Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/140082
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Disclosed are four-stroke internal combustion engines and engine modules. The engine modules described herein convert linear reciprocating motion of pistons to rotational motion of a flywheel, which rotates around the axis of an engine block, or to rotational motion of the engine block, which rotates within the flywheel. The linear reciprocating motion of the pistons cause rotation of the flywheel or engine block by piston drive pins being pushed down a sloped, spiraling surface of the flywheel, resulting in highly efficient power transfer. The rotational motion is transferred through a final drive, such as a drive shaft, drive train or drive chain. Engines described herein may include pairs of engine modules.

Inventors:
RIAZATI, Bahador (2800 E. Long Road, Greenwood Village, Colorado, 80121, US)
Application Number:
US2017/043790
Publication Date:
August 02, 2018
Filing Date:
July 25, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
RIAZATI, Bahador (2800 E. Long Road, Greenwood Village, Colorado, 80121, US)
International Classes:
F01B3/04; F02B75/26
Domestic Patent References:
WO2012168696A22012-12-13
Foreign References:
US9194287B12015-11-24
US1664086A1928-03-27
GB613798A1948-12-02
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WIWCHAR, Michael et al. (2200 Wells Fargo Center, 90 South Seventh St.Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55402-3901, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A four-stroke internal combustion engine module comprising:

an engine block comprising at least one cylinder, at least one piston rod travel slot, and at least one piston drive pin travel slot, wherein each of the at least one cylinder is associated with a piston rod travel slot and a piston drive pin travel slot;

a flywheel rotatably mounted to the engine block;

a power stroke track having a sloped and curved power stroke surface disposed within the engine block;

an outer track positioned on a surface of the flywheel, the outer track having a sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface and a sloped intake stroke surface;

a piston head disposed within each of the at least one cylinder;

a piston rod connected to each of the piston heads, wherein the piston rod extends into a piston rod travel slot of the engine block; and

a piston drive pin connected to the piston rod at an end opposite of that connected to the piston head, the piston drive pin positioned to extend into the piston drive pin travel slot of the engine block, a first end of the piston drive pin remaining within the engine block and engaging the sloped and curved power stroke surface of the power stroke track during a power stroke of the four-stroke engine to rotate one of the flywheel and the engine block relative to the other of the flywheel and the engine block, and a second end of the piston drive pin opposite to the first end of the piston drive pin engaging the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface during compression and exhaust strokes of the four-stroke engine to move the piston head during the compression and exhaust strokes, and the second end of the piston drive pin engaging the sloped intake stroke surface during an intake stroke of the four-stroke engine to move the piston head during the intake stroke.

2. The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of claim 1, wherein the engine block is adapted to be mountable to a mounting surface and the flywheel rotates around the engine block.

3. The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of claim 1, wherein the flywheel is adapted to be mountable to a mounting surface and the engine block rotates within the flywheel.

4. The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of claim 1, wherein: the first end of each of the piston drive pins engages the sloped and curved power stroke surface of the power stroke track as the piston head to which the piston drive pin is connected via the piston rod is forced downward during a power stroke, the sloped and curved power stroke surface having a variable slope and curvature that is sufficient to cause one of the flywheel and engine block to rotate relative to the other of the flywheel and engine block, converting linear reciprocating motion from the piston head into rotational movement of the flywheel or engine block, and

wherein and the rotational movement of the flywheel or engine block caused during the power stroke causes engagement of the second end of each of the piston drive pins with the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface during the compression and exhaust strokes or the intake stroke surface during the intake stroke, converting the rotational movement of the flywheel or engine block into a linear movement of the piston head within the cylinder.

The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any one of claims 1-4, wherein the power stroke track having a sloped and curved power stroke surface is positioned at a center of the flywheel.

The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any one of claims 1-4, further comprising a final drive adapted to be driven by a rotational movement of one of the flywheel and the engine block relative to the other of the flywheel and the engine block.

