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Internal Combustion Engine

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brunel
748624.  Sat Oct 02, 2010 5:36 pm Reply with quote

Considering the effect that the Internal Combustion Engine has had on modern society, I am a little surprised that nobody has thought of bringing the topic up before.

So, to get the ball rolling with unusual facts, how about this - when Rudolph Diesel unveiled his latest diesel engine at the Paris Exhibition in 1900, what fuel did he use for the demonstration? And what fuel was his engine originally designed to use?

 
Bondee
748818.  Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:29 am Reply with quote

Let's hope nobody at the exhibition had an allergy, because he used peanut oil!

Quote:
Diesel was interested in using coal dust or vegetable oil as fuel, and his engine, in fact, was run on peanut oil. Although these fuels were not immediately popular, during 2008 rises in fuel prices coupled with concerns about oil reserves have led to more widespread use of vegetable oil and biodiesel.


source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_Diesel

In fact it would seem that Diesel was quite keen on the use of bio-fuels...

Quote:
Thousands of people especially in Germany and the rest of Continental Europe are already running their converted vehicles on vegetable oil. This technology is not new and is in fact a renaissance. Only four years after Dr Rudolf Diesel produced his first functional prototype, diesel engines were being successfully run on straight vegetable oil. In 1912 Diesel said, “The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today. But such oils may become in the course of time as important as petroleum products of the present time.” Dr Diesel was an inventor of great vision and now finally his predictions regarding straight vegetable oil can be seen to share that same insight.


source: http://www.vegoilmotoring.com/eng/

 
brunel
749064.  Mon Oct 04, 2010 6:03 am Reply with quote

I wasn't expecting anybody to be that quick, but you are correct about the use of peanut oil.
He also used Arachide oil extracted from earth nuts, which grew in a number of French colonies, as the French wanted to see if it was possible to use it as a fuel on a large scale.
All in all, therefore, the talk of creating biofuels is nothing new - I remember seeing somewhere that Henry Ford actively considered designing his cars to run on petrol instead of ethanol (but problems with engine parts corroding meant that he stuck with petrol).

As to the question of what the engine was originally designed to run on, the klaxonable answer would be diesel fuel.
He originally designed the engine to run on mineral oil, although, as we have seen, his engines were capable of running on a much wider range of fuels with few, if any, modifications needed.

OK, onto something a little bit harder, and is one for the F1 fans. In the 1980's, there were a lot of stories about the BMW turbo engine which have persisted until today, some of which are true, and some of which are total rubbish.

So, along the lines of the above question, what was so special about the fuel which BMW used for their engines?

 
masterfroggy
749073.  Mon Oct 04, 2010 6:28 am Reply with quote

brunel wrote:
I
So, along the lines of the above question, what was so special about the fuel which BMW used for their engines?
C2H5OH and water

 
HarryAlffa
749143.  Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:33 am Reply with quote

I seem to remember Steven referring to Diesel using vegetable oils in his engines in a previous QI.

Or am I remembering the future again? - I hate when that will have happened.

 
brunel
749362.  Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:01 am Reply with quote

masterfroggy wrote:
brunel wrote:
I
So, along the lines of the above question, what was so special about the fuel which BMW used for their engines?
C2H5OH and water


Not quite - you're probably thinking about the allegations made against Tyrrell in 1984 (or the Offenhauser engines over in Indy car racing).
The true fuel is a bit more exotic then that, as was the fuel used in the urban legends...

 
PDR
749380.  Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:43 am Reply with quote

I'm guessing that you're refering to the novel fluids used to assist in the age-stress-relieving process used on the cylinder blocks (which were essentially stock blocks from BMW 1602/2002 engines).

Or would that just be taking the p***?

There's no great surprise that piston engines (both compression and spark ignition) can be run on multiple fuels - essentially anything that can be atomised into the cylinders and then burned can be used as a fuel, although some require different compression ratios and all will require the appropriate changes to mixture and ignition curves (in the case of spark-ignition engines).

