MWI microwave ignition module
Former Porsche AG CEO Wendelin Wiedeking, who waged a failed takeover of the Volkswagen Group ten years ago, is reportedly one of the backers of a new venture that, at face value, is making claims that sound very much like those made of what was then the favored tech for VW and Audi: TDI diesel.
The idea, belonging to a company called MWI (Micro Wave Ignition), which presented the technology at a conference in Hanover, Germany, last week, involves igniting fuel with pulsed microwaves instead of spark plugs (or even glow plugs).
Engineers at MWI, according to a Bloomberg report, claim that they can cut fuel consumption by up to 30 percent and emissions by up to 80 percent―because (or in part because) combustion temperatures are lower, and ignition is more uniform.
"As a function of the particular parameter settings, the pressure increase curve is steeper for microwave chamber combustion than for spark ignition," the company explained on a tech page. "This means that the MWI combustion is faster and therefore more efficient."
That’s not a bad improvement for what could effectively be pitched as a retrofit that can be integrated into existing gasoline-engine designs. And it’s very close to the massive improvements that Volkswagen and Audi were claiming of their new/upcoming TDI engines in 2006-2008.
Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking
Wiedeking has been a vocal critic of diesel at times. And while we wonder what might have happened in a Volkswagen Group sent off on a different trajectory, its diesel emissions scandal sent the entire industry down a path that involves a much faster ramp-up toward electric vehicles. And this is being floated as a solution that involves less investment and all-out disruption.
The report cited sources claiming that MWI is in talks with major automakers in China and South Korea. The company also sees the technology as adaptable for trucks, buses, and even propeller aircraft.
"MWI technology simplifies engine design. Expensive catalytic converters and/or bothersome AdBlue are no longer required," the company declared in an information sheet for investors. The company also says that its technology meets EU regulations out to 2030.
With the European real driving emissions (RDE) test and other third-party tests now becoming a reality, it’s likely that such developments for internal combustion engines would be much more thoroughly scrutinized than previous generations of diesels and gasoline direct-injection engines—which means that to be feasible for automakers, MWI’s claims had better hold in a wide range of loads and driving conditions.