The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of claim 2, further comprising an engine block mount capable of facilitating mounting the engine block to the mounting surface.

The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of claim 3, further comprising a flywheel mounting block capable of facilitating mounting the flywheel to the mounting surface.

The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any one of claims 1-4, further comprising an engine housing and an oil pan, wherein the engine module is located between the engine housing and the oil pan.

10. The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any one of claims 1-4, wherein the

flywheel is rotatably mounted to the engine block by at least one bearing.

11. The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any one of claims 1-4, further comprising at least one support bearing positioned between a surface of the flywheel and a wall of the engine block, wherein the at least one support bearing separates the wall of the engine block from the surface of the flywheel while allowing for rotation of one of the flywheel and the engine block relative to the other of the flywheel and the engine block.

12. The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any one of claims 1-4, further comprising at least one bearing positioned on each of the piston drive pins to reduce friction between the piston drive pins and at least one surface chosen from a group consisting of the piston drive pin travel slot, the sloped and curved power stroke surface, the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface, and the sloped intake stroke surface.

13. The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any one of claims 1-4, wherein the slopes of the sloped and curved power stroke surface, the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface, and the sloped intake stroke surface result in a greater angular displacement of the flywheel around the cylinder during the power stroke and the intake stroke than during the compression stroke and exhaust stroke.

14. The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any one of claims 1-4, wherein the slopes of the sloped and curved power stroke surface, the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface, and the sloped intake stroke surface minimize internal stress and friction within the engine module.

15. The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any one of claims 1-4, wherein the slope of the sloped and curved power stroke surface is shallower near the top of the power stroke track than towards the bottom of the power stroke track.

16. The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any one of claims 1-4, wherein a diameter of the flywheel is sufficiently large to allow for the slope of the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface to be shallow while covering only a small rotation of the flywheel or the engine block as measured in degrees.

17. The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any one of claims 1-4, wherein ignition timing is controlled electronically.

18. The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of claim 6, wherein the final drive is chosen from a group consisting of a drive gear, a drive shaft, a drive chain, and a drive belt.

19. The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any one of claims 1-4, wherein the engine block comprises at least one piston stabilizer pin travel slot, wherein each of the at least one cylinders is associated with at least one of the at least one piston stabilizer pin travel slots, and wherein at least one piston stabilizer pin is disposed on the piston rod, on the piston drive pin, or at a junction where the piston drive pin is connected to the piston rod, the piston stabilizer pin being adapted to engage the piston stabilizer pin travel slot.

20. The four stroke internal combustion engine module of any one of claims 1-4, wherein the

internal combustion engine module comprises two or more cylinders.

21. The four stroke internal combustion engine module of any one of claims 1-4, wherein the

internal combustion engine module comprises three cylinders.

22. A four-stroke internal combustion engine comprising: at least one four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any one of claims 1-4, an engine housing, an oil pan, and a final drive.

23. The four-stroke internal combustion engine of claim 22 wherein the four-stroke internal

combustion engine is balanced.

24. The four-stroke internal combustion engine of claim 22 or claim 23, wherein the engine module of any one of claims 1-4 is balanced by a second opposing engine module of any one of claims 1- 4 having a same number of cylinders as the other engine module, or by a dummy module having a number of piston weights equal to the number of cylinders of the engine module, wherein the piston weights are driven by the engine module.

25. The four-stroke internal combustion engine of claim 22 or claim 23, comprising at least one pair of horizontally opposed four-stroke internal combustion engine modules of any one of claims 1-4, wherein the horizontally opposed four-stroke internal combustion engine modules of any one of claims 1-4 have the same number of cylinders.

26. The four-stroke internal combustion engine of claim 22 or claim 23, wherein the final drive is chosen from a group consisting of a drive gear, a drive shaft, a drive chain, and a drive belt.

