German Startup Looking To Save The Internal Combustion Engine

Despite emissions regulations forcing automakers to rush development on fully-electric powertrains, one German startup whose shareholders include ex-Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking, wants to give the internal combustion engine a fighting chance.

By using pulsed microwaves instead of spark plugs or glow plugs to ignite fuel, MWI Micro Wave Ignition engineers claim they can cut gasoline and diesel consumption by as much as 30% and emissions by 80%, seen as how the fuel would burn at a lower temperature.

The German startup is currently looking for a buyer and international partner, someone who could help them promote the technology while also improving their financial situation. According to people familiar with the matter, MWI is already talking to automakers from South Korea and China, as reported by Automotive News Europe.

By making internal combustion engines more efficient, traditional cars could remain on the road for a lot longer than anticipated, which might actually be favorable to some, if not most automakers out there – as they’re still investing in ICE technology.

The best part about MWI’s idea is that their tech can be integrated into existing engine architecture and would not require a complete redesign. This could make industry-wide adoption possible, and could have a positive effect in cities that are already considering banning older engines.

“I am convinced that MWI is a disruptive innovation with a huge market potential,” stated Wiedeking in an document shared by the German firm.

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  • Ben

    Cutting down on emissions is great, but electric cars are burning the candle at both ends in terms of lack performance and eco-friendlier.

    • TheAmerican

      True but they are less fun to drive.
      A v8, manual car is a helluva lot better to drive than a car where you just press and lift the “throttle” and listen to whiny noises all the time.

      • Stephen G

        The fun in driving an automobile is in the spirit in which you drive. Speed, maneuverability, comfort, convenience. The noises a gasoline powered vehicle is a minuscule part of that experience. Not only that but I don’t enjoy the “whine” of a high revving engine but enjoy the loping idle of a 60’s Mopar. Besides they can be electronically generated for those who think is necessary. And there are laws against making noise at certain levels.

        • TheAmerican

          I meant whine as an electric motor

          • Ben

            I have a question for you, why do we LOVE supercharger whine, but get annoyed at electrical motor whine? I seriously don’t know, just wanted to know if anyone had a good answer.

          • Stephen G

            I know, I made the assumption that you prefer the sound of an engine over the sound of a motor. I dismissed the manual transmission comment since most automobiles today are sold as automatics.

          • Cobrajet

            The whine will still be there in the transmission or if you have a supercharger.

    • danno

      All depends on how the power for the electric vehicle is produced. And a dirty little secret is that renewables such as solar and wind need 100% conventional (fossil , hyfro or nuclear) backup for when the sun isn’t shining or wind blowing, which is very often. No solar at night when cars get charged.
      How’s that clean electric car looking now?

      • Galvanics

        First, even running on coal, electric cars are still cleaner! Second, fossil fuel peaker plants are no longer needed. We have grid scale battery systems now.

        Clean electric cars look quite wonderful, still.

        Nice try though, pal.

    • Christian Wimmer

      The EV “emissions” depend on where you live.

      I live in Germany and I am so sick of our delusional Green Party (and others) telling us that we need to drive electric cars because they are “green”. No they aren’t.

      Most of our electricity comes from brown coal, which means more pollution. The EV construction process is highly pollutive, especially the construction of the batteries and motors, whose raw materials need to be mined in Central Africa etc. and are then transported/shipped/flown to their refining centers from which they are once again shipped/flown/transported to the various manufacturers.

      For me electric vehicles will always be a niche. Terrible range and long charging times make them unappealing to me, especially since I drive a lot for business reasons and time is of importance. An electric car for the city? Sure, why not. I’m curious how the range and charging problem is going to be solved and how at the same time they want to extend battery life…

      • That’s bollocks. If you live in Germany you know you can choose your electricity provider, and choose to be green (yes, it will cost more, but I hope that you care). So if you buy an electric car and it’s charged with green energy (if you live in an apartment, and can’t afford a house with solar panels), you are doing great. Stop with this utter crap that you must burn coal to run an electric car.

        Range: terrible? It’s enough 99% of the time, this is statistics, not a personal opinion. Charging times are getting quicker by the day. Drink a coffee and rest a few minutes while knowing you do a favor to your country and our planet. I hate this egoistic mentality of not being able to adapt, because it’s a little bit uncomfortable. Yes, it’s not perfect, as nothing is, but much better than the war and terror sponsoring dino juice that destroys are beautiful planet.

