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Presented by:

Himanshu Sekhar Bal

Reg. No- 1101298386
Mechanical Branch

The free-piston engine is a linear, 'crankless'
combustion engine, in which the piston
motion is not controlled by a crankshaft but
is a result of the interaction of forces from
the combustion cylinder gases, a rebound
device(e.g., a piston in a closed cylinder)
and a load device(e.g. a gas compressor or a
linear alternator).
The free-piston diesel engine concept was
developed by Pescara, and engines of various size
were manufactured between 1930-1960 by GM,
Ford, Renault, Junker, Sigma and others.

General motor XP-500

It is a combination of reciprocating engine and a
rotary turbine.

Bounce Chamber Intake Air valve Scavenge Air Box Supercharge pump
Exhaust gas receiver
Power turbine
100 kW peak electrical
output power
Four free piston engine
8 cylinders
2.82 litre
30 Hz operation
(equivalent to 1800rpm in
a two stroke crankshaft
280x280x660 mm

A cycle starts with the pistonplunger
combination in BDC: most to the right. The
electronic control opens the frequency control
valve. This increases the pressure in the
compressor cylinder, moving the piston-
plunger to the left. Simultaneously, air is
compressed in the combustion cylinder and oil
is sucked into the power cylinder.
When the piston-plunger arrives in TDC fuel is
injected and ignites. The expanding gases will
force the piston plunger to move back to BDC.
Oil is pumped to the high pressure side.
The burned gases are replaced by fresh air
due to the loop scavenging process. In the BDC
the piston-plunger will wait until the
electronic control gives a new starting signal
to the frequency control valve.
Efficiency-During tests, the free piston engine reached an
indicated efficiency of more than 50%.

Emissions-It was proven that the combination of a high
efficiency combined with low soot and low NOx emissions
is possible.
Power density-The Chiron has an net effective power of
approximately 17kW.Compared with a conventional
diesel engine and pump combination, the number of
parts of the Chiron is reduced to approximately 40%.

Infinia is a well renowned company that utilizes
free piston technology in three types of machines.
Infinias unique stirling design
1-2: Adiabatic compression
in compressor cylinder
2-a: Adiabatic compression
a-b: Engine combustion
b-3: Adiabatic expansion or
power stroke in diesel
3-4: Mixing of m2 kg engine
exhaust and m2 kg bypass air
4-5: Adiabatic expansion in


A simple design with high
controllability is the main strength of
the single piston design compared to
the other free-piston engine
The rebound device gives the
opportunity to accurately control the
amount of energy put into the
compression process and thereby
regulating the compression ratio and
stroke length.

Dual piston engine configuration
eliminates the need for a rebound
device, as the (at any time) working
piston provides the work to drive
the compression process in the other
It has a simple and more compact
design with higher power to weight
The control of piston motion, in
particular stroke length and
compression ratio, has proved

Combustion chamber
Piston synchronization
Bounce chamber
It was exclusively used in the
early free-piston engine designs
The perfectly balanced and
vibration- free design is the
exclusive feature of this design.
Due to elimination of cylinder
head, heat transfer losses are
also reduced allowing uniflow
scavenging giving better
The piston synchronization
mechanism and dual set of main
components makes it a bulky and
complicated design.
Inward compression type
Outward compression type
The basic difference between them is that
inward types compress air during inward
motion of the piston while the outward types
compress air during the outward motion of the
piston. Furthermore, inward type is simpler,
has less number of working parts and possess
better accessibility for maintenance than
outward type.
Two- stroke, since power stroke required
on every cycle.

Though performance gap is declining
between 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines
due to recent increase of interest in 2-
stroke engine.
No motion control and no energy storage.

May lead to less or more compression ratios and
less time for scavenging.
Absence of crank mechanism and
flywheel leads to :-
Motion is controlled by sum of forces acting on
piston at any time.

Interaction of forces must be arranged in
acceptable limit of motion.
Due to bounce spring nature of combustion
chamber and bounce chamber, appropriate load
must be used.

