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History of the Camless

History shows that the idea of a camless internal combustion engine has its origins as
early as 1899, when designs of variable valve timing surfaced. It was suggested that
independent control of valve actuation could result in increased engine power (1). More
recently, however, the focus of increased power has broadened to include energy savings,
pollution reduction, and reliability.
To provide the benefits listed above, researchers throughout the previous decade have
been proposing, prototyping, and testing new versions of valve actuation for the internal
combustion engine. Their designs have taken on a variety of forms, from electropneumatic (1) to electro-hydraulic (2), (3). These designs are based on electric solenoids
opening and closing either pneumatic or hydraulic valves. The controlled fluid then
actuates the engine valves.
Much of the available documentation deals with the either the control of the solenoids
or the computer modeling of such control systems (2), (3), (4), (5), and (6). The research
on the control of the solenoids is crucial since their precision and response is a limiting
factor to developing a reliable camless valve actuator.
A comprehensive project using solenoid control of pneumatic actuators was
completed in 1991 (1). This research included the development of the actuators, a 16 bit
microprocessor for control, and comparative testing between a standard Ford 1.9 liter,
spark ignition, port fuel injected four cylinder engine and the same engine modified for
camless actuation. Testing compared the unmodified engine to that of the same engine,
altered to include eight pneumatic actuators in place of the standard camshaft. As Gould
et al states, their work cannot be considered feasible for implementation due to the high
power requirements of the actuator. Furthermore, concerns related to the lack of research
for the gas flow dynamics in variable valve timing designs were raised by the authors.
The altered flow dynamics may have contributed to inconsistently favorable results.
Since the new research proposed by the University of South Carolina utilizes the
emerging field of piezoelectric devices to replace solenoids in previous designs, a
literature review of piezoelectric hydraulic actuators was completed. Through this
search, it was found that the combination of accuracy, force, and displacement were the
greatest challenges facing such actuators.
Recent research completed by Mauck et al (7) indicates that the need for smart wing
technology is centered around the ability of a hybrid piezo-hydraulic pump to produce
large displacements (0.1 to 10 mm) with high forces (10 to 2000 N). This is inline with
this proposal; however, the actuation frequency of (1) is limited to low or intermediate

frequencies (0.1 to 200 Hz). This is not compatible with the high frequency requirements
of a camless engine.
Earlier work by Yokota and Akutu (8) results in an on-off poppet-type valve that
operates at higher speeds. However, actuation is limited to 2 kHz and simple binary
function open or closed. This is also not compatible with the requirements of variable
timing and lift needed for the camless engine.
Another, more recent, advance in high operating frequency piezoelectrically-driven
hydraulic actuators was completed by Roberts et al (9). Their system provides actuation
at frequencies up to 24 kHz, but valve stroke is limited to 40 m.

(1) Gould, L; Richeson, W; and Erickson, F., 1991, Performance Evaluation of a
Camless Engine Using Valve Actuation with Programmable Timing, SAE Paper
No. 910450.
(2) Dobson, N. and Muddell, G., 1993, Active Valve Train System Promises to
Eliminate Camshafts, Automotive Engineer February / March 1993.
(3) Anderson, M; Tsao, T-C; and Levin, M., 1998, Adaptive Lift Control for a
Camless Electrohydraulic Valvetrain, SAE Paper No. 981029
(4) Kim, D; Anderson, M; Tsao, T-C; and Levin, M., 1997, Dynamic Model of a
Springless Electrohydraulic Valvetrain, SAE Paper No. 970248
(5) Ashhab, M-S; and Stefanopoulou, A., 2000, Control-Oriented Model for
Camless Intake Process Part 1, Transactions of the ASME Vol 122, March
(6) Ashhab, M-S; and Stefanopoulou, A., 2000, Control of a Camless Intake Process
Part II, ASME Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement, and Control
March 2000
(7) Mauck, L; Menchaca, J; and Lynch, C., 2000, Piezoelectric Hydraulic Pump
Development, Proceedings of SPIE The International Society for Optical
Engineering 3985 Mar 6-9, 2000
(8) Yokoat, S; and Akutu, K., 1991, Fast-acting Electro-hydraulic Digital
Transducer. (A Poppet-type On-off Valve Using a Multilayered Piezoelectric
Device), JSME International Journal, Series 2: Fluids Engineering, Heat
Transfer, Power, Combustion, Thermophysical Properties Vol. 34 No. 4, Nov.

