Hüttlin Spherical Engine Starts Cooking With Gas (w/ video)


That orb-y, Deathstar-looking thing with the dual carburetors sticking out of it up there? It’s a Hüttlin spherical engine, and it may be one of the most efficient internal-combustion engine designs ever built.

Unveiled at last year’s Geneva Motor Show, this latest version of

The Hüttlin engine made its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2011 (again: this is NOT a news blog), surrounded by other “green” tech exhibitions, and attracted a fair bit of attention with its “shiny, globular design”. That design is part of what makes the Hüttlin such a model of efficiency, allowing the engine to be built using about 60 components, compared to over 200 in an “typical” 4-cyl. And, according to How Stuff Works, “the Hüttlin achieves more than 30 percent efficiency (in other words, less than 70 percent of the power it produces is squandered to heat, noise and wasted friction), which, of course, means the engine will use less fuel, and will also give off fewer environment-harming emissions. Traditional engines, by comparison, achieve only about 20 percent efficiency.”

All good stuff, of course – but what interests me (your favorite blogger, I’m sure) is this latest twist (spin?) on the spherical engine saga …

… do you see it?

It’s not obvious, but if you look at it just the right way you’ll see that this latest Hüttlin (mounted on an engine dyno) is burning natural gas, taking the spherical design one step closer to clean-burning perfection.

You can get a clearer picture of how the spherical engine works from the video, below, released in 2007 (back when the motor was just a concept) by Peraves, makers of the innovative Monotracer enclosed motorcycles that have been X-Prize winners and “the car of the future” for the last 20-odd years.

There’s no snark in that, by the way – I want one desperately!

Anyway. Video (down there).

Peraves (the company most likely to put the Hüttlin into series production) hopes the positive buzz surrounding the spherical engine – especially now that it’s proven itself on several fuels – will lead smaller carmakers like Russia’s Yo and Tesla to use the Hüttlin in their extended-range vehicle projects in the future.

You can find out more about the Hüttlin over at How Stuff Works, where my good friend Cherise LaPine talks specs, design, and more.

Sourcea: How Stuff Works, Peraves.

About the Author

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.
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  • Better than 30% efficiency is not all that good. The v3 Prius engine is ~38% efficient, and the typical TDI engines today are ~42-44% efficient.

    And electric motors are over 90% efficient — as high as 94% for some.


    • T Adkins

      I understand where you are going with that.

      This engine using 70% fewer parts than a typical 4 cylinder engine is 50% more efficient than a standard ICE, and that is using the numbers the article presents.

      The Prius is an internal combustion engine that is running the ‘Atkinson cycle’ of combustion then it is mated to the parallel hybrid system from Toyota. IF this engine were to be used in such a hybrid running the Atkinson cycle it could exceed the ~38% you present. I am unsure if the size and geometry of the engine allow it to run diesel, but if it can run diesel it should be equal or better than the standard diesel if it isnt perhaps that is why it is not running as a diesel.

      They do go over the number of parts to the engine, this is usually if you need less parts it is easier to manufacture less parts tends to save on weight and size. Less moving parts less friction. But lets say this engine is only as efficient as a standard engine but is only just smaller and lighter and easier to manufacture. Smaller size potentially smaller car. Smaller lighter engine better gas savings just from the weight savings.

      Now lets go back to that better than 30% efficiency you are not so happy about, the article says typical ICE is ~20%. So a 10% gain would be a 50% more efficient engine if it is 50% more efficient that should mean a car that gets 20mpg would now get 30mpg, a 40mpg car should get 60mpg, all by changing motors. People I work with pay about $75 a week in gas if you could go 50% farther on the same gas it is like spending $50 a week on gas, saving about $1300 a year if u own the car for 5 years that is $6500. So if getting this motor and installing it is less than $6500 it is worth doing, if you plan on using the car for more than 5 years even more worth it.

      From a car maker’s end the engine would help them meet the higher mpg standards and should be cheaper to make and install, it does have 30% of the number of parts in a normal engine.

      Now the electric motor I can not argue with your numbers there at all, but I do believe there are motors that are above 94% efficiency I think they were 96-98%. I can however speak about an ‘electric’ car that is been talked about a lot lately the Volt. While not fully electric as a ‘series hybrid’ when charged the Volt will go 40 miles on a full charge. To go that distance the car has a battery the shape of a upper case ” T ” this T is nearly the full width of the car and about 9 feet long this battery weighs 435 pounds. This 435 pound battery powers the car for 40 miles, if I have a car that gets 40 mpg for about 6 pounds 1 gallon of gas I can go the same 40 miles. Now if that 40mpg car now has the ball engine it should be a 60 mpg car.

      If you can get a car with a ball engine at no additional cost over a normal car and now whatever gasoline car you are looking at is getting 50% better mpg 10 is now 15, 14 is 21, 20 is 30, 30 is 45, 40 is 60; again at no additional cost makes the premium for hybrid and electric harder to swallow.

      An switch to an engine like that would mean with out changing the current infrastructure for fuel we could see mass adoption and a 30% reduction of fuel use. Does this mean no alt fuels or no electric. Alt fuel and electric will have to work harder but should still have a place. One of alt fuels short coming can even be addressed there is usually not enough to go around with this engine alt fuel can potentially reach 33% further. For electric the short coming is storage and it needs work it will have to get better.

      Do I truly believe this motor will do what it says? No Idea but they arent selling it to me they are selling it to people who will sell it to me. I am sue there will be more news about this.