An opportunity clearly missed…

When an entrepreneur of the type often found within the fabric of high performance or racing parts manufacturers is seeking ways to fund his core idea, it’s not uncommon for him to use companion ideas to provide the financial support. OK, that’s a bit vague, but here’s an example of how this can work.

I think it was sometime around the mid-1970s, during my two decades at Edelbrock, when I received a call from one of our product users.  Specifically, he was in the midst of developing an inventive way of introducing fuel into an engine, primarily for exhaust emissions reductions and fuel economy, even though the former (at the time) was more in vogue than the latter.  A single-plane, Edelbrock intake manifold was being used and the problem he described related to cylinder-to-cylinder mixture distribution…not at all uncommon for these type of manifolds.  Furthermore, since his company was not inconvenient to travels I frequently made to and from the Detroit, Michigan area, it was agreed I would make a brief stop to review the problem during a subsequent trip.  So I did.

First off, the “inventive way of introducing fuel into an engine” was something very creative.  Fuel was being passed through a thin, wafer-shaped device drilled with a series of very small holes that began at the disc’s center and were routed radially outward much like the spokes in a bicycle wheel.  Electronically, this disc was subjected to very high frequency input that caused it to vibrate (almost imperceptibly) at an equally high frequency.  As fuel was delivered through an entry port and the disc’s center and into the network of holes, fuel exiting the perimeter of the disc was almost smoke-like.  Fuel particle diameter was said to be in the sub-20-micron size.  Equally of interest was the company’s owner, an engineer deeply involved in the project who told me they had been able to support combustion powerful enough to propel an on-road vehicle at air/fuel ratios on the order of 17.0-20.0:1.  By itself, that got my attention.

At any rate, his manifold “problem” was linked to the ultra-small fuel droplet sizes whereby particle dynamics of the fuel had taken on those of inlet air.  Let me say that another way.  The fuel was beginning to behave like air, to the extent that when the air moved quickly, so did the fuel…unlike the result of fuel atomization you’d expect from a carburetor.  Long story short, during periods of reversion when cylinder pressure was higher than inlet pressure (typically early during the inlet cycle), cylinder-to-cylinder mixture distribution was being upset as exacerbated by the finely-atomized fuel.