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Transportation Australia

Australian Team Working On Engines Without Piston Rings 368

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the more-power dept.
JabrTheHut writes "An Australian team is seeking funding for bringing an interesting idea to market: cylinder engines without piston rings. The idea is to use small grooves that create a pressure wave that acts as a seal for the piston, eliminating the piston ring and the associated friction. Engines would then run cooler, could be more energy efficient, and might even burn fuel more efficiently, at least according to the article. Mind you, they haven't even built a working prototype yet. If it works I'd love to fit this into an older car."
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Australian Team Working On Engines Without Piston Rings

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  • by bob_super (3391281) on Monday January 06, 2014 @08:47PM (#45883279)

    This is 2014, where's my flying car?

    Oh wait, I can't afford it.
    Please give me grooves for an extra 2 miles a gallon in a way that the local shop can fix (looking at you, battery/hybrid-CVT/regen-braking monster).

    • by hawguy (1600213)

      This is 2014, where's my flying car?

      Oh wait, I can't afford it.
      Please give me grooves for an extra 2 miles a gallon in a way that the local shop can fix (looking at you, battery/hybrid-CVT/regen-braking monster).

      My local shop can fix Priuses. Last time I was there with my car (not a Prius), they had one up on the rack for a transmission/transaxle replacement.

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      This is 2014, where's my flying car?

      They are working on channeling climate change problems into carnado. It even comes with shark wipers.

  • by roeguard (1113267) on Monday January 06, 2014 @08:51PM (#45883313)

    Extra fuel efficiency would be nice, but I am most excited about the prospect of the engine itself lasting longer. Less friction = less heat, less wear & tear, etc. A cool, frictionless engine could potentially last for half-million miles before needing replacement. At my paltry 10-20k miles per year, I could potentially never have to buy another car again.

    • by beelsebob (529313)

      Except engines aren't the things that cause you to buy a new car. The chassis rusting through, or the plastic components all rotting simultaneously, or the suspension beginning to go, or a whole bunch of small things adding up... These are the kind of things that cause you to buy a new car.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Extra fuel efficiency would be nice, but I am most excited about the prospect of the engine itself lasting longer.

      Buy a diesel.
      For a light duty diesel truck engine, 300,000 miles is considered the 50/50 point where you *might* have to fix stuff that's starting to wear out.
      For industrial/heavy diesels, they can more or less run forever as long as you keep changing the fluids.

      My understanding is that gasoline engines are generally not overbuilt for strength, otherwise they'd have the same service life as diesels.

    • by icebike (68054)

      Extra fuel efficiency would be nice, but I am most excited about the prospect of the engine itself lasting longer. Less friction = less heat, less wear & tear, etc. A cool, frictionless engine could potentially last for half-million miles before needing replacement. At my paltry 10-20k miles per year, I could potentially never have to buy another car again.

      What do you think is going to keep those pistons centered and friction-less? And where is the heat of combustion going to go?
      At 10 to 20K a year you may already never need to buy another car, you just WANT one.
      Modern cars have no particular problem reaching 200,000 miles, and even 300k.

      The wear that piston rings impose is undone by a ring job. Used to be able to get that done at the corner garage without a great deal of hassle or money, but now days it costs around $2000 bucks do to the complexity of mode

    • When I was driving around an '86 golf I was considering upgrading the engine since the old VWs made that a trivial affair. I'm sorry to report that you can buy a brand new engine for a few thousand dollars. It's rarely "the engine" which gives out in a car. It starts with the door handles breaking off, the dash getting smashed, the bumper starting to rust and then you get into the really expensive stuff like transmission and random engine bits.

      If you just want to drive the same car with a well running

      • Why isn't there a car refurbishment industry, or at least a cottage industry?

        There are always those models of cars which through design refinement seem to reach a "bullet-proof" stage where the major mechanicals are extremely durable and are produced in massive scale, like the Camry.

        Assuming they don't rust out (which seems to be less a function of corrosion than mistreatment and unrepaired body damage), you would think that someone would be in the business of refurbishing them to a near-new kind of state.

        T

    • I've never had an engine fail due to piston ring wear.

      Seems to me this may be an idea looking for a problem.

    • by fnj (64210)

      The engine is about the LAST part of the car to wear out, given reasonable care and maintenance. An engine actually WILL last a half million miles without major overhaul as it is - only if your treatment is not assholish. An automatic transmission is much more liable to seddenly fail completely, often with no warning. If you are stuck living in the rust belt, the body, frame, brake and exhaust components, are by far the shortest lived due to corrosion.

  • So, the idea is that the grooves in the piston will create little eddies of air that separate the combustion chamber from the oil galley, right?

    Here's the problem - the air that forms said eddies has to come from somewhere, and there's only two options: the combustion chamber, or the oil galley.

    Still, to a gear head such as myself, it's still a pretty cool idea.

    • by msauve (701917)
      One would think that a self-proclaimed "gear head" would know the difference between an oil galley [sic] and a crankcase.
    • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

      So, the idea is that the grooves in the piston will create little eddies of air that separate the combustion chamber from the oil galley, right?

