National Conference on Advances in Engineering Design, 29-30 April 2005, Tamil Nadu, India

Advances in Pneumatic Engine Design
S. Jayavel1, Surendar Narasimhan2, Uppiliappan.S2, R.Thahir Naqqash2 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Bharath Institute of Science and Technology 1 Lecturer,, 2Student Abstract: Pneumatic has a special advantage of exhausting cold clean air thus enriching
and air conditioning the local environment. In this paper a comprehensive review of literature on alternative concepts of pneumatic primemovers and zero emission vehicles has been carried out. Based on this study, suitable mode of operation for a pneumatic primemover for roadworthy vehicle prototype application is selected. A 2-stroke piston type pneumatic primemover (TVS Suzuki engine) is proposed to be suitable for driving a vehicle. The primemover is to work on a two-stroke cycle with suitable modifications on the engine. For the initial phase of development of a pneumatic primemover, it is thought appropriate to convert existing engines into a pneumatic primemover rather than altogether designing and developing the pneumatic engine. An outlined conversion methodology is then framed to convert the existing engine to a pneumatic engine. The initial feasibility analysis is based on calculations and predictions. Further, quantitative evaluation on performance characteristics are required to be measured. A feasibility assessment would be projected using results obtained from experimental trial using test rigs. It is also proposed to simulate the model to check its performance.

KEYWORDS: Pneumatic engines, TVS Suzuki engine, Two stroke cycle, Prototype 1. INTRODUCTION
The quality of air in urban areas is getting degraded due to presence of pollutants from continuously increasing vehicular density. It is very important to think of an action plan to control this problem. The stringent exhaust pollution norms are being made to control this problem. Simultaneously there are many alternatives being thought of, to curb pollution from vehicles. Ideas range from modifying the engine combustion chamber, re-formulating fuels, improving on the air-fuel ratio, using sophisticated control devices, on board diagnostic systems, electronic fuel management, and use of alternative fuels and so on for the future automotive IC engines. However, there is a limit to which the I.C. engines can be improved. The other approach is to use alternative primemover, which are inherently pollution free. In this category, we have hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles and vehicles using pneumatic primemover. These may be termed as “Zero Emission Vehicle” (ZEV) in the context of present automotive I.C. engines. In addition, there is an added advantage of the availability of clean, cold air, which may be gainfully employed for cabin air conditioning.

The only competitors for pneumatic vehicle technology are electrically-operated vehicles. Percentage of energy delivered for pneumatic vehicles is 20 percent, while it is only 13.2 % in case of electric vehicles. The number of miles that can be travelled using an amount of electricity equivalent to energy in a gallon of gasoline is 198 in case of pneumatic


They start immediately with maximum torque and can be designed to produce equal power in either direction of rotation but maximum efficiency can be obtained only when rotation is unidirectional. • Short recharge time: A compressor driven by an electric motor can recharge the compressed air tanks. The recharge time is only few minutes in case of pneumatic primemover driven vehicles while it is more than six hours for electric vehicles. Stall torque. 2. but the level of response depends upon the inlet pressure and size of cylinder. The output of pneumatic primemovers responds to flow rate. hence is durable. Running torque. 1. there is no combustion inside the cylinder. the problems associated with thermal corrosion are done away with. The out put of an air motor responds to flow rate but the response depends upon the pressure level and size of expander as well as other factors. 29-30 April 2005. It requires less maintenance. reversible and easily adjustable in speed and torque. the torque available to move from rest. Tamil Nadu. It takes few minutes to recharge the air tank as compared to few hours for recharging the batteries for electric vehicles. The torque of pneumatic primemovers can be specified in three ways. They can be specified in terms of torque and running speed. • Long life: Since. the electric vehicles need battery replacement at regular intervals. GENERAL PERFORMANCE CHARACTERISTICS OF PNEUMATIC PRIMEMOVERS Pneumatic primemovers are compact and lightweight sources of rotary power. India primemovers while it is only 104 for electrical vehicles (2001 Toyota Rav4 EV electric vehicle is considered for comparison). which are shown below in Figure 3.1 Advantages of Pneumatic Primemovers Pneumatic primemovers are better than electric vehicles due to following reasons. applied by the load to bring a running actuator to rest 3. Starting torque. They can operate at any speed within their design range and are easily geared to produce maximum power at any required shaft speed. the torque available at any given speed. the torque. 3. A change in valve position causes a change in flow and a consequent change in pressure. 2. Tstall Tstart Torque Power Speed Figure 3 Performance characteristics of pneumatic primemover 875 . whereas. All pneumatic primemovers will have similar theoretical performance characteristics.National Conference on Advances in Engineering Design.