        • Christian Wimmer

          I don’t have the luxury of my own home. I live in an apartment complex and the garages, which were modernized last year, do not have EV charging capabilities. I don’t have an electricity meter, which means I CAN’T select where my electricity comes from.

          And will it make a difference? Only about 20% of Germany’s generated electricity comes from renewable sources – the rest is predominantly from brown coal. Germany also has the highest electricity prices in all of Europe!

          I use my small car mainly for business purposes (or visiting my family in the countryside) and try to drive as ecologically as possible. For example, I just don’t hop into my car and drive down the road to a supermarket. No, I combine grocery shopping when returning from a business trip. On the way home I will stop at a supermarket, load up my car with groceries and then drive home. If I need to buy a few supplies I also tend to walk to local supermarkets. Within the city, I tend to walk everywhere or use public transportation if it’s further out. Joy drives? I don’t do that. Sure, there will be times where I need something and time is of essence, then I will use my car, but most of the time I am actually very inspired to walk as much as possible for health reasons.

          An electric car is not for me, and neither do I want one. Time and punctuality are important in my job, and waiting 45 minutes at a gas station for a nearly depleted battery to reach 80% only to have it running on empty in 150 km is just silly.

          If there is an electric car with a realistic range of 1000 km (so in the real world maybe 400/500 km) that can be topped up in 5 minutes, well then I’m interested. For now? No thanks.

      • Stephen G

        Electric cars are not for everybody. Your argument about burning coal to produce electricity is valid however more environmentally friendly alternatives are making headway. I can’t see gasoline or diesel powered vehicles being phased out entirely (how Tesla expects electric tractor trailer trucks to be successful is beyond me). By the way did you know that Henry Ford’s wife drove a Detroit Electric. But as inhabitants of the planet, with currently no other place to go, we need to do what we can to minimize the damage we do to our home.

        • Christian Wimmer

          Stephen G,

          Electric cars are nothing new, but only now are they being “seriously developed”. It will take time for them to reach a level where they can address the needs of millions of motorists. That level is currently not there.

          Like I replied to Kurt, if there’s an electric car with good range or a “five minute top-up time”, then count me in. Range is not going to be an issue if the car can be topped up in a practical five or so minutes.

          As it stands now, and FOR MY DRIVING PURPOSES, an electric car is not suitable for me. I am a freelance artist and my clients are all over Germany. During the summers I am traveling all over and if I am working locally then it’s not uncommon for me to have two projects in two different cities. It’s doable with efficient time management and a car which can be driven fast on the highway without suffering from poor range and long top-up times.

          Nice info on Henry Ford’s wife, I didn’t know that.

      • Ben

        I understand what you’re saying, but most of that information is for a certain type of battery used in vehicles. Some batteries don’t leave behind such a destructive footprint on the Earth.

        Also, you are correct about the pollution that occurs when we burn energy for electricity. But you’re looking at the situation now, but not what we could develop it into. An example being generating electricity with renewable energy. Each day we are significantly lowering the environmental demand in producing power.

        For those that say, I don’t live near a dam, geo-thermal station or any other source of renewable energy, its not just about your situation. For countries that DO live near renewable energy sources, they can quickly(relatively) transition to clean energy and leave no pollution when they drive.

        All the same transportation issues you listed that cause pollution is also present with fossil fuels WITH the added pollution of actually using the fuel. Electric vehicles don’t produce notable pollution when actually running, such as millions of tonnes of C02.

        Lastly, you and I are in the same boat. We drive a lot and can’t be bothered with terrible range in most electric vehicles. I personally don’t live in an area with practical access to charging stations. However, things change and technology gets better. Eventually, that network will be there. Just because something is impractical now, doesn’t mean the tech is forever “niche”.

        Computers literally used to be the size of a ROOM and could only hold half a book’s worth of information. Now look where we are! The battery industry has never had such a demand like it has now. The automotive industry is a large industry and capable of amortizing the cost of research and development quite easily. You phone can currently charge 50% in only 10mins. Not too long before vehicles will be there too.

  • Six_Tymes

    This is promising, I hope it turns out to be real and comes to fruition soon.

  • cooper

    Some people are about to lose millions with this start up. This sounds like selling snowmobiles in Florida.

  • TheBelltower

    They can cut emissions by 95%. It won’t matter.

  • Christian Wimmer

    I live in Germany and it seems the upcoming generation of Germans (aka “Generation Snowflake”) despises the car and wants nothing less than to see our car industry in ruins. The hate being cultivated by political parties (like the Green Party) against cars and the hysteria regarding the “NOx problem” and “CO2 problem” and “particulate problem” would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic.

