The digitally controlled intelligent valve operation betters the fuel economy and engine flexibility of petrols
Steve Cropley Autocar
24 May 2017

A revolutionary, British-designed digital valvetrain drive system called IVA, claimed to give petrol engines the driveability and economy of diesels but with more benign and manageable emissions, has been revealed by Leamington Spa-based technology firm Camcon Automotive.

IVA, or Intelligent Valve Actuation, has been under development for the past six years, reaching a sufficient stage of maturity in bench tests for road trials to begin. IVA is now being offered to major manfacturers and component suppliers for development as an efficiency boost for use in both normal and hybrid cars.

According to Camcon technical director Roger Stone, who has led IVA’s development from the start and describes himself as “a lifelong engine man”, the system allows valve lift, valve timing and duration to be independently and infinitely controllable. This breaks the previously unbreakable mechanical link between valve operation and the rotation of the crankshaft that has been a factor in all piston engine design for well over a century.

IVA’s inventors describe it as a step-change in engine design that removes the last remaining analogue system, saying it is “probably even more important than the switch from points ignition to engine management, or carburettors to fuel injection”.

With completely flexible valve actuation, there’s high potential for an engine to be configured entirely according to a driver’s needs, delivering extreme flexibility in lowspeed, low-load situations, with very high power when needed.

The necessary compromises imposed by conventional camshaft timing — and by existing less advanced variable valve timing systems — are removed. IVA is especially adaptable to sophisticated cylinder deactivation — a likely further boost to efficiency.

The key to IVA has been the development of a system of electromechanical actuators that sit on top of the engine, each driving a short camshaft that opens a valve or valve pair. In an experimental engine shown to Autocar, there are eight of these actuators and camshafts running across the engine, rather than along it. Valve drive is desmodromic (valves are positively closed as well as opened) and the opening/closing regimes are controlled by a management computer. This is currently housed in a large metal box atop the engine, and in production is likely to be linked to existing ECU functions.

“IVA allows incredible control,” says Stone. “We can achieve full lift by rotating the camshaft through 360deg, or achieve any intermediate lift we like by rotating it part of the way and rotating it back again. It’s designed to fit pretty much any engine.”

Camcon has already acknowledged technical help from Jaguar Land Rover, which is based nearby and is understood to be keeping tabs on developments. Camcon plans a programme of both test rig and road trials to test IVA’s durability and record real-world results, but commercial director Mark Gostick believes the system has already gone a long way to proving its durability. If adopted by a supplier in the Bosch or Valeo mould, IVA would take two to three years to reach production, Camcon believes, and has the potential to be developed in productive new directions beyond that.

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Comments
18

24 May 2017
FCA's Multiair (as fitted to 0.9 and 1.4 turbo engines) has been promising the same and more thanks to electro-hydraulic valve management but it does not seem to have the dramatic real world performance and efficiency gains that have been promised. I would be curious to know how the new system compares.

24 May 2017
It is almost as pointless as the Jaguar F-Type's electrohydraulic valve system.

24 May 2017
6 years' development is nothing really in development timescales. I don't see it's a pointless system; breaking the mechanical coupling of the valves seems like a sensible step opening up new operational modes for engines. Wonder when entire cylinders will be able to be decoupled too...

max1e6 wrote:

It is almost as pointless as the Jaguar F-Type's electrohydraulic valve system.

A34

24 May 2017
... this would seem less significant.

24 May 2017
All fine until one of the many timing dependant things, either electrically or mechanical, goes wrong then it'll be like a Camchain/cambelt breaking. Which are 99.999999% reliable if maintained every 5 years or so.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

24 May 2017
I'm sure that IVA have got to the point of seeking further investment, which explains the publicity. But if the concept was that promising, I'm sure that JLR would have embraced it to the exclusion of others. Fully variable valve timing is a bit like variable compression ratios and CVT transmission: everyone can see that it is a desirable thing to have, but the cost of developing it to its full potential (and to the point where it is simple, light, reliable and cheap to produce) is prohibitive.

24 May 2017
LP in Brighton wrote:

I'm sure that IVA have got to the point of seeking further investment, which explains the publicity. But if the concept was that promising, I'm sure that JLR would have embraced it to the exclusion of others. Fully variable valve timing is a bit like variable compression ratios and CVT transmission: everyone can see that it is a desirable thing to have, but the cost of developing it to its full potential (and to the point where it is simple, light, reliable and cheap to produce) is prohibitive.

max1e6 wrote:

It is almost as pointless as the Jaguar F-Type's electrohydraulic valve system.

If everyone had this kind of attitude to technological development we would still have square wheels, as round ones would be considered a step too far and too expensive.

Citroëniste.

24 May 2017
Maybe will help address the nox issues and further imorove economy and powert.

24 May 2017
Diesel engines operate at a higher temperature and pressure than petrol engines. These conditions favour the production of NOx gases. The quantity depends on the volume and duration of the hottest part of the flame. So essentially unless you lower the operating temperature of diesel engines to that of a petrol engine (at which point the diesel engine is massively inefficient) the problem of NOx emissions remains the same. The IVA system does not raise the operating temperature of the petrol engine so the NOx emissions will still be small compared to diesel engines. Also the issue of soot particles is not addressed by the IVA system so again another toxic problem of diesel engines would remain. The IVA system seems to be aimed at eliminating the mechanical connection between the valves and the cam shaft by providing each valve with its own miniature cam shaft. Therefore there is no point applying this technology to diesel engines as it will not solve the issue of toxic emissions. Diesel is finished as a fuel get used to it.

24 May 2017
I rather think not, for the foreseeable future anyway. You may foresee a time of petrol engined ships, trains, construction equipment and the like. Me, not so much. I doubt that Ford and Mercedes would agree either seeing as how they're recently spent considerable sums in new diesels.
Oh, and in possibly surprising news, marine engines (yes, diesel ones) have been available with camless valve operation for quite some time now. Different technology to IVA but same objective.

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