Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Building Better Engines Through Natural Selection

Date:
June 21, 2000
Source:
University Of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
Could Charles Darwin's rules of evolution help engineers design high-performance engines of the future? Computer models developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are doing just that, by using genetic algorithms to simultaneously increase fuel efficiency and reduce pollution.

MADISON - Could Charles Darwin's rules of evolution help engineers design high-performance engines of the future?

Computer models developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are doing just that, by using genetic algorithms to simultaneously increase fuel efficiency and reduce pollution.

Peter Senecal, a post-doctorate engineer at UW-Madison, created the computer models to help sort through literally billions of combinations of factors that determine engine performance - a task too enormous for conventional computer simulations.

Senecal says the most important advance is in improving pollution emissions without sacrificing fuel efficiency, and vice versa. Normally, engine designers who concentrate on solving one problem end up with major tradeoffs in the other.

The results to date have been dramatic. Using a Silicon Graphics supercomputer at UW-Madison's Engine Research Center, Senecal created a diesel engine design that reduces nitric oxide emissions by three-fold and soot emissions by 50 percent over the best available technology. At the same time, the model reduced fuel consumption by 15 percent.

Six engine performance measures were studied, including fuel injection timing, injection pressure, and amount of exhaust recirculation. The simulation was then reproduced experimentally in a real diesel engine housed at the ERC. "We found that the agreement was excellent between what was measured in the lab engine and what the computer predicted," Senecal says.

Senecal's research will be published in an upcoming issue of the International Journal of Engine Research. He will also give an invited presentation Wednesday, June 21, to the Society of Automotive Engineers international meeting in Paris.

His work also is turning heads in the engine manufacturing industry, which faces major new federal pollution control mandates by the year 2002. Caterpillar Inc., a Peoria-based manufacturer of diesel engines for trucks and heavy equipment, is funding Senecal's post-doctorate work that will focus on improving the geometry of engines.

Senecal says genetic algorithms have been developed in recent years for other engineering challenges, such as designing bridges and airplane wings. "I kind of stumbled onto this in the literature, and wasn't sure if it would work for something as complex as engine design," he says.

Here's how it works: Senecal begins with five "individuals," which are defined as one distinct set of the six engine parameters. Four of the individuals are randomly selected and the fifth is the baseline, or best known set of parameters.

Next, a computer model is used to weed out the best parameters of the first group. The two fittest "parents" are then allowed to "reproduce" and a new generation is formed, complete with "mutations" that represent marked improvements over the previous generation. The process is continued through successive generations until the computer identifies the most "fit" member of the group.

Senecal says this process narrows the field of potentially one billion calculations on the computer down to 200 to 250 of the best possibilities. The computer can accomplish in weeks what would otherwise take decades to run.

Mechanical engineering Professor Rolf Reitz, Senecal's Ph.D. thesis advisor, says the computer model is extremely versatile and could be used for all types of engines. While curent work focuses on questions like fuel injection and air intake, studies of engine hardware are just beginning.

Reitz says the typical engine piston, for example, has not been fundamentally improved upon for decades. Yet engineers have no idea whether a different geometry could produce much better engines.

If engine manufacturers want a more powerful engine, or a more durable engine, one can program the genetic model to find those traits, too. "If you want your children to be long jumpers, high jumpers or sprinters, you can specify these attributes with this program," Reitz says.

The diesel engine industry faces a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandate to cut nitric oxide emissions in half by 2002. Wisconsin's small engine industry, also facing pollution-control deadlines, also has initiated a research program at UW-Madison using the genetic model.

###

NOTE TO GRAPHICS EDITORS: A chart to accompany this story is available for downloading at: http://www.news.wisc.edu/newsphotos/engines.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "Building Better Engines Through Natural Selection." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 June 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/06/000621073216.htm>.
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. (2000, June 21). Building Better Engines Through Natural Selection. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/06/000621073216.htm
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "Building Better Engines Through Natural Selection." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/06/000621073216.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins