A new hybrid power pairing will be on display in Japan this week, when the Scuderi Group LLC presents its Split-Cycle Air Hybrid engine concept at the Nagoya Eco Clean Car Fair 2008, a trade show dedicated to advances in clean transportation technology. Based in West Springfield, Massachusetts, Scuderi plans to have a fully-operational prototype on exhibit at the 2009 Society of Automotive Engineers Show in Detroit next April. Although based on a conventional internal combustion engine, the firm claims its unique patented design elements provide a cost-effective way to overcome the key breathing and thermal efficiency issues that have plagued all previous split-cycle engines. In Air Hybrid guise, Scuderi further contends that its Split-Cycle package can deliver nearly 50 percent better fuel economy and decrease CO2 emissions by up to 80 percent while developing greater power and torque outputs for a given displacement.
To make these stunning gains possible, the Scuderi design first divides operations of a normal four-stroke engine into a paired combination of two interconnected cylinders. One handles intake/compression, the other combustion/exhaust, with each functioning once per crankshaft revolution. However, as with the firm's non-hybrid split-cycle setup, ignition of the fuel/air mix is delayed until after the "firing" piston cycles past top-dead center. This variation on the Miller/Atkinson cycle helps produce a cleaner overall burn. In its Hybrid variant, a supplemental tank stores excess energy from the combustion side of the process in as compressed air that provides a further enhanced internal supercharging effect. The air reservoir functions much like a battery/capacitor does in a gas-electric mild hybrid, only with far fewer and less costly components.
While Scuderi execs cite extensive computer simulations that bear out the functionality of this design, any final judgment will have to be reserved until after a running example debuts at the upcoming SAE show. But if this innovative engine delivers as promised, it would have far-reaching impact across the auto industry and industry in general. For a literal inside look at the Scuderi Split-Cycle Air Hybrid engine in action, click here.