Gasoline, Steam Engine Hybrid?

If somebody tells you that adding a little bit of water to your engine can get you 40% better mileage, they’re probably blowing a lot of hot air. If Bruce Crower, winner of the 2007 Popular Science Invention Award tells you it’s possible, be prepared to be blown away.

In today’s gasoline and diesel engines, the four strokes of the piston – intake of air, compression of the air/fuel mixture, combustion of fuel, and exhaust of the resulting fumes – generates temperatures above 1500°F. Crower’s new engine design harnesses this otherwise wasted heat by injecting water onto the blazing hot piston. The water instantly vaporizes  and expands in volume 1,600 times to power the piston through another two strokes. The resulting steam is then recaptured and fed through a condenser to be used again.

Not only does this increase the amount of power produced by the engine by about 40%, it cools the engine as it operates, completely eliminating the need for a cooling system. No radiator, no coolant, no water pump… it could shave as much as 1000 lbs off the weight of semi-truck engines.

Best of all, the technology could be used in any kind of internal combustion engine. Gasoline, hybrid, series hybrid, biodiesel, and it would always save huge amounts of fuel.

No word yet on when we might see this in passenger cars, but the designer’s credentials and a working prototype mean it’s not more than a few years off.

via Popular Science