How Does A Duke Engine Work?
The Duke engine is a four stroke “axial” reciprocating engine. “Axial” because the axis of each cylinder is aligned with the axis of the output/crank shaft. Axial engines are sometimes called ‘barrel’ and ‘Z-crank’ engines. The former refers to the cylindrical shape of the Cylinder Group whilst the latter alludes to the shape of the Crankshaft. The uniqueness of the Duke Engine is the combining of these two motions in a counter-rotating configuration which results in a myriad of mechanical and performance advantages.
So far the prototype and developmental engines have run on petrol of various octane levels (91 through 98 octane) and kerosene based Jetfuel without modification and can be readily modified to run on diesel, or indeed any of the alternatives currently proposed as replacements for petroleum-based fuels, such as Bio-Fuels, Hydrogen, LPG, CNG, etc. The most immediately obvious advantages of the Duke Engine are its size and weight when compared to late model conventional internal combustion engines. Duke purchased two current production 3-litre automobile engines (one European and the other Japanese) for measurement to provide true ‘apples with apples’ comparisons. The current prototype Duke 3-litre engine is up to 19% lighter than those two engines, despite being far from optimised for minimum weight.
Even at the current non-optimised stage in the engine’s development, the Duke Engine is delivering superior torque to the comparison engines mentioned above. Specific fuel consumption (a power independent comparison measure of the fuel economy of an engine) has shown a strong downward trend as the design has developed, being already competitive with with modern high end automotive engines operating a similar combustion cycle (gasoline, port injected, spark ignition).
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Axial engines are challenging to make practicable at typical engine operating speeds.