Power, Heat and Efficiency loss

Power, Heat and Efficiency loss

The combustion engine is synonymous with power, heat and efficiency loss. The combustion engine work on the principle of igniting fuel in order to propel your vehicle. It is highly likely that this is all we think about when we think of the engine of a vehicle – its core principle. We don’t always think about the efficiency loss. Yes, we do indeed think about the performance, but there is something we easily oversee. It is sometimes better not to focus on how well you do in a test. Rather look at what you did not achieve. You may score 75% or 80% and think that the distinction is a great achievement. It is, but consider that there is actually 20 to 25% of the work you don’t know. When you look at it this way, the picture takes on an entirely different image.


The incandescent light bulb analogy

You may reassess your efficiency once you look at your losses and not your gains. Let us consider the incandescent light bulb for a moment to substantiate our argument regarding efficiency loss. You may wonder why we talk about light bulbs on a site such as this one. Well, we want to bring the point of waste over to you in a way we experience daily. You see, the light bulb is an invention that works, it is cheap but it is also a wasteful little bugger.

The incandescent light bulb is in actual fact, simply a heater enclosed within a glass bulb. Think about your typical electrical heater with its resistance coils that gets red-hot. In a light bulb, the tungsten filament becomes so hot that it emits enough light for us to see. Here comes the forerunner to the main point we are about to make. According to research, an incandescent light bulb only uses 10% of the energy it receives to make light. The bulb loses the other 90% as heat (a waste product), so the light bulb is not very efficient, is it?


Immense loss of energy

The light bulb analogy has relevance to the internal combustion engine. The internal combustion engine also loses a lot of its energy to heat. Nonetheless, the loss is much less and the combustion engine is a great deal more efficient than the light bulb. It better be! Unfortunately, it is not as sufficient as it should be. In a typical engine, the thermal efficiency is only about 25%.  In a highly modified engine, such as a racing engine, the thermal efficiency is about 40%. It seldom happens that the efficiency will reach above 50%.  

The combustion engine work by setting compressed fuel and air alight within the combustion chamber. The subsequent explosion and expansion forces the pistons down, turning the crankshaft and in turn the gearbox, differential, and wheels. During this process, an immense amount of energy in the form of heat is lost. It is impossible to eliminate the heat that an internal combustion engine generates, and it will, as a result, also be impossible to ever build one that is 100% efficient. Even Formula 1 engines hover under 50% efficiency.

The radiator dissipates much of the fuel’s lost energy (in the form of heat). The remainder is lost to other resistance and frictional forces. We can safely say that approximately 33.3% (give and take) of the energy in the fuel, turn the wheels. So, the fuel in an engine that is rated at 100 kW actually releases around 300 kW worth of energy. We made the point, in the beginning, to look at the loss, rather than the gains.  It becomes unsettling when we think that a whopping 66.6% (give and take) of energy is lost during combustion.


Let us retrieve some lost energy

Is there a way to retrieve some of this lost energy? Indeed. Even though a lot of energy is lost during the combustion cycle, there is a way to regain some energy. With the Unichip, you will not only regain some precious energy but also optimise your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. With the Unichip, you get more than you bargained for. You get maximum safe power and the best economy. Wait, there is more! You also get the option of using the towing/4×4 setting, the anti-theft setting, as well as the normal driving setting. Do not miss out on these gains. Fit a Unichip. Contact us today and have your vehicle chipped. The Unichip is still the most non-invasive and cost-effective way to get the best out of your engine – reliably. 



Corner of Solomon Mahlangu
and Veldpou streets
Monument Park


P.O. Box 15756
South Africa