However, one fundamental
problem is that when you reduce the
engine to the smallest possible size with these technologies,
it's still a block of metal -- and a heavy one at that. Some
creative thinkers are looking to implement a dream they've had for
over 25 years -- creating a mostly plastic engine.
are still typically made by pouring melted metal into molds -- a
tweaked version of a 6,000 year old process. Engineers like
Matti Holtzberg, a New Jersey engineer who's been designing plastic
engines since the 1980s, envision a very different production process
-- one that uses molded
Mr. Holtzberg has paired with Huntsman
Corporation of Houston, a global chemical company which employs
12,000 employees and rakes in $10B USD per year, to market plastic
engines. Currently, the average car has approximately 300 lbs
of plastic -- typically including plastic interior paneling and
exterior plastic bumpers. However, the leading material, by
weight, remains metal. Steel in the frame and iron or aluminum
castings for the engine blocks and cylinder heads, transmission cases
and axle housings are prevalent in modern cars.
It is the goal
of Mr. Holtzberg to replace these metal engine and drive components
with composite plastics, with metal protective metal casings in the
areas exposed to the greatest heat.
Mr. Holtzberg's company is
named Polimotor and it was first founded in 1979, a year in which it
produced its first engine -- a Ford Pinto clone. The engine
used a plastic block, piston skirts, connecting rods, oil pan and
most of the cylinder head. The bore surfaces, piston crowns and
combustion-chamber liners were iron or aluminum, and crankshaft and
camshaft were metal. Two years later the company was producing
a 300 hp, 152 lb engine, which compared very favorably to a 88 hp,
415 lb standard engine.
During the 1980s the company continued
to develop its idea and sold engines to racing firms. However,
it received little attention from the consumer market.
Undeterred, Mr. Holtzberg continued to work towards a mass-market
plastic engine, experimenting with different types of plastic, such
as phenolic resin.
Now they're trying to push the results onto
the broader market. They estimate that plastic components could
reduce engine weight by 30 to 35 percent, save development time, and
Still, despite the backing of a major
automotive chemical firm, many obstacles remain to the plastic
engine. Describes Richard A. Schultz, a consultant at Ducker
Worldwide, "While half of the aluminum car wheels now come from
China, the foundries supplying major aluminum powertrain castings are
captive. Energy consumption is not an issue, their aluminum
scrap is readily recycled, and the cycle time with plastic would
surely be longer."
Even if Mr. Holtzberg can sell the
industry on plastic engines, there's still other challenges.
Plastics are generally produced from petroleum -- a fossil fuel.
Thus as fossil fuels become more scarce, plastics also are likely to
become more expensive. Plant-based plastics are being
developed, but it may be difficult to tweak them to the same strength
or stability as oil-based plastics.
Despite these major
obstacles, Polimotor keeps chugging along. So while it's no
sure bet, don't be overly surprised if you see a plastic engine in
your car, sometime in the future.
quote: Yeah, and I'll never drive my car faster than 20mph, everyone knows that over that speed you're travelling too fast to be able to breath. I'm sure that they would not be suggesting this as an idea without thinking about the problems you state and having some sort of plan to counter them.
quote: The lightest of the current cars pre-ballast and without driver is believed to be around 410kg*.
quote: F1 cars are made with strict weight regulations. There's no point making the engine weigh 30kg less if you only have to add that same 30kg somewhere else not to be disqualified...
quote: You sound like the typical lame poster who knows nothing about the subject you're talking about.
quote: Do the site a favor and stop posting.
quote: you don't think we have different plastics to play with today compared to 27 years ago lol.
quote: Two years later the company was producing a 300 hp, 152 lb engine, which compared very favorably to a 88 hp, 415 lb standard engine.
quote: Today's plastics are nothing like what they had in the 1980s. Probably looking at a mixture of carbon fiber, kevlar and thermoplastic resins which now rival steel in strength and durability.
quote: #6 alone is why I ended up getting one. It has as long a barrel as a standard AR but is 10 inches shorter. That helps quite a bit in a confined space.
quote: Of course, in reality the Japanese f*cked it up for the Germans
quote: I would have thought gasoline engine technology would have improved to a point now where you could make em lighter, get better mileage without this idea of plastics.
quote: One of the easiest ways to reduce ignorance is to switch the American mindset away from making generalized, sweeping statements with no basis in fact.
quote: How many times do you really need that kind of performance?
quote: Unless I am missing something I don't see any reference in those figures to engine capacity or power...
quote: What do you consider to be the US opinion of a decent amount of power?
quote: Midsize cars..................206,833SUV/Cross-over................206,711Pickup........................100,037
quote: Thats why we need to tax gas to a level you cant afford it. Just like in europe.
quote: By the way the point at which most americans started to panic over their gas guzzlers was at around $3.50 per gallon.
quote: To turn your reasoning around, why should you be allowed to squander as much as you like just because you WANT to?
quote: Have a breathalyzer in the car and if you're over, the car doesn't start (I think there's some testing being done on this).
quote: why should you be allowed to squander as much as you like just because you WANT to?
quote: He's not; he's only able to "squander" as much as he can afford to.
quote: They make so few cars, they're exempt from CAFE.
quote: Just like the celebrities who drive a Prius and demand "we" need to save the planet
quote: I figure there's no way cars like the ZR1 will last too long, which is exactly why I have a 2010 Cyber Gray sitting in my garage right now.
quote: One of the easiest ways is to reduce weight is to switch the American mindset away from wanting big powerful engines. You don't need a 400hp engine to get a car up to 65mph
quote: just because you see 'plastic' doesn't mean you should instantly think it's cheap and bad.
quote: Such diverse technologies as cam-less pistons , gasoline direct injection, and advanced turbocharging are being explored.
quote: Cam-pistons huh? Are they also going to reduce weight by making headlights that require less fluid? Piston's don't have cams. Engines do. The camshaft drives the valves to open and close.
quote: Thus as fossil fuels become more scarce,