National Conference on Advances in Engineering Design. the user can control maximum available torque and speed by adjusting respectively setting and flow rate of air. the vanes tend to hammer the stator and suffer impact failure. drive motors on pneumatic drill rigs and for general industrial applications. 4. Different curves can be obtained for different inlet pressures. For winches and hoists which may have to start under load. Starting torque (the torque produced by a stationary motor) is about 75% of the stall torque (the maximum torque which will stall the motor). the speed at which torque becomes zero). They characteristically develop high starting and initial 876 . Tamil Nadu.000 rpm. The vanes are vulnerable components of a motor. the minimum starting torque is the design criterion. They are used in drills. Free running speed is usually 3000 rpm or less. as drill grinders. in mining works etc. the power is zero.e. 4. Rotational speed = air flow rate/ displacement With the torque rate and displacement fixed for a chosen motor. Vane motors These motors are similar in concept to vane compressors. It is a very high-speed motor. speed reduction by gearing is not possible because of much loss of power hence. grinders. screwdrivers.2.1. Turbine motors Turbine motors work on the same principle as the conventional turbine. Maximum speed of the turbine ranges from 50000 to 80000 rpm. If a motor is continuously operated at low speed or under conditions of frequent reversals of direction. The maximum inlet air pressure is limited to 6 bar. DIFFERENT PNEUMATIC PRIMEMOVERS 4. Torque multiplication by reduction gearing is not viable proposition. Air usage per revolution at a specified pressure is generally given in terms of STP. Piston motors Piston motors operate at much lower speeds than vane motors due to the greater inertia of the reciprocating parts. So. They are not effective at lower speeds because they rely on a high centrifugal force to seal the periphery of the vanes.3. There are normally 4 to 6 radial vanes per motor. 29-30 April 2005. caused by friction and by variable starting position of the vanes or the pistons. but are smaller in size. Maximum horsepower is developed at 1000 to 2000 rpm. the maximum running torque will dominate the choice. for motors which start off-load. and at low speed the centrifugal force is too low to ensure sealing contact at all times. capable of generating only minimal torque. Air passes through air motor as it rotates. such as fan drives. Torque is developed by pressure differences on the vanes. This linear torque/speed relationship results in the power being maximum at a speed equal to one half the free speed. 4. They are used for hand tools such as screwdrivers. When the primemover is stalled. The allowable pressure for an actuator (air motor) is defined in terms of pressure rating (maximum applicable pressure without risk of permanent damage) and pressure range (the maximum and minimum pressure between which air motor performances are defined). but just opposite in operation. the main application of small turbine motors is for very high speed and can be used with direct drive against comparatively light loads. the torque falls linearly until it reaches zero at its free speed (runaway speed i. because the load involved would be of the same order as the torque available. Vane motors are recommended for high-speed operation up to 30. As the speed increases. India The torque is maximum at zero speed but there tends to be a fall off at stall condition. At very high speed the centrifugal force is so high that frictional force can cause rapid wear.

Valves having controllable opening times are used to provide variable cut-off for optimal LN2 consumption in a piston expander. Tamil Nadu. This heat exchanger is like the radiator of a car but instead of using air to cool water. which makes up 78% of our atmosphere. Different types of air motors have been used. India torque. or dewar. Radial configuration offers some possibility of weight reduction and is frequently adopted for large motors. uses leftover heat in the engine's exhaust to preheat the liquid nitrogen before it enters the heat exchanger. or may be biased to provide asymmetrical timing and increased speed and power in one direction of rotation.National Conference on Advances in Engineering Design.C. there being little to chose between them. whereas adjustment in the LN2 flow rate regulate power output from the turbine. The principle of operation is like that of a steam engine. Rotary and piston motors are mainly used for investigations. that holds 24 gallons and is so well insulated that the nitrogen will stay liquid for weeksA preheater. The Vee-4 motor normally has two cylinder banks at 90 degrees to each other. called an economizer. a radial five-cylinder 15-hp air motor. liquid nitrogen at –196° C is pressurized and then vaporized in a heat exchanger by the ambient temperature of the surrounding air. Instead. ALTERNATIVE VEHICLES PNEUMATIC PRIMEMOVER CONCEPTS FOR Research efforts have been made for the development of pneumatic vehicles. Hertzberg. Piston motors are used in riveting hammer. Both bhp and torque are directly dependent on supply pressure. 5. drives the front wheels through a five-speed manual Volkswagen transmission. The resulting high-pressure nitrogen gas is fed to an engine that operates like a reciprocating steam engine. engines. 29-30 April 2005. Details of various pneumatic vehicles are discussed below. under Aerospace and Energetic Research Program at the University of Washington. Torque characteristics can be modified to some extent by valve timing and valve size design. The liquid nitrogen is stored in a thermos-like stainless steel tank. Bruckner. 5. it uses air to heat and boil liquid nitrogen. There are also further variations in conventional reciprocating engine designs. Vehicles run on Nitrogen. The existing IC Engines can also be converted into pneumatic primemovers. such as crank less motor employing a rotating piston-cylinder assembly with slotted piston ends traversing an elliptic cam ring. which is the major constituent of our atmosphere.1 Liquid Nitrogen Driven Vehicle The study of a vehicle that can run on air or zero emission vehicles began with the work of Knowlen. Distribution valves may be oscillatory or rotary. In the main. Valve timing can be arranged to provide equal power in each direction of rotation. however. and other researchers [3]. which decreases with increasing speed. Mattick. The objective was to clean-up air pollution. The engine. with the radial configuration equally popular for 3 or more cylinders. The only exhaust is nitrogen. Compressed air is fed to these air motors with different arrangements of piston motors and rotary motors. the Vee type is most popular configuration for four-cylinder motors. With 877 . The majority of piston air motors are multi cylinder units with different arrangements as in I. converting pressure to mechanical power. Two fans at the rear of the van draw air through the heat exchanger to enhance the transfer of ambient heat to the liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen can also be fed to these air motors. Turbine and either rotary or reciprocating fixeddisplacement engines are appropriate expanders. brakes on trains' etc.

