Even the best engines we’ve built kind of suck from an energy standpoint. Your average combustion engine wastes anything from 30 to 99% of the energy it produces. We’ve improved them over the years, of course: Just ask anybody driving a car from the late ’90s. But they generally suck.
So LiquidPiston went back to the drawing board and built a new type of engine.
In some ways, it’s a very old technology, namely a rotary engine. But it’s different from other rotary engines in a lot of ways. A quick physics lesson: Your engine powers itself by mixing fuel and air, igniting that, and using the resulting explosion to generate energy. Most engines keep that at a low compression, but the X2 keeps the fuel/air mixture tightly compresses, squeezing much more energy out of each drop. This also makes it a much quieter design and, obviously, it pollutes a lot less.
It’s also a lot simpler than most engines: The current X2 prototype has three moving parts and 13 components.
Despite the appeal, it’s not going to be put into cars just yet; it’s only got 40 horsepower. Instead LiquidPiston wants to use it for robots, backup generators, and auxiliary power units for diesel vehicles. But don’t be surprised if in a few years, you’ll see these turning up everywhere.
LiquidPiston [Official Site]
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