Turbosteamers - a new technology for efficient carsPosted July 09
BMW have discovered a great new technology to give us efficient cars. Car engines are quite inefficient and one of the ways they waste a lot of energy is in heat. The idea behind BMW's new turbosteamer is that some of this heat energy is recaptured by using it to power a small steam engine!
BMW say they can reduce the energy lost as heat by up to 80% through the turbosteamer technology. BMW don't want to give too much away and rightly so but they do say the technology works by using engine exhaust gases to heat fluid in a heat exchanger. The heated fluid turns into steam which powers the engine via expansion units attached to the crankshaft.
BMW have tested the turbosteamer on their 3-series model. The car had the 4 cylinder 1.8 litre engine in it. They found they were able to improve fuel efficiency by around 15%. The turbosteamer also gave the car an extra 14 horsepower.
Turbosteamers can potentially be fitted to all vehicles in the BMW fleet however currently there's only space for it in the engine bay of their 1.8 litre four cylinder unit. The team at BMW still have plenty of work to do. Besides making the turbosteamer's components smaller, they also need to make them simpler and cheaper before the technology becomes viable commercially. They do however hope to have efficient cars for sale fitted with turbosteamers within ten years.
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