Mid-range car drivers sometimes fantasize about turbochargers. As it often stops at that, they might like the sound of a new high-tech gadget in the engine compartment: a small, electronically controlled air clock valve with some major benefi ts. It allows the car to deal with more adventurous city driving, cold motors spark up more quickly, and fuel consumption is lower.
Until now, throttle valves have been used to regulate engine air intake, soaking up unnecessary amounts of energy. Working together with MAHLE, a global automotive company, re sear chers at the Steinbeis Transfer Center Mechatronics in Ilmenau have developed a state-of-the-art, electronically-controlled air clock valve with built-in economy drive. The valve restricts the air supply under half load without having to close the throttle valve, thus reducing fuel consumption and easing the burden on the environment. The air clock valve is situated in the manifold injection nozzle between the plenum chamber and combustion chamber. It can open and close up to 200 times a second. The same valve can also be set to increase motor performance at lower RPMs (revolutions per minute). Opening and closing speeds are then adjusted to create a pressure wave within the intake system, forcing additional air into the cylinder and increasing engine output. However, the most distinctive feature of the Steinbeis air clock valve is the drive. On the fi rst stroke, a featherweight oscillator stores energy, only to release on the next. Two small magnets and an ’intelligent‘ electronic system dictate the stroke rate. As a result of the joint project, MAHLE and the Steinbeis Transfer Center Mechatronics have achieved a distinct competitive advantage in know-how. This particular project also resulted in three joint electronic patents and two joint patents in mag netic actuation. Further cooperation is planned for the produc tion of solenoidactuated air clock valves. Within years, MAHLE expects to go into mass production and start supplying customers with complete systems with intake modules.