New Gas Engine Design Gets 4-5x Efficiency

Wave Engine

In brief: Researchers at Michigan State University are working on a new engine design under a $2.5 million grant from the Department of Energy's ARPA-E program. The engine is capable of 4 to 5 times better efficiency.

The word

Wave Engine mockup

The engine is the Wave Disc Generator (WDG) and, as its name implies, it is meant as an electrical generator rather than as a vehicle propulsion engine. It would replace the larger, heavier, and bulkier internal combustion engines commonly used in plug-in hybrids such as the Chevrolet Volt and the Fisker Karma.

Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU), lead by Norbert Mueller, will use the grant money to produce a vehicle-sized prototype after having successfully modeled and built scaled versions.

The WDG is capable of being up to five times more fuel and emissions efficient than are conventional piston engine designs while also being 20% lighter and 30% cheaper to make. This has obvious advantages all the way around for hybrids and extended range electrics (ER-EVs).

The wave disc is different from earlier designs of this type in that it uses both the combustion of the fuel and the shockwave produced to turn the turbine, increasing efficiency. The turbine spinning turns a connected shaft, which is attached to an electric generator for power production.

And so ...

A prototype was presented by Mueller to the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Video below:

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