The 2018 edition of Engine Expo in Novi, MI, USA once again highlighted just how important the event is for everyone involved in powertrain design, development, procurement and production.
And this year the newly expanded Suburban Collection Showplace saw a combined 90+ powertrain-related exhibitors display cutting-edge concepts and state-of-the-art engineering innovations live on the show floor, as typified by LiquidPiston (Booth E300), which highlighted its small compression-ignited rotary engine.
Efficient, compact, lightweight and vibration-free, the X engine has been optimized to operate on a higher efficiency thermodynamic cycle, fundamentally improving efficiency and solving the sealing and operational limitations of the traditional Wankel rotary engine. According to Dr Alexander Shkolnik, co-founder and CEO of LiquidPiston, future applications of the X engine include being used as a range extender for hybrid-electric military ground vehicles.
“A future hybrid-electric military ground vehicle using a compact and efficientX engine as a range extender, along with a high-speed alternator and JP-8 or diesel fuel, would enable the military to take batter advantage of the efficiency, range and low noise benefits of electric propulsion, while eliminating electric-only disadvantages such as its high price tag and onboard battery weight.”
Elsewhere on the show floor, Kistler (Booth 9036) discussed its recent acquisition of Swiss high-performance measurement technology company SMETEC, which strengthens Kistler’s market position in engine development and research.
As attendees discovered, the acquisition will enable Kistler, via precise analyses of the combustion process, to better optimize engine designs and thus meet growing requirements regarding cost-effectiveness and zero-emission operation of combustion engines. Using SMTEC’s technology, processes in the combustion chamber can visualized and statements made on the quality of the combustion process.
“The new technology complements our classic measurement technology, especially in the area of pressure sensors, very well,” said Rolf Sonderegger, CEO, Kistler. “With the acquisition of SMTEC we expand our portfolio in an ideal manner and can offer additional options in combustion analysis.”
Visitors to Engine Expo were also given the opportunity to hear Enginuity Power Systems’ (Booth E412) chief technology officer James Warren speak at the Open Technology Forum about the development of a patented four-stroke, inwardly opposed-piston engine.
As attendees discovered, there are a myriad of application for what this engine design can deliver, most notably as a combined heat and power (CHP) unit. This in-home system runs quieter and without the intrusive vibration, which is common to home generators, making residential homes a key component in an increasingly decentralized power distribution grid.
“To have the opportunity to speak to such an informed, engine-educated group at Engine Expo was very exciting,” said Warren. “They were able to quickly move past the ‘how does it work?’ aspect and focused on the applications of the engine design, ‘why it works’, and how it represents a sea change from the current options.”
For Fallbrook Technologies (Booth E408), a privately held developer of the patented NuVinvi continuously planetary (CVP) transmission technology, the show provided an ideal platform to inform attendees that the company has emerged from restructuring under Chapter 11.
The filing for restructuring allows Fallbrook to create a Plan of Reorganization to drive growth through its two divisions, licensing and bike. “This simple structure allows each business to fully focus on their own core objectives,” said David Hancock, president and CEO of Enviolo, a division of Fallbrook.
Elsewhere on the show floor, A&D Technology (Booth 3024) discussed how its partnership with independent R&D organization Southwest Research Institute is leading to the development of next-generation client services for powertrain development.
The collaboration, which is being headed up at A&D’s headquarters in Ann Arbor, MI, combines A&D’s data acquisition and calibration tools with Southwest’s experience in powertrain controls and automotive product development. It will further A&D’s position in combustion analysis, engine calibration and emissions.
The lab space includes three test cells, one of which is equipped with a 275kW, low-inertia, permanent-magnet dynamometer with a maximum speed of 8,000rpm. The cell is outfitted with Southwest’s RPECS powertrain benchmarking and control system and a suite of A&D’s automation system software.
Attendees at Engine Expo 2018 in Novi, Michigan were united in their praise of the diversity of products on display, as well as the quality of those in attendance.
“This exhibition has surpassed all my expectations, it’s been very, very good,” said Kai-Peter Berndt, owner and president of Powersports Consulting, a Milwaukie-based representative of European high-performance engine driveline component manufacturers serving Formula 1, Motor GP, World Rally Championship, NASCAR and Indy Lights. We’ve had very focused, high-profile visitors, such as OEMs and contract engine builders in the motorsport sector, that know what they’re looking for, which is very valuable for us given we are active in that scene and want expand our presence in US race series.”
For Dale Luster, sales representative for Basso, an Argentinean manufacturer of valves that appear in Ferrari’s award-winning turbocharged V8 engine, this year’s show was all about quality over quantity. “The organization has been excellent and I’ll leave here with a several high-quality leads. We’ve already signed up for next year.”
Meanwhile, Annys Kirk, marketing manager at Cosworth, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary and the opening of its new North American headquarters in Detroit, said the company was delighted to return to Engine Expo in Novi, MI, USA. “The show has given us the opportunity to showcase what we can offer the North American market from niche-volume, high-spec and high-performance manufacturing, to full in-house capabilities, from concept through to design, test and manufacture.”
And Joe Boland, director of supply chain solutions at Industry Star, said, “The show provided an unmissable opportunity to exchange thought leadership ideas across the entire sector. I got to meet many new and existing contacts, which was good.”
Visitor Liam Lafferty, a product design engineer at Mayco International, came to expand his knowledge of powertrain innovations. “I’ve been to quite a few different expos and, given the quality and calibre of exhibitors in attendance, this is without doubt one of the best out there.”
Elsewhere, return visitor Sam Davis, lead technician within Robert Bosch’s engine calibration department in Farmington Hills, MI, attended the show to keep abreast of all the new technologies, equipment and standards that can help make his day-to-day duties easier. “I’ve been really impressed with the show as a whole, especially the new layout with the additional square footage, which has allowed so many more vendors to take part.”
Finally, David Carrow, an engineering technician at GM Powertrain for some 43 years, said: “When you’ve been doing my job for as long as I have it’s easy to become complacent. That’s why I make a point to come back to this show each and every year. It’s always highly beneficial to see all the new developments occurring within the powertrain sector, especially at a time when the future of the internal combustion engine is exciting, given its role within electrified and autonomous vehicles.”
Engine Expo will return to the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Michigan, USA on October 22-24, 2019. Book your exhibition space now at www.engine-expo.com/usa/en/book-booth.php