Transcend Energy Group, a recently funded company, claimed that a small structural change in the engine could improve the efficiency and effectiveness of internal combustion engines. The team unveiled its design change at the recently concluded SEMA show in Las Vegas.
As the world waits for electric vehicles to revolutionize transportation, it may seem silly to try to improve the internal combustion engine (ICE). However, Jon Woodard, product director and president of Transcend Energy Group, believes that we have not exploited the potential of ICEs.
Speaking to Road and Track magazine, Woodard said that ICEs are very inefficient, and after years of doing the same thing, engines stall, and people look for oils to improve their efficiency. However, Woodard and his team have found a simple solution that could effectively change the way we look at ICEs.
The world’s first two-piece connecting rod
The connecting rod connects the engine crankshaft to the piston and is responsible for converting the energy of the piston into rotational energy that turns the crank. In a normal engine configuration, the connecting rod pivot point is the piston.
However, Woodard and his team are being radical with their new two-piece rod, called the Thunder Rod. engine efficiency.
Woodard told Road and Track that their design allows the piston to remain free on the load side and engage only when it is on the other side. A design change allows the piston to be used without a thick skirt. However, this also increased the overall weight of the piston. Woodard is not particularly bothered by this because his team believes that it does not affect the overall speed of the piston in any way, even though it moves through different parts of the stroke at different speeds.
Testing the LS Engines
Woodard and his team have so far focused their development efforts on the 5.3 and 6.2-liter LS engines due to their high demand in the aftermarket. When the team tested the Thunder Rod with the 5.3-liter V8 engine, the resulting torque was similar to that of the 6.2-liter V8 engine, which is about 30 percent more.
By moving the pivot down and adding hardware inside the piston itself, the Transcend pistons are actually quite a bit heavier than the LS piston. The added weight does not limit the overall speed of the piston in any way, but it does change how fast the piston moves in different parts of the stroke. The Thunder Rod increases piston speed by 30 percent from top dead center while providing the same amount of time during the downstroke.
“It’s faster where it matters and slower where it doesn’t really matter,” Woodward said. “When you draw air in, you want it to go in quickly, so the intake rate increases.” When you close the valves and start compressing the air, the slower you do it, the more air escapes through the tires. The faster you can pack it without air, the more powerful it is. Consider a hand pump. You can pump it slowly, but it is much more effective if you have a faster movement.
The team also found compression ratio improvements on the Thunder Rod-equipped 6.2-liter LS engine, which was rated at 198 psi, while the stock engine only runs at 155 psi.
While these numbers are impressive on paper, experts aren’t sure how they translate to real-world conditions. Changes made to the connecting rod design also require changes to the piston head and camshaft models. Until these changes are made and tested, the true impact of the design changes will not be fully known, Road and Track said in its report.
Woodard and his team are talking to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to get feedback on how to further improve their design and system.
Whether their ideas will be able to save the internal combustion engine from oblivion or remain a small collector’s item for fans of gas engines, will be revealed in the coming years.