(9) Roberts, D; Hagood, N; Su, Y-H; Li, H; Carretero, J., 2000, Design of a
Piezoelectrically-driven Hydraulic Amplification Microvalve for High Pressure,
High Frequency Applications, Proceedings of SPIE The International Society
for Optical Engineering 3985 Mar 6-9, 2000

Camless Engine


Since the origination of the automobile, the internal combustion engine (ICE) has
evolved considerably. However, one constant has remained throughout the
decades of internal combustion engine development. The camshaft has been the
primary means of controlling the valve actuation and timing, and therefore,
influencing the overall performance of the vehicle.
The camshaft is attached to the crankshaft of an ICE and rotates relative to the rotation of
the crankshaft. Therefore, as the vehicle increases is velocity, the crankshaft must turn
more quickly, and ultimately the camshaft rotates faster. This dependence on the
rotational velocity of the crankshaft provides the primary limitation on the use of
As the camshaft rotates, cam lobes, attached to the camshaft, interface with the engines
valves. This interface may take place via a mechanical linkage, but the result is, as the
cam rotates it forces the valve open. The spring return closes the valve when the cam is
no longer supplying the opening force. Figure 1 shows a schematic of a single valve and
cam on a camshaft.

Figure 1 Single Cam and Valve

Since the timing of the engine is dependent on the shape of the cam lobes and the
rotational velocity of the camshaft, engineers must make decisions early in the
automobile development process that affect the engines performance. The resulting
design represents a compromise between fuel efficiency and engine power. Since
maximum efficiency and maximum power require unique timing characteristics, the cam
design must compromise between the two extremes.
This compromise is a prime consideration when consumers purchase automobiles. Some
individuals value power and lean toward the purchase of a high performance sports car or
towing capable trucks, while others value fuel economy and vehicles that will provide
more miles per gallon.
Recognizing this compromise, automobile manufacturers have been attempting to
provide vehicles capable of cylinder deactivation, variable valve timing (VVT), or
variable camshaft timing (VCT). These new designs are mostly mechanical in nature.
Although they do provide an increased level of sophistication, most are still limited to
discrete valve timing changes over a limited range.


versity of South Carolina

International Patents trends on VVA s including Camless Engines

The above graph shows a steady increase in Camless engine patent applications in
the early 90s, while there was not too much going on throughout the 70s and most of
the 80s. A likely cause for this trend is a more stabilized economy during the 80s and a
leaping step in software, hardware and computing technology during the late 80s and
90s. These advances in computer technology allow for faster calculations by the Engine
Control Unit (ECU) therefore controlling more precisely and effectively the high-speed
valve actuators. Advances in material research and development have surely had their
share of importance.

Previously wire valve springs have been used, they use a coil spring (13) to return the
valve (1) to a closed position after the cam has retarded. They required huge amounts of
the detail development on their shape and material to reach the rev limits of around 15k
RPM. The pressure to deliver power from 3.5l and later 3.0l engines required ever higher
rev ceilings and metal springs could not longer be developed at the same rate as the rest
of the engine.
Pneumatic valve spring

Pneumatic systems use conventional cams operating the valve (4) via a shim\bucket or
finger follower, the valve spring pocket is replaced with a chamber (28) pressurised with
nitrogen (held within a cylinder in the sidepods) that runs at a constant pressure to return
the valve when the cam timing retards. You often see the teams suffer a loss of pressure
in the races through leaks in the system, the driver comes in and mechanics re-pressurises
the pneumatic circuit, this rarely works for more than few laps. Also when Engines are
changed the un-installed engine needs a remote gas cylinder connected in order for the
valves not to drop and hit the pistons.
Wire spring vs Pneumatic valve comparision

Renault Electro-Hydraulic (Camless) valve actuation

Camless Engines

I was reading up on this, and I thought it was pretty cool to share the info.

Cams, lifters, pushrods... all these things have up until now been associated with the internal
combustion engine. But the end is near or these lovely shiny metal objects that comprise the
valve train hardware in your pride and joy (Owners of the technically far more advanced
rotary are excluded!) Camless engine technology is soon to be a reality for mass-produced
vehicles. In the camless valvetrain, the valve motion is controlled directly by a valve actuator there's no camshaft or connecting mechanisms. Various studies have shown that a camless
valve train can eliminate many otherwise necessary engine design trade-offs.
Automotive engines equipped with camless valvetrains of the electro-hydraulic and electromechanical type have been studied for over twenty years, but production vehicles with such
engines are still not available. The issues that have had to be addressed in the actuator design