27. A method of operating a four-stroke internal combustion engine comprising:

forcing a piston disposed within at least one cylinder of an engine block to create a downward linear movement of the piston during a power stroke, causing a first end of a piston drive pin connected to the piston to engage and move downwardly along a sloped and curved power stroke surface of a power stroke track disposed within the engine block;

converting linear movement of the piston into a rotational movement of a flywheel around the engine block or of the engine block within the flywheel, wherein the flywheel is rotatably mounted to the engine block;

causing a second end of the piston drive pin connected to the piston to engage a sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface disposed on a surface of the flywheel at initiation of the exhaust stroke, causing the second end of the piston drive pin to be pushed up the sloped exhaust surface by the rotational movement of the flywheel or the engine block and the piston to move upwardly within the at least one cylinder;

causing the second end of the piston drive pin to engage a sloped intake stroke surface disposed on a surface of the flywheel at initiation of the intake stroke, causing the second end of the piston drive pin to be dragged downwardly on the sloped intake surface by the rotational movement of the flywheel or the engine block and causing the piston to move downwardly within the at least one cylinder; and

causing the second end of drive pin to engage the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface at initiation of the compression stroke, causing the second end of the piston drive pin to be pushed up the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface by the rotational movement of the flywheel or the engine block and causing the piston to move upwardly within the cylinder.

28. The method of claim 27, wherein rotational movement of the flywheel or the engine block caused by the power stroke is converted into linear movement of the piston within the at least one cylinder during the exhaust, intake, and compression strokes.

29. The method of claim 27 or claim 28, wherein the method is repeated to cause continuous

operation of the four-stroke internal combustion engine.

30. The method of claim 27 or claim 28, further comprising causing a final drive to be driven by the rotational movement of the flywheel or the engine block.

31. The method of claim 30, wherein the final drive is directly connected to the flywheel or the engine block.

32. The method of claim 30, wherein the final drive is connected to the flywheel or the engine block by one or more gears.

33. The method of claim 30, wherein the final drive is chosen from a group consisting of a drive gear, a drive shaft, a drive chain, and a drive belt.

34. The method of claim 27, wherein the method comprises moving two or more pistons, each

disposed in a separate cylinder of the engine block.

35. The method of claim 27, wherein the method comprises moving three pistons, each disposed in a separate cylinder of the engine block.

Description:
INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority to United States Patent Application Number

15/413,988, filed on January 24, 2017, the entire disclosure of which is expressly incorporated herein by reference for all purposes.

FIELD

[0002] Disclosed are four-stroke internal combustion engines and engine modules. The engine modules described herein convert linear reciprocating motion of pistons to rotational motion of a flywheel, which rotates around the axis of an engine block, or to rotational motion of the engine block, which rotates within the flywheel. Engines described herein may include pairs of engine modules.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Generally, a four-stroke engine is an internal combustion engine in which a piston completes four separate strokes while turning a crankshaft. Such engines are ubiquitous and have long been known and widely used. In such engines, conversion of chemical energy to mechanical energy occurs through combustion of a fuel in a combustion chamber, causing an increase in pressure that forces the piston downward. Most commonly, the piston connecting rod is attached to the piston at one end and offset sections of the crankshaft at the other, and translates the reciprocating motion of the pistons to a circular motion of the crankshaft.

