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The revolutionary wave disc generator combustion engine


August 4, 2011

The heart of the wave generator motor

The heart of the wave generator motor

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The mid-term future for fuel efficient vehicles with useful range is likely a hybrid solution of electric motors powered by batteries, topped up by a fuel-burning generator. Dr. Norbert Müller at Michigan State, backed by $2.5 million from the US Government, aims to make that last part of the equation a much more compact and efficient proposition with a revolutionary new form of combustion engine.

The culmination of years of research, the latest version is in the form of a spinning metal disc with precisely-calculated radial channels. Fuel/air mixture enters via the central hub and travels outwards. As the disc spins the channel exit becomes closed off causing a back-shock. Because the inlet port is now closed off to the channel this causes compression (like a piston) and the fuel/air mixture is then ignited. The expansion of the explosion powers the wheel, opening the channel once more to the inlet and outlet ports. The exhaust gas is ejected and fuel/air is sucked in to repeat the process - at very high speed naturally.

This elegant design does away with many of the moving parts and circulatory systems of conventional combustion engines that lower their fuel-use efficiency, typically 15%. Dr. Müller is obtaining efficiencies of 60% with the wave disc design and of course the weight of the engine is greatly reduced.

"Our goal is to enable hyper-efficient hybrid vehicles to meet consumer needs for a 500mile driving range, lower vehicle prices, full-size utility, improved highway performance and very low operating costs," says Müller. "The WDG (Wave Disc Generator) also can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 95% in comparison to modern internal combustion engine vehicles."

While the team's focus is very much on automotive use, for obvious reasons, there is clearly potential for the creation of very compact and efficient electricity generators that would sell in vast numbers across the world. For the moment however this all still in the research phase and we have to take the team's claims of potential emissions reduction on trust.

A "car-sized" 25 kW (33.5 hp) version of the working prototype is due by the end of the year with further funding required after February 2012. We hope Dr. Müller and his team get the money they need to bring this elegant solution to a pressing need to market as soon as possible.

About the Author
Vincent Rice Vincent Rice has been an audio-visual design consultant for almost 30 years including six years with Warner Brothers Cinemas. He has designed several large retail installations in London and a dozen major nightclubs across the world from Belfast to Brno to Beruit. An accomplished musician and 3D computer graphics artist, Vince also writes for AV Magazine in the U.K. and the Loudscreen digital signage blog.   All articles by Vincent Rice

two things will happen, one Norbert is right and the oil and car lobbyists will come out and bury it, two, Norbert is right and just the oil companies lobbyists will bury it in our wonderful senate and congress, like our mass transit system, see the world today in your chevrolet, whom do you think is paying for that, yep you and me, where did it come from? yep IQ test

Bill Bennett
4th August, 2011 @ 10:55 pm PDT

just like they did last century, remember all the light rail infrastructure torn out in the late mid of the last century, hmm, why did that happen? so you would by a Chevy or a Ford

Bill Bennett
4th August, 2011 @ 11:21 pm PDT

I've seen this before on Youtube and find it VERY intriguing and would very much like to see this hit the market. While I agree it could all get covered up and buried I personally think the car companies and oil companies would have nothing to do with it? They need to sell product and having something like this available would really get them on the map again, but I do think it would be the Government or Governments of the world that would stop it as they have no interest in us being free to travel about expensively and at will, they're the reason fuel prices are high and why there are chocking regulations on every aspect of our lifes! If this never comes to light look to the political leaders as to why.

5th August, 2011 @ 04:20 am PDT

Interesting design with claims of huge potential, but if its so simple, why isn't there a running prototype demonstrated? Lets build one, hook it up to a dyno and get some real test data to back these claims up! ...or, maybe its just claims and nothing else? Dr. Mueller: follow the path of Revetec, who had a concept, built it, tested it, refined it and now has real-world data to present to manufacturers of their design. It may not be as "revolutionary" as yours, but its *earned* its cred.

5th August, 2011 @ 05:52 am PDT

I'm not going to believe this thing works until I see it.

5th August, 2011 @ 06:27 am PDT

Seriously Gizmag? This video is nearly TWO YEARS OLD!!!! I have read about this engine before, and I think it was actually from a previous GIZMAG ARTICLE. This is the second article today that appears to have been recycled. What the heck?

Anyhow, MzunguMkubwa is right, let's see a working prototype. The video simply discuses the benefits of such efficiency. Yeah thanks, we understand that - tell us about the damn engine!

5th August, 2011 @ 06:54 am PDT

Atlas Motor Works ducted blade rotary engine is more advanced than this, patented by the late Steve Johnson. I don't see how this design can achieve effective compression, so it's effectively just a turbine wheel. That's been done.

