Automakers and consumers alike all want lighter cars. "Adding lightness" has a lot of desirable effects, most notably in overall fuel efficiency and performance. While numerous efforts have been made to reduce the weight of automobiles – including downsizing, subtracting unnecessary components and using lightweight alloys and carbon fiber for structural bits – one item that's awfully hard to lighten without dire consequences is the engine.
Well, perhaps that's not entirely true after all. Apparently, Matti Holtzberg, an engineer and president of Polimotor Research, successfully designed and built a working engine made almost entirely from plastic. Holtzberg created a motor based on the 88-horsepower powerplant from a Ford Pinto that reduced weight from 415 pounds to just 152 while putting out an impressive 300 horsepower.

Polimotor has reportedly partnered up with the Huntsman Corporation of Houston in an effort to get plastic engine components such as the block, cylinder heads, pistons and rods into mass production. While electric motors and high-tech batteries seem ready to take over in the coming decades as the power sources of choice, plastic engines could potentially still be used as lightweight range-extending powerplants. Intriguing, no?

[Source: New York Times via The Kneeslider]

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