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Using steam to make combustion engines more efficient

May 15th, 2007

The June 2007 issue of Popular Science profiles a number of inventors that the magazine believes are of significance. Being in the innovation game, I respect the point that PopSci makes around “invention” and how it’s almost become something that people don’t value anymore.

One of the inventions highlighted in an article called Six Strokes of Genius was what PopSci called the “Steam-o-Lene Engine” created by Bruce Crower. Crower has basically taken the tried and true four stroke conventional combustion engine and added two additional strokes. His concept is to inject water after the exhaust (4th) stroke into a cylinder. The water evaporates into steam due to the heat inside the engine hitting the metal in the engine that is > 1000 °F. The evaporated steam then powers another stroke of the cylinder. Last, when the next compression stroke occurs (6th), the steam is condensed back to water due to the pressure and evacuated from the engine.

The fascinating part of this to me is that you recover some of that lost heat in an engine back into useable energy for the car. PopSci quotes Crower as saying that he believes he could increase gasoline engine efficiency by 40%. (!)

I’m guessing that the injection of water and subsequent removal is one of the hardest parts to enginer. Oil and water don’t mix after all 🙂 And they definitely shouldn’t be mixing inside a combustion engine. Evidently he’s applied for patents and will them be ready to try to commercialize the technology. After doing some searching on the net, it looks like this wasn’t exactly new news, but I hadn’t heard about it previously:

Links: Crower Six Stroke in Wikipedia

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