January 28, 2012

Author Archives: info

There’s a new kid on the engine block whose zero emissions just might give hydrogen fuel cells and  battery electric systems a run for their money.

The Dearman Engine Company (DEC) has started development on an innovative engine technology that uses liquid air as the primary fuel. Sure, liquid air sounds like an oxymoron, but DEC is operating on some bitterly cold, cryogenic levels. By cooling the air to minus 256 degrees Fahrenheit, the air liquefies. Instead of petroleum, cryogenic air is injected into ambient heat inside the engine. It creates high-pressure gas that drives the pistons and only emits cold air as exhaust.

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The Dearman Engine Company is developing an engine that runs on what most people would not think of as fuel, liquid air.

Call it a new kind of cold fusion. The pistons get pushed by the pressure of rapidly expanding air in the cylinder. Liquid air is stored at -256 degrees Fahrenheit. The engine pumps liquid air into the cylinder along with what Dearman calls a heat exchange fluid. The liquid air very quickly changes to a gaseous state as it reaches ambient temperature, expanding at the same time. When the exhaust valves open, the only emission is air.

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Independent technology review and feasibility evaluation provides key step towards commercialization for liquid cryogen engine concept – aimed at competing with hydrogen fuel cells and pure battery electric systems in zero emissions applications.

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A liquid nitrogen powered engine could provide an energy storage alternative to batteries and fuel cells.   Such an engine is driven by the pressure created as liquid nitrogen (LN2) returns to its gas form and could provide a way of powering a vehicle with a longer range and faster refueling than a battery without producing any noxious tailpipe emissions.

In the UK there are now two groups working to get LN2 market ready.

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A zero emission powertrain looks more likely, following successful first round seed funding (which closed more than 30% oversubscribed) for engine technology developer Dearman Engine Company (DEC).

DEC has now started development work on its novel piston engine technology – which uses liquid air as the working fluid – working with UK engineering consultancy Ricardo UK and several UK academics.

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Using liquid air or nitrogen as an energy carrier, either to store electricity or as a vehicle fuel, isn’t a new idea, but creating a viable and efficient commercial technology to do this has been an elusive goal for many years…. The Dearman Engine Company is hoping the same technology could create an alternative to hydrogen, batteries or other low carbon vehicle drives with greater efficiency than has ever been achieved before.

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