Major breakthrough in hybrid engine

A British university team has achieved what could be a major breakthrough in the battle to create greener and cheaper motoring.

Simulation work has shown that it might be possible to adapt a normal combustion engine into a new air hybrid engine at very low cost.

The work by the Institute of Engineering and Design at Brunel University in west London could lead to an engine that would be considerably cheaper to run and deliver significantly less carbon emissions.

The Brunel team is now looking to test the scheme with vehicle manufacturers.

The engineers are working on the idea that when a car uses its engine's natural compression cycle to brake, the pistons could also compress air and store it in a tank. It could then be used to power the piston and to provide compressed air for turbo charging during a period of turbo lag (normally at low revolutions).

Brunel has run successful simulations which require only small alterations to adapt a normal combustion engine into an air hybrid engine using production technologies. The simple and very cost-effective solution needs no transmission alteration or engine redesign.

Professor Hua Zhao, director for advanced powertrain and fuels research at the Brunel Institute of Engineering and Design, said: "Significantly reducing the cost of driving through reducing fuel consumption and lowering carbon emissions for commercial vehicles is an ongoing battle.

"Our simulations prove that we have achieved a major breakthrough. Now, we need to test it with vehicle manufacturers."

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