Prototype internal combustion engine gets simple for efficiency

The folks at Road&Track are showing off what they are saying is a new prototype engine from Toyota. The free piston engine, which essentially gets rid of everything below the piston, simplifies the energy generation process for electric cars.

Traditional fossil fuel-powered vehicles require a crankshaft to rotate the transmission, axles, and wheels for movement. But, since most range-extended electric vehicles only use an internal combustion engine to generate electricity, the whole package can be simplified.

Toyota’s prototype is essentially a two-stroke setup with a piston sliding through a chamber of magnets to generate electricity. Valves are also electrically operated and the engine can be fired using compression instead of a spark plug for even more efficiency. The engine is said to have a thermal-efficiency rating of 42 percent and develop 15 hp.

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