Engine of change

A former British serviceman has used his expertise in military ballistic materials to develop an eco-friendly automotive engine.


A former British serviceman has used his expertise in military ballistic materials to develop an eco-friendly automotive engine.

The more fuel-efficient engine would include a combustion chamber that increases combustion and a new kind of fluid oxidant capable of neutralising carbon-monoxide formation.

The developer, Ian Houston, chief executive of Origo Industries, said his engine concept would be one-third of the weight of current engines, but its quality would not be affected.

‘It’ll be equivalent to, if not better than, a metallic engine,’ he claimed. ‘The reason is these are ballistic materials. They’re designed to stop projectiles. We’re just taking them into another arena.’

Houston said one major part of the engine concept, the block, is made of injection-moulded cast fibreglass. He said the combustion chamber can hold and maintain heat, before adding: ‘That allows you to put less fuel in to get 100 per cent oxidisation. The problem with diesel is 25 per cent of it is wasted in the combustion chamber; it is unburnt hydrocarbons. If you get 100 per cent oxidisation of diesel you get a 25 per cent increase in working capacity.’

The fluid oxidant, developed in collaboration with chemists at Durham University, has been designed to prevent the formation of carbon monoxide in the combustion chamber. Houston explained laboratory tests on a prototype combustion chamber show it can significantly reduce carbon monoxide. ‘We’re now further developing it to get it to zero carbon monoxide.’

Houston has submitted Origo Industries’ concept to the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership Technology Challenge, which aims to accelerate the deployment of low-carbon vehicles and fuels.

Siobhan Wagner