Lotus has released images and details of a concept they intend to bring to the 2009 Geneva Auto Salon. With much of the car industry looking into alternative fuel ideas the Lotus Omnivore research engine uses flex-fuel to increase its efficiency.
It’s a 2-stroke which according to Lotus is better suited to running on Flex Fuel than the traditional 4-stroke. A puck at the top of the combustion chamber moves up and down to alter the geometric compression, which allows it to achieve a variable compression ratio. If this sounds alien to you then don’t worry because we feel the same way.
All you have to realise is that we could see this engine appear in any number of Lotus products in the near future as well as other lotus consultancy cars from other manufacturers.
Lotus Engineering, the world-renowned automotive consultancy division of Lotus Cars Limited, unveils its latest research into engine efficiency at the 79th International Geneva Motor Show. The Omnivore engine concept has the potential to significantly increase fuel efficiency for sustainable alcohol based fuels, which increases the prospect of a greater amount of vehicle miles travelled using renewable fuels. On display will be the single cylinder research engine monoblock that demonstrates the novel architecture designed for high thermal efficiency when fuelled on any alcohol based fuel or gasoline. The Omnivore concept features an innovative variable compression ratio system and uses a two-stroke operating cycle with direct fuel injection. It is ideally suited to flex-fuel operation with a higher degree of optimisation than is possible with existing four stroke engines. The engine concept features a monoblock construction that blends the cylinder head and block together eliminating the need for a cylinder head gasket, improving durability and reducing weight. In this case, the application of a monoblock is facilitated by the absence of the requirement for poppet valves. A novel charge trapping valve in the exhaust port allows asymmetric timing of exhaust flow and continuous variation of the exhaust opening point. The variable compression ratio is achieved by the use of a puck at the top of the combustion chamber. This simple, yet effective system moves up and down affecting the change in geometric compression depending on the load
demands on the engine. Mike Kimberley, Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus plc said: “We are
delighted to unveil this major milestone in the development of an engine configuration for a new breed of more efficient multi-fuel engines. The automotive sector is focusing on its environmental obligations to improve efficiency, minimise reliance on fossil fuels and reduce harmful emissions and Lotus continues to be an industry leader through our work on all aspects of future fuels. Sustainable alcohol based fuels have the potential to reduce the overall CO2 footprint of internal combustion engines towards zero and for this reason, need to be embraced as future fuels for road transport.” In this collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast and Orbital Corporation Limited Australia, with sponsorship from DEFRA/DECC and DOE NI through the Renewables Materials LINK programme, Lotus Engineering is currently in the final stages of commissioning the Omnivore single-cylinder research engine. It uses the Orbital FlexDITM fuel injection system which produces fine in-cylinder fuel preparation irrespective of fuel type, and together with air premixing allows efficient two-stroke combustion and low-temperature starting, whilst offering singular opportunity for advanced HCCI control. The Omnivore programme is another development of Lotus’ research into understanding the complex combustion processes involved in running an engine on mixtures of alcohol based fuels and gasoline, which included the Lotus Exige 270E Tri-fuel, unveiled at the International Geneva Motor Show in 2008. This research is vitally important for a successful transition from today’s fuels to the more efficient sustainable fuels of the future. Geraint Castleton-White, Head of Powertrain at Lotus Engineering said, “The absence of poppet valves in two-stroke engines makes the incorporation of a variable compression ratio system relatively straightforward. Our research into these systems on four-stroke engines has led us to the conclusion that while thermodynamically it is a desirable technology to incorporate, practically it is very difficult, particularly taking into consideration production feasibility. This two-stroke engine could solve these practical difficulties and simultaneously permits a much larger range of compression ratio adjustment, with the potential to perform at a much higher efficiency when running on renewable fuels.”