UBCO engineer creates valve that will reduce vehicle emissions

UBC researcher Rudolph Seethaler has determined there is a way to make internal combustion engines more fuel efficient.

  • Sep. 5, 2016 5:00 a.m.



Rudolph Seethaler, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and PhD candidate Brad Reinholz, have completed a simulation study that demonstrates engines can be built to be more efficient while at the same time cutting harmful emissions.

Rudolph SeethalerSeethaler’s research introduced a unique cogging-torque-assisted motor drive (CTAMD) to replace conventional camshaft valve trains. During analytic simulation in a lab at UBC’s Okanagan campus, the pair determined the CTAMD could revolutionize the way internal combustion engines are manufactured.

“Typically, valve systems are controlled by camshafts and we tried to control them with electromechanical valve actuation (EVA),” explains Seethaler. “This technology has several advantages as it reduces emissions, and improves fuel economy.”

An EVA is a system for opening and closing valves that combines electrical and mechanical processes as opposed to the conventional fixed camshaft engine.

Seethaler notes, most engines are lot more powerful than needed, so the engine power is automatically throttled back, providing only the energy required. This throttling-back creates an inefficient engine design.

“We hardly ever use the power of our engine and this is quite inefficient,” he says. “There is 10 to 15 per cent efficiency loss because there is a throttle in your air intake system. Basically you are throttling back the power your engine can provide.”

A typical camshaft has a fixed geometry and can only optimize valve timing for one torque-speed combination. Because of this, any other torque-speed combination creates less efficiency and performance. Using the EVA, instead of the fixed camshaft, solves that problem.

By replacing camshafts with EVA systems, Seethaler was able to remove the throttle and provide optimal valve timing for all torque-speed combinations. In addition, he says, EVA allows for more efficient cylinder deactivation, and permits new combustion strategies.

To demonstrate real engine efficiency improvements or measure emissions, the CTAMD needs to be paired and tested with an actual engine in an engine test facility and he’s hoping to get that done in the near future.

While these efficiency improvements have been tested with other EVA systems, he notes these previous EVA systems are not in commercial use because they have proven to be either too expensive or not reliable enough. The novelty in Seethaler’s CTAMD lies in the fact that it is cost effective and reliable.

While Seethaler, who worked as a senior controls engineer for BMW in Germany before coming to UBC, is pleased with the results in the lab, he says the next step is to get this properly tested and get engine manufacturers on board.

“We have shown in the lab that there is a way of creating an electromechanical valve actuation,” he explains. “We have invented something I think is cool, but it now needs to be tested on an engine.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fiery collision involving truck closes Highway 1 at Three Valley Gap

Drivers should expect major delays and congestion; estimated time of re-opening is 2 p.m.

Westbank First Nation Grand Chief Noll Derriksan passes away

Derriksan was 79 at the time of his passing

Central Okanagan school superintendent addresses technology’s impact on students

Physical and mental well being for students key themes during Kevin Kaardal’s presentation

Lake Country approves 5.88 per cent property tax increase

The average home assessed at $711,000 will have to pay an extra $123 per year

Kelowna to introduce new strategy for community education about supportive housing

The model seeks to enhance community engagement, accessibility and transparency

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

Prolific offenders from Alberta lead RCMP on chase from Kelowna to Abbotsford

Men first reported in Chilliwack ending with allegedly stolen vehicle in an Abbotsford pond

Adapting to love along the Columbia River

One man starts a GoFundme to help his partner with health costs caused on the trip where they met

Most Read