Vapor Fuels Technologies LLC
1-503-632-1570 ( Hours: 8AM - 5PM Pacific Time )
Beavercreek, OR 97004 USA
A patented, demonstrated system that utilizes the benefits of HCCI without creating NOx or losing power. Vaporizes fuel and heats the inlet air prior to entering the engine.
The Oregonian (June 13, 2008)
Clackamas Engineers' Invention Improves Fuel Economy
Scott Learn, The Oregonian
Five years ago, Ray Bushnell shut down his engineering office in Oregon City and left the hardwood floors, 12-foot ceilings and high-tech clients behind for a pole barn in his back yard in rural Clackamas County.
With money from investors, he installed a $50,000 dynamometer in the concrete floor and bought a raft of electronic equipment that rivals a DEQ emissions station.
He then set out on a single-minded pursuit of what is becoming the auto industry's holy grail: high mileage.
Now, Bushnell and company co-founder Bob Reid, a retired venture capitalist, say they're close to perfecting Vapor Fuel Technologies' fuel delivery system, a new twist on the old challenge of optimally mixing fuel and air before it explodes in a combustion chamber.
Brent Wojahn / The OregonianOregon engineer Ray Bushnell is working on a fuel delivery device that could cut gasoline use by nearly a third.
The race for high-mileage gold is crowded with auto manufacturers, international upstarts and countless garage tinkerers, all spurred of late by $4-a-gallon gas and the talk of tougher mileage requirements.
Vapor Fuel's product faces daunting hurdles, not least the difficulty of adding devices to today's computer-controlled gas engines, an ambitious 2009 production schedule and the potential for demand to plummet if gas prices return to earth.
But the company has five patents in hand and four pending. And a certified testing lab last year in Southern California documented a 30 percent mileage increase in a Ford F-150 with the Vapor Fuel system. "Timing is everything," said Joe Jones, the California lab's research director. "And certainly their timing is right."
When it comes to improving mileage, electric cars and fuel cells get a lot of ink. But all the major automakers are retooling gas engines for better mileage, too.
Today's engines are far more complex, notes Jack Friedman, general manager of Unichip of North America in Hillsboro, which is developing an add-on to sync Vapor Fuel's device with manufacturers' on-board engine computers.
Computers monitor everything from air temperatures to throttle position to atmospheric pressure fast enough to regulate an engine turning up to 100 times a second. Unichip's software includes 94,000 data points for engine timing alone.
The engine in a typical muscle car of the 1960s measured about 7 liters (more than 400 cubic inches) and generated roughly 400 horsepower. Friedman, a former Air Force fighter pilot, drives a BMW M3 coupe. Its computer-managed engine generates 420 horsepower -- from just 4 liters.
"Everybody pooh-poohs the gasoline engine," Friedman says. "But it's very powerful. It's relatively inexpensive. It's relatively available. And engines run well on it."
Vapor Fuel started out far away from Detroit, moving to Bushnell's spread in part to save money, in part to keep the work under wraps. "This is such a competitive field," said Reid, 75.
The company started out by heating gasoline enough to vaporize it before it entered the piston chamber -- an idea inspired by one of Reid's acquaintances, who ran a car off a 6-foot-long tank of vaporized fuel.
The idea isn't new: In patent searches, the company found a 1940s picture of a guy with a similar tank. But the vaporized and expanded gasoline burned far more efficiently than the fuel injection systems that Bushnell bypassed. Driving up Interstate 5, Reid's acquaintance got up to 90 percent increases in gas mileage. He could get 50 percent increases without noticeable performance drops.
But the idea had a fatal flaw, pointed out in 2005 by Tony Dean, a Colorado School of Mines chemical engineering professor who partnered with Toyota on fuel technology when he worked at Exxon.
The problem, Dean told the company, was one the auto industry had long faced in trying to increase mileage. Putting less gas in the mix increased the ratio of oxygen-to-fuel and caused a condition known as "lean burn." And the higher oxygen content baffled the pollution control system's catalytic converter, hampering removal of nitrogen oxides, a smog-causing pollutant.
"The day that Tony Dean came in to explain NOX was not a good day," Bushnell said. "It was like falling off your bike onto the bar in the middle."
Automakers are responding to the problem in various ways, including technology that explodes gas in the combustion chamber through compression, like a diesel engine, rather than a spark.
But Bushnell continued tinkering, now with Dean's critiques, settling on an idea that they believe the auto industry hasn't thought of. Why not heat the incoming air, too?
That causes it to expand ( the same principle a hot air balloon relies on) and fill up more space with less air. Combined with vaporized gasoline, they could keep the air-fuel ratio the same, dodging the pollution problem.
The heated mixture had another benefit, Bushnell and Dean said. Its "flame speed" -- how fast it burned -- and its explosive potential were higher than normal. That meant much more of it could be exploded when the piston was at its optimum position. And that meant they could use less gasoline without sacrificing power.
The system pulls heat from the radiator system to heat the fuel, and waste heat from the exhaust manifold to heat the air.
"We're the poor folks from Beavercreek. We aren't in the (automakers') club," Bushnell says. "We got outside the box, because we can never be included in the box."
