Porsche still betting on internal combustion

If you think that the conventional internal combustion engine is on the way out the door, then Porsche disagrees with you and has found a wa...

If you think that the conventional internal combustion engine is on the way out the door, then Porsche disagrees with you and has found a way to improve the more than a century old invention. Automologist, MAC, reports on Porsche's latest patented innovation.

For the past few years, the fashion in the auto industry has been very focused on the development of Electric Vehicles, Hybrids, A-MOD and so on. Now, those clever chappies over at Porsche may be about to breathe new life into the old internal combustion with the development of a viable variable compression-ratio system.

The potential holy grail of engine development was revealed by way of a newly published patent and shows that Porsche is working on just such an engine. Developed with partner, Hilti International, the new technology will be able to alter the compression ratio of the engine. Being able to do so will give a massive boost to the potential efficiency and economy of an engine whilst giving a massive performance boost, should the driver wish to utilize it.

Turbos have been used for generations to gain a power boost from relatively smaller engines and many of the so-called eco-boost engines on offer, particularly from Ford and Mazda at the moment, utilize high compression engines married to a turbocharger. This forced induction has led to a compromise in terms of the compression at which the detonation of the fuel occurs; put simply, the turbo process can lead to pre-ignition before the piston is in the right place.

So the designers have had to back off the compression ratios as soon as a turbocharger was involved, negatively effecting low rpm fuel efficiency and increasing the turbo-lag. With the newly developed system, the car starts off with the piston in the high position. When the turbo begins injecting pressurized air, the piston drops to the low position. That reduces the compression ratio momentarily, allowing for more turbocharger boost and more power. The Porsche-Hilite design appears to be comparatively simple, at least compared to other variable-compression-ratio efforts that date back a century.

From patent to working engine can take a number of years, so don’t expect this technology to be available anytime soon as I am sure durability tests will take a while to shake out any quirks in the system, but these designs clearly show that the petrol-powered internal combustion engine will continue to reign supreme as the dominant powerplant for passenger cars in the foreseeable future.

A really boring diagram of the potentially game changing technology – yup, I am a geek at heart. 

Diagram from the Porsche patent. Sexy.


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