reliable valve performance

power consumption

noise and vibration

Noise has been identified as the main problem with the electromechanical actuator technology,
arising from high contact velocities of the actuator's moving parts. For this noise to be
reduced, a so-called soft-landing of the valves has to be achieved. In a conventional
valvetrain, the soft-landing is mechanically embedded into the shape of the camshaft lobe.
One Electromechanical Valve Train (EMVT), developed by Siemens Automotive Systems has
already been demonstrated at full load in a 16-valve four-cylinder engine. Jacobs Vehicle
Equipment Co is another company involved in this field of research, but in diesel truck
engines. Their direction is towards the Electrohydraulic Valve Actuation Technology (EHVT).
International Truck and Engine Corp is another engine manufacturer poised to take a huge
step forward in diesel engine design, announcing that it will eliminate camshafts from its diesel
engines and replace them with electronic-valve timing systems by the year 2007. The long 6year delay by International is due to testing. Where mechanical systems can be put on a dyno
and tested for a couple of thousand hours, electronic testing must be done in such places as
Alaska and Death Valley, where equipment can be subjected to temperature extremes.
Engineers say they need two summers and two winters of testing to be satisfied they've got all
the bugs out.
Conventional Valvetrain

The valvetrain in a typical internal combustion engine comprises several moving components.
Some are rotating and some are moving in a linear manner. Included Included are poppet
valves that are operated by rocker arms or tappets, with valve springs used to return the
valves to their seats. In such a system the parasitic power losses are major - power is wasted
in accelerating and decelerating the components of the valvetrain. Friction of the camshaft,
springs, cam belts, etc also robs us of precious power and worsens fuel economy, not to
mention contributing to wear and tear. The power draw on the crankshaft to operate the
conventional valve train is 5 to 10 percent of total power output.
Another factor working against the conventional valve train is that of the cam profile. Usually ,
it is fixed to deliver only one specific cam timing. The cam lobes have to be shaped such that
when the valve travels up and down at the engines maximum speed it should still be able to
slow down and gently contact the valve seat. You don't want valves crashing down on their
valve seats. It results in an engine that is real noisy and has a short life expectancy.
You are all aware that having different cam profiles will result in different engine
characteristics. While high-rpm power and low rpm-torque can be each optimised, a
compromise is required to obtain the best of both in the same engine. With Variable Valve
Timing (VVT) technologies the compromise is getting better and better - reasonable low down
torque and high-speed power are being produced by many sub 2-litre engines.
But the problem remains that the cam grind is still a fixed quantity - or two fixed quantities in
the case of Honda V-TEC engines. That's why the Electromechanical Valve Train is considered
the next evolution of VVT. With the potential to dial in any conceivable valve timing at any
point of the combustion cycle for each individual cylinder, valves can be opened with more lift
and/or duration , as the computer deems necessary. Just imagine that you have your latest 2litre 16-valve EMVT powered engine on the dyno after installing an exhaust. Simply changing a

couple of numbers [Maybe lots of numbers! - Ed] on the computer will have a set of
completely revised valve timing maps to suit your exhaust - or cold air intake for that mater.
There will be no need for expensive cam changes that may not even give the results you are
Electronically altering valve events will have a far more major impact on engine performance
than any current electronically-controlled item.
Camless Valvetrain Operation
The types of camless variable valve actuating systems being developed can be classed in two
groups: electrohydraulic and electromechanical.
When it comes to electromechanical valve trains, there are several designs that are being
trialed. Most developers are using the conventional poppet valve system (ie valves that look
the same as in today's engines) but an alternative is a ball valve set up. Both use
electromagnets in one way or another to open and close the valve. Originally created for the
Apollo space program, the electrohydraulic valve actuator works by sending pressurised
hydraulic fluid to the engine valve to move it open or closed. These systems are mainly retain
poppet valves and are preferred by truck engine manufacturers.
1. Electromechanical Poppet Valves
This type of system uses an armature attached to the valve stem.The outside casing contains
a magnetic coil of some sort that can be used to either attract or repel the armature, hence
opening or closing the valve.

