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Evolutions in Mechanical Engineering

Free-Piston Engine (FPE) Technology with Different Applications

Boru Jia1,2*

1 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Beijing Institute of Technology, China

2 Newcastle University,UK

*Corresponding author:Boru Jia,Department of Mechanical Engineering, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing 100081, China,Sir Joseph Swan Centre for Energy Research, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK

Submission: June 12, 2018;Published: June 27, 2018

DOI: 10.31031/EME.2018.01.000503

ISSN: 2640-9690
Volume1 Issue1

Introduction

The free-piston engine (FPE) is a linear engine in which the requirement for a crankshaft system is eliminated and the piston assembly has a free and linear motion[1]. First proposed around 1930, FPEs were in use in the period 1930-1960 as air compressors and gas generators and provided some advantages over presenttime conventional combustion engines and gas turbine systems[2]. They are known to have a greater thermal efficiency (40-50%) than an equivalent and more conventional reciprocating engine (30-40%)[3]. A driving force behind the interest in free-piston engine generators is the automotive industry’s increasing interest in hybrid-electric vehicle technology. Much work has been undertaken by number of research groups worldwide, including the authors’ group, to explore the operation characteristics of FPEs[4,5].After initial investigations and development of freepiston related products during the early to mid-20th century, recent advances in control and real time actuation systems have enabled the technology to become a viable alternative to reciprocating technologies, and as such, research is now being carried out by number of groups worldwide [3,6-9]. Modern applications of the FPE concept have been proposed for the generation of electric and hydraulic power, typically in hybrid electric vehicles[10-15]. Known FPE applications include electric generators, hydraulic pumps and air compressors[2], which are summarised in the Table 1 below.

Table 1: FPE applications.


For FPEs, the elimination of the crank mechanism significantly reduces the number of moving parts and therefore the complexity of the engine[16]. This gives a number of advantages: reduced frictional losses due to the mechanical simplicity and the elimination of the piston side force in crankshaft engines; reduced heat transfer losses and NOx generation due to faster power stroke expansion; potentially lower maintenance cost and higher reliability due to a compact and simple design; and multi-fuel/combustion mode possibility due to combustion optimization flexibility that resulted from the variable compression ratio [17].

References

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  2. Mikalsen R, Roskilly AP (2007) A review of free-piston engine history and applications. Applied Thermal Engineering 27(14): 2339-2352.
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  5. Boru J, Zhengxing Z, Huihua F, Guohong T, Roskilly AP (2014) Investigation of the starting process of free-piston engine generator by mechanical resonance. Energy Procedia 61: 572-577.
  6. Peter AJA, Johan PJ Van DO, Jeroen P, Georges EMV (2000) Horsepower with brains: The design of the Chiron free piston engine. SAE Technical Paper, Canada, p. 19.
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  8. Jeffrey GS, Steven MG, Gary VL (1986) RE-1000 free-piston Stirling engine sensitivity test results. National Aeronautics and Space Administration Report, USA.
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  10. Christopher MA, Sorin P, Nigel C, Richard JA, Thomas IM, et al. (1999) Numerical simulation of a two-stroke linear engine-alternator combination. SAE Technical Paper, Canada, p. 17.
  11. Goldsborough SS, Peter VB (2003) Optimizing the scavenging system for a two-stroke cycle, free piston engine for high efficiency and low emissions: a computational approach. SAE Technical Paper, Canada, p. 22.
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  13. Seppo T, Matti V (1999) Hydraulic free piston engine-the power unit of the future? In Proceedings of the JFPS International Symposium on Fluid Power. Japan Fluid Power System Society 1999(4): 297-302.
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  15. Shuaiqing X, Yang W, Tao Z, Tao X, Chengjun T (2011) Numerical analysis of two-stroke free piston engine operating on HCCI combustion. Applied Energy 88(11): 3712-3725.
  16. Boru J, Andrew S, Zhengxing Z, Huihua F, Anthony PR (2016) Design and simulation of a two-or four-stroke free-piston engine generator for range extender applications. Energy Conversion and Management 111: 289-298.
  17. Boru J, Zhengxing Z, Huihua F, Guohong T, Andrew S, et al. (2016) Effect of closed-loop controlled resonance based mechanism to start free piston engine generator: Simulation and test results. Applied Energy 164: 532-539.

© 2018 Boru Jia. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and build upon your work non-commercially.



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