Mainland High School  
WaterGates: ISTF Project #01-0224



ISTF Contest



Component One

  • Prepare a 200- to 300-word history about the National Critical Technology’s technical application the team has selected.

The two-stroke engine, in its original form, was sometimes called the Clerk engine.  It was invented by Sir Duglad Clerk in 1878. The first  motor used a complex second piston as a charging pump, but this device was eliminated by Joseph Day ten years later in 1891. He used pressure from a sealed crankcase instead. This simplified two-stroke motor gained popularity, but was not patented until 1904 when Alfred Scott introduced his model of the engine. The spark ignition system is an old, simple method, and its function is based upon the Otto-four-stroke engine, which the German engineer and experimenter Nicolaus Otto invented in 1876. It was the first practical alternative to the steam engine and is considered the first four-stroke internal combustion motor. In contrast to the Otto-engine, the two-stroke engine does not produce power on every stroke.  It produces power every other stroke.

The engine has been used in many different applications since its introduction. In the beginning it was utilized in machines that needed to produce rotation: such as power washing machines, saws, lawnmowers, and tree trimmers. Today it is utilized on mopeds and personal watercraft. Its simple, light construction and low cost are primary advantages over the four-stroke engine, which is heavier and more complex. These characteristics made it one of the most important inventions of the 20th century, and it has had a great impact on modern society.

  • Cite three detailed examples of research done in the past 3 to 5 years which focused on the NCT application the team selected. Include: the funding agency, the principal investigator, the institution where the research is or was being conducted, the amount of the dollar award granted for the research, and the duration of the research grant.

A group of Colorado State University engineering students received a $1,075 grant on December 7, 1999 from Colorado's Snowmobile Fund to purchase a two-stroke engine for their project. The team developed a modified snowmobile engine that will generate less pollution without sacrificing performance. The students presented their modified engine in the Society of Automotive Engineers' Clean Snowmobile 2000 Challenge in March. The Snowmobile Fund is used to offer safety training and marking and grooming of the 3,500 miles of snowmobile trails throughout Colorado. The 1999-2000 budget contained a total of $580,250 for trail maintenance and for capital grants to assist local clubs in purchasing trail maintenance equipment. A cleaner snowmobile engine helps the Snowmobile Fund to manage and improve snowmobiling throughout Colorado, and it greatly enhances the use of snowmobiles on public lands in Colorado.

Mark Cherry of Aqualytic Technologies was rewarded $70,000 each from NASA and the EPA for the development of his Smartplug. The EPA grant is focused on reducing emissions on watercraft, especially jet skis and outboard engines. There is no duration for this grant. Smartplugs are designed to replace sparkplugs in internal combustion engines. Smartplugs eliminate the need for a distributor, wires and timing belt. To start, the Smartplug uses a tiny bit of current from a battery. The Smartplug provides a powerful combustion event that results in a more complete burn of the fuel in the cylinder, which significantly reduces emissions. Smartplugs allow engines to burn a wide variety of fuels.

UC Systemwide Toxic Substances Research and Teaching Program in 1998 funded  John Reutor, Ph.D. and Daniel Chang, Ph.D. of the University of California, Davis with $220,000 for "An Integrated Assessment of Sources, Fate and Transport, Ecological Risk and Control Options for MTBE in Surface and Ground Waters, with Particular Emphasis on Drinking Water Supplies" for ten months. They assessed the risks to human health and the environment associated with MTBE leaking from underground and aboveground storage tanks, from surface watercraft and other sources of MTBE pollution in surface water bodies, and from oceangoing tankers in coastal waterways of California. They analyzed current levels of MTBE in California's drinking water, reservoirs, lakes, and streams. They evaluated the costs and effectiveness of treatment technologies available to remove MTBE from surface waters, groundwater, and drinking water. They assessed the impact of MTBE on vehicle parts and the efficient operation of vehicles. They also assessed the corrosive effects of MTBE on the structural integrity of fiberglass storage tanks. Recommendations were made to the state of California after the research was finished. The recommendations were to explore existing and promising new strategies for remediating contaminated surface water and groundwater supplies and to prevent the further contamination of surface waters.