5th August, 2011 @ 08:18 am PDT

I've been seeing videos of this for at least 2 years now. You'd think with a 2.5 million grant, he could afford to get a prototype CNC'd instead of running around with a plastic toy!

5th August, 2011 @ 08:22 am PDT

Cool !

Lloyd Foley
5th August, 2011 @ 08:28 am PDT

This sounds very dubious, if the fuel/air is compressed by a wave, will this wave scale to larger compartments? is it in the nature of the 'wave walls' that turns your explosion into a wave in the cclockwise direction and torque in the clockwise?

I think this is different than a mazda rotary, because there isn't gearing containing the explosion. it seems to me that this is more like a high pressure steam turbine and can be sealed similarly.

100% effeciency is impossible, the newest powerplants operate at 60%, so i believe the 60% claim feels exaggerated. when they return claiming 25% i'll believe it.

5th August, 2011 @ 08:29 am PDT

There is nothing to get excited about until dyno runs have been publicly done

The presentation is simple enough that you actually don;t need a conventional dyno, just a alternator big enough to require 75% of the rated output and an array of light bulbs.

If you can spare the time to make a You Tube video you should have built it!

Bring it on!

George TheCar
5th August, 2011 @ 08:32 am PDT

The Waterloo for this design will be the seal failure. Each moving vane will have the same problem as any rotary engine in preventing leakage. A solution might be to weld a plate to the machined vane surface, but then each vane needs a seamless weld, and it increases the moment of inertia. Lots of subjective claims, but no mention of simple technical items such as compression ratio, which makes me suspect Herr Professor is not well-schooled in internal combustion engines.

Pat Kelley
5th August, 2011 @ 08:36 am PDT

Wave rotors are a positively ancient idea, that has been bandied about and experimented with and tested to exhaustion. See This was primarily done by turbofan and gas turbine developers, who wanted to replace the conventional pressure-loss combustors in the gas turbine/turbojet engine with the pressure-gain devices, which seemed to offer huge efficiency gains. Nothing has come out of it. The main reason is very simple. Look at the combustor wheel. It has to be precisely machined. Now imagine it heated to 1200 degrees F, which has to happen if the fuel-air mixture is to combust efficiently. How precise will the dimensions be then? There is no way to keep the temperature down on such a compact combustion device. All the experiments so far foundered on the combustor wheels burning out or deforming. The idea remains good in theory, but the practical solution has not been devised yet -- in some 60 years of effort.

Bruno Ogorelec
5th August, 2011 @ 08:55 am PDT

The angle of the fan blades are wide at the outside and narrow to the center. That will effectively negate your compression ratio unless I miss my guess. Also the "S" shape of the blade will cause the the force to push in both directions, effectively canceling or at least reducing the force. Also to place an ignitor in the firing area you would need another cavity for it to reside in. That would further reduce your compression.

Change the fan shape to a "C" and make the arrangement so the intake is wider than the exhaust. To do that you will likely have to put voids in it where there is no fuel ignition. Just a blank spot in the fan blade arrangement.

Those changes will give you a more plausible/ workable design.

5th August, 2011 @ 09:01 am PDT

Where does the compressed intake air come from? How much pre-compression is required?

5th August, 2011 @ 09:07 am PDT

Remember when we all thought the Wankel rotary would sweep the world ??

5th August, 2011 @ 09:21 am PDT

I do get that it's some version of a turbine. I don't get the 'shock wave' concept too well unless it run's at some very high & constant speed, so to start it the "generator" it drives would also have to have an alternate configuration as motor to spin it up to some very high speed for it to work, like a ramjet. If they mold the engines out of Cornings Visions cookware material they can light up the pavement underneath the car.

Dave B13
5th August, 2011 @ 09:24 am PDT

This engine is running on a test stand.

That video should have been put on this page.

The title is "Can an engine design turn things around?"

5th August, 2011 @ 09:35 am PDT

Conspiracy Theorists love to imagine Big Oil killing off fuel saving engines, carburetors etc. etc....And yes, we really did land men on the moon...

5th August, 2011 @ 09:43 am PDT

Thank you Bruno, Aug. 5, 8:55PDT for valuable comment and link.

The issues with the wave generator design echo somewhat the development of the Wankel engine. The 2010 Audi electric car A1 e-tron may use a 250cc Wankel range extender engine. Similarly the electric version of the Fiat 500 may use a Wankel range extender from FEV Inc.