3 MPa. A two-stage eccentric vane motor has been designed to cope with the volume flow of air at an air pressure of 45 bar. 5. very similar to today's gasoline stations. the energy density (110 W-hr/kg or 400 kJ/kg-LN2) of liquid nitrogen is relatively low when compared to gasoline (one third of 9600 W-hr/liter-gasoline which is mechanical energy) but better than that of readily available battery systems. India increasing injection pressure. (liquid nitrogen is pure mechanical energy. Tamil Nadu. the liquid nitrogen has more than twice the stored energy of compressed air because it can be used in heat exchanger to maintain the required temperature of the fuel tank. Gasoline mechanical energy is around 1/3rd of 9600 W-hr/liter-gasoline. This high performance cycle is especially simple to build. 2/3 thermal). Fig. or more than twice that of a typical electric car. the operating cost per mile of a liquid nitrogen car will not only be less than that of an electric car but will actually be competitive with that of a gasoline car [4]. Schematic of liquid nitrogen propulsion system [5] 5. was developed by. 29-30 April 2005. Marquand and Ditmore [6]. the specific work output increases. Best lead batteries have ~30 W-hr/liter-lead. Furthermore. For a power output of 25 kW at 1000 rpm. Moreover. a liquid nitrogen car will be much lighter and refilling its tank will take only 10-15 minutes. The system consists of a rotary pneumatic motor & a power pack that consists of pressure receiver and heat pipe heat exchanger system. which runs on compressed air.National Conference on Advances in Engineering Design. Two 12-litre compressed air cylinders pressurized to 300 bar are used which allow 20 minutes of continuous testing. Prospect of this system 878 . non-pollutant. As with all alternative energy storage media. Two heat exchangers are connected in series. Rotary pneumatic motor accommodates a variable expansion ratio according to the inlet/outlet pressure and heat pipe heat exchanger system recovers some of energy lost in expansion. its volume becomes 700 times when liquid nitrogen is converted into gaseous state. two vane motors having 12 vanes are needed. At –196° C. The maximal in the adiabatic work for nitrogen are observed to be 9.2 Vehicle Driven by Rotary Pneumatic Motor Another system. When liquid nitrogen is manufactured in large quantities. Its specific energy is greater than 110 W-hr/kg-LN2 (90 W-hr/l-LN2 or 400 kJ/kgLN2) without relying on isothermal expanders. Motorists will fuel up at filling stations.1. while gasoline is 1/3 mechanical. and appears highly suitable for mobile units. Liquid nitrogen car with a 270-litre tank will have a potential range of up to 320 km. rather than the several hours required by most electric car concepts.