There's good reason for skepticism, said Jim Hossack, a market analyst for AutoPacific in Tustin, Calif., and a former engineer for Ford, Chrysler and Mazda Motor. Usually there's a fatal flaw in mileage inventions, he said.
A device doesn't work in cold weather or high altitude, or it isn't durable enough. It's "hard to imagine that a small undercapitalized outfit with a few people could make a breakthrough," Hossack said in an e-mail.
The California Air Resources Board has to certify any add-on device used in the state, making sure that it doesn't increase pollution and that it can hold up over time.
John Swanton, an air pollution specialist in the board's El Monte, Calif., lab, says the board has seen a spike in interest in mileage-enhancing devices since gas prices surged. But it hasn't yet seen gizmos that improve mileage in modern gasoline vehicles. Newer cars are relatively clean and complex, he said, and hard to modify without manufacturer cooperation.
On the other hand, Jones, research director for California Environmental Engineering, a CARB-certified lab, said the tests his lab ran last year showed surprisingly strong results, with mileage improving 30.1 percent.
"I've been here over 20 years, and there's nothing that's worked quite that dramatically and consistently," Jones said.
Vapor Fuels hopes to get CARB certification later this summer after Unichip completes its work. Meantime, they're talking with investors and potential buyers, with plans to start sales by the third quarter of 2009. Its first target market: North America's 102 million light trucks and sport utility vehicles.
"Is there another iceberg we're not seeing? We don't know," he said. "But it looks pretty promising."
-- Scott Learn; [email protected]
Vapor Fuels Technologies LLC
VFT Solution for the Future of Gasoline Technology
Vapor Fuel Technologies has created a system that is based on vaporizing fuel and heating the air that mixes with the vaporized fuel prior to entering the cylinder for combustion. When properly controlled, this vaporization and heating causes a thermal expansion that accomplishes the dilution of both the fuel and air in the mixture without changing the ratio that allows the catalytic converter to work and provide acceptable emissions, including oxides of nitrogen (NOx). Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) can be used in lesser quantities with the VFT System to complete the dilution process and balance the power requirements of a normal driving cycle.
The vaporization process and heating of the fuel vapor and air mixture, along with moderate EGR, also improves the combustion process by increasing flame speed and creating the conditions for a chain reaction Autoignition. The resulting combustion is shorter in duration and significantly more efficient since it substantially occurs closer to the optimal crank angle of the engine. This allows the VFT system to use less fuel yet provide the power to be used in all normal driving conditions.
Vapor Fuel Technologies system and equipment are, in conjunction with necessary modification of the onboard-computer system, adaptable to the vast majority of motor vehicles in either retrofit or new applications. The added cost to include this technology in a new vehicle is estimated to be less than one hundred dollars U.S.
Limitations of Current Gasoline Technology
The Auto Industry understands the benefit of using less fuel to power the vehicle (dilution) and creating a better combustion event (autoignition) to replace the power loss due to dilution but they have pursued those goals in ways that have presented significant and unnecessary roadblocks. Diluting the fuel using more air or EGR has created a difficult, and extremely time consuming situation.
Using more air in the fuel air mixture accomplishes the goal of using less fuel to fill the combustion chamber but the resulting lean burn event results in an inability of the catalytic converter to remove the NOx from the exhaust.
The new regulations, especially in California and the eleven other states following their lead, are becoming less tolerant of these emissions. Diluting the fuel within the mixture to approximately 50% of normal decreases the NOx production to very low levels but there is so little power remaining this method can only be used at very light loads and moderate speeds. Most of the fuel savings are also lost due to the lack of power.
EGR can be used to dilute the fuel air mixture by recirculation of exhaust, mostly inert gasses such as nitrogen and carbon dioxide, into the cylinder with the fuel and air. This accomplishes the goal of diluting the fuel but the resulting gaps of inert gas between the fuel and air components can diminish the efficiency of the combustion if used excessively.
SYSTEM FOR IMPROVING FUEL UTILIZATION
Abstract -- A vapor fuel air mixture supply system for a combustion engine, whereby the mixture of air and fuel is elevated in temperature prior to combustion. The air to fuel mixture may result in an improvement in fuel efficiency.
Vapor Fueled Engine
Also published as: WO2005047675 // EP1700020 // US7380546 // US7028675 // US6966308
Abstract -- A fuel supply assembly is provided that may allow for use of vaporized fuel to power an engine and enhance fuel efficiency. The fuel supply assembly may include a vaporizing tank, a heating source, a temperature control and a monitoring and control system configured to control intermixing of ambient air and vaporized gasoline to maintain a desired hydrocarbon level in an exhaust.
Vapor Fueled Engine
Abstract -- A vapor fuel producing system for optimizing fuel efficiency including a vapor producing chamber, a controlled level of liquid fuel maintained in the chamber, agitation of the fuel to convert the liquid fuel to vapor, a temperature control for the fuel and thereby the fuel vapor, and a controlled input of ambient air to the fuel vapor to achieve a desired air to fuel mix throughout fuel demand of the engine, and conveyance of the mixture to the engine intake manifold.
SYSTEM FOR IMPROVING FUEL UTILIZATION
VAPOR FUELED ENGINE