As for making the motor out of CorningWare (Dave, 9:24PDT), this may not be entirely tongue-in-cheek, as ceramics have been tested as solutions re: heat problems.

5th August, 2011 @ 10:19 am PDT

Reminds me a bit of the Wankel rotary engine (Mazda RX engines). The biggest problem with that is the seals wear out rapidly, and it's a real nightmare to get the exhaust emissions to meet US standards.

John Sorensen
5th August, 2011 @ 11:03 am PDT

Leave to a University and NOT one of the HUGE BAIL-OUT Automakers to come up with this idea!

Gary Greenwood
5th August, 2011 @ 11:19 am PDT

I drew up something similar to this twenty years ago using a modified Tesla turbine. Now I have developed a concept that combines the physics of a steam engine a diesel engine, and a Stirling engine. The fuel is atomized water, which is sprayed into a hot cylinder when its piston is at top-dead-center. Each molecule of water expands 1,600 times into the gas called steam, pushing down on the piston with as much force as a diesel engine. An adjacent cylinder provided the heat by compressing air as in a diesel cylinder. The heat of compression is transferred by a heat pipe to the power cylinder. Draw four cylinders side-by-side and number them left to right. Cylinders 1&2 are paired, as are 3&4. Draw pistons at top-dead-center [TDC] in cylinders 1&2, and draw pistons at bottom-dead-center in cylinders 3&4. Cylinders 1&4 are air compression cylinders, using the same air over and over for compression and expansion. When atomized water is sprayed in 1/2000th of a second in cylinder 2, steam pushes piston 2 and compressed air pushes down on piston 1. While this is happening, piston 3 is pushing up, exhausting steam, while piston 4 is pushed up, compressing and heating air in cylinder 4. Water of course is recycled over and over. There are two power strokes for each revolution of the crankshaft.

Consider this: Why doesn%u2019t a conventional one-cylinder, four-cycle diesel engine stall? Initial power stroke pressures from exploding diesel fuel range from 1100 to 13703 psi; but the mean effective pressures are 109-1743 psi.

At the end of a power stroke, the piston must complete an exhaust stroke, complete an air-intake stroke, and then compress that air to 435-600 psi during the compression stroke in order to heat the intake air again to 1400-1650%u043E F. (760-899%u043E C.) for the next power stroke.

Where does the energy come from to compress the intake air to 435-600 psi? The energy certainly does not come from the average effective cylinder pressure of 109-174 psi during the power stroke.

The energy to compress the intake air therefore must come from the momentum of the engine%u2019s flywheel, crankshaft, and crankshaft counterweights. Remove the flywheel, and the engine will not run.

At the beginning of the power stroke, the flywheel, by necessity, must be of a size to absorb sufficient energy from the initial ignition pressure of the diesel fuel at 1100 to 1370 psi in order to complete the exhaust, air intake, and air compression strokes following the power stroke, because one-cylinder diesel engines do work. A flywheel increases its energy in accordance with the square of its speed.

If a flywheel makes a one-cylinder diesel engine work, it will do exactly the same work for the present diesel-type steam engine concept. Again, it has been proven that atomized water exploded into a gas (steam) equals or exceeds the same explosive force as is derived from diesel fuel.

This engine has similarities to Stirling engines also, in that air is heated and cooled within in air compression cylinders, whereas in a Stirling engine heat is applied externally. Heat is applied externally to the steam-power cylinders, as in a Stirling engine, but instead of air pushing against pistons, the gas called steam pushes the pistons. This event will become more clear when the reader comes to the description of the drawings of a four-cylinder engine.


5th August, 2011 @ 11:29 am PDT

A single stage turbine? That shouldn't have required $2.5 million or years of research, unless it really is a supersonic combuster (which I doubt - diameter looks too big).

But I'm pretty sure a turbine hybrid is in our future because a turbine is a very simple engine with high efficiency albeit with a very narrow powerband, which is perfect for a hybrid car with 100% electric drive. That shouldn't sound far-fetched since that's how a diesel-electric locomotive works, it's a hybrid with 100% electric drive. In that case the electric drive is used because that's how you can most easily get tractive effort from every wheel without a complicated drivetrain.

You had better believe I would be #1 in line to buy a jet powered Chevy hybrid!!

That is, as close to #1 as I could get anyway.

5th August, 2011 @ 12:28 pm PDT

"The compact size of the generator also means it will replace nearly 1,000 lbs. of engine, transmission, cooling system, emissions, and fluids." from On the Road With ARPA-E, September 23, 2010 - 12:29pm. These claims seem too good to be true, but they are being repeated by Dr. Arun Majumdar - Director, Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy, so mayby it is the real deal.

