New System Deactivates Engine Cylinders One at a Time

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Posted: July 25, 2013 at 4:42 am

A typical cylinder deactivation system aids an engine’s fuel efficiency by automatically cutting off the operation of a fixed number of cylinders during light-load conditions.

But a new approach developed by San Jose, Calif.-based Tula Technology Inc. promises far more dramatic gains. The company’s system controls each cylinder individually and fires only enough of them at any moment to deliver the torque required.

Tula notes that its system’s shifting and seemingly random firing order could cause noise and engine shake. But it says the key to avoiding those problems is the company’s proprietary control software. Since only minor changes to a conventional cylinder deactivation hardware are required, an upgrade is relatively inexpensive, according to the startup.

Tula claims its system can boost fuel efficiency of a V-8 engine 18%—more than twice the gain possible with a conventional deactivation system. The company says it is working with several carmakers to commercialize the technology.