Could digital valvetrains make petrol more efficient than ever?
Posted on June 1, 2017
Last week, news that English engineers have developed a system that could do away with camshafts and drastically increase gas mileage was announced. If it works, it could revolutionize petrol engines and make them many times more efficient.
While inventions like this come and go, it is rare that such a drastic change in the internal combustion process itself is mooted. Usually advances are small and deal mainly in managing waste gases or making an engine go further on less fuel. This new system calls ‘IVA’ or Intelligent Valve Actuation takes that a whole lot further.
The system has been worked on over the past six years and the company, Camcon Automotive based in Leamington Spa in England are the people behind it.
Intelligent Valve Actuation
IVA, Intelligent Valve Actuation, could seriously change the way engines work. Currently, valve timing is controlled by the camshaft and is largely static in most engines. Variable valve timing trickery is used in some motors but IVA takes that further.
Rather than having a single or double camshaft controlling valve lift and timing, the system controls them independently. A mini cam on top of each cylinder placed laterally does all the work.
This raises the possibility of infinite adjustment depending on the conditions, speed, load and driving style. It would essentially mean that the engine management system could control fuelling to an infinite degree. It could provide just enough fuel to accomplish the task, no more and no less. This could have serious benefits to gas mileage without degrading the driving experience.
At its heart, IVA uses electromechanical actuators that sit atop each valve. Each drives its own camshaft-like device. So rather than a single or double fixed camshaft, each cylinder has its own infinitely variable one.
Here is a video of it in action.
As you can see, this system allows the car’s computer to control exactly how much lift or duration to each cam. It can also support cylinder deactivation while also delivering more torque at low revs and more high end power as required.
IVA is still in development and has been offered to many major motor manufacturers. If it is taken up and taken further, it could find its way into engines within the next five years.