Most early systems employed solenoid and magnetic attraction/repulsion actuating principals
using an iron or ferromagnetic armature. These types of armatures limited the performance of
the actuator because they resulted in a variable air gap. As the air gap becomes larger (ie
when the distance between the moving and stationary magnets or electromagnets increases),
there is a reduction in the force. To maintain high forces on the armature as the size of the air
gap increases, a higher current is employed in the coils of such devices. This increased current
leads to higher energy losses in the system, not to mention non-linear behaviour that makes it
difficult to obtain adequate performance. The result of this is that most such designs have high
seating velocities (ie the valves slam open and shut hard!) and the system cannot vary the
amount of valve lift.
The electromechanical valve actuators of the latest poppet valve design eliminate the iron or
ferromagnetic armature. Instead it is replaced with a current-carrying armature coil. A
magnetic field is generated by a magnetic field generator and is directed across the fixed air
gap. An armature having a current-carrying armature coil is exposed to the magnetic field in
the air gap. When a current is passed through the armature coil and that current is
perpendicular to the magnetic field, a force is exerted on the armature.When a current runs
through the armature coil in either direction and perpendicular to the magnetic field, an
electromagnetic vector force, known as a Lorentz force, is exerted on the armature coil. The
force generated on the armature coil drives the armature coil linearly in the air gap in a
direction parallel with the valve stem. Depending on the direction of the current supplied to
the armature coil, the valve will be driven toward an open or closed position. These latest
electromechanical valve actuators develop higher and better-controlled forces than those
designs mentioned previously. These forces are constant along the distance of travel of the
armature because the size of the air gap does not change.
The key component of the Siemens-developed infinitely variable electromechanical valve train

is an armature-position sensor. This sensor ensures the exact position of the armature is
known to the ECU at all times and allows the magnetic coil current to be adjusted to obtain
the desired valve motion.

Referring now to Figures 1 to 4, an electromechanical valve actuator of the poppet valve

variety is illustrated in conjunction with an intake or exhaust valve (22). The valve (22)
includes a valve closure member 28 having a cylindrical valve stem (30) and a cylindrical
valve head (32) attached to the end of the stem (30). The valve actuator (20) of the poppet
valve system generally includes a housing assembly (34) consisting of upper and lower tubular
housing members (36) and (42), a magnetic field generator consisting of upper and lower field
coils (48) and (52), a core (56) consisting of upper and lower core member (58) and (68), and
an armature (78) suitably connected to the valve stem (30). The armature coil is preferably
made from aluminium wire or other electrically conductive lightweight material, which is highly
conductive for its mass. Minimising the armature mass is especially important in view of the
rapid acceleration forces placed on it in both directions.
The ability of the electromechanical valve actuator to generate force in either direction and to
vary the amount of force applied to the armature in either direction is an important advantage
of this design. For instance, varying the value of the current through the armature coil and/or
changing the intensity of the magnetic field can control the speed of opening and closing of
the valve. This method can also be used to slow the valve closure member to reduce the
seating velocity, thereby lessening wear as well as reducing the resulting noise.

This system is able to operate without valve springs as shown in Figure 1 or can equally be
equipped with them as shown in Figures 6 & 7.
Siemens report that a special software algorithm is used to control the actuator coil currents
such that the valves are decelerated to a speed near zero as they land - in conjunction with a
switching time of barely three milliseconds. For the valves this means minimal wear and
minimum noise generation. The 16-valve four cylinder engine that is currently undergoing
tests in Germany, by Siemens, is equipped with 16 valve actuators and the corresponding
armature-position sensors. A Siemens ECU is used and two cable rails connect the actuators to
it. A 42-volt starter-generator provides the power.
2. Electromechanical Ball Valves
An alternative to the conventional poppet valve for use in camless valve trains is a ball valve.
This type of electromechanical valve system consists of a ball through which a passage
passes. If the ball is rotated such that the passage lines up with other openings in the valve
assembly, gas can pass through it. (Exactly like the ball valves many of us use to control our
boost.) Opening and closing the valve is accomplished by electromagnets positioned around its

Referring to Figure 10, the valve housing (7) is shown in two pieces. Ball valve (8) has two
rigidly attached pivots (12). The disc (10) is permanently attached and indexed to the ball
valve and contains permanent magnets around its perimeter. The electromagnets (11) are
situated on both sides of the ball valve (8) and they are fixed to the valve housing.
The electromagnets are controlled through the ECU. A crank trigger sensor on the crankshaft
provides information about the position of the pistons relative to top dead centre. Thus, at top
dead centre of the power stroke, the ECM could be used to fix the polarity of both
electromagnets so that they are of opposite polarity to the magnets in the ball valve, rotating
the ball valve to the closed position.
The substitution of a simple, efficient ball valve and valve housing arrangement in a a four
stroke reciprocation piston engine eliminates all the independent moving parts in the valve
train. This may even be an improvement over the poppet valve camless system - the ball
valve needs only to rotate on its axis to achieve the desired flow conditions, rather than be
accelerated up and down in a linear fashion. A partially open ball valve state may also be able
to be used to create more turbulence.

