Monday, December 22, 2008

An Idea For A "Variable Power" Car Engine That Saves Fuel

On the lines of my post - An Idea For A Shutterless Digital Camera - here I write a desire and an idea for liquid fuel powered car engines that are "variable", in the sense that their power output can be decreased by turning off some sections, to save fuel.

In a 1.3 liter, 4-cylinder petrol car like my Maruti Suzuki Swift, is it possible to "turn off" 1 or more cylinders (temporarily), so that although the power output reduces, fuel consumption decreases too?

I got this thought when driving from Noida towards Pitampura (Delhi). Concerned about fuel consumption, I thought "My car has a 4-cylinder 1,300 cc engine. So each cylinder's capacity is 325 cc. And each cylinder accounts for exactly 25% of the total fuel consumption. Right now I'm driving alone, and the air-conditioner is off. I really don't need all the power generated by the engine. It would be great if I could just turn off a cylinder, so that my engine temporarily reduces to a 975 cc engine, thus consuming 75% fuel - saving me a significant 25% fuel"

I'm not sure whether it's possible to achieve this with the current design of engines, but I'm sure it's possible to build an engine which has this ability. An internal computer could then ensure that different cylinders are turned off each time, so that wear-and-tear is evenly distributed across all cylinders.

I'm also sure that there will be many effects of turning off a cylinder - like the other cylinders having to run at higher RPM to produce same amount of power, etc. But all that is the work of an engine engineer!

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