The typical internal-combustion engine [ICE] is no more than 30% thermodynamically efficient, that is, only about 30% of the energy in the fuel actually does any work propelling the vehicle. The rest is lost to heat and friction, which seems to make ICEs a poor choice when it comes to energy-efficient transportation.
Electrified vehicles might make some thing that ICEs are a thing of the past, but a new prototype diesel engine, developed by LiquidPiston, shows that ICEs still show promise in future transportation. LiquidPiston has been around since a business-plan competition at MIT, and has been chasing higher thermodynamic efficiency since its inception.
The latest iteration of their engine is based on rotary engine designs, and is much simpler than diesel engines on the market today, having only three moving parts instead of hundreds. The X2 claims more than 50% efficiency, which for comparison, is 200% more efficient than current diesel engines today.
LiquidPiston is expecting to have the prototype available for independent testing sometime in 2013. So far, it’s raised some $12 million and is hoping to raise another $20 million by the end of the year to bring the prototype to production and marketing.
LiquidPiston CEO and President Alexander Shklonik mentioned that “the first applications for the engine won’t be the mainstream automotive industry, but will be industries like defense, long haul trucks, plug-in vehicle range extenders, and other more niche markets.”