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The slide throttle

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As a lifelong student of automotive technology I never fail to be amazed by the inventiveness of the human mind, and one of the best places to demonstrate that is to look at patent applications down the years. Many inventions of course never come to anything, for various reasons. In some cases the principle has been patented just in case there is a need for it in the future, and to prevent others from adopting the same idea and patenting it themselves. An example I came across recently was...

Cotton-based filters

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If you’ve ever examined the contents of the dirty side of the air filter of your daily transport you don’t need me to emphasise the importance of the filter on the engine air intake. Grit, dead leaves and even quite large insects can all easily be found scattered inside the entrance to the airbox, so in contrast to the ‘clean’ zone at the inner side of the filter, if ever there was a case for including an air filter on all engines – particularly those for...

Turbocharger speed measurement

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In the inexorable search for increased power with efficiency, engine manufacturers are looking more and more towards the turbocharger in its various forms. Twin-turbo engines, sequential turbos and even engines using dual boost systems – two compressors and one turbine on the same shaft – are becoming more common, and because of this the engine tuning industry is having to understand the limits to these units much more precisely. The accepted limits on the operation of a...

Supercharger talk

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The idea of boosting engine performance by increasing the density of the intake charge is nothing new. Compensating for poorly designed intake systems may have been the reasoning for their use in the late 19th/early 20th century period, but these days the science of pressure charging the internal combustion engine is not just about power density but increasingly the energy efficiency as well. For simple power density in terms of kilowatts per kilogramme of engine weight, a gas turbine unit...

Intake manifolds

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The design of a modern intake manifold is a relatively straightforward affair. Ensuring that the positive pressure waves reverberating up and down the intake runner arrive just at the same time as the inlet valve is closing sounds simple enough, and given the constraints of a single-cylinder engine at a fixed rotational speed, so it is. However, add the complexities of a multi-cylinder arrangement at a wide range of engine speeds, feeding through a single throttle plate, and the degree of...