An artist's render shows the overall design of the Wave Disc Generator  (Source: MSU/Norbert Mueller)

MSU Professor Norbert Mueller's team has implemented a mini Wave Disc Generator engine that burns gas 3.5 times more efficiently and is lighter than a similar gas engine.  (Source: YouTube/MSU)

Professor Mueller is working to scale the engine up to an auto-sized version within a year, propelled by a $2.5M USD DOE research grant. The resulting engine could offer in excess of 100 mpg.  (Source: YouTube/MSU)
Engine will likely offer in excess of 100 mpg

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 auto engines.  

The gains largely owe to inherent mechanical efficiency gains, the reduced friction from fewer components, and channel refinements Dr. Mueller's team has worked out.

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 pounds.

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 objectives.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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