SUMMARY

[0004] A four-stroke internal combustion engine module according to an embodiment of the present disclosure comprises an engine block comprising at least one cylinder, at least one piston rod travel slot, and at least one piston drive pin travel slot, wherein each of the at least one cylinder is associated with a piston rod travel slot and a piston drive pin travel slot; a flywheel rotatably mounted to the engine block; a power stroke track having a sloped and curved power stroke surface disposed within the engine block; an outer track positioned on a surface of the flywheel, the outer track having a sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface and a sloped intake stroke surface; a piston head disposed within each of the at least one cylinder; a piston rod connected to each of the piston heads, wherein the piston rod extends into a piston rod travel slot of the engine block; and a piston drive pin connected to the piston rod at an end opposite of that connected to the piston head, the piston drive pin positioned to extend into the piston drive pin travel slot of the engine block, a first end of the piston drive pin remaining within the engine block and engaging the sloped and curved power stroke surface of the power stroke track during a power stroke of the four-stroke engine to rotate one of the flywheel and the engine block relative to the other of the flywheel and the engine block, and a second end of the piston drive pin opposite to the first end of the piston drive pin engaging the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface during compression and exhaust strokes of the four-stroke engine to move the piston head during the compression and exhaust strokes, and the second end of the piston drive pin engaging the sloped intake stroke surface during an intake stroke of the four-stroke engine to move the piston head during the intake stroke.

[0005] In some embodiments, the engine block of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of paragraph [0004] is adapted to be mountable to a mounting surface and the flywheel rotates around the engine block. In some embodiments, the flywheel of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of paragraph [0004] is adapted to be mountable to a mounting surface and the engine block rotates within the flywheel.

[0006] The four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to

[0005], wherein the first end of each of the piston drive pins engages the sloped and curved power stroke surface of the power stroke track as the piston head to which the piston drive pin is connected via the piston rod is forced downward during a power stroke, the sloped and curved power stroke surface having a variable slope and curvature that is sufficient to cause one of the flywheel and engine block to rotate relative to the other of the flywheel and engine block, converting linear reciprocating motion from the piston head into rotational movement of the flywheel or engine block, and wherein and the rotational movement of the flywheel or engine block caused during the power stroke causes engagement of the second end of each of the piston drive pins with the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface during the compression and exhaust strokes or the intake stroke surface during the intake stroke, converting the rotational movement of the flywheel or engine block into a linear movement of the piston head within the cylinder.

[0007] In some embodiments of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0006], the power stroke track having a sloped and curved power stroke surface is positioned at a center of the flywheel.

[0008] In some embodiments of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0007], the engine module further comprises a final drive adapted to be driven by a rotational movement of one of the flywheel and the engine block relative to the other of the flywheel and the engine block.

[0009] In some embodiments of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0008], the engine module further comprises a an engine block mount capable of facilitating mounting the engine block to the mounting surface. In some embodiments of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0008], the engine module further comprises a flywheel mounting block capable of facilitating mounting the flywheel to the mounting surface.

[0010] In some embodiments of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0009], the engine module further comprises an engine housing and an oil pan, wherein the engine module is located between the engine housing and the oil pan.

[0011] In some embodiments of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0010], the flywheel is rotatably mounted to the engine block by at least one bearing.

[0012] In some embodiments of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0011], the engine module comprises at least one support bearing positioned between a surface of the flywheel and a wall of the engine block, wherein the at least one support bearing separates the wall of the engine block from the surface of the flywheel while allowing for rotation of one of the flywheel and the engine block relative to the other of the flywheel and the engine block.

[0013] In some embodiments of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0012], the engine module further comprises at least one bearing positioned on each of the piston drive pins to reduce friction between the piston drive pins and at least one surface chosen from a group consisting of the piston drive pin travel slot, the sloped and curved power stroke surface, the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface, and the sloped intake stroke surface.

[0014] In some embodiments of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0013], the slopes of the sloped and curved power stroke surface, the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface, and the sloped intake stroke surface result in a greater angular displacement of the flywheel around the cylinder during the power stroke and the intake stroke than during the compression stroke and exhaust stroke.

[0015] In some embodiments of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0014], the slopes of the sloped and curved power stroke surface, the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface, and the sloped intake stroke surface minimize internal stress and friction within the engine module.

[0016] In some embodiments of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0015], the slope of the sloped and curved power stroke surface is shallower near the top of the power stroke track than towards the bottom of the power stroke track.

