Automakers have employed cylinder deactivation for years now in an effort to increase fuel economy on large-displacement engines. The process essentially cuts fuel to a set number of cylinders when load on drivetrain is at minimal levels. But what if every cylinder could be deactivated to save fuel, only getting fuel and a spark when it’s needed? That’s what General Motors is exploring with the help of a company called Tula Technologies.
It’s called Dynamic Skip Fire and it basically uses sophisticated computer algorithms to fire only cylinders when needed for generating power and canceling vibrations caused by an imbalance in rotational mass. Though still in development, Tula claims a 15-percent improvement on fuel economy over V-8 engines with GM’s cylinder deactivation technology called Active Fuel Management.
Of course, DSF only works on engines with direct fuel injection like GM’s latest EcoTec3 family of engines.
Modifications to the engine include fully deactivatable lifter on the intake and exhaust valves, along with additional oil galleries in the block to supply the new lifter oil manifold assemblies with a steady steam of oil. The computer does the work beyond that.
No doubt the integration of DSF into a production engine will take time and thousands more hours of testing, but the idea of saving another 15 percent on fuel consumption without sacrificing peak engine output is a tantalizing thought. Hopefully we’ll see more of this system in the future, especially now that GM Ventures has announced its investment into Tula.
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Want to know the nitty-gritty details of Tula’s Dynamic Skip Fire system? Check out this detailed report.