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A system being developed by researchers in the School of Engineering that uses wasted engine heat to reduce engine friction in motor vehicles has demonstrated fuel consumption reductions of over seven per cent in preliminary testing.
“A typical car engine releases about a third of the energy bound in fuel as exhaust waste gas. About another third is lost through heat transfer into the environment,” explained project leader Frank Will.
“Our system recovers and redirects some of this wasted heat and uses it to bring the engine oil up to its optimal operating temperature. This helps to reduce friction in the engine which has the potential to reduce fuel consumption significantly.
“Preliminary testing of our system has demonstrated fuel savings of over seven per cent as well as significant reductions in exhaust emissions.”
Mr Will said he believed the system – which he has tentatively named OVER7™ – represented a smarter approach to vehicle engine design.
“One of the most important features of our system is that it doesn’t have to heat all the oil in the sump, it instead heats the active oil in the engine lubrication system using an oil return bypass connected from the cylinder head directly to the oil pump, or oil pick-up tube.
“This bypass helps to increase the heat transfer from the combustion gas to the oil so the overall heat transfer process will be much more efficient.”
The possibility of retrofitting the system was another exciting opportunity, Mr Will said.
“The system has the potential to be retrofitted to existing engines and we don’t think it will require big changes to fit it – in fact it will probably require less work than an LPG conversion.
“We also think the system will be suitable for a range of vehicles, including diesels, hybrids and alternative fuels.”
Mr Will said that with the possibilities of further benefits including the potential to reduce engine wear and to improve performance, the system would undergo further testing.
“We were very pleased with the results of the physical testing we carried out on the system. Now we are working with car manufacturers and their suppliers to continue to test the system and optimise the technology to best suit their needs.”