The reason why ethanol/methanol fell from favour wasn't really concerns over corrosion issues. The larger problem is that both fuels are extremely hygroscopic, and will such moisture out of the air while in storage. It is extremely difficult to devise a fuel distribution system which keeps the fuel reasonably dry (up to 10% water actually improves its fuel performance, and 10-20% improves it further but causes corrosion problems). Fuel in the car's fuel tank will adsorb water over a few days unless the tanks are sealed, but that's an added engineering complication which adds to cost and reduces reliability.

Methanol/ethanol fuels actually run colder and so need the capacity of the cooling systems reduced, but that's easily done as a retrofit. WHere sugar is plentiful then alcohol-based fuel economies are quite attractive prospects.

At the other extreme I have seen both diesel and turbine engines successfully run on coal - the "fuel system" includes a coal grinder and fluidised-bed fuel-feed system. But these are party tricks only, with no serious practical application.

PDR

 
PDR
749382.  Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:48 am Reply with quote

On a related point - recent development in Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) in the Formula 1 racing world offer the potential prospect of a family car with the size and performance of (say) a 2-litre Mondeo Estate that delivers 100-150 miles to the gallonusing an engine sized to the *mean* power requirement and a KERS system to augment the peak demands. This would allow a 20-25bhp, constant-output engine with a 120bhp KERS to provide the same performance as a 140-150bhp petrol engine. Something well worth having IMHO...

PDR

 
brunel
749426.  Tue Oct 05, 2010 9:49 am Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
I'm guessing that you're refering to the novel fluids used to assist in the age-stress-relieving process used on the cylinder blocks (which were essentially stock blocks from BMW 1602/2002 engines).

Or would that just be taking the p***?

Ironically, I was not referring to the legend that Rosche (the makers of the BMW F1 turbo engines) would keep the cylinder blocks in the back yard to "season" them, or that his workers would "relieve" themselves on the cylinder blocks to help the process. It is a very widespread story about those engines - but you might be disappointed to hear that in fact it is not true, and is in fact a klaxonable answer.

It is true that the cylinder blocks were the same as the standard road car, and it is true that BMW would sometimes scavenge the cylinder blocks of high mileage cars.

However, the used cylinder blocks were only used in the Formula 2 engines, which were normally aspirated - they did once try to use a used cylinder block, but it cracked due to the high boost pressure that the Formula 1 cars of the time would run at.

It appears that they went down a different route - they took a brand new block, use a heat treatment method to stress relieve the blocks, and then machine the block down slightly to remove unnecessary ribs that were present on the standard block to reduce the weight of the finished block.

 
brunel
749435.  Tue Oct 05, 2010 10:10 am Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
On a related point - recent development in Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) in the Formula 1 racing world offer the potential prospect of a family car with the size and performance of (say) a 2-litre Mondeo Estate that delivers 100-150 miles to the gallonusing an engine sized to the *mean* power requirement and a KERS system to augment the peak demands. This would allow a 20-25bhp, constant-output engine with a 120bhp KERS to provide the same performance as a 140-150bhp petrol engine. Something well worth having IMHO...

PDR

Also, to address this point - I agree that KERS systems do have considerable potential for the future, although at the moment, the F1 systems are on hold due to the high cost of development.
It is not just F1 who are looking at KERS systems either - Porsche has already produced a version of the GT3 with a flywheel KERS system (albeit based on a Williams design which they decided to sell to third parties instead).

At Le Mans, too, there have been designs for hybrid cars (Panoz actually ran a hybrid Prototype in 1998, but it was too heavy to be competitive). Peugeot, for example, actually designed a version of the 908 which would have been a diesel hybrid (which is an area where there really needs to be more research, as that offers even greater scope for improving the mileage of cars) - which was, sadly, banned by the ACO.

Another area where there is considerable untapped potential is in HERS systems, where the thermal energy of the exhaust gasses can be extracted. Whilst turbo charging is the more familiar method, BMW are carrying out a lot of active research. Most of their efforts revolve around using the thermal energy to drive a turbine system, which would be an additional way of powering a vehicle.

