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New mini petrol engine

 

By JOHN SCOTT

SCIENTISTS have built the smallest petrol engine — tiny enough to power a WATCH.

The mini-motor, which runs for two years on a single squirt of lighter fuel, is set to revolutionise world technology.

It produces 700 times more energy than a conventional battery despite being less than a centimetre long — not even half an inch. It could be used to operate laptops and mobile phones for months on end — doing away with the need for recharging.

Experts believe it could be phasing out batteries in such items within just six years.

The engine, minute enough to be balanced on a fingertip, has been produced by engineers at the University of Birmingham. Dr Kyle Jiang, lead investigator from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, said: “We are looking at an industrial revolution happening in peoples’ pockets.

“The breakthrough is an enormous step forward.

“Devices which need re- charging or new batteries are a problem but in six years will be a thing of the past.”

Other applications for the engine could include medical and military uses, such as running heart pacemakers or mini reconnaissance robots.
At present, charging an ordinary battery to deliver one unit of energy involves putting 2,000 units into it.

The little engine, because energy is produced locally, is far more effective.

One of the main problems faced by engineers who have tried to produce micro motors in the past has been the levels of heat produced.

The engines got so hot they burned themselves out and could not be re-used.

The Birmingham team overcame this by using heat-resistant materials such as ceramic and silicon carbide.

Professor Graham Davies, head of the university’s engineering school, said: “We’ve brought together all the engineering disciplines, both materials, chemical engineering, civil engineering, and mechanical engineering.

“What better place to have the second industrial revolution — in nano-technology — than where the first took place, in the heart of the West Midlands.”

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June 19, 2007 - Posted by | mail story

17 Comments »

  1. ang galing naman kung ganun….pero petrol-based eh…yayaman naman jan ang ibang bansang may oil reserves…

    Comment by ariel | June 20, 2007 | Reply

  2. At present, charging an ordinary battery to deliver one unit of energy involves putting 2,000 units into it. THIS IS FALSE BATTERIES TODAY A FAR MORE EFFIENT THAN THAT. THEY ARE MORE IN THE RANGE OF 90% EFFIIENTCY FROM POWER IN TO STORAGE OF THAT POWER. BRUSHLESS MOTORS CAN ACHIEVE A EFFIENCY OF ABOUT 98%! THIS MEANS THAT YOU ONLY LOOSE ABOUT 12-15% FROM STORING ELECTRICAL ENERGY, TO CONVERTING THAT TO MECHCANICAL ENERGY.
    MY POINT IS, IS THAT YOU LOSE SO MUCH ENERGY IN HEAT FROM THAT TINY GAS MOTOR THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SAY IT CAN COME EVEN COME CLOSE TO TURNING ELECTRICAL OR CHEMICALY STORED POWER INTO A EFFIENT MECHANICAL OR ELECTRICAL ENERGY SORCE. I DO HAVE TO SAY THE DENSITY OF POTENTIAL ENERGY IN PETROL IS A NIGHT AND DAY COMPARISON TO THE AMOUNT OF POWER WE CAN STORE IN BATERIES IN THE SAME SPACE.

    Comment by VINCE AGE 15 | December 13, 2007 | Reply

  3. Battery technology has not kept pace with the miniture electronic gadgets that are continuling being developed that need a power source. As such, they continue to be the weak link. Batteries are relatively heavy and bulky, in most cases the heaviest and bulkiest single component.They have a short productive life between charges, threfore are inefficient, very expensive and worst of all, fail totally at the most inappropriate time.

    Comment by Ray | December 16, 2007 | Reply

  4. If Vince’s spelling is any indication of his mnental abilities. I’ll go with the little engine.
    NIMH batteries can lose up to 10% of their charge per month just sitting on a shelf.

    Comment by Bill | December 19, 2007 | Reply

  5. I received an email and searched for more information and found this site. I found this very interesting indeed. Bill, if you are going to comment about someone’s spelling it might be good if you checked your own. Last I recall “mnental” is not a word, I think you were looking for “mental”.

    Comment by Matt | January 16, 2008 | Reply

  6. Wake up Matt,
    I think you’re due for a sense of humor check. Bill’s misspelling was obviously intentional. (And, FYI, misspelled is spelled correctly.) Guess you didn’t notice Ray needs spelling assistance also. And did no one notice how badly in need of attention the fingernail of the guy holding the battery is? You’d think with something so wonderful to share, he’d have used someone well-groomed for his photo. (John, retake the pic, please.)

