No more starter?

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Reading the thread on "Laser Plugs" reminded me of something a guy told me at a starter shop almost twenty years ago. He believed that starters would be a thing of the past. I don't know if he was aware of any specific research on this or just his opinion. He stated that the idea was the car's computer would sense which piston was in the up position and pushing a button would signal the distributor to fire on that piston. Anyone aware of any movement in this direction? [email protected]
 
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The piston would need not only to be in the up position, but also at full compression pressure and high temp with the right air fuel mixture. That's just not going to happen after being parked for any length of time.
 
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I agree with kanling. Also consider that engines cannot run below a certain RPM. 600 is the slowest I've seen in a car or truck. Any slower and the force of friction will overcome the power output of the engine. If you could theoretically fire a cylinder while the engine was at rest, it wouldn't produce enough power for the engine to move far enough for the next cylinder to fire. There would also be a substantial shock to the pistons, connecting rods, crankshaft, bearings and main caps. I would expect that would substantially decrease the engine's life.
 
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This reminds me of an old Ford truck I saw a while back. An older, red F150 was in front of me in heavy traffic as we were about half a mile away from the Van Dyke Rd. exit on EB I-696. All of a sudden, the truck starts pulling over to the side and I could hear that his engine had stalled. As he came to a stop on the side of the road, I started to pass him. At that moment, the truck let out a huge blast of a backfire, scaring the crap out of me. I clutched my chest in shock, noticing the plume of black smoke wafting out of the tailpipe. It looked like the engine was exhaling it's final gasp, just having blown out it's guts with that last backfire. In my mind, I pictured the insides of the muffler disintegrating as that blast passed through it. With that thought in my head, I laughed the entire rest of the way to my then-girlfriend's house. I'm still cracking up now thinking about it. It was the funniest backfire I've ever seen. For the record, I doubt the engine actually self-destructed, but that thought certainly did make for an entertaining ride home.
 
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The 'starter a thing of the past' comment might have been due to the trend of modern power electronics of being able to run an alternator as both a motor (for engine starting), as well as a generator. This would save a few pounds of weight, and is probably on the radar for most vehicle manufacturers, much like electric power steering pumps have been for a few years.
 
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Who really knows what innovations may happen in the next 20-50 years? Step back to 1960 and look at some of the engineering changes that have happened to vehicles since then. Carburetors are history. Navigation systems. OnStar. 4 cylinder engines mounted sideways that make impressive horsepower numbers. Front wheel drive. Who knows what may change in the future?
 
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quote:
Originally posted by pitzel: The 'starter a thing of the past' comment might have been due to the trend of modern power electronics of being able to run an alternator as both a motor (for engine starting), as well as a generator.
You can't feed DC into an alternator and have it behave like a motor. Even if it were feasible, the rectifier diodes would fry at the current levels necessary to crank a cold engine. (I think starter motors will be with us for a good while to come...)
 
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I had an old VW that on rare ocausion would start when the key was turned to run. I figured that the point gap had to be very close to opening and the piston at near tdc. I think it happened maybe 10-15 times in the 50,000 miles I owned it. My friends VW did the same thing. So an engine does NOT need to be turning at X rpm to start.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Paranoil: The combined starter-alternator will (probably) be here sooner rather than later. Many manufacturers already have prototypes running.
Interesting. Still, in my heat-prone area on the edge of the Mojave Desert, the thought of being stuck in traffic with the air conditioning disabled raises some concerns. The alternative - an electrically operated A/C compressor - would require a lot more battery. Greater battery capacity translates to more lead. More lead translates to higher replacement cost and more weight. More weight translates to higher fuel consumption. Ultimately, where're the savings? (least ways for the vehicle owner? I think starter motors will be with us a good while to come...)
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Eddie: I had an old VW that on rare ocausion would start when the key was turned to run. I figured that the point gap had to be very close to opening and the piston at near tdc. I think it happened maybe 10-15 times in the 50,000 miles I owned it. My friends VW did the same thing. So an engine does NOT need to be turning at X rpm to start.
Some early stationary industrial engines were designed to start from a standstill. Fuel was squirted into the ccombustion chamber after precisely positioning the piston for rotation, then ignited by various methods. I have heard of farm tractors spontaneously starting, usually when an electrical storm was in progress. Some WW2 era aircraft used what was called a "shotgun shell" starter. They utilized a special cartridge, firing several of them in rapid succession to spin the engine. If you watch old films of carrier aircraft starting up you can see the puffs of smoke as the cartridges fired. We use various industrial electronic drive motor controls in sawmills, commonly called "Vector" drives. They can do some amazing things, such as develop 100% torque at zero RPM and not burn up. Also rotate in precise degrees,back and forth, for accurate positioning of loads, a task formerly done with hydraulics. I see no reason that a practical starter/generator cannot be built using similar control methods. It's gonna be spendy though. Joe
 
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I am guessing that we are going to see a return of the DC motor if they want it to do both deeds. Any starter ever made for a car will produce DC voltage if spun. So it would make a lot of sense to go back to a DC generator with a starter feature built in. A lot has changed since the 1960's that can be used to make a DC generator more effecient.
 
