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.”

Just Posted

UBCO Heat teams unable to secure any wins against Mount Royal Cougars

The mens and womens volleyball and basketball teams went 0-4, but all have rematches Saturday night

Rockets held scoreless in loss against Red Deer

Rockets will look for some points in final game of road trip against Edmonton

New maintenance crew to look after Okanagan Connector

Acciona Infrastructure Maintenance Inc. will replace Argo Road Maintenance Inc. in 2019

New Lake Country arts council to request funds from district

The arts council will ask the district for $8,000 from 2019 to 2021

Your guide to winter light ups around the Okanagan

From Vernon to Summerland, with a stop in Kelowna, we’ve found some activities for you to enjoy

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Price makes 36 saves as Habs edge Canucks 3-2

Late goal lifts Montreal past Vancouver

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

Most Read