5th August, 2011 @ 12:49 pm PDT

Okay...two things.....

1) It's running. Looks cool. Where's the data?

2) Norbert, stop running your mouth about theory. We all get this is supposed to be more efficient. We don't need a 10 minute lecture on the subject when the video should be about if this really works, or just another grant up in smoke. Hook that bad boy up to something and get the show on the road.

5th August, 2011 @ 01:14 pm PDT

deja vu all over again

if you look carefully at the fresher video posted here you'll notice a couple of things

1) a blue flame that visibly pulses a couple of times

2) chunks of engine being spit out in the exhaust

3) no water jacket, cooling lines, or cooling fins in an engine that should be dumping 10kW of heat

4) a belt coupled electric starter under the table

5) a couple of large FLYWHEELS under the table

6) this rotary V2 rocket engine has no muffler but is quiet

It's clear tgey spun this up using the motor, kept it spinning on the flywheels, pulse sone air fuel mix a couple of times by hand into the engine to show the drama of a "working" engine that is in fact no different than lighting a propane torch. To boot, chunks of metal burned off in the engine and appeared in the exhaust gases.

It appears like an amazing deception crafted to get more money on a boondoggle. By rights, if this toy produced any torque at all, the shaft should have accelerated... it didn't... it was coasting on the flywheel.

5th August, 2011 @ 01:56 pm PDT

This is just simply a sightly modified twist of the Tesla pump that THE MAN who was looted, by GE's Edison, Morgan, so look what they have stifled creativity all the way through to today!

Gokalla spent a lot of DOD/NSF funds trying to re-create Nikola Tesla Coil to identify the fire balls created by lightening cracking through the air filled with moisture, thus hydrogen short turn gain

5th August, 2011 @ 03:36 pm PDT

micro jet tubines are essentially the same as this, and have more power.

Facebook User
5th August, 2011 @ 04:54 pm PDT

While the article mentions 15% efficiency of conventional engines it somehow fails to mention the efficiency of THIS device. A rather glaring ommission considering that was a major thrust of the article. How does this compare with say, a Stirling engine?

I was told as a kid that you couldn't use a Stirling in a car due to the poor throttle response. That seems logical until the Stirling is decoulped from the load via a hybrid primary/secondary application. Doesn't the Stirling come closest to the Carnot limit?

Can anyone shed light on why this isn't used? Is it a patent issue or something else?

Curious minds want to know...

5th August, 2011 @ 05:04 pm PDT

MYT - Massive Yet Tiny engine far surpasses this design, in size, performance, is already heading for production.

Zane Howlett
5th August, 2011 @ 05:27 pm PDT

This kind of engine is a single-speed, single load device if it can be made to work at all. It might just possibly be able to work in a hybrid, where it charges the battery instead of driving the wheels directly, but why bother? This is a simple cycle, low compression engine without regeneration. Thermodynamics dictates that it will have very low efficiency, no matter how fancy the rotor is. If I'm going to settle for low efficiency, limited load following and a very narrow speed range, I might as well buy an open cycle gas turbine off the shelf and be done with it. No need to create a new compact, inefficient engine.

Stirlings can be much more efficient, but are also much more complex and bulky and presumably more expensive. Basically, we're talking about a different class of engine here, though quite suitable for hybrids that rely more heavily on the combustion part of their plant - say, long-haul trucks that basically use the electric part of their hybrid propulsion plant as a load-leveler.

Wankels are subject to all the limitations of diesels or Otto-cycle engines (most are spark-ignition types), PLUS the very unfavorable combustion-chamber shape which causes efficiency losses and extra NOx and CO emissions. Here's another powerplant where smoothness and compactness wins over efficiency.

5th August, 2011 @ 07:08 pm PDT

USAC, the sanctioning body and rules maker for Indy cars in the 1960s is verymuch to blame for killing turbine development for cars. After four wheel drive turbine cars nearly won the Indy 500 in 1967 and 1968 (mechanical failure put them out near the end after gaining big leads) USAC banned turbines.

What USAC should have done was created a whole new racing series exclusively for turbine powered cars, with shorter races until the durability of the turbines was improved. Part of the problems came from running on gasoline which burns hotter than jet fuel and has no lubricating properties. Jet engines back then depended partly on the fuel for lubrication.

Gregg Eshelman
6th August, 2011 @ 12:08 am PDT

If powered by nat gas . . . and coupled with an electric generator . . . this could be a unit that would provide the power for an all electric house . . . if the unit was surrounded by a water jacket, the excess heat could be used to generate domestic hot water and/or home heating. TALK ABOUT A HUGE STEP FORWARD FOR ENERGY INDEPENDENCE!

