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Engine Without a Crankshaft
January 31, 2013   
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A new type of internal combustion engine without a crankshaft invented by a Polish engineer may soon make waves in the international automotive industry.

The inventor, Kazimierz Rzadkosz, says his engine is far more effective than any previous designs. Rzadkosz now plans to produce a prototype.

Rzadkosz, who lives in the village of Gliczarów Górny in the Biały Dunajec district in the southern Podhale region, spent 30 years working on his design. After years of observation and calculations, he decided that, in a piston engine, power is transferred to the crankshaft at the worst possible moment, as a result of which much of the power is simply wasted. In Rzadkosz’s design, the power is delivered to the connecting rod. This, according to Rzadkosz, makes his engine two to three times more powerful than a conventional engine of the same capacity. Better performance is possible at lower revolutions, thanks to which engine wear is reduced substantially. For example, at 10,000 rpm, the engine will deliver up to 450 hp, Rzadkosz says.

The new type of engine can be adapted to burn gasoline, diesel fuel and other fuels. The inventor says he is also thinking of using propane-butane or hydrogen. He is working with the Lublin University of Technology to make that happen.

Rzadkosz’s calculations related to his new engine have been confirmed by researchers from institutions including the Cracow University of Technology. The Patent Office patented the engine a year ago. Currently, a search is in progress for a company to finance the construction of a prototype. Work on a 3D computer design is under way.

Improving Crash Safety

Another Polish inventor, Lucjan Łągiewka, a self-taught designer from the southwestern town of Kowary, has developed a special bumper to reduce the impact on the human body during a car crash.

Łągiewka has designed a system in which part of a vehicle’s kinetic energy during a collision is channeled to a special rotor in the form of revolving kinetic energy.

The invention has won many awards at more than a dozen international exhibitions, but has never been applied in the motor industry. Now the technology, called EPAR, has attracted the interest of manufacturers of impact-absorbing barriers, which are used in high-risk areas. Production is due to begin soon.

EPAR, an abbreviation from its Polish name, stands for Energy Accumulating and Dissipating Converter. The device was first presented to the public in the late 1990s, in the form of a specially constructed bumper installed on a small Fiat car.

Over the last decade, Łągiewka has received many international prizes for his inventions and won recognition among inventors. Today he runs the EPAR project development company together with his son. A major focus of the company is to implement the EPAR idea in road safety equipment such as road barriers.

Child Seat with a Difference

In 2006, Janusz Liberkowski, a Polish engineer living in America, won a U.S. competition for amateur inventors for his “spherical safety seat” for children that automatically closes during an accident.

Liberkowski won the ABC television station’s American Inventor competition, which attracted more than 10,000 contestants. He won an audience vote and pocketed prize money of $1 million.

The invention is a spherically shaped child car seat that closes during an accident to shield the child from the force of the impact. The invention won recognition because children are killed in car accidents every day despite being properly fastened in regular child seats.

Liberkowski, born in the town of Nowa Sól, Poland, graduated from an engineering school in Gdańsk. He left for the United States with his wife in 1984 and took up residence in San Jose in the very heart of Silicon Valley. Liberkowski started working on his invention after he lost his daughter in a car accident.

The genius of Liberkowski’s invention is its simplicity. Instead of trying to limit the forces unleashed during a crash, he produced a design that uses such momentum to better protect the child. The child lies in a “survival capsule” composed of two nested hemispheres. The outer one plays a protective function and the inner—in which the child is fastened—”floats” freely in all directions. The impact does not cause belts to tighten on the child’s delicate body, but causes the inner hemisphere to rock and spin.

Tests by experts show that the capsule protects children much more effectively than traditional safety seats, even at high speeds.

Liberkowski’s work serves as a reminder that transporting a child without a proper car seat is not only unlawful, but first and foremost dangerous. In collisions, an adult is unable to hold onto a child. Seatbelts do not adequately protect children, either. Their sudden pressure on the neck can simply strangle children, as they are manufactured with the height of an average adult in mind.

Transporting a child seated on an adult’s lap with the belt fastened over both offers no protection against accidents or even against sudden hard braking. Two forces are acting on the child in this case: the child is pressed by the belt from one side, and crushed by the adult from the other.

Pole Credited for Inventing Windshield Wipers

Yet another Polish inventor—as well composer and pianist—Józef Hofmann is credited with inventing automobile windshield wipers. Born in 1876 in Cracow, Hofmann left for the United States in 1924 and fell in love with all things automotive. Reportedly he invented the windshield wiper while watching a metronome, a mechanical device that produces a regular beat to help musicians keep a steady tempo as they play.

His invention met with great interest and soon Ford acquired the rights to produce it.

Hofmann has a total of about 100 inventions and over 70 patents to his name, ranging from pneumatic shock absorbers for cars and airplanes to an adjustable piano stool.
T.B.
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