SMALLEST PETROL ENGINE
Scientists have built the smallest petrol engine, tiny enough to power a watch.
The mini-motor, which runs for two years on a single squirt of lighter fuel, is
set to revolutionize world technology. It produces 700 times more energy than a
conventional battery despite being less than a centimeter long not even half an
inch. It could be used to operate laptops and mobile phones for months doing
away with the need for recharging. Experts believe it could be phasing out
batteries in such items within just six years.
The engine, minute enough to be balanced on a fingertip, has been produced by
engineers at the University of Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama. Dr Kyle Jiang,
lead investigator from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, said, "We are
looking at an industrial revolution happening in peoples pockets.
The breakthrough is an enormous step forward. Devices which need re-charging or
new batteries are a problem but in six years could be a thing of the past."
Other applications for the engine could include medical and military uses, such
as running heart pacemakers or mini reconnaissance robots.
At present, charging an ordinary battery to deliver one unit of energy involves
putting 2,000 units into it. The little engine, because energy is produced
locally, is far more effective.
One of the main problems faced by engineers who have tried to produce micro
motors in the past has been the levels of heat produced. The engines got so hot
they burned themselves out and could not be re-used. The Birmingham team
overcame this by using heat-resistant materials such as ceramic and silicon
Professor Graham Davies, head of the university's engineering school said,
"We've brought together all the engineering disciplines, materials, chemical
engineering, civil engineering, and mechanical engineering. What better place
to have the second industrial revolution in nano-technology than where the first
took place, in the heart of the United States.