6th August, 2011 @ 05:07 am PDT

RE: the MYT engine.

The Russians can't be sued for producing their own version of an engine designed almost a century ago. Search the Cat & Mouse engine and you will see drawings and read about prototypes produced.

It saved them time if they came to see what metals he was using, the fuel delivery and lubrication method. That said, I hope Mr. Morgado makes a fortune for perfecting an American version.

6th August, 2011 @ 11:05 am PDT

So... it's a gas turbine?

7th August, 2011 @ 05:05 am PDT

Anyone else notice this thing looks like the Celtic Sun symbol? lol I agree the toy should be put away until proven. Rotary has to be more economical.

Other than the need for Oil company profits, is there any reason someone hasn't designed a vehicle you can pour water in, split the H2O (like we all did in high school with an electric currrent), come up with way to dilute or harness the hydrogen safely, light it up and spin an engine into motion?? Hydrogen burns pretty clean; If we can release one or one and a half parts oxygen during the process, the air may be a little better in the City's , no?

Mike Rawn
7th August, 2011 @ 06:49 am PDT

Before I get a bunch of posts regarding my last sentence about releasing oxygen in the process... yes I know the two parts Hydrogen and one part oxygen make-up of water. My assumption is the amount of hydrogen that would burn compared to the amount of oxygen needed to alllow it to burn, would eliminate all of the hydrogen, leaving some part of the oxygen to go to waste.

Mike Rawn
7th August, 2011 @ 07:14 am PDT

The Wave Disc engine is a unique radial turbine that essentialy has a 4 stroke cycle.

After the fuel and air are flung into the combustion chamber the chamber is sealed for ignition. Apparently the sudden sealing and or ignition creates a "shock wave".

There are no seals only close tolerances.

The small red and blue drawing at the top left of the page explains it best.

If it is built like a vented disc break only the top and bottom will need the close tolerance.

7th August, 2011 @ 03:05 pm PDT

@ dsloan48 - August 6, 2011 @ 05:07 am PDT

I wanted to do that with a high compression ICE. My landlord was unsympathetic.

7th August, 2011 @ 05:19 pm PDT

Mike Rawn.

you clearly didn't study chemistry or thermo-dynamics.

When you "burn" Hydrogen all you are doing is attaching 2 hydrogen atoms to 1 oxogen atom. Thats why the exhaust from a hydrogen engine is water.

the amount of energy it takes to split water H2O in to H2 and O, is equal to the amount of energy generated by putting them back together minus any efficiency losses.

it is for that reason you should think of hydrogen as a battery rather than a fuel source.

it's a really good way to store energy in a chemical form.

please do some reading on, its a great website, and very useful for explaining this kind of thing.

J banks

7th August, 2011 @ 06:20 pm PDT

Free piston engine powered turbine is really a far more effective design with approximately same weight and power output. Got one thing right though, True Hybrid is exclusive electric final drive with Aux power input via ICE or other power source. Been saying this for years. Design an electric car and until battery tech catches up, use a "pony motor" to provide range and recharge when away from the grid.

Jim Noord
7th August, 2011 @ 06:55 pm PDT

Looks to have the same weakness as a Wankel (rotary) engine: How do you seal the rotating part against the fixed part, to prevent blow-by of the expanding combustion gases? It's not easy, and it's the biggest reason Wankels never caught on with most manufacturers. A side effect of this problem is oil consumption and high pollution levels. I'll be very surprised if these problems can be resolved at low cost with high reliability and long life.

8th August, 2011 @ 09:44 am PDT


The inventor says there is no metal to metal contact in the turbine.

The bearing is the only thing that needs lubrication.

An axial turbine has no metal to metal contact on its blades.

Apparently the speed of the turbine and the close tolerance is all this radial turbine needs.

The TRI-DYNE rotary (July 1969 Popular Science) had no metal to metal contact.

It worked very well and Avco-Lycoming bought the rights to it.

Makes you think.

8th August, 2011 @ 10:21 am PDT

For photo's and story of the 1963 Chrysler turbine car and its engine see

12th August, 2011 @ 10:06 am PDT

re micro jet axial turbines (Jeddy Mctedder, Aug. 5 4:54pm PDT), Bladon Jets, UK, has investment participation from Tata / Jaquar / Land Rover for their micro-jet turbine generator for cars and stationary power generation.

12th August, 2011 @ 10:00 pm PDT

It could use air or magnetic bearings.

13th August, 2011 @ 07:32 pm PDT
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