Issue: Jan 2007

The world’s most efficient internal combustion engine?

by Lenny Case

Earlier last year, engine development company, Scuderi Group, demonstrated the benefits of its Air-Hybrid diesel at the International Automobile Association’s or IAA’s Commercial Vehicle Show held in Hanover, Germany.

The Scuderi engine is being touted by the company as having the potential to be the world’s most efficient internal combustion engine. According to the Scuderi Group, the impact will be the greatest on diesel vehicles which could become cheaper by up to 50 per cent.

“The innovations in the design of the Scuderi engine reduces the cost of diesel systems by eliminating or dramatically reducing three of the most expensive and complex parts of a diesel system - turbocharging, injectors and exhaust treatment,” said Sal Scuderi, president of the Scuderi Group.

So how does it work? By adding a small air storage tank with some simple controls costing only a few hundred dollars, the Scuderi engine can recapture energy normally lost during the braking of a vehicle. To accomplish this with electric hybrids requires a complex electrical system costing thousands of dollars, consisting of generators, motors, and large batteries.

In addition, unlike electric hybrids, the Scuderi Air-Hybrid has the unique capability of recapturing energy from the exhaust of the engine, making it possible to utilize a Scuderi Air-Hybrid design in stationary applications such as electric generators – an application where electric hybrids are considered impractical. Currently under development at Southwest Research Institute – an engineering research lab in Texas, the first diesel and gasoline prototypes are expected to be completed by late 2007.

The Scuderi engine was developed by Carmelo Scuderi, a Massachusetts-based engineer and inventor, who post-retirement, started working on split-cycle technology (which incidentally was in itself was not a new idea. In the early 20th century, automotive engineers toyed with the idea but did not manage to come up with a workable model. Carmelo Scuderi was successful and the result was a radical new design that could make engines that would be more efficient and environmentally-friendly.
Carmelo Scuderi died in 2002 – but not before patenting the basic concept for his engine. Since then, six of his eight children have joined hands to market the technology to industry. Today, the Scuderi Group has USD over $15 million worth of funding, patents for the Scuderi designs in 45 countries and endorsement from automotive experts.
The Scuderi Split-Cycle Engine changes the heart of the conventional engine by dividing (or splitting) the four strokes of the Otto cycle over a paired combination of one compression cylinder and one power cylinder. Gas is compressed in the compression cylinder and transferred to the power cylinder through a gas passage. The gas passage includes a set of uniquely timed valves, which maintain a precharged pressure through all four strokes of the cycle. Shortly after the piston in the power cylinder reaches its top dead center position, the gas is quickly transferred to the power cylinder and fired (or combusted) to produce the power stroke.

According to the company, the Scuderi engine is expected to improve fuel efficiency in today’s gas and diesel engines by almost one third. Emit 80 percent less toxic emissions than today’s gas and diesel engines, enhance the performance of hybrid engines. Provide significantly more power than a conventional engine and be easy to manufacture because it utilizes the same components found in today’s engines. Plus the technology not only saves energy but also increases the power of an engine while significantly reducing its cost. Vehicles will be able to exceed all current mileage and emission standards without compromising size or performance. And consumers would save billions of dollars in fuel costs. Reduction in emissions would be in the hundreds of millions of tons per year.

Automotive Industries spoke to Sal Scuderi, president of the Scuderi Group and asked what challenges remain for the company’s technology.

AI: What has the reaction been from OEMs to the technology? Have any of them signed to become part of the development process?

The reaction has been very positive, to the point of being almost overwhelming. When we first introduced the engine publicly early last year, there was a genuine intrigue and and obvious skepticism, which we fully expected. And once the engineers started to take a serious look at the design and how we were able to overcome some of the traditional obstacles that have plagued split cycle engines for decades, the phone has not stopped ringing.

As of now (December 2006), we have not yet officially signed on a licensee. But we are very close. We are in discussion at one level or another with most major auto, bus and truck makers in the U.S., Europe and Asia and recently just completed a tour to all the major auto manufacturers in India. It’s been very exciting for us but a challenge making enough time in the day to answer everyone’s questions and engage each potential licensee in a timely manner. We knew this engine would really be a hit, but we keep being amazed at the level of response and reaction we get.

AI: Why is the technology so important today and how soon do you think it will become mainstream?
Just look around. Gas prices are leveling but they won’t get lower. Many OEMs, especially diesel truck and bus manufacturers, are scrambling to find a system that will comply with the upcoming emission standards – as well as finding a way to make their vehicles less costly. And the traditional car makers are also having to respond to consumer demand for more fuel-efficient, and environmentally friendly vehicles. The Scuderi Air-Hybrid Engine is the most near-term answer to all those challenges. It’s that simple.

When 2010 rolls around, we expect the air-hybrid to be one of the most common items consumers will ask for in their new vehicles.

AI: Your company’s stall was mobbed in recent automotive expos by company reps from across the globe – do you think that emerging markets may take to the air-hybrid engine technology quicker than mature markets?
We’re seeing that right now. Car, truck and bus makers in India, for example, have been very motivated to incorporate our engine into their products. But the mature markets are right there behind them.

AI: Will the Scuderi engine be ready for demonstration by end-2007 as expected?

AI: Are there any collaborations that Scuderi plans over the next year? If so, please give us details.
While we get calls and inquiries every week from organizations wanting to collaborate with us, there is nothing formal planned at this time.

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Is there an updated version of this article? Since it states that n 2010 a air-hybrid version of the engine would be disclosed.

Thank you, Luis.
luis , Miami,FL. USA

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