I recall when I was around fifteen and took a serious interest in internal combustion engines the term “Blower” was usually associated with cars like the 4.5 liter prewar Bentley or some monstrous machine that was going to compete at the Le Mans.
Blowers, better known today as Superchargers were popular both before the Second World War and after. In the post war years people had a strange desire to put these contraptions on any car that they wished to appear or look fast. A good example is the early post war British MG range such as the MGTC or TD. The fact that forcing air into an engine that was not designed for such treatment can, in the fullness of time, blow up the power unit or at least loosen a few important parts, as the Pre War Bentley boys soon found out did not stop this practice. However, this rather old technique has found a new place in the quest to design a 100 miles to the gallon vehicle. The new Chevrolet Lacetti has managed to redesign the old Blower principle with a rather unique twist. Instead of blowing extra air into the engine at high speeds it reverses the process and gives the engine that extra boost at low revs when the car driver would usually hit the gas peddle to get up speed. The super charger is also dual speed which means that it can boost the power output at both ends of the performance range. All done of course by the wonder tool of the age the inboard computer. Chevrolet claim up to 40% increase in performance with this old/new devise. Please take note. As yet this vehicle is not available in your local dealership, in fact there are only two cars fitted with this devise for research investigation. The idea was developed by “Antonov Automotive Technologies”, a U.K. Company, the so-called supercharger is, like the ones used in the past, a mechanical unit with gears etc. The UK Company suggests that this development could increase the MPG of an average vehicle by simply reducing the size of the power unit which would use less fuel and even assist the environmental impact of the internal combustion engine.(Mr. Gore would approve of that I’m sure.)
Another idea floating around the development world is the suggestion that with modern technology it would be possible to shut down one or two cylinders in the engine when the car is under way. My only problem with that is why buy six cylinders if you intend to shut down two when you hit the road. Better off with four or even two as long as they give you the performance you require. Some of us with gray hair, or no hair at all, remember the days of the Two Stroke power unit that burned oil like a worn out tractor and needed attention every few hundred miles. The one blessing about a two stroke is that you are getting a power stroke every two revolutions rather than every four as with the convention engine. New developments in the area of the two stroke engine have progressed to a point where the engine is now cleaner then the conventional four stroke power unit and more economical. A Marine outboard engine that is a two stroke design gets a higher environmental rating than any other four stroke outboard and is about 20% more economical as far as gas consumption is concerned. You don’t have to be a Rocket Scientist to recognize the potential for this new technology be it a boat, car or even an airplane. The so-called oil crisis has done something that people have been talking about for most of my life time, forced manufacturers to look at new engine developments that will be kinder to the world we live in as well as our pockets.