New milestone on road towards range extender engine of the future

A revolutionary generator engine concept designed at the University of Sussex has moved a step closer to realisation after a key component of its design was tackled by Sussex engineering students. It is hoped that in the future the AMOCATIC Range Extender engine will offer significantly increased fuel efficiency and a smaller, more lightweight engine package, in the quest to enable low-carbon vehicles to travel greater distances between recharging stops.

The AMOCATIC Range Extender engine concept is for a highly efficient, single cylinder resonance cycle based engine that is lighter, more compact, and delivers a much higher power density than equivalent generators currently on the market. It is designed to suffer from less friction than its current counterparts, and is totally balanced, meaning that it creates very little noise or vibration. It was envisioned by Dr Julian Dunne, a Reader in Engineering Dynamics at the University of Sussex, and head of the University’s Dynamics, Control, and Vehicle Research Group.

A group of engineering students working under Dr Dunne’s supervision have now been recognised at the Telegraph UK STEM Awards, after building a resonance combustion model that aims to prove a vital part of the AMOCATIC concept for generating electrical power. Their model is very close to demonstrating that a resonance based combustion cycle is a viable alternative to increase the limited efficiency of current internal combustion engines.

Their generator (CAROP), which won the award in the automotive category sponsored by McLaren Group, was designed to introduce a step change in making car engines lighter and more efficient. The model impressed the category’s judge, Paul Mackenzie, Director of the P1 supercar project at McLaren Automotive.

Under the equivalent of timed combustion, the use of suspension-like springs allows a pair of opposed pistons to resonate mechanically, producing motion very similar to that of reciprocating pistons in a conventional engine, without the need for a connecting rod or crankshaft. Moreover, the amplitude of the resonant motion is controlled by simultaneously generating electrical power – an aspect that provides marked advantages over a conventional generator set.

“I’m delighted for my students that they have received this accolade – it’s a most fitting reward for the hard work and ingenuity that they have shown”, said Dr Dunne. “On a personal level, I’ve been thrilled to watch these young engineers working towards a goal that’s close to my heart, that of helping to make ultra-low CO2 hybrid electric vehicles an even more viable proposition in the future.”

The AMOCATIC project is being supported by the Sussex Innovation Centre, who are currently seeking interested commercial partners to further develop the concept and help bring it to market.

The UK STEM Awards are intended to celebrate the best students studying for degrees in the STEM subjects at British universities. The team of 6 behind the CAROP generator comprised Mechanical Engineering students Daniel Crumpton, Owen Joslin and Adam Richardson, Automotive Engineering student Gabriel Holdgate, plus Electrical and Electronic Engineering students Justin Sarpong and Celina Enriquez.

“We are so pleased we’ve been recognised for helping to develop an important project for the future of transport,” said Crumpton, after receiving the award on behalf of his team.