Electromechanical valve train implementation would not be possible with a normal 12V
electrical system. As has been covered previously in AutoSpeed ("Goodbye 12 volts... hello 42
volts!"), the automotive industry has chosen a 42V electrical system as the next automotive
standard. Consequently, the energy demand of EMVT can be optimally matched by a
crankshaft-mounted starter-generator (KSG - in Siemens speak) operating at 42V; it is
integrated in the flywheel and designed for the starting process as well as generator
Electrohydraulic Poppet Valves
In general terms, present designs of electrohydraulic valves comprise poppet valves moveable
between a first and second position. Used is a source of pressurised hydraulic fluid and a
hydraulic actuator coupled to the poppet valve. The motion between a first and second
position is responsive to the flow of the pressurised hydraulic fluid. An electrically operated
hydraulic valve controls the flow of the pressurised hydraulic fluid to the hydraulic actuator. In
one design, the provision is made for a three-way electrically operated valve to control the
flow of the pressurised hydraulic fluid to the actuator. This supplies pressure when electrically
pulsed open, and dumps actuator oil to the engine oil sump when the valve is electrically
pulsed to close. The use of engine oil as the hydraulic fluid simplifies and lowers the cost of
the design by removing the need for a separate hydraulic system.

The basic design of the electrohydraulic valvetrain hardware is illustrated in Figure 11. The
engine poppet valves (22) and the valve springs (24) that are used to reset them are shown.
The poppet valves are driven by hydraulic actuators (26), which are controlled by electrically
operated electro-hydraulic valves (28) supplying hydraulic fluid to the actuators via conduit
(29). The preferred hydraulic fluid is engine oil, supplied to the electro-hydraulic valves by the
pressure rail (30). An engine-driven hydraulic pump (32) supplies the oil pressure, receiving
the oil from the engine oil sump (34). The pump output pressure is also limited by an unloader
valve (36), as controlled by an accumulator (38) connected to the oil pressure rail. With this
design the hydraulic pump could be periodically disconnected, such as under braking, so that
the valve train would run off the stored accumulator hydraulic pressure.
As is the trend with all modern engine systems, the camless engine has an even greater
reliance on sensors. The valve actuation and control system typically needs a manifold
pressure sensor, a manifold temperature sensor, a mass flow sensor, a coolant temperature
sensor, a throttle position sensor, an exhaust gas sensor, a high resolution engine position
encoder, a valve/ignition timing decoder controller, injection driver electronics, valve coil
driver electronics, ignition coil driver electronics, air idle speed control driver electronics and
power down control electronics.
A valve developed by Sturman Industries is said to be about six times faster than conventional
hydraulic valves. To achieve such speeds, it uses a tiny spool sandwiched between two
electrical coils. By passing current back and forth between the coils, a microprocessor-based
controller can quickly move the spool back and forth, thereby actuating the engine valves in
However, electrohydraulic systems are mostly being developed for diesel truck use because it

is currently not clear whether the technology will have the speed needed for higher revving
passenger car engines.
Benefits of Camless Engines
The benefits of camless valve actuator systems are numerous. Let's begin with the most
obvious one - infinitely variable valve timing. More torque is made available through out the
rev-range due to the valve timing changes enabling optimal volumetric efficiency. This
increases engine performance and decreases fuel consumption, also decreasing harmful
emissions, increasing durability and engine life, and allowing compensation for different types
of fuel and varying altitudes.
Siemens claims that even today, fuel savings of at least ten per cent can be obtained in the
European test cycle by using a camless valvetrain. Cylinder deactivation (ie an eight cylinder
can become a six as needed!) is also possible, with the associated reduction in emissions.
Further fuel consumption reductions could be obtained by combining camless valve technology
with a high-pressure direct fuel injection system. (Siemens has also developed this type of
system and its expected to be part of the camless valve train engine when it does reach
production readiness.) The amount of engine oil required would also be dramatically reduced
because no lubrication would be required for the traditional complex camshaft valve system.
Cold start wear would also be minimal to the valve train hardware. There is also a general
consensus that electromechanical valve actuation will increase overall valvetrain efficiency by
eliminating the frictional losses of the camshaft mechanism, the weight of the mechanism and
the cam mechanism's drain of power from the crankshaft.