      Here's the problem - the air that forms said eddies has to come from somewhere, and there's only two options: the combustion chamber, or the oil galley.

      Still, to a gear head such as myself, it's still a pretty cool idea.

      It is cool. You're right about the eddies having to come form somewhere. I think, from reading the article, (sorry slashdot Gods) that the eddiese are frmo the fuel -air mixture, as they talk about a stratified charge happening.

      Anyhow, the concept is fairly sound - I think - my concerns are regarding cold to hot operation, and starting.

      At least it's not like the goofy Magnets pulling on pistons crap some scammers have been trying to feed us.

  • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@NOsPam.gmail.com> on Monday January 06, 2014 @08:57PM (#45883363) Homepage

    But we already have an engine that doesn't use piston rings. [wikipedia.org] And it's not like this idea hasn't been tried before either on reciprocating piston engines, usually with a whole series of problems. Mostly compression issues.

    • by plover (150551)

      Right, because the seals along the rotor don't do exactly the same thing as piston rings, only less effectively.

    • by stepho-wrs (2603473) on Monday January 06, 2014 @09:03PM (#45883403)
      Wankel apex seals are the equivalent of piston rings - ie a chunk of metal/ceramic that fills the gap between the piston/rotor and the chamber wall.
    • Ringless engines are common: 2 stroke model airplane engines.

      You mill the piston sleeve from the bottom, so tool runout leaves a slight taper. Then you hard chrome one side of the piston/sleeve combination. When you break it in the hard side wears the soft side to match 'perfect', with the seal tightening at the top of the stroke.

      They run a little dirty and aren't exactly long lived.

  • by bloodhawk (813939) on Monday January 06, 2014 @09:05PM (#45883419)
    If they haven't even built a working prototype then how can they be seeking funding to bring it to market? surely they are just seeking funding to prototype to see if it is even viable to bring to market?
  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (retawriaf)> on Monday January 06, 2014 @09:14PM (#45883481) Homepage

    From TFA:
     

    Dynex has brought the technology to the proof-of-concept phase, in which virtual modelling of the âoeair-sealingâ principle looks promising enough to get to work on the real thing.

    A 'virtual model' equates to 'proof-of-concept'? Since when?

    • by csumpi (2258986)

      A 'virtual model' equates to 'proof-of-concept'? Since when?

      This is an interesting question, I'd also love to hear what the US Patent Office has to say about it.

  • by scorp1us (235526) on Monday January 06, 2014 @09:16PM (#45883507) Journal

    I thought this was about this article [newscientist.com] which uses a pistonless pressure wave and makes all the same promises.

    • Why not eliminate the engine completely? Just aim in the direction of the destination, detonate, and surf the pressure wave.
      With the engine-less car you can't take it with you, but if you don't make it on the first shot you won't be around to care.

  • But no prototype. I am not a physicist, but I ran it through a little thought experiement. If it is some sort of standing pressure wave, it would have to move with the piston, that may be possible, but difficult. The problem I see is that any type of wave would hbe dependent on the frequency/speed of the piston in the cylinder. Therefore, it would have to be there across the entire operating range of the engine, not just it's peak power band. That is a large range. If it falls off anywhere along this
  • Seems like a lot of extra work. Why not just mod an existing design with their piston?
  • You'd have to keep the CR low enough to not overcome the pressure wave of the ringless design. That means you'd lose efficiency in the engine. Reducing friction is a great concept but I'd still like to see the math involved as to how they'd get the efficiency out of the engine vs. a traditional design and how they'd keep the crankcase temps down and the oil clean. Most of that black/brown gunk in your oil at an oil change is blow-by, products of the combustion process. Even with piston rings you get a ce

  • This is an old idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by larwe (858929) on Monday January 06, 2014 @10:13PM (#45883891) Homepage
    Turbulent obturation rings of this kind (well, technically I guess these are obturation cannelures) have been used in a lot of applications because they have some interesting properties. For instance they are used in mortar shells. When you drop the shell down the mortar barrel, you essentially want it to fall without retardation so the primer gets a good hard strike and the propellant ignites 100% of the time. However you want as much as possible of the propellant gas to do the job of propelling the projectile, without blowing past it in the barrel. You ALSO want it to be as consistent as possible so the CEP of where the projectile lands relative to the target is as small as possible. So this isn't impossible, but it's not easy either.
  • I thought they were shutting down thte Australian car plants (by 2017)

  • by csumpi (2258986) on Monday January 06, 2014 @10:54PM (#45884189)
    Looking for funding without a physical proof of concept?

    How much would it cost to create a prototype? Get a used lawnmower engine, find a piston from a slightly larger used lawnmower engine (up to here you spent about $50), then turn some grooves in there and see how it purrs.

    What are we talking about? a couple hundred bucks?

    It would cost way less to try this in real life than all the computer simulations. Something smells fishy.

"If that makes any sense to you, you have a big problem." -- C. Durance, Computer Science 234

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