Michigan State University researchers have developed a new and super-efficient “wave disk generator” (WDG) engine with the potential to be 90% more efficient and 20% – 30% cheaper to manufacture than the internal combustion engine commonly used today.
The WDG is a complete redesign of the internal combustion engine. The concept was built with the existing model in mind, but the WDG has no transmission, crankshaft, pistons, valves, fuel compression, cooling systems, or engine fluids. Instead, the disk-shaped engine uses a spinning rotor and a system of chambers and ports to mix and compress air and fuel. Once the mixture is ignited, the system releases the exhaust gases at high speed, which in turn push against the inside of the rotor’s “blades” to keep the system spinning and generating electricity.
The engine is designed to work within a fuel-electric hybrid system, capable of using a wide variety of fuels from gasoline and natural gas to hydrogen and renewable fuels.
The project is funded through a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA).
Excerpt from ARPA’s official project summary:
MSU’s shock wave combustion generator is the size of a cooking pot and generates electricity very efficiently. This revolutionary generator replaces today’s 1,000 pounds of engine, transmission, cooling system, emissions, and fluids resulting in a lighter, more fuel-efficient electric vehicle. This technology provides 500-mile-plus driving range, is 30% lighter, and 30% less expensive than current, new plug-in hybrid vehicles. It overcomes the cost, weight, and driving range challenges of battery-powered electric vehicles.
[The engine] exceeds national CO2 emission reduction goals for transportation. A 90% reduction is calculated in CO2 emissions versus gasoline engine vehicles. Wave Disk Generator application scales as small as motor scooters and as large as delivery trucks, due to its small size, low weight, and low cost. This technology enables us to radically improve the atmosphere and human health of major global cities.
MSU associate professor of engineering Norbert Müller, credited with leading the project development, revealed the prototype at an ARPA meeting earlier this year. He and his team expect to have a functional full-sized model within a year.
Photo courtesy Michigan State University