|The ZEOD RC weighs 40kg|
Monday, 27 January 2014
Nissan develops ‘engine in a suitcase’
The prospect of an ‘engine in a suitcase’ has become a reality with the latest 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine from Nissan that develops 400bhp.
The engine weighs only 40kg (88lb) and is only 500mm tall x 400mm long x 200mm wide (19.68” x 15.74” x 7.78”).
While the gasoline engine is technically too heavy to take as carry-on luggage on a commercial aircraft – it could easily fit inside the luggage guides seen at major airports around the world.
With a top speed of 7,500rev/min, the Nissan DIG-T R produces 380Nm of torque. At a ratio of 10bhp/kg the new engine has a better power-to-weight ratio than the latest engines that will appear in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship this year.
Nissan will break new ground with the unique electric powertrain installed in the Nissan ZEOD RC at the Le Mans 24-hour race in France in June this year, with but the accompanying internal combustion engine is set to revolutionise standards of performance and efficiency.
The Nissan ZEOD RC will become the first entry at Le Mans to complete a lap of the Circuit de la Sarthe under nothing electric power alone. A single lap of each stint (a fuel “stint” lasts approximately one hour) will be electric powered, after which the new Nissan DIG-T R 1.5 litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine will take over.
With the entire concept of the Nissan ZEOD RC focussing heavily on downsizing and efficiency, Nissan has had to turn to its new lubricants partner Total to help develop the engine.
French lubricants manufacturer Total has worked closely with Nissan engineers to develop fuel and lubricants to minimise friction and maximise the potential of the engine.
Reducing friction is increasingly becoming an important issue in the design and development of reciprocating engines – both gasoline and diesel.
The Nissan ZEOD RC will occupy “Garage 56” at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, an additional entry reserved by the Automobile Club de l‘Ouest for new and ground-breaking technologies never previously seen at the classic French endurance event.
Lessons learned from the development of the revolutionary car will also be used in the development of Nissan’s planned entry into the LM P1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship the following year.
“Our engine team has done a truly remarkable job with the internal combustion engine,” claimed Darren Cox, Nissan’s global motorsport director.
“We knew the electric component of the Nissan ZEOD RC was certainly going to turn heads at Le Mans but our combined zero emission on-demand electric/petrol powertrain is quite a stunning piece of engineering,” Cox added.
“Nissan will become the first major manufacturer to use a three-cylinder engine in major international motorsport. We are aiming to maintain our position as industry leaders in focussing on downsizing. Lessons learned from the development of the engine will be seen in Nissan road cars of the future,” noted Cox.
“Our aim is to set new standards in efficiency in regards to every aspect of the car – powertrain, aerodynamics and handling. For the powertrain we have worked closely with the team at Total to not only reduce friction inside the engine, but within all components of the powertrain,” said Cox. “Friction is the enemy of horsepower and tackling that has been one of the efficiency targets we have concentrated on heavily.”
After extensive dynamometer testing, the Nissan ZEOD RC hit the track for the first time last week with both the electric and internal combustion engines in place.
Both the petrol and electric powerplants transmit power through the same five-speed gearbox that transfers power to the ground via Michelin tyres.
The Nissan ZEOD RC will undergo an extensive test program over the next four months prior to it making its race debut at this year’s Le Mans 24 hour race on June 14-15.
In theory, there is no reason why Nissan should not produce a diesel version of its new ZEOD RC “suitcase” engine. ∎