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Engine Ultrasound

December 25, 2012

Ultrasound can monitor the lubrication in a car engine, which may improve oil efficiency.



Ultrasound for your car.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Ultrasound imaging could make car engines more efficient.  This according to Rob Dwyer-Joyce, head of mechanical engineering at the University of Sheffield in England.  He’s focused on the oil that lubricates an engine’s pistons.  Too little will wreck the engine, but any excess gets wastefully burned off.  Dwyer-Joyce’s team has found a way to use ultrasound – used by doctors to monitor pregnancies, among other things – to watch the pistons moving inside their sealed chamber.

ROB DWYER-JOYCE (University of Sheffield):

This allows you to see into the engine, without needing to cut open the engine, as it were.

The ultrasound images can measure the thickness of the oil film on the pistons, to help set a precise, optimal level of lubrication.  That could all be done in the factory, to fine-tune how the engine operates.  Or, the ultrasound could even be permanently installed in the engine, so it keeps making adjustments while you drive.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

Ultrasound could be used to monitor and fix car engines. (Jupiter Images)