The improvement in the speed of operation valve actuation and control system can be readily
appreciated with reference to Figure 12. It shows a comparison between valve speeds of a
mechanical camshaft engine and the camless engine valve actuation. The length of the valve
stroke in inches versus degrees of rotation of a mechanical camshaft is illustrated.
When graphed, the cycle of opening and closing of a valve driven by a mechanical camshaft
will display a shape similar to a sine curve. The opening period (as measured in crankshaft
degrees) remains constant for any engine load or rpm. However, the cycle of opening and
closing of valves driven by the electromechanical valve actuators operates much faster.
Designed to match valve-opening rates at the maximum engine rpm, the electromechanical
valve actuators open the valve at this same rate regardless of engine operating conditions.
Because of this improved speed, greater flexibility in programming valve events is possible,
allowing for improved low-end torque, lower emissions and improved fuel economy. The
massive opening period for the electromechanically driven valve can also be seen!
Controlling the intake valve event can also eliminate the need for throttled operation in petrol
engines, thereby reducing pumping losses and improving fuel economy - the throttle butterfly
becomes redundant! In the un-throttled camless engine, the intake valves' opening duration is
used for cylinder airflow regulation, rather than a throttle or air-bypass valve. A simplification
of the induction system results and a more compact engine design is thus possible. This leads
to valve specific intake trumpets with less restriction to give the best breathing capabilities.
Although, it needs to be said that there are reported problems with respect to idle control of a
throttleless design, with stable unthrottled engine operation difficult to achieve during low
load, and more precisely, during idle conditions.
An internal EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) function can be created by increasing valve

overlap as appropriate. Similarly, the intake valve may be opened and closed several times
during the intake or exhaust sequence to promote scavenging and later to follow the piston to
promote intake volumetric optimisation, and intake and exhaust valves may be dithered to
control engine throttling and braking.
Using camless valve actuators permits reprogramming to allow the engine to operate in
reverse . This can be done by simply inverting one input wire pair. Reverse operation is
advantageous in marine equipment having dual outdrives or T-drives. This feature would also
eliminate the need for reverse gear in the transmission since forward gears would be used to
operate in either vehicle direction. This provides an opportunity for multiple reverse gears
without the added hardware.
However, the future is not necessarily as rosy as the above states. There are many problems
to be overcome with the electronically controlled valves. The problems lie not only in the
software required but also the mechanisms of the actuators. Coil transient response times and
saturation effects at high rpm are just some of the issues.

Renault have not planned an Electro-mechanical system, which was commonly believed
to use actively controlled magnetic coils to open and close the valves. Clearly the
electrical and RPM performance required from the this system were not ready or suitable
for a F1 engine.
What Renault have is an Electro-hydraulic system, where two pressurised circuits operate
the valve (16). Valve return is still handled by the pneumatic system (52, 20), but the

opening of the valves discards cams for a hydraulic circuit (50) controlled by a electronic
valve (58). As this system can use high pressure hydraulics already on the car to operate
the valve at the required RPM ceiling, the system seems almost too simple..! Infinitely
variable valve timing plus the loss of the reciprocating weight of the cams and drive gears
makes this an enticing solution. This solution has yet to race or to my knowledge even be
tested in a car, Renault have admitted that as a broader automotive organisation, that this
systems has been tried.

Brighton Multi-Cylinder Camless Engine

Contact: Dr Steve Begg

3 Cylinder Gasoline Camless Engine

The Brighton Multi-Cylinder Camless Engine is a Ricardo-developped in-line 3 cylinder
camless GDI research engine. The four independently controlled hydraulically actuated
valves per cylinder allow for research into advanced engine cycles and combustion
This engine was originally commissioned at the Brighton SHRL for the 2/4 SIGHT
project. It produced the first ever controlled operating mode switches from 4 stroke to 2
stroke (and back) and demonstrated outstanding 2 stroke performance of 150 Nm/l at
1000 rpm and 230 Nm/l at 2500 rpm thanks to its innovative combustion chamber. The
concept of the 2/4 cycle engine (illustrated in Fig. 1 below) relies on using the traditional
cylinder poppet valves found commonly in 4 stroke engines to be used in 2 stroke mode
also by switching to a different valve opening frequency. Unique valve, fuel and air
handling control strategies ensure a smooth mode switch and good scavenging in 2 stroke
operation. A demonstration of mode switching can be seen in the video in Fig. 2.

Fig 1: Principle of operation in 2 strokes mode

Fig 2: 2/4 cycle engine switch demonstration

Department of Mechanical Engineering