Measures to previous problems :-
< F
System behaves as a spring-mass system and
have natural frequency given by

= K/m ; where K = F/x

therefore stroke length must be
appropriately chosen to match any of the
natural frequencies.
Impulsion of piston with compressed air to
give it sufficient energy to reach TDC.

Driving piston back and forth by having some
arrangement on load until it reaches
sufficient compression.

Though starting is a challenge but not a
crucial problem.
No energy storage, as in flywheel, therefore
misfiring may be a problem if engine fails to
build up sufficient compression.

Though practically, misfiring has not been
mentioned in any of the reported
Load must be linear and provide efficient
energy conversion comparable to rotating
loads in conventional engines.
Load is directly connected to mover,
therefore has high mechanical requirements.
Load device may be subjected to heat
transfer from engine cylinder.
Generally, Free Piston Engine loads are :-
1. Electric Generators
2. Hydraulic Pumps
3. Air Compressors
Low frictional losses
Reduced manufacturing cost
Low maintenance cost and increased lifetime
High speed around TDC results in more
turbulence, better mixing of air-fuel and
better combustion.
Rapid expansion due to high piston speed
results in less NOx formation.
Variable compression ratio allows
optimization of combustion process.
Suitable for multi-fuel operation.
Balancing is a problem but can be sorted out
using mechanical linkages between the
Though, using mechanical linkages put
constraint on piston motion and also there is
danger of breaking of linkages at high
High forces and rapid acceleration result in
increased mechanical requirements for the
Free Piston Engine.

Major problems encountered are mechanical
wear and damage due to high temperatures
and pressures.
Effect of fuel Supply
Effect of Bounce Cylinder Pressure
Effect of Working Pressure
Simple design with few moving parts reduces
the frictional losses
Compact and low maintenance costs
High power to weight ratio
Possible operation on multiple fuels due to
variable compression ratio
Fuel air mixing is enhanced

Flexibility and Reliability
Vibration, noise and maintenance Due to
better balancing the vibrations and structure
borne noise are lower
Starting and control: Due to variable
compression ratio air required for starting
the free piston engine is less than needed for
a diesel engine

Poor fuel economy as specific fuel
consumption is high
Requires a certain quantity of fuel per stroke
that varies according to load causing
minimum stability problems
Due to high supercharge rate of combustion
per cylinder volume is high
Reduction Gearing

Early applications
a) Widely used as submarine air compressor units
b) Suitable for power generation in medium
power range
c) They have also been tried in ship propulsion ,
road and rail traction
d) High speed centrifugal air compressors and
water pumps can be directly driven by it
e) A mixed gas steam cycle also offers the
possibility of improving the efficiency
Modern applications
a) Hydraulic free piston engines
b) Free piston engine generators

Automotive application is that studied by
most current free-piston engine developers.
The free-piston engine generator is a very
attractive candidate as a prime mover in
series hybrid vehicles or as a range extender
in plug-in hybrids.
It can provide high thermal efficiency
(including high part load efficiency), low
emissions, fuel flexibility, and high power to
weight ratio through a compact design and a
flexible engine layout.

The piston engine can provide substantial advantages in this
respect, with

Extremely low friction: all frictional losses associated with the
crank system are eliminated and piston friction is reduced due to
no side forces acting on the piston
no load-carrying bearings, allowing operation at high compression
ratios; and
very high piston acceleration around top dead centre, reducing
the time spent in the high-temperature parts of the cycle and
thereby reducing heat transfer losses and emissions formation.

