An engine that uses shock waves has been invented by Norbert Mi¼ller at Michigan State University in East Lansing. He presented his baby at a DARPA-E meeting last week and showed how it can reduce fuel consumption and the car’s total weight.
A central rotor having a number of radial channels spins and allows fuel and air to enter it via central inlet ports. While the chambers are positioned so the fuel-air mixture doesn’t escape through the outlet ports, pressure builds up within the chamber and a spark makes the mixture to explode and produce a shock wave, that moves the rotor’s blades towards a position where pressure is released to the outlet ports.
The engine doesn’t have pistons, camshaft or valves, and is mainly suited for electricity production. Because it lacks most of the elements needed in a conventional engine, Mi¼ller’s motor is 25% lighter and hence more energy efficient.
Mi¼ller has only presented a small prototype at the meeting, but promised he will build a 25 kW (33 horsepower) version by the end of this year. That would be enough to charge batteries in plug-in electric cars like the Chevy Volt.