It is a promising field, and there have been efforts to introduce this technology into Formula 1 (I don't believe that any other racing series have picked up on this just yet) - although, at the moment, this technology is not quite as mature as KERS, and is likely to take longer to make it into either motorsports or commercial vehicles.

 
Ion Zone
749568.  Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:36 pm Reply with quote

I've ridden in a car powered by reclaimed vegetable-oil.

 
PDR
749943.  Wed Oct 06, 2010 6:59 pm Reply with quote

brunel wrote:
Also, to address this point - I agree that KERS systems do have considerable potential for the future, although at the moment, the F1 systems are on hold due to the high cost of development.


I don't know that that's true - although still legal the KERS weren't used this season for a number of political reasons, but they are back next season with a vengence (that is to say that next season's KERS are allowed longer durations than the 2009 season ones). Many teams will be using them.

PDR

 
brunel
750039.  Thu Oct 07, 2010 6:38 am Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
brunel wrote:
Also, to address this point - I agree that KERS systems do have considerable potential for the future, although at the moment, the F1 systems are on hold due to the high cost of development.


I don't know that that's true - although still legal the KERS weren't used this season for a number of political reasons, but they are back next season with a vengence (that is to say that next season's KERS are allowed longer durations than the 2009 season ones). Many teams will be using them.

PDR

They are thinking of bringing back KERS, but the price for a KERS system is intended on being capped (there is talk of €1.5 million per year for a standard system, based on the Magnetti Marelli system used in 2009, as used by Ferrari and Renault). On top of that, from 2011 onwards, the teams have agreed to limit the number of personnel, including engines and powertrain development staff, which will slow down the development of KERS systems quite a bit, I would wager.

So, although we could well see KERS back in the sport, the amount of development work allowed on the current KERS system is going to be quite limited, to prevent a repeat of the spending war last time (there was talk that Mercedes spent as much as $80 million in joint research with Zytek).

Anyway, I'll answer the earlier question about the BMW turbo engine, and what fuel it used.

There is an urban legend that BMW used a secret WW2 aviation fuel, or rocket fuel, which stopped the fuel igniting prematurely - spread, in part, by a former employee.
It also seemed to gain a lot of popularity because the official fuel supplier to BMW had been part of IG Farben during WW2, and had done a lot of research into aromatic chemicals derived from coal, some of which had gone into various fuels used by the German military at the time.

However, there are a lot of problems with this story - WW2 aviation fuel typically had a RON of 110-120, but, in F1, the RON value was limited to 102 (and the Brabham BMW team were nearly disqualified when it was found that they were very close to the limit in 1983). Secondly, aviation fuels of the time had a high alcohol content - also banned in F1 at the time.

The true answer, based on testimony from a former Wintershall employee (BASF and Wintershall, in a combined project, supplied BMW with the fuel for their engines) appears to be toluene and heptane.

Toluene has a high energy density, which was very important, because the rules at the time banned refuelling (from 1983 until 1993), and restricted the fuel tanks of the cars.
More important was toluene's high resistance to premature ignition - which was vital, especially for the qualifying engines, which worked at very extreme pressures and temperatures. To make sure that the fuel would just sit below the limit of RON as 102, a small amount of heptane would be blended into the mixture.

So, the correct answer would be about 85% toluene, and 15% heptane, with possibly traces of other aromatic chemicals - but certainly not, despite the ring that the story has to it, a Nazi rocket fuel.

 
plinkplonk
751744.  Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:13 pm Reply with quote

Apparently the parts for the internal combustion engine were lain down in 1206, when Al-Jazari described a reprociating piston pump with a crank-connecting mechanism. In fact the Chinese, Mongols and Arabs all used rocket propelled internal combusition engine. The Palace of Versailles had its water delivered by gunpowder powered internal combusition engines. The actual turbine was invented in 1791.

The re-invention of the internal combustion goes on and on. The latest innovation is the scotch yoke engine created by Toyota in 2004. (it turns linear motion to rotational motion and vice versa).

 
Jenny
751831.  Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:30 pm Reply with quote

Those are interesting things, plinkplonk - could you give us your sources for them, please?

 

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