Universal acceptance of split-cycle engines at SAE World Congress subject more to business models
[Updated to clarify Scuderi comments. Also see ref comments below article]
Speaking of getting connected, Scuderi Group was the first company that ever gave me an interview regarding the split-cycle engine technology; that was about 2010. Much has changed; and much has yet to change. Today, I perceived Nick Scuderi as thinking in terms of 3 years minimum [Note: from the time a design is started] as opposed to the 8-10 years for a split cycle on the road that they thought a few years ago. [I added my own two cents and said 3-5 years, because it takes a long time to get EPA certification.] Point is, improvement since 2010, yes; reaching the goal of getting an engine into a car and on the road, no.
Problem is, nobody knows who will build the split-cycle engine in high volume first, because Scuderi is not an engine manufacturer. Its business model is clearly based on being an intellectual property company, which explains why they use an independent research team for physical development, while the Scuderi family builds and protects its only real product, its patents. Not a bad model, but with all respect it sort of feeds its own limitations.
Now on this last day of the SAE World Congress 2012, it is clear that other split-cycle companies are vying for the affection of auto OEMs, like GM, Ford, Chrysler; and none of them, including Scuderi, are apologetic about getting attention from European and Asian companies; because, lets face it, the American automakers are dragging their heels again. After all, 2025 and the 56.2 MPG mandate are not that far off. Point is, we cannot afford complacency; it's a matter of national defense and economic survival.
This is not the first time the U.S has shot itself in the foot, though. When Toyota and Honda opted to produce their engines based on the Atkinson Cycle, the Americans snubbed their noses. Instead they opted to use technology as it stands except with incremental improvements; a few percent gains here, a few more there; very bean counterish. Then came electrification, and that now permeates their psyche; never really “imagineering” the world of 2025 as having the majority of their engines as ICE, because lithium-ion will still be the high-cost element for electrification.
Problem is, no U.S. company or foreign auto company will ever get to meet 2025 fuel mileage mandates with engines as they are right now. No, the end is indeed upon us for the Otto Cycle as we know it, but not for the IC engine in general if we rethink it. One makeover not done by the OEMs is splitting the cold intake-compression from the hot power-exhaust components of the 4-cycle process. It is the one makeover process that must be done to succeed, because there is power in dealing with each part of the cycle as separate but related entities. Right now, it’s always a compromise. So, splitting the cycle takes that need for compromising decisions off the table.