Mercedes has made a significant breakthrough in their engine development with their Formula 1 engine breaking the 50% thermal efficiency barrier for the first time, on the dyno.
This marks a huge leap in the improvements to its power unit which is already the most efficient racing engine in the history.
Modern engine builders have been looking at ways to improve thermal efficiency, trying to maximise the amount of useful energy produced from a given quantity of heat input.
It has become especially important in Formula 1 as FIA has set up a strict limit of 105kg of fuel to be used per race.
The 50% efficiency shown by their new engine makes Mercedes the most efficient internal combustion engine maker in the world.
This new achievement is close to the efficiency achieved by diesel engines aboard large container ships. The highest efficiency rate is set by gas turbines which go above 60%.
On the race track, we have seen 30% efficiency produced by the old normally aspirated engines. The new levels, if proven on track will be the best so far by any internal combustion engine.
In 2014, when F1’s new turbo hybrid engine was introduced, Mercedes engines were clocking a 44% energy conversion rate, and have been increasing the gains ever since.
Talking about their new achievement, the team wrote, “The old-fashioned, naturally aspirated engines peaked at 29 percent thermal efficiency during the V8 era – while the last time we saw these levels of power in Formula 1 was back in 2005, with a V10 that guzzled fuel at a whopping 194kg/hr. To halve the fuel flow rate for the same amount of power is quite something.”
“Three and a half years after making its debut, the Mercedes-AMG F1 power unit has now achieved a conversion efficiency of more than 50 percent during dyno testing in Brixworth.
“In other words, it now produces more power than waste energy – a remarkable milestone for any hybrid, and especially a flat-out racing engine. Compared to 2014, the power output is 109 horsepower greater using the same amount of fuel.”
The recently released Mercedes ‘Project One’ road car uses a version of its F1 engine with a 40% thermal efficiency.