The first successful application of the free-piston engine
concept was as air compressors. In these engines, air
compressor cylinders were coupled to the moving pistons,
often in a multi-stage configuration. Some of these engines
utilized the air remaining in the compressor cylinders to return
the piston, thereby eliminating the need for a rebound device.
Free-piston air compressors were in use among others by the
German Navy, and had the advantages of high efficiency,
compactness and low noise and vibration.
Besides advantages regarding efficiency,
the free piston compressor offers on-
demand start and stop (since there is no
compression stroke in the engine side)
cool operation (given that the
combustion products are greatly diluted
with air after expanding down below
atmospheric pressure)
quiet operation (given that there is no
exhaust of high-pressure gasses)
efficiency is achieved by matching the dynamic
load of the compressor to the ideal adiabatic
expansion of the hot gas combustion products

The device proposed exploits this fact by
converting thermal energy into kinetic energy of
the free piston, and then utilizes this stored
kinetic energy to compress and pump air on the
opposite side of the piston toward the end of
the stroke.
After the success of the free-piston air
compressor, a number of industrial research
groups started the development of free-piston
gas generators. In these engines there is no load
device coupled to the engine itself, but the
power is extracted from an exhaust turbine.
(The only load for the engine is the
supercharging of the inlet air.)
A number of free-piston gas generators were
developed, and such units were in widespread
use in large-scale applications such as stationary
and marine powerplants
. Attempts were made
to use free-piston gas generators for vehicle
propulsion (e.g. in gas turbine locomotives) but
without success.

Free-piston engines could be used to
generate electricity as efficiently as, and less
expensively than, fuel cells.
It could be used to generate electricity as
efficiently as fuel cells yet cost less.
Having a cheap and efficient way to generate
electricity is becoming more important as
automakers develop electric vehicles with
onboard generators for recharging the
battery pack and extending range. Such
vehicles, called series plug-in hybrids or
extended-range electric vehicles
Automakers such as GM, Lotus, and Volvo have
started to investigate the possibility of using
such engines in future vehicles.
To generate electricity, the pistons could be
equipped with rows of magnets that shuttle past
metal coils to create an electrical current.
The free-piston design can also allow the engine
to be instantly optimized for different fuels,
such as hydrogen, natural gas, ethanol, gasoline,
and diesel. Ideally, drivers could use whatever
fuel is cheap and readily available.
Sound of the engines: the fast explosions are
very loud and will be difficult to muffle.
The biggest issue is control: it makes
necessary some sort of active control
mechanism to ensure that each cycle is the
same, variations could cause poor
performance and increased emissions.
These engines are commonly of the single
piston type, with the hydraulic cylinder
acting as both load and rebound device using
a hydraulic control system. This gives the
unit high operational flexibility, and
excellent part load performance has been
reported for such engines .

The Chiron free piston engine is an integrated
combination of an internal combustion engine
and a hydraulic pump.
The core of this engine is a combustion piston
directly coupled to a hydraulic plunger.
The piston is not connected to any mechanism
but is free to move within the limitations of the
cylinders. In this way the energy of the
combustion process is almost directly converted
into hydraulic energy.
Compared to a conventional combination of a
pump and a combustion engine, the number of
parts is reduced to approximately 40%.

The HyDrid is a hydraulic hybrid drive train for
road vehicles. In this new concept, the complete
mechanical transmission of a car is replaced by a
full hydrostatic transmission, allowing energy
recuperation and an efficient operation.
The concept requires extremely efficient
hydrostatic pumps, motors and transformers,
which have been developed recently.
Simulation by the German Institute for Fluid
Power Drives and Controls (IFAS) at RWTH Aachen
University proved that an average fuel
consumption of 3.1 liter per 100 km (or 77 MPG)
is possible for a mid-sized (1450 kg) passenger

We want our cars to be strong and fast. This
requires large and powerful engines. The
maximum engine performance is, however,
seldom needed. Most of the time while
driving in the city or cruising on the highway
the engine is running at low loads, often less
than 20% of the maximum torque.
The high average fuel consumption of
passenger cars is largely due to the low
efficiency of internal combustion engines at
these low loads..

This can be achieved with a series hydraulic
hybrid drivetrain, called the Hydrid, which
is developed by the Dutch company INNAS.
In this new concept, the complete
mechanical transmission of a car is replaced
by a full hydrostatic transmission, allowing
energy recuperation and an efficient engine
The concept requires extremely efficient
hydrostatic pumps, motors and transformers,
which have been developed recently.

Engine control problem which is fully solved
only in single piston hydraulic engine
Influence of cycle to cycle variations in the
combustion process