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I believe GM is already doing it (the 2005 Silverado/Sierra): http://www.gm.com/company/gmability/sustainability/reports/05/400_products/3_thirty/432.html Flywheel Alternator Starter (FAS) System GMC Sierra with FAS Instead of a conventional starter motor and alternator, the hybrid truck features a compact electric motor integrated between the engine and transmission, known as a flywheel alternator starter system. The electric motor provides fast, quiet starting power, and the ability to generate up to 14,000 watts of continuous electric power. Belt Alternator Starter (BAS) System GM engineers developed the belt alternator starter (BAS) system to provide improved fuel economy in stop-and-go driving conditions by shutting off the engine when it is idling and by enabling early fuel cut-off to the engine during decelerations. The BAS system is scheduled to debut in 2006 on the Saturn VUE and in 2007 on the Chevrolet Malibu. The system combines sophisticated engine controls with a precision electric motor/generator. Regenerative braking and efficient charging are among the other features of the system. The estimated fuel economy savings is at least 10 percent. A 42-volt Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery provides power, assisting the existing 12-volt electrical system. [ April 08, 2006, 02:53 PM: Message edited by: brianl703 ]
 
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My brother was in the Air Force and he said that B52 bombers on the alert pad armed and fueled could use what was called a "cartridge start" which was a black powder cartridge attached to one engine and fired to create enough engine rotation to start the engine without the usual APU cart but was only supposed to be used in emergency alert takeoff drill or WAR since it made the jet engine dirty inside or at least the turbine blades.
 
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I think there is a lot of work in progress on a 48V electrical system for cars. Reduce the current required to operate accessories such as electrically assisted power steering and A/C. The energy is the same, but lower current due to higher system voltage. You can then use smaller gauge wire to do the same work, saving a bit of weight there. Even if you have to have more and heavier batteries, that can be offset by not powering accessories when not needed. There is weight in all those pullies and tensioners. A vehicle with a generator/motor replacing both the starter and alternator, as well as either an electrically driven thermostatically controlled water pump and all other accessories electrically driven could save energy. What do you save if you don't have to drive the waterpump all the time, the powersteering pump all the time, the A/C compressor and all those pullys all the time? I see this best in a vehicle that already has a hybrid system that is going to carry significant battery capacity as it drives, yet still having sufficient battery reserves for hours of idling if it needed to. I suspect, moving the A/C out of the engine compartment to the rear of the car, away from engine and maybe even exhaust heat, could allow for smaller and more effecient A/C systems. There are probably other savings as well.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Ray H:
quote:
Originally posted by pitzel: The 'starter a thing of the past' comment might have been due to the trend of modern power electronics of being able to run an alternator as both a motor (for engine starting), as well as a generator.
You can't feed DC into an alternator and have it behave like a motor. Even if it were feasible, the rectifier diodes would fry at the current levels necessary to crank a cold engine. (I think starter motors will be with us for a good while to come...)

no one is suggesting you could produce the torque equivalent of a starter to turn over an engine with an accessory drive belt.frying rectifiers is the least of your concern. any currently mass produced serpentine belt would meet its demise in very short order.this is why we have relays in our present starter systems.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Ray H: You can't feed DC into an alternator and have it behave like a motor. Even if it were feasible, the rectifier diodes would fry at the current levels necessary to crank a cold engine. (I think starter motors will be with us for a good while to come...)
Alternators are mostly built today as 3 phase machines, often with integrated rectifiers and voltage regulators. There is no reason why, with modern power electronics, that the alternator could not be run as an induction motor for engine startup. It just takes a slight bit of redesign, some power electronics (ie: thyristors), and some sort of logic to run it all. No big deal. Its going to happen, just a matter of when. Also, an alternator/starter need not be coupled to an engine using a serpentine belt. Direct gear coupling would work just fine, again, with slight mechanical redesign.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by JohnBrowning: I am guessing that we are going to see a return of the DC motor if they want it to do both deeds.
AC machines would work just fine. Its not hard to convert DC current (from a battery) into the appropriate waveforms required to spin up an AC induction motor or synchronous motor/generator (as is essentially found in contemporary auto alternators). The electronics are more sophisticated and some microprocessor control is required, but its not actually that difficult.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Ray H: ...You can't feed DC into an alternator and have it behave like a motor. Even if it were feasible, the rectifier diodes would fry at the current levels necessary to crank a cold engine. (I think starter motors will be with us for a good while to come...)
You haven't kept up with modern industrial electrical controls. The flywheel mounted alternator system bears a remarkable similarity to the charging system that Henry used on the T-Model [Smile]
 
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