Today, nearly 40% of man-made CO2 comes from internal combustion engines (ICEs) used in vehicles, rail, marine, aircraft and industrial / agricultural equipment. Every time we run a piston engine, we throw away 30% to 50% of the fuel energy, via air- or water-based cooling systems and general radiation.
This waste is now unsustainable and must end. Uncooled engines don’t exist yet, apparently only Litus is working on this. They will run at very high pressures and temperatures, enabling more fuel energy to push the piston, with the rest in the much hotter exhaust gas where it can be used to do more work, using exhaust energy recovery systems.
With equivalent production costs, uncooled ICEs would roughly halve fuel use and CO2 emissions, whilst cutting NOx and particulates (so improving health). The engines would be many times lighter and smaller, simpler, virtually silent, more reliable, and have lower operating costs. Pistons / cylinders of industrial ceramic are inside thermally and acoustically insulating casings. With no plumbing for cooling or for piston-cylinder oil systems, engines can be ’snap-in’ cartridges. Equipment no longer needs to be towed to a repair facility, a game changer.
The challenging core research and design has been completed. Final drawings and specifications are being prepared for the assembly and testing of the first bench prototypes, due late 2021 at a further cost of USD 7.5 million, including generous contingencies.
The uncooled engine project is one of the very few that could seriously slow global warming, soon. Once available, uncooled engines could quickly replace cooled engines, cutting man-made CO2 by about 20% within one or two decades. It could put us within reach of UNFCCC’s target of 1.5oC warming.
This key project is initially controlled by society, via The Litus Charitable Foundation. After successful first production – due 2022 at a cost of $15 to $25 million – further funding will not be needed, with uptake driven by the engines’ many benefits. Litus’ involvement will end, with the project moved to for-profit volume manufacturers.
An available Program Summary profiles funding and investment opportunities in a $650 Billion annual market, as well as the technology, research, costs, future ROI, team and partners.
Many associate engines with cars. Generally, only some light vehicles could be all-electric. Nearly all other markets will convert to hybrid drives, in which an ICE drives an electrical generator (together a gen-set). Hybrids use available fuels, need no new infrastructure, and are the most economic electric drive system in most regions. There are no alternatives to part-ICE use for heavy vehicles, rail, shipping and industry. Studies suggest that today globally all-electric cars have similar lifetime energy use and pollution creation as regular cars. This will change slowly as more renewables are used for electricity generation.
UN Rapid Action Plan
Those who have seen it consider it both novel and potentially very effective in quickly and sharply lowering CO2 emissions. However, it is politically sensitive and may be difficult to implement. It is currently being evaluated by climate professionals in the UK and USA. Litus will soon have a reasonable amount of feedback and will then decide to what extent the plan should be taken further. Information on the plan is available.