Initial development of an afterburning Ericsson cycle engine is described. The recently developed engine integrates the Ericsson cycle power producing processes (compression, heating, expansion, and cooling) with the combustion process. This cycle is capable of high thermodynamic efficiency and provides complete, continuous, combustion. The cycle offers the opportunity to achieve the high efficiencies that are promised by Stirling engines but have not been achieved in practice. Unlike Stirling engines, there is no efficiency lost in an external burner by having to heat the combustion air from ambient temperature. Instead, combustion is initiated at the high temperature of the isothermal expander exhaust. The flame temperature combustion products then transfer heat to the expander while cooling back to the expander temperature. In this manner, all the heat of combustion is available to the cycle.
The afterburning Ericsson cycle engine can potentially use mostly conventional internal-combustion engine components to provide reduced fuel consumption and minimized emissions. Such powerplants may become a viable alternative to diesel engines or a candidate for use in hybrid vehicles. The cycle also has the environmental advantage of being adaptable to a wide range of both liquid and gaseous fuels.