5 MPa. Tamil Nadu. each driving one of the front wheels. Air leaves this cylinder at only 25% above atmospheric. The left engine has two double acting cylinders.4 MDI Vehicles Another system is developed and tested by a French engineer.National Conference on Advances in Engineering Design. the next stage in the evolution was separation of the normal functions of an internal combustion engines into three distinct areas. The engine was composed of 2 halves.3 Vehicles Driven by Piston Motor In August 1994. The storage tank was a lightweight fibreglass pressurized to 241 bar. and is then exhausted into holding chamber to be fed into the second larger cylinder. ‘New Scientist’ described a car being developed by the Pneumacom Company and designed by Terry Miller in Missouri using a specialized engine running on compressed air. The high pressure was reduced through an expansion pressure regulator to 35 bar. and is vented which is now cool air. 879 . In this prototype. 29-30 April 2005. India depends on the efficiency of pneumatic motor and effectiveness of heat pipe heat exchanger system. 5. The compressed air is fed to two engines. The piston rods on each engine turn a 140 tooth gear wheel. which in turn drives 20-tooth gear on each front wheel. France [8]. Fig. The exhaust of the second cylinder of the right engine has bore of 105 mm. expands to drive the piston. The car was testdriven for 12 hours through traffic and time of recharge was 2.4 Schematic of MDI Engine [9] Working on the principle of more efficient combustion. 5. the fixed 7:1 ratio allows the engine to drive the car at top speed of 60 km/h. The air enters the first cylinder at 3. The engine power was controlled by a throttling valve for varying inlet pressures from 0 to 35 bar. The same engine can be easily changed into pure pneumatic mode. The engine vehicle is based on a Ford Escorts chassis. A second hose takes the exhaust from the left engine to the first cylinder of the right engine. Each half has two double acting cylinders in series for a total of 4 expansions. in Brignoles.5 hrs. 5. The basic motivation behind the development of this engine was to reduce fuel consumption and minimize emissions by a more efficient combustion while the engine is working in the internal combustion mode. one 50 mm in diameter/254 stroke length and other with a 63 mm bore. Guy Negre of MDI. which has 76 mm bore. Each half was geared up directly to each front wheel.

The different concepts used are • Dual energy engine using compressed air. In addition. the additional air is passed through heating chamber which works by continuous clean catalyzed combustion of fuels such as 880 . An air injector then supplies additional air from a high-pressure air tank. then the mixture is compressed in separate combustion chamber whilst the piston is going up. India Aspiration and compression cylinder Separate combustion chamber Expansion and exhaust cylinder The low consumption works by drawing the air and fuel mixture into first cylinder whilst the piston is going down. 29-30 April 2005.National Conference on Advances in Engineering Design. When piston of first cylinder is going up for compression. which increases the available energy and provides free air conditioning. and could run solely with compressed air. The combusted mixture then expands in the expansion chamber while the piston of second cylinder is going down. The compressed air can then be reinjected in to the expansion chamber in the engine when the vehicle accelerates again. additional air and external heating of inlet air • • • 6. the piston of second cylinder is moving up for exhaust. The chamber is now having homogenous air-fuel mixture ready for combustion. As the piston rises the air is compressed within the external chamber until it reaches a pressure of 20 bar and a temperature of 400 degree centigrade. BASIC FUNCTIONING AND APPLICATION OF EACH ENGINE TYPE IS DESCRIBED BELOW In the urban areas the dual energy engine works by replacing the combustion of air and fuel within the combustion chamber with an intake additional air. • Dual energy engine using compressed air. So there is one power stroke in each revolution. pollutant-free air is exhausted while the piston is going up. There is an intake of air from outside into the small cylinder when the piston is going down. Similarly. the vehicle can be equipped with an energy retrieval system. Finally. The mixture of clean air then expands within the bigger cylinder while the piston going down. which operates during the deceleration and braking. In the dual energy system with external heating. when piston of first cylinder is moving down for intake. The energy recouped in these phases is stored as compressed air at constant pressure. Finally. The influx of this additional air increases the pressure within the chamber without the need for combustion. as the piston of second cylinder goes up and the burnt gases are released via exhaust. the injection of fuel is automatically stopped. Mono energy engine works on the same principles with the different cycle occurring in three separate chambers. Now. the vehicle can have a system for gathering ambient heat energy. To increase the time between charges of compressed air. Tamil Nadu. The second piston reaches the BDC during expansion before piston of first cylinder reaches the TDC. The engine's thermodynamic cycle differs from existing two stroke and four stroke engines. The chamber is completely closed after the compression is over. phase of 180-degree crank angle is available for complete combustion of this mixture in side the combustion chamber. producing a much more complete combustion and hence reduced emissions. The piston of second cylinder will reach TDC during exhaust before the piston of first cylinder reaches BDC. At speeds below 60km/h. there is expansion in the second cylinder. Combustion lasts three or four times longer than in conventional engines. additional air and internal combustion • Mono energy engine using compressed air expansion only.

