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R. H. Thring

Southwest Research Institute

San Antonio, Texas


When compared with conventional diesel engines, Low

Heat Rejection (LHR) engines have the following features.
Fuel economy is improved by 5 to 10 percent in turbocharged
engines, or 9 to 15 percent with turbocompounding. Power is
reduced by up to 25 percent in naturally-aspirated engines,
but this loss can be recovered by pressure boosting. NOx
emissions data vary widely, but it is concluded that they
will be increased by an average value of 15 percent. How-
ever, HC and CO emissions will be reduced by up to 50 per-
cent. Smoke levels should be reduced and particulates will
be reduced by up to 80 percent. Noise levels should be re-
duced and there should be improved capability for operation
with low cetane fuels.

Problems to be solved include high temperature lubrica-

tion and high temperature materials.


There has been much work done and many papers published over the
past ten years on the subject of "Low Heat Rejection" or "Adiabatic"
engines. These terms tend to be used to describe the same thing,
though they imply differences. The former term is preferred by the
author, since it more accurately describes what can be achieved in
practice as opposed to a theoretical curiosity. Indeed, the term "low
heat rejection" or LHR, engines seems to be supplanting the term adia-
batic engine in much of the more recent literature.

A true adiabatic engine would be one where there was zero heat
transfer between the walls of the combustion chamber and the contained
gases at all times during the cycle. This would require the walls to
be made of a material having either zero thermal capacity or zero
thermal conductivity or both--an impossible requirement. It has been
calculated that even if the combustion chamber walls could be con-
structed from metal only 0.006 inch thick, backed by perfect insula-
tion, there would still be a temperature excursion during the cycle of
6QOC (14QOF).

R. L. Evans (ed.), Automotive Engine Alternatives 167

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1987
The work that has been done on LHR engines has not been intended
to lead to a true adiabatic engine. Rather, the objective has been to
reduce the heat rejection below the levels that apply to existing en-
gines. A substantial amount of heat is still rejected, either to the
coolant or the lubricating oil, and in many cases, an oil cooler must
be provided to reject this heat.

LHR engines are generally either diesel or late injection strati-

fied charge engines. It would be undesirable to insulate the combus-
tion in homogeneous charge engines, since the resulting high wall tem-
peratures would cause either preignition or knock or both.

Development work on LHR diesel engines was initiated by the U.S.

Army Tank-Automotive Command. The Army's goal was to eliminate the
conventional engine cooling system: radiator, radiator fan, hoses,
water pump. This objective is a high priority for the Army, because
cooling system components are a major source of maintenance problems
and are vulnerable to combat damage.

To the commercial diesel engine user, the objectives are somewhat

different. While reduced maintenance is desirable, the commercial
user would probably not accept reduced engine life in return for re-
duced maintenance. The commercial user is also deeply concerned with
such aspects as fuel economy, power, smoke, noise, and exhaust emis-
sions. How these aspects are affected by LHR operation is discussed
in this paper.

Cummins Engine Company was chosen by the U.S. Army to design and
demonstrate an "adiabatic" (LHR) engine. Cummins emphasized the use
of ceramic materials as a key element in the successful development of
the LHR engine. Many ceramics have good strength at high tempera-
tures, many have low thermal conductivity, and the extreme hardness of
many ceramic materials should be useful in reducing engine wear. As a
result of this emphasis many people came to believe that LHR engines
required the extensive use of ceramics. However, in the author's
opinion this does not necessarily follow, since in many cases the cer-
amics with good mechanical properties have poor insulating properties
and vice versa. The most serious problem with the use of ceramics in
engines is their unreliability. Because their ductility is low, the
smallest flaw causes large stresses to build up easily when the compo-
nent is loaded, and when failure occurs, it is usually catastrophic,
causing disintegration of the component and destruction of the entire

There are many good high temperature metal alloys that have been
developed, mainly for gas turbine use, that offer excellent high tem-
perature strength and creep resistance, and do not shatter on failure
like ceramics. They can be used to form the combustion chamber wall,
and insulated from the surrounding metal by the use of air gaps.

However, even the avoidance of the use of ceramics does not eli-
minate what is, in the author's opinion, the most difficult problem to
overcome in the LHR engine, namely lubrication. In an LHR engine,
combustion chamber surface temperatures are very high, and the temper-
atures at the upper end of the liner and· piston crown are also much
higher than in conventional engines. For example, it is generally
accepted that in an uncooled engine the liner temperature at the top
ring reversal point will be in the region of 1200°F. This region is
the hottest lubricated part of an engine. Research work with high
temperature lubricants has so far only succeeded in extending the max-