Nuclear Physics Could Lead to More Efficient Engine Designs

The oil in your engine. We all know what it does, but how efficiently does it work? Until just recently that question was unanswered, but thanks to some research conducted by Nissan, we have a much better understanding of the mechanics behind it. The result could be more efficient engines in the near future.

Working with the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), Nissan was able to "record" how oil flows inside and engine that is running at higher RPM's. To accomplish this, JAEA adapted a neutron imaging system to work with one of Nissan's performance engines.

The imaging system uses a beam of neutrons that is focused on a certain area of the engine. They penetrate the block and any that exit on the opposite side will then hit a converter. Once the neutron pattern has been converted into a usable image, it will reflect off two mirrors and enter an image intensifier. Is it then fed through a high speed camera and stored on a computer for review.

From the tests, Nissan is hoping to develop engines that allow for better oil flow, in turn reducing friction and improving both power figures and efficiency. The reduction in friction will also reduce the stress on the moving parts inside the engine, which will prolong the life of your vehicle.

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