Koenigsegg is a renowned supercar badge, and they have come up with some of the world’s most advanced vehicles in recent years. But lately, it’s their previously little-known sister company Freevalve that’s creating a lot of buzz in the auto industry. That’s because they’ve finally launched their revolutionary camless engine.
This new engine design doesn’t use a camshaft at all. It’s a ground-breaking shift in engine design that has rocked gearheads all over the world. Popular Science Magazine even hailed it as the Grand Award Winner in their list of 10 Greatest Automotive Innovations for 2016.
It’s now 2017, and it will be a year of further testing. After that, the internal combustion engine may get a fresh leash on life as it stands its ground against the rising tide of electric vehicles.
The Inherent Camshaft Problem
Ever since the launch of the internal combustion engine, the camshaft and its lobes (also known as the cams) were integral elements of engine design. The camshaft is a spinning rod that has variable cams over the engine. The camshaft allows for the opening and closing of the intake valves that take in air to mix with the fuel, and the exhaust valves that let the exhaust out of the engine.
The inherent problem with the camshaft is that its range of motion is rather limited. That’s the underlying reason for its innate inefficiency. However, there have been technological advances over the years that help to compensate for the problem.
There’s camshaft phasing. This alters how the valves open and close depending on the crank position, and this has markedly improved performance and fuel efficiency. The VTEC technology from Honda even changes the cam profile, which boosts the duration of the valve-event and of the lift at high RPM. Nissan and BMW have also developed new variable intake valve lift systems that can control the level of the air intake.
Freevalve, however, employed a Gordian Knot solution. It solved the camshaft problem by getting rid of the camshaft altogether.
How Does the Freevalve Camless Engine Work?
Instead of the classic camshaft, the Freevalve engine uses Pneumatic-Hydraulic-Electric Actuators with their fully variable valve actuation design.
Basically, you have an actuator and a valve. An electronic signal tells the actuator to let air in over the top, and the air pressure forces down the valve piston so there’s airflow. Then there’s an oil pressure valve that can lock the piston at any lift height you want. The same air pressure then lets the air out and the piston to come back in place.
With this design, you now have independent control over the intake and the exhaust valves. The timing for these valves can be programmed for various engine load criteria. This new design can determine the most suitable program to use for different driving conditions, so that it can reduce fuel consumption, minimize hazardous emissions, and boost performance.
Simply put, the camless engine permits more control over engine operations, and this greater level of control leads to much better performance.
Benefits of the Freevalve Camless Engine
Qoros is a Chinese car brand that’s been trying to conquer to Europeans market without much luck in the past several years. They contacted the folks at Freevalve, and they soon learned how the camless engine worked and how it can benefit them.
The advantages were actually considerably much better than they’d dare hope.
- It offered 45% more power from the engine.
- The torque was boosted by 47%.
- The fuel economy improved too. The new engine used up 15% less fuel than its camshaft engine counterparts. To put that into perspective, Mitsubishi got into hot water when it was found that they falsified the fuel efficiency of their cars by as much as 8.8%, and at an average of 4.2%.
- It was also much easier to comply with emissions regulations with the camless engine. It reduced the emissions by as much as 35%. With this kind of technology, VW may not have been forced to use defeat software to go around emissions control standards.
- The engine is also smaller and lighter, so there’s less weight to carry. That means the car can go faster and consume even less fuel.
- It’s even cheaper to manufacture than engines with camshafts.
The possible benefits are immense. It’s now within the realm of possibility that a naturally aspirated 1.5L 4-cylinder engine can provide 250 HP, while it can also go on 2- cylinders and have 40-mpg fuel efficiency. You can use lower octane gasoline, and yet you always have the option of going with the premium gas for more power.
Of course, there are also the emissions standards to consider. Every camless engine can easily comply with those. That’s great for the environment, and that’s terrific for car makers desperate to come up with ways to cope with increasingly strict emissions regulations.
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