of Engine


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Very cool looking - I'm looking forward to learning more about the "wave disk engine" as the info grows and spreads.

 

My enthusiasm is tempered, though, by the long history of better directly fueled heat engines which failed to achieve their promise, like ca 2000's McMaster "wobble plate" (AKA “nutation”) motor (warning - archive.org can be terribly slow of late :(). This motor is similar to the wave disc engine in its small size and ability to burn many fuels, ideally hydrogen but including gasoline or methane

 

Unlike the wave engine, the McMaster’s was hoped it could deliver practical torque and power at low and high speeds, eliminating the need for a variable transmission or an electric generator and motor – a goal was to use a version of the motor “about the size of a coffee can” to directly power each wheel of a car, entirely eliminating the usual central powerplant/transmission. Like the wave disc engine, it was mechanically very simple - only 2 moving parts.

 

The wave engine resembles in size and overall concept – a turbine/generator vehicle power plant – more conventional systems such as

  • Ballard Power’s small, largely ceramic “microturbine” turbine/generator from, IIRC, the early 1990s (Ballard has since abandoned this idea, focusing primarily on hydrogen fuel cells – it appears to take more info-archeology than I’m able or willing to do now to find any reference to this early product)
  • The late 1980s Chrysler Patriot racing car, most famous/infamous for using a large flywheel rather than a battery for electric energy storage.

That the basic concept turbine-generator-electric motor has so many times been tried and failed to replace the piston engine is, IMHO, a lesson of which to be mindful.

 

Lets hope they can, for all our sakes, I wouldnt mind paying 1/10th my current petrol bill!

Neither would I, but unless you're planning on not just a more efficient gas-powered engine, but a much smaller frontal area vehicle (something like a high-speed bicycle) or a low speed (like an ultra-mileage competition vehicle), you won't get it. Optimistically, the wave disk engine, at near 60% efficiency might lower your gas bill to 1/3 of a typical 15% efficient piston motor (the “90%” in the article refers to emissions, not fuel consumption). A new-and-improved combustion turbine like the wave disk promises significant, but only incremental, improvements over conventional small gas turbine (typically around 40% efficient) electric generator systems, which have been around for decades.

 

Ultimately, heat engines are limited by the inconvenient balminess of our good 'ole Earth and the unyielding maximum of Carnot efficiency. Plug a reasonable combustion temp [imath]T_H=2000 \,\mbox{K}[/imath] and the hard-to-avoid usual outside temp ("outside" being right next to the motor) [imath]T_C= 300 \,\mbox{K}[/imath] into

[math]\eta=\frac{W}{Q_H}=1-\frac{T_C}{T_H}[/math]

and you get an upper limit for efficienty of any fuel-burner of around 85%.

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