Lotus Engineering, a consulting division of the Lotus auto company, has come out with an exciting prototype engine. Called “Hotfire”, it just won the 2008 Engineer Technology and Innovation Awards for its ability to cut fuel consumption by 15% while not sacrificing any power.
How does it work? They key lies in the fact that standard engines have to work to pull air into the cylinder and waste some energy in the process. The Hotfire engine gets around this by injecting fuel and air separately (of course they meet up in the cylinder, or else combustion wouldn’t happen). The air flow is regulated by hydraulics, which allows for “complete control”, according to the Lotus engineers.
Although the improved efficiency is the main feature of the Hotfire, it is worth noting that – as a natural result of being more efficient with fuel – it emits fewer hydrocarbons. Lotus’ engine is also cheaper, because its unique system obviates the need for the expensive, nitrogen oxide-trapping equipment found in other “lean burn” engines.
The Hotfire is particularly appealing because it is something that can be fit into today’s cars easily, and will start saving fuel immediately. The company claims there is wide interest in developing its concept car engine further but no word yet on when it may be in your next Lotus.
Via MIT Tech Review
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