For 40 percent better fuel economy, introducing the ... steam engine

Well, not exactly. After a history of getting maximum power out of whatever engine he could, inventor Bruce Cower is refocusing his talents onto fuel efficiency. He has spent a modest $1,000 over 1.5 years to reinvent our combustion cycle. He's taking the opposite route of Gary Smyth researching the efficiency potential of two-cycle ICEs, and perfecting a six-cycle engine. The basic idea is that the combustion chamber wastes a lot of energy in heat, so you can recapture some of that heat by squirting water into the 1500 degree chamber after the fourth stroke removes the exhaust gas. The water instantly vaporizes, producing a 1600 fold expansion in volume, powering the fifth stroke. On the final upward stroke, the steam is sucked out into a condenser to be reused as more injection water.

Cower estimates that using this method could increase fuel efficiency of gas engines by 40 percent, and diesels 5 (because they're already more efficient). The best part is, this technology can be implemented using existing parts right now, instead of waiting for other technologies to mature. Cower is tight-lipped about details on his invention while he waits for an answer on his patent application, but does have a working prototype in the form of a single-cylinder, blistering 8 horsepower diesel engine, which he has dubbed the Steam-o-Lene engine (from gas-o-line, I assume). If he gets his approval, he plans on selling the technology to whatever automaker can implement it.

[Source: Popular Science via Instapundit]

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