Carburetor Efficiency
The Automotive eZine - Car Parts


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What is a Carburetor?

A carburetor is the part of an internal combustion engine that blends air and fuel in a tiny explosion. The kinetic energy from that explosion is used to push the pistons of the engine.

A basic understanding of how an internal combustion engine works is as follows:

  • The fuel injectors inject the gasoline.
  • The spark plugs ignite the gasoline.
  • The gasoline explosion moves the pistons. (Sort of like a potato cannon.)
  • The pistons turn the crankshaft.
  • The crankshaft turns the rest of the car.

    There is alternatives to an internal combustion engine.

  • External Combustion = Less efficient.
  • Gas Turbine = More Expensive, but very efficient.
  • Electrical = Currently difficult to refuel.
  • Hybrid Internal Combustion/Electrical = More efficient, slightly more expensive.
  • Hydrogen Fuel Cell = Very efficient, currently more expensive.

    Lack of Efficiency

    The primary problem with carburetors is the fact that most of the energy it makes is wasted as heat and isn't converted into kinetic energy.

    The standard Carburetor that we've been seeing for the last 70 years is only 9% efficient. It gets an average of 25 miles/gallon of gasoline, depending on the weight of the car. While this has gone up since then (usually by making more efficient use of the other parts of the car and by making cars out of lightweight materials), carburetors today are still only about 12% efficient.

    Which means the other 88% is basically wasted energy in the form of heat.

    However over the years there has been many people who invented more efficient carburetors.

    The most notable is Charles N. Pogue, a Canadian back in the 1930s who registered over 3 carburetor patents for carburetors which had about 78% efficiency (approximately 205 miles/gallon). Pogue never sold his patents however and operated a private company building and selling carburetors. His carburetors were later used in Canadian and American tanks during WWII. Pogue died a very rich man.

    And now we come to the point of this webpage: To challenge other people to build a more efficient carburetor than Pogue.

    If you are mechanically inclined and up to the challenge, go ahead, invent a more efficient carburetor. It could make you incredibly rich.

    The basic concept is not so different from a potato canon. All it takes is a drop of gasoline and kaboom, there goes the potato.

    A potato cannon can launch a potato about 500 feet through the air. There is a huge amount of energy in a tiny drop of gasoline.

    The problem within that is that there is still wasted heat energy that isn't being used. A lot of it.

    We need to somehow harness that heat energy more efficiently and use that to help drive the car.

    We all know engines get awfully hot when they are running. Certainly there is a way to capture that heat and use it instead of it going out through the exhaust.

    Ideas People Emailed Us

  • #1. Steam Power: One possible route would be to enclose the outer section of the carburetor with a layer of liquid (something which boils easily like alcohol or water) and have it run through a pressurized tube to a tiny steam generator which makes electricity. That energy could then be stored temporarily and used to run the car at low speeds (like a hybrid car does, except hybrids use waste energy from braking and other sources).

  • #2. Exhaust Generator: Attach a device to the exhaust which generates extra kinetic energy from the exhaust.

  • #3. Exhaust/Piston: Somehow combine the exhaust and the pistons so that wasted exhaust energy gets used more efficiently.

  • #4. Multiple Pistons: Use two small pistons which vent the exhaust simultaneously by an exhaust pinhole in the side of the piston casing. The two pistons would power the crankshaft in an alternating fashion. (Meaning when one piston goes up, the other goes down, thereby maintaining pressure within the combustion chamber.) The exhaust hole would have a pressure valve on it to prevent energy from being lost which would only be switched open temporarily when the piston hits the bottom.

  • #5. Atomize more Efficiently: By atomizing the gasoline entering the carburetor more efficiently it will cut down on wasted heat energy while still providing the same amount (or slightly less) of kinetic energy. Atomized fuel explodes more instantaneously and thus creates a faster reaction with less fuel.

  • #6. Smaller Combustion Chamber: Make the combustion chamber smaller so that when the fuel explodes it causes the piston to move farther down.

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