    Comment by Nancy | February 1, 2008 | Reply

  7. Nancy,

    Interestingly enough, the very first thing I noticed when I looked at the photo was the disgusting nail. I suppose it does give us a fair sense of scale, nevertheless. Accordingly, I was able to admire the technical achievement, in spite of the appalling aesthetics.

    [I’m also amused by he level of energy pumped into the solecisms attendant to the various comments.]

    But about the topic at hand: If the tiny engine could run on alcohol/ethanol, which it might well do, and if it could support a tiny mechanical load (say a micro- or nano-knife), then couldn’t it be put to use cleaning the walls of atherosclerotic drunks, ambient alcohol being extracted from the blood, as it chugged, so to speak, along?

    Peter.

    Comment by Peter | February 28, 2008 | Reply

  8. I would love to spend the day grammar/spell checking the rest of these comments, but since I already have a matrix of these little engines powering my computer, and I live in Ca. you guessed it, I gotta go smog my laptop.
    It is worthy of note that if these developments come to fruition, then what we’ve been doing figuratively, we may soon be doing actually. ….Souping up our computers.

    Comment by Stephan | March 26, 2008 | Reply

  9. i really interested in automotive engines.
    can anyone please help me in understanding oxyfuel combustion engines.i have some questions regarding this.

    Comment by sharath | November 12, 2008 | Reply

  10. Hey…this one is so cool..I cant wait to get hands on this small engine.

    Is there any new advancements in this engine?..From where can i get latest news about this engineering marvel. 🙂

    Comment by Rupin | February 21, 2009 | Reply

  11. Vince, don’t they teach you about Caps Lock in high school?

    Comment by Ian | February 26, 2009 | Reply

  12. Oh dear…an elementary school English teacher who involuntarily corrects mundane grammatical errors in TV ads would have a fatal stroke if they saw these posts. Vince, not only did you forget how to use Caps Lock effectively, you also neglected to remember how to remove run-on sentences from your little speech up there. I’m not going to stop you from bickering with random people about random crap that would make everyone’s life a hell of a lot easier, but please, learn how to use a keyboard before you do.

    Comment by unknown | March 17, 2009 | Reply

  13. i was starting to presume i would probably be the sole young man which cared about this, at the least currently i acknowledge im not nuts 🙂 i am going to be sure to look at a couple of other threads just after i get a little caffeine in me, adios for now 🙂

    Comment by cityville | January 5, 2011 | Reply

  14. Hi all! I failed dismaly at school with my spelling, I hope this turns out OK. I live in Australia, we have an abundace of sunshine. I believe that Solar energy is the way to the future, I think the engineers that develpoed this little engine have got it wrong, they are useing old technolegy (petrochemical fossil fuel based)to try and improve on something that already exists. If they could embrace photosynthesis to produce energy as plants do, our future energy requirements would be solved. My next comment would be to the engineers and that is:- Whear is the petrol tank and what happens when it runs out?

    Comment by Dave Edwards | January 22, 2011 | Reply

  15. It amazes me how ignorant people can be, to take the topic of Nano-Engines and for the apparent lack of anything more educated to say on the topic, go and turn it into an argument about grammar and spelling.
    Yes, Caps-Lock, misspelled words, bad grammar are incorrect, in most English speaking circles, but the topic was Nano-Engines. Please try to contribute something about that issue, not the world’s inability to write as each of us secretly desire. Go rant or troll about grammar somewhere else and get your self-esteem ego-boost there, not here, please.
    Back on topic:
    I think it’s neat, but I also wonder about heat losses and inefficiency due to the scale and frictional forces. It seems like a turbine design would be more efficient than a piston and cylinder at this scale, or maybe the rotational speeds get out of reality when scaled down this small. Would love to see some of the numbers behind the device’s output and such. operating rpms, fuel usage rates, heat output, etc.
    And there are some very efficient battery technologies out there today, they just aren’t widely consumer renown, due to their cost or because of the exotic materials involved. Lithium batteries are very lightweight for their storage capacity, it’s just that they are still fairly expensive to make in any storage size. There are a few other technologies that are even denser and lighter than Lithium, but the costs are still prohibitive.

    Comment by James | February 4, 2011 | Reply

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    Comment by Amado Varady | April 15, 2011 | Reply

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    Comment by motherfucker iorga eugeniu laurentiu | July 29, 2011 | Reply


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