Should I stay or should I go – the Internal Combustion Engine?

ic-engine-car-1900_   electric-car-1_

Electric cars are gaining market share and look to take over from the internal combustion (IC) engine that has been a familiar sight & sound for over 100 years ! It is estimated that electric car sales will over take IC car sales by 2030.

With this in mind, Professor Neville Jackson, Chief Technology Officer at Ricado, told a recent conference that although electrification of cars is the right approach, he believes the industry will need advanced combustion engines for heavier vehicles, such as lorries for haulage. Dr J. Jorg Ruger a President of Bosch’s commercial vehicle division seems to be echoing the same conviction. Both believe the IC engines need to greatly improve their thermodynamic efficiency. Presently  there is heat energy loss of 22% through the cooling system and 34 % through the exhaust pipe ! In addition there is aerodynamic drag by radiator cooling. Maximum thermal efficiency is ~ 50% – a little under par in the world of thermodynamics !

They agree improvements can be made in waste heat recovery systems. Indirect systems  take heat energy wastage from engine fluids and converts it into useful energy that can add power back into the engine, such as a steam turbo – efficiency increase  ~ 5%. Direct system is real time electrical control of superchargers and waste heat recovery devices that optimise exhaust gas re-circulation flow, air flow and general ‘breathing’ of the engine – efficiency increase ~ 20%. Both increase fuel economy and reduce emissions + NOx.

It looks like our old friend the IC engine is here to stay for a few more years yet !

Have a great month

All the best,


A little light relief

some alternative exam answers …  !



About Mike Osborn CEng

A Chartered Engineer and member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers living in the UK with a passion for engineering design, technology and innovation, peppered with a little humour. Presently running a small engineering design & CAD drawing solutions business, serving mainly London and home counties.
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