As long as combustion engines are available, it makes sense to optimize them as far as pollutant emissions and renewable fuels are concerned. One starting point involves using valves to supply and discharge these gases. Engine designers are specifically looking for a high degree of flexibility here in order to be able to improve efficiency, reduce pollutant emissions and make optimum use of renewable fuels. Up until now, the gas changeover valves of four-stroke engines have been controlled via camshaft drives. Despite sometimes complex additional mechanics, the versatility of such engines has remained limited. An electrohydraulically-operated valve train has now been developed at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (Empa). Its advantage: It enables full-on flexible adjustment of valve motion and timing. At the same time, it is robust and inexpensive to install. The Empa valve drive is based on a series engine. It has now been running successfully in an engine test stand for several months. So far results have shown that the new technology saves up to 20 percent more in fuel consumption in typical passenger car operating areas.
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