72m x 1. a FIAT. Tamil Nadu. The MDI vehicle shows great potential for zero emission vehicles. 7.National Conference on Advances in Engineering Design. Study of various plausible pneumatic primemovers and their performance characteristics was done along with the ideal cycle analysis of pneumatic engine.75m) at the pressure of 300 bars. the vehicle could be run only for short distance movements near the laboratory. Polytropic expansion of air takes place from state 1 to state 2. By such an arrangement. A single filling of the compressed air tank gives a range of 200 kms or ten hours with maximum speed of 100 km/h. Pressure 3 881 . A number of single cylinder and multi-cylinder diesel engines were converted into pneumatic primemovers. The compressed air is expanded completely in separate larger expansion chambers. 6 1 P 2 5 4 V Figure 7. 29-30 April 2005. which is 3. This concept is very efficient in terms of longer running distances and the power produced. Thereafter. weights 700kg and is designed to take four passengers and a driver. Volume of one air tank is 330 litres. 4-cylinder gasoline engine (FIAT car) was converted into a pneumatic engine prototype and fitted to the vehicle which was tested by supplying compressed air from a laboratory compressor.84m x 1. The carbon fibre air storage system and chassis ensure lightweight and longer running times. The concept of dual energy is very useful as a zero pollution vehicle in suburbs as well as low pollution in case of long highway drives. Pneumatic primemover cycle Inlet valve opens at state 5 and closes at state 1. The cycle is shown in the Figure 7. The existing diesel and petrol engines were converted into pneumatic mode to carry out initial feasibility trials. The steering system is rack and pinion.84 m long. Inlet cylinder has the capacity of 230 cubic cm and expansion and exhaust cylinder has the capacity of 500 cubic cm. These tanks are formed from thermoplastic liners and carbon fibres (3. WORK ON PNEUMATIC VEHICLES INITIATED AT IIT DELHI A prototype of pneumatic primemover driven vehicle has been developed at IIT Delhi by Sahu [10]. The prototype running on compressed air has been developed in the form of taxi. The working cycle is similar to that of a reciprocating steam engine type expander. India those used in electric car heating. before it is injected in to the expansion chamber to avoid the icing. At state 2-exhaust valve opens and blowdown occurs.

it was not possible to make an accurate assessment of the performance of the pneumatic prime mover because of unavailability of an adequate compressed air facility and proper test rig for the pneumatic primemover. Experimental trials were needed for quantitative evaluation of pneumatic primemovers. Improvement in the efficiency of the pneumatic primemover developed by Sahu at IIT Delhi is needed. Exhaust stroke takes place from state 3 to state 4. The most feasible choice for the automobile is piston motor due to its conducive speed. SCOPE OF PRESENT WORK • • • • Real cycle Simulation of Pneumatic Primemover. Tamil Nadu. It was concluded that with improvement in engine design. It has also been observed that existing engine can be easily converted into pneumatic primemover. however. CONCLUSIONS OF LITERATURE REVIEW There have not been many research attempts made to evolve the pneumatic vehicles. Based on real cycle analysis. 882 .National Conference on Advances in Engineering Design. It also develops a high torque throughout and especially in the starting. The piston engine to run on compressed air will essentially operate on two-stroke cycle. India reduces to atmospheric pressure. Development of experimental test rig including adequate compressed air facility and testing the performance characteristics of a pneumatic primemover. 29-30 April 2005. The vehicle prototype ran only for very short distance because of very less air storage facilities with heavy weight. Based on the above conclusions. a given I. adequate air storage facilities are needed to be developed.C. it is important to develop not only an efficient primemover but also an adequate light weight air storage system. speed and power characteristics are the deciding factors in selection of a pneumatic primemover to power a vehicle. The simulation model developed was based on ideal cycle analysis.C. based on literature available following can be concluded: Torque. The throttling control and air storage facility was to be designed and fabricated. The concept of piston motors shows good potential. Exhaust valve closes at state 4 and from state 4 to state 5 compression of residual air takes place. So far. Design and development of air flow control system and air storage facilities for a Pneumatic Engine. 8. mechanism for recharging of compressed air and suitable method for controlling the air flow. and other performance characteristics. Optimization of engine performance had to be done along with development of suitable control mechanism. For longer running distances. The existing old I. the scope of present work can be summarized in the following way. the efficiency and running distance can be increased. 9. Engine will be converted into a pneumatic primemover with optimum performance. No quantitative test could be made to predict the efficiency and running distance of this primemover. development of lightweight chassis and air storage facility. The ideal cycle simulation was done to predict the approximate torque characteristics of pneumatic primemover with varying supply pressure and intake valve opening timing. In order to evolve successful pneumatic vehicle. engines can be easily converted into pneumatic primemovers.

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