    Amazing how all those German miners and people in the 1950s-1980s industrial Ruhr Vallery managed to live to ripe old ages despite hazardous (unhealthy) jobs, cigarette smoke and exposure to untreated car exhausts!

    And today? Generation Snowflake gets triggered by the ultra clean cars passing them on the street and blame the automobile for countless deaths. Pathetic.

    Of course emissions have to be reduced, but I don’t think electric cars are the solution. I think we still have to depend on the internet combustion engine for a few decades.

    • TheBelltower

      “Amazing how all those German miners and people in the 1950s-1980s industrial Ruhr Vallery managed to live to ripe old ages despite hazardous (unhealthy) jobs, cigarette smoke and exposure to untreated car exhausts!”

      Where are you getting your information, and why would you think it was so amazing? It appears that you are letting the span of six decades obscure your perspective. Are you seriously suggesting that, sixty years ago, miners lived long healthy lives? Or that smog, cigarette smoke, unburnt exhaust particles, and bad air quality had no impact? Romanticizing the distant past much?

      Though any thinking person needs to question the judgement of anyone that uses both “triggered” and “snowflake” in a single comment.

    • Galvanics

      The real snowflakes are the ones over-represented in using ignorant, derogatory labels for other people because their ignorant, fragile, simple minded konservative political sensibilities can’t stand in the face of facts.

  • Stephen G

    Funny with electrics becoming more popular manufacturers now say the can drastically reduce emissions. Where was this effort 40 years ago?

    • Nick099

      40 years ago we in the US started phasing out leaded gas for unleaded.

      Baby steps.

      • Seats & a steering wheel

        What about fuel injection and catalytic converters which really began in the 70’s and 80’s..

    • Seats & a steering wheel

      The fuel efficiency and cleanliness of ICE’s has improved in leaps and bounds over the last 10-15 years with direct injection, turbos, cylinder shutdown, DPF’s and even partial filters for petrol/gasoline engines making a huge difference, not to mention much better and efficient transmissions.

      • Stephen G

        Yes, I didn’t mean to take away from what’s been done in the past 40 years. I assume from the article that the 80% emissions and 30% consumption improvement is over a typical engine of today. It seems like a tremendously huge stride compared to the gains made in the past.

    • Cobrajet

      40 years ago they introduced lean-burn and electronic fuel injection, and even tried making cylinder deactivation work. That’s when they started.

  • Bhaskar Manda

    Well, let’s do a thought experiment. An Accord with a 2.0 T engine does 35 mpg and is reasonably fun to drive. A 30% improvement in mpg gives us around 45 mpg and the 80% reduction in emissions would make them negligible, even with fuel injected turbo-charged engines. With a range of 630+ miles and 10 minute “recharge”, it’ll make the Accord hybrid model superfluous. People keep saying that EVs will displace ICEs; something like this would get us the reverse.

    • MarketAndChurch

      Exactly

    • S3XY

      You clearly have no conceptual ability of literal knowledge. Gas is finite. It will run out.

      This is a not in any way a sustainable fuel source.

      Electric is better than gas in every way and is sustainable. This is simply an attempt to try and keep something inferior that is dying to try and stay around. It’s merely a blog post.

      • Cobrajet

        But If this makes cutting emissions easier for now. It’s worth it. How long do we have wait for electric cars to improve.

    • Galvanics

      Except if this tech works it can be applied to hybrids too. The hybrid will still smoke the conventional ICE drive train in mpg.

      Beyond that, the last I recall there’s no need to “liberate” oil producing countries with military strength when your vehicle is fueled from the sun or other renewable source… So electric still wins.

  • SteersUright

    Cool. Hope their claims are true.

    • S3XY

      ICE is inferior. It doesn’t matter.

  • MarketAndChurch

    on mobile it sucks because sometimes I never find the comments.

  • MarketAndChurch

    I can’t wait to see it applied to performance vehicles.

  • S3XY

    Gasoline is not a sustainable fuel source.

    It is finite and it will run out.

    Electric is sustainable and infinite as long as we have the sun.

    Electric is proven and superior to the gasoline engine.

    The focus is on electrification.

    You gas heads want to try and hold on to the gas novelty for as long as you can but you’re just playing yourselves missing out on Nikola Tesla electric motors.

    So many caveman still in near 2019. But much more spacemen compared to cavemen. They’ll phase out.

    • Cobrajet

      If every car was electric, a Ferrari would then be no more special than a Corolla.

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