Introducing steam & preventing Dieselgate. You had that chance, Volkswagen.
Here and below: All pictures taken from the open-access Internet. The publication represents author's opinion only.
So, I went on the Internet and I found this
These are sketches from the US Patent 6508060 “Steam Engine,” January 21, 2003. The patent is about a steam unit with a piston engine which operates in closed circuit. This circuit includes steam generator, steam injector, condenser and water feeding pump. The unit inventors are Herbert Clemens and Michael Hoetger.
The assignee of the patent is Enginion AG, Berlin, Germany. For you to know, it is (was?) R&D subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group. These chaps were told to invent a non-fossil-fuel engine. What they did in late 1990s. They called their prototype EZEE03. And patented it later as 6508060 “Steam Engine.”
EZEE03 was a three-cylinder, “two-stroke,” one-litre unit which produced up to 220 horsepower (164 kW) and 500 Nm or (369 ft·lbf) of torque. To reach its maximum power from cold, EZEE03 needed 30 seconds. Tested (probably) on Škoda Fabia where the unit was successfully mounted.
Hoetger said that EZEE03 production price would be equal to “conventional” powertrains. That the unit weighed about 120 kg and was small enough to fit any car. That the unit generated extremely high torque very quickly. That the unit caught attention of the developing countries. That “unquestionably, the [EZEE03] technology would be ideal for vehicle propulsion … but it would take about six years before it was application ready.”
Hoetger was not given six years. The VW curtailed the project and claimed that the market was not ready for steam engines. EZEE03 was buried in a grave with no name. The Enginion AG switched to steam power-plants. The VW decided to invest into petrol and diesel engines…
… and over-invested. Dieselgate blackened the skies in September 2015.
Could EZEE03 prevent Dieselgate?
The Dieselgate broke out when the US Environmental Protection Agency blamed the Volkswagen Group for violating the Clean Air Act (best Act in the world, as you know). The VW had intentionally programmed some of its diesel engines to demonstrate good results in laboratories, but not on public roads. Thus, the VW vehicles emitted up to 40 times more NOx than they were expected to.
Eleven million (!!!) VW-branded vehicles drove all over the world and emitted up to 40 times more NOx!
To cover their sooty backs, the VW chaps announced plans in September 2015 to fix all (!) faulty vehicles. In April 2016 they promised to spend €16.2 billion on rectifying the emissions issues. In January 2017 they agreed to plead guilty to the emissions scandal and to pay $4.3 billion in penalties. In April 2017 they agreed to pay extra $2.8 billion in criminal fine for cheating on US government. In June 2018 the Audi CEO Rupert Stadler got arrested.
As the businessmen, engineer and sober individual, James May would probably raise a question now: Was the curtailing of steam-propulsion in 1990s worth it?
Wanna know more about steam engines? Read this: