A University of Cape Town doctoral mechanical engineering graduate has built a rapid-compression machine that could improve fuel combustion in vehicle engines.
Dr Gavin Evezard, of the university’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, built the machine to investigate what happens when an air-fuel mixture is squeezed suddenly.
“A rapid-compression machine is typically used in research facilities for fuel characterisation. Once fuel characteristics have been established and published, the data can be used for various new and existing combustion devices.”
The automated machine stops a piston that is moving at up to 40 km/h in less than one half of a millisecond, which is 20 times faster than the blink of an eye. The best rapid-compression machines elsewhere in the world are slow by comparison, needing at best two milliseconds to stop a piston.