Here’s the latest reader question along with my reply!
Ron asks: I have a question. If you take a V8 engine and only provide fuel to every other cylinder, will it run?
I ask this because I had an idea. What if every other cylinder runs on gasoline, which heats up the cylinder block to around 280 degrees Fahrenheit; so in other words, only four cylinders are getting gasoline. Then you inject water into the other four cylinders. If the cylinder block is hot enough, the water would turn into steam, and expand, just like the gas resulting from fuel combustion. So you could have two tanks in your car: one gas tank, and one water tank. Four cylinders would run on gasoline, and four cylinders would run on water. And a car that gets thirty miles to the gallon would get sixty miles to the gallon. It’s a steam and gas engine.The conversion would be easy. No machining; just redirecting four fuel injectors to the water tank. Do you think that this could work?
My reply: Several car companies (GM, Chrysler) offer a version of what you describe. It’s styled variable displacement or cylinder deactivation. GM was the first, I think, to bring the idea to market back in the (yes, really) 1970s with its V8-6-4. Early versions had lots of teething problems but today’s system operate pretty seamlessly.
Your expansion (had to go for that) idea is intriguing. It’d be interesting to experiment with the concept.
One of the issues you’d have would be figuring out how to deal with cold-start/higher (initial) load conditions. The variable displacement/cylinder deactivation systems in production shut off fuel to say half of a V8’s cylinders under light-load (steady cruise) conditions, when very little power is needed to keep the vehicle moving. But I am pretty sure you’d need the power of all eight to get moving – and until the engine gets hot enough to vaporize the steam in the inactive cylinders, you’d have an issue. It might require a pair of injectors, one for gas and one for the water, until the necessary temperature was achieved. And without spark ignition in the “off” cylinders, it might take awhile to achieve high enough temps. It might not ever get hot enough.
In other words, you might have some of the same driveability issues that the early variable displacement systems had.
Still, it’s something that’d be fun to play around with!
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