  • Based upon research conducted, explain how the NCT application your team chose has advanced scientific knowledge.

Concern over energy conservation and environmental pollution has led to cleaner oil-to-fuel ratios. Exhaust emission reduction could contribute to the two-stroke engine's viability in the near future. The two-stroke engine provides better power-to-weight ratio, higher specific power output, and less frictional loss than the four-stroke engine. Many major automobile manufacturers have already built experimental fuel-injected, two-stroke engines for automotive applications.

Daihatsu has developed an innovative car running on a two-stroke engine basis. Its main objective is to run for 100 km on 3 liters (100 mi on 1.062 gal) of fuel, and do so without sacrificing either dynamic performance or riding comfort. This lightweight car is powered by a totally new-concept, a two-stroke cycle, direct-injection diesel engine. 

Image courtesy of Diahatsu

The Sirion 2CD's most characteristic feature is its E202 engine. A 3-cylinder, 987 cc, two-stroke cycle diesel engine with a displacement per cylinder of 329 cc, the E202 is the world's smallest two-stroke cycle, direct-injection diesel engine. The E202 engine combines the superior power and vibration characteristics of a two-stroke engine with the excellent thermal efficiency of a diesel engine, and it also incorporates a wide array of new technologies that help overcome the problems of conventional diesel engines. As a result, this advanced three-cylinder engine delivers a maximum torque of 155 NM and a maximum power of 45 kW from a small one-liter displacement.

The car industry is not the only industry that profits by the introduction of high technology two-stroke engines.  The "Stelzermotor", developed by German engineer Frank Stelzer, reduces emissions significantly and it can be built for a number of applications. This "engine without mechanics", presented by the IAA to the public in Frankfurt, Germany, is a propulsion technology immersed around solution, but the consequences are not yet fully foreseeable. The invention of this secondary ATS internal combustion engine that does not have valves and rotary sections, but  symmetrical, freely flying pistons, can cause a revolutionary change on the sector pumps, generators, and compressors. 

detailed animation

Image used with the permission of Frank Stelzer (inventor)

The Stelzer-engine can be built without special manufacturing investments and is available in various sizes, even as small as 300 x 100 mm. Up to 5,000 oscillations would provide an output of 2 to 5 kW, which is sufficient for heat pumps or mini pumps that can be used directly in the medium it operates in. For example, it would be conceivable to use such an engine as a pressure water pump in boreholes on oil fields or drilling platforms. Stelzer also considers applying his engine as a motor for helicopters, cars, lawnmowers, and mining engines in the future.

However, there are several reasons why this engine has not been introduced. Frank Stelzer has been trying to introduce this engine for 20 years. He has spent approximately $150,000 on patent taxes in 19 countries. In the last couple of years, he has had some offers in the million dollar range from large companies, but he does not want his idea to "morphed" and have no future.

The engine for the new car Neon was designed as an externally scavenged engine with direct injection. Chrysler developed two prototypes, one with a 1.17 liter engine and the other with a 1.5 liter engine, using its new two-stroke engine technology. The 1.5 liter engine was supposed to end up in the 1997 Neon, but did not. The rentability was less the problem. The major problem was the performance of the Dodge Shadow. It runs strongly and smoothly, but still quits running every once in a while.

This two-stroke engine has extremely low CO emissions, even when cold, low NOx, and no catalyst, and O2 sensors, the later being - which required by law. NOx emissions actually go down with age. Two-stroke engines have long been promising because of better fuel economy, fewer parts, better efficiency and a smaller engine package (about two-thirds the size and weight of conventional engines), allowing more design flexibility and lower hood lines.

The two-stroke engine is probably going to be left on hold until gas prices increase more and demand for fuel efficiency rises. Though it is innovative and promising, most people do not care much about fuel economy, and the cost of putting the engine into production (tooling, further design and testing, etc) would counter the mileage selling point. However, innovative two-stroke engines, such as Daihatsu's engine, Chrysler's new development or the "Stelzermotor", can help appear a cleaner environment, more efficient vehicles in the future, and also show that heavy four-stroke engines are not the ultimate future solution. We hope that our engine will also fall into this category.

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