This idea is for an electrical genset that has the advantages of a free piston engine combined with the precision and operational flexibility of a reciprocating engine. Basically a linear-generator is mounted between the cylinder and the crosshead guide, so the conrod/crankshaft/flywheel only receives
and releases barely enough energy to push the piston back to TDC and operate the valves so what would normally be part of the powertrain is just the rebound mechanism for an almost-free-piston engine.
A "crosshead" is a device used in very large engines to completely eliminate piston side-loading <see link>. As a result the piston-rod has no angular motion, making it an ideal place to put a linear generator. The generator converts all the combustion stroke energy into electricity, except the small amount used to drive the crankshaft/flywheel.
Picture a 50hp cylinder attached to the crankcase and internals of a 5hp motor. Or, most precisely, a "free piston" engine with a small flywheel return mechanism.
Over a "real" FPE...
precise, consistent TDC piston placement
not limited to 2-stroke operation
very wide power range
no critical feedback control and management.
Over a Reciprocating Engine...
no noticeable vibration save piston-travel
cylinder can be larger because of lack of vibration.
Compared to a FPE...
dwell time is more fixed.
barring mechanicals, CR is fixed.
Compared to a RE...
Unlike a rotary generator which is constantly in use, this one is only operating half the time (in a two-stroke).
The NSFPE has two mechanisms:
structural: in case of generator failure, the exhaust valve opens immediately to avoid stressing the rebound mechanism. (or you could put an emergency brake on the piston rod)
operational: in case of a misfire, the linear generator kicks in and helps the flywheel through the next stroke. (or you could just use a bigger flywheel)
is a linear brushless field-coil type which, as well as enabling the generator to be "off" during non-powerstrokes, gives a much broader powerband without requiring increased RPM.
is on the cylinder where all the weight is, since the crankcase is little more than a dustcover. The engine would best be mounted inverted resulting in a low CG and, for a serial-hybrid vehicle, a shorter exhaust path.
One Big Cylinder...
means better thermal efficiency and a lower operating RPM. The kicker is that, in contrast to a normal reciprocating engine of many small displacement cylinders, one big displacement cylinder isn't going to result in a heavier engine. While the "crankshaft" needs to be a bit heavier, one cylinder will weigh much less than an equal displacement in smaller cylinders. It might even be lighter. In fact...
is viable since there's no engine block to crack: the "crankcase" is almost the consistency of a valve cover.
such as the valvetrain, oil-pump, fuel-pump, waterpump, could be either run from the crankshaft, electrically, or in some cases from the (almost completely monolinear) vibration of the engine itself.
isn't totally impossible. While the stroke can't be changed without switching out some crank parts, it would be pretty easy to move the lightly-loaded crankshaft a bit out or in, relative to the cylinder, to give a variable CR, even on the fly. This would result in the piston rod, thus the center of the generator core, moving a bit out or in as well.