Posted By RichC on February 28, 2006
Since our nation has started talking about alternatives, I’ve been reading a little bit about the different alternative fuels and vehicles. One company taking a different tack is BMW, sort of re-inventing the steamer. Using an innovative concept, their engineers have successfully been harnessing the heat energy in a car. They are combining an innovative 1.8 liter BMW four-cylinder engine on a test vehicle with a special drive unit that reduced fuel consumption by up to 15 percent while generating nearly 14 additional horsepower and 15 lb-ft more of torque. This is sort of a ‘hybrid’ approach of increasing power and efficiency free of charge sort of like the electric hybrids being successfully marketed by Honda, Toyota and Ford.
The Turbosteamer “ as BMW calls it “ is based on the old steam engine. In the case of the test vehicle, a fluid is heated to form steam in two circuits and this is used to power the engine. “The primary energy supplier is the high-temperature circuit which uses exhaust heat from the internal combustion engine as an energy source via heat exchangers. More than 80 percent of the heat energy contained in the exhaust gases is recycled using this technology. The steam is then conducted directly into an expansion unit linked to the crankshaft of the internal combustion engine. Most of the remaining residual heat is absorbed by the cooling circuit of the engine, which acts as the second energy supply for the Turbosteamer. This innovative drive assist verifiably increases the efficiency of the combined drive system by up to 15 percent. The Turbosteamer reinforces our confidence that the internal combustion engine is undoubtedly a technology fit for the future,” comments Professor Burkhard GÃ¶schel, Member of the Board of Management responsible for development and purchasing at BMW AG.
BMW is testing in several “packages” in order to fit existing platforms like the BMW 3 Series. The engine compartment of a four-cylinder model offers enough space to allow the expansion units to be accommodated. The long-term development goal is to have a system capable of volume production within ten years.