Michigan State University (MSU) mechanical
engineering associate professor Norbert Mueller [profile] has invented an engine quite unlike
those that the world is familiar with today. It has no transmission.
It ditches the piston, valves, and crankshaft. It doesn't need to
use cooling liquids.
Meet the Wave Disc Generator [video], the engine that could be the death of
traditional gas and diesel internal combustion engines (ICEs).
When people claim to have a novel alternative to the ICE, they're typically
peddling snake oil investments. But Dr. Mueller has carefully documented
his progress and is offering a true ICE replacement. In short, he's
turned what's typically a fantasy into reality.
The Wave Disc Generator starts with a rotor that feeds fuel into channels in
the disc. As the rotor spins, it naturally mixes the fuel with oxygen in
the air. The rotor also blocks the channels as it cycles. This
creates a buildup in pressure within the channel chamber, which creates a shock
wave capable of igniting the fuel.
These shock waves cause the rotor to turn vigorously, much as a traditional ICE
powers the rotations of the transaxle system.
The new design is able to apply the combustion energy of 60 percent of its fuel
directly towards propulsion. A normal ICE only applies about 15 percent.
Thus the Wave Disc Generator is about 3.5 times as efficient as existing
The gains largely owe to inherent mechanical efficiency gains, the reduced
friction from fewer components, and channel refinements Dr. Mueller's team has
The efficiency gains become even more impressive when you consider the engine
weight. Typically the engine is one of the heaviest car components.
By adopting this far slimmer engine that eliminates significant portions
of the drive train, the weight of a hybrid could be reduced several hundred of
Between the base efficiency gains and the weight reduction, a Wave Disc
Generator-powered car would likely get in excess of 100 miles per gallon.
There's one problem -- the current prototypes are far to small to power an
automobile -- they fit in the palm of your hand. But with a $2.5M USD
from the U.S.
Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency•Energy (ARPAe) grant
program, Dr. Mueller's team at the MSU Engine Research Laboratory thinks they
can come up with a car-sized 25 kilowatt prototype within a year's time.
If they can, they may have found a way for the auto industry to cheaply meet
and beat strict upcoming fuel standards. And they
may save consumers millions of dollars and strength national security in the
process, by reducing dependence on expensive Middle Eastern oil.
MSU isn't the biggest state university around or the hugest name in research
(not as well known as say Harvard or MIT). But it has been home to some
groundbreaking works. Among those was the first documented observation of evolution in
a laboratory setting. As important as that study was to modern genetics
and biology, this engine could be an even more important work, if it meets its
quote: giving this guy 2.5 million taxpayer dollars is not why our founding father's established the federal government.
quote: If we have to follow the laws that our government passes, they have to follow the rules by which they are bound too.
quote: it's not the government's job to force its people to invest in anything.
quote: We need to make a distinction here between infrastructure, societal maintenance and economic benefit, and between speculative research.
quote: If we are going to continue pretending to have a free market, then government should not invest in technology that corporations are potentially putting into their products.
quote: If on the other hand government is doing this for the benefit of everyone, what degree of socialism is tolerable in an era where government spending is arguably out of control?
quote: Overall combustion efficiency is in fact between 15 and 20% which is what he was discussing.
quote: The new design is able to apply the combustion energy of 60 percent of its fuel directly towards propulsion. A normal ICE only applies about 15 percent.
quote: I hate to be negative, but when something sounds too good to be true...
quote: About the disc engine...I didn't really glean the detail of how it works from this article but it seems to be a twist on the gas turbine engine - technology that was around in the 60s and was actively being R&D'd by the major automakers. It was later ditched largely due to it being deemed "too risky" for the feds who were guaranteeing the loans to said auto companies.
quote: why try making something that works, bigger
quote: And we are still driving old ICE designs. Why?
quote: The guy in the video promised miracle in 3 years, watch it.
quote: Likely this wave generator would be only slightly more efficient than an Otto Cycle engine when developed into a car that can complete the EPA cycles and measured at the car level.
quote: Therefore, at a minimum you will need a Prius type hybrid setup.
quote: Oil is sold on a Global Exhange we get our oil from all over.
quote: the rage might be plug-in types instead of hybrids.
quote: Articles like this interest me as an upcoming engineer, yet its a shame it will never be read again. Why? Uhhh because billions of $$ in profit will disappear (Big Oil and Loyal Politicians, I mean terrorists). 60% efficiency is a great improvement, I hope work like this continues. This is what needs to be done, rethinking the wheel, and making it more simple, using the laws of physics and thermodynamics as your friend.
quote: The ICE is long in the tooth...I'm surprised it's taken so long for another design to succeed it. There's no way the ICE in it's current form is the most efficient design.
quote: Assuming the development continues positively, I am extremely pessimistic about 1)the major auto/gas companies ever allowing this to get to market, and/or 2)consumers ever seeing any significant savings from the efficiency boost.
quote: The new design is able to apply the combustion energy of 60 percent of its fuel directly towards propulsion. A normal ICE only applies about 15 percent. Thus the Wave Disc Generator is about 3.5 times as efficient as existing auto engines.
quote: ICE cars 100 years ago were also expensive and had limited range.
quote: If the infrastructure existed, then charge times would be much shorter as well. With electric cars, you can top up your range at your parking spot but the infrastructure isn't there yet.
quote: At one point there were as many electric cars as there were ICE cars.
quote: Ironically, the electric motor killed electric cars.
quote: You seem to think that it is cheap to extract, refine and distribute oil
quote: You can not compare the amount of R&D time/money has gone into ICEs and oil compared to batteries and electricity generation
quote: hen offshore wind mills and wave power is mentioned, everyone screams expensive, dangerous and cost ineffective.
quote: You can not deny the fact that electric cars would produce much lower street-level pollution
quote: So electric cars require a much larger, complex, and expensive infrastructure
quote: Filling your car up is easy today because there exists a large, complex and expansive infrastructure.
quote: I think you are looking at electric vehicles as impossible because ICE cars have been around for such a long time.
quote: There is definitely a market for passenger electric vehicles.
quote: Street level pollution is not acceptable in my opinion and causes all sorts of health issues.