[0017] In some embodiments of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0016], the diameter of the flywheel is sufficiently large to allow for the slope of the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface to be shallow while covering only a small rotation of the flywheel or the engine block as measured in degrees.

[0018] In some embodiments of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0017], the ignition timing is controlled electronically.

[0019] In some embodiments of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0018], the final drive is chosen from a drive gear, a drive shaft, a drive chain, and a drive belt.

[0020] In some embodiments of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0019], the engine block comprises at least one piston stabilizer pin travel slot, wherein each of the at least one cylinders is associated with at least one of the at least one piston stabilizer pin travel slots, and wherein at least one piston stabilizer pin is disposed on the piston rod, on the piston drive pin, or at a junction where the piston drive pin is connected to the piston rod, the piston stabilizer pin being adapted to engage the piston stabilizer pin travel slot.

[0021] In some embodiments of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0020], the engine module comprises two or more cylinders. In some embodiments of the four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0020], the engine module comprises three cylinders.

[0022] A four-stroke internal combustion engine according to an embodiment of the present disclosure comprises at least one four-stroke internal combustion engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0021], an engine housing, an oil pan, and a final drive.

[0023] In some embodiments, the four stroke internal combustion engine of paragraph

[0022] is balanced. In some embodiments, the engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0021] of the four stroke internal combustion engine of paragraph [0022] is balanced by a second opposing engine module of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0021] having a same number of cylinders as the other engine module, or by a dummy module having a number of piston weights equal to the number of cylinders of the engine module, wherein the piston weights are driven by the engine module.

[0024] In some embodiments of the four stroke internal combustion engine of any of paragraphs [0022] to [0023], the engine comprises at least one pair of horizontally opposed four- stroke internal combustion engine modules of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0021], wherein the horizontally opposed four-stroke internal combustion engine modules of any of paragraphs [0004] to [0021] have the same number of cylinders.

[0025] In some embodiments of the four stroke internal combustion engine of any of paragraphs [0022] to [0024], the final drive is chosen from a drive gear, a drive shaft, a drive chain, and a drive belt. [0026] A method for operating a four-stroke internal combustion engine according to an embodiment of the present disclosure comprises forcing a piston disposed within at least one cylinder of an engine block to create a downward linear movement of the piston during a power stroke, causing a first end of a piston drive pin connected to the piston to engage and move downwardly along a sloped and curved power stroke surface of a power stroke track disposed within the engine block; converting linear movement of the piston into a rotational movement of a flywheel around the engine block or of the engine block within the flywheel, wherein the flywheel is rotatably mounted to the engine block; causing a second end of the piston drive pin connected to the piston to engage a sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface disposed on a surface of the flywheel at initiation of the exhaust stroke, causing the second end of the piston drive pin to be pushed up the sloped exhaust surface by the rotational movement of the flywheel or the engine block and the piston to move upwardly within the at least one cylinder; causing the second end of the piston drive pin to engage a sloped intake stroke surface disposed on a surface of the flywheel at initiation of the intake stroke, causing the second end of the piston drive pin to be dragged downwardly on the sloped intake surface by the rotational movement of the flywheel or the engine block and causing the piston to move downwardly within the at least one cylinder; and causing the second end of drive pin to engage the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface at initiation of the compression stroke, causing the second end of the piston drive pin to be pushed up the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface by the rotational movement of the flywheel or the engine block and causing the piston to move upwardly within the cylinder.

[0027] In some embodiments of the method of paragraph [0026], the rotational movement of the flywheel or the engine block caused by the power stroke is converted into linear movement of the piston within the at least one cylinder during the exhaust, intake, and compression strokes.

[0028] In some embodiments of the method of any of paragraphs [0026] to [0027], the method is repeated to cause continuous operation of the four-stroke internal combustion engine.

[0029] In some embodiments of the method of any of paragraphs [0026] to [0028], the method further comprises causing a final drive to be driven by the rotational movement of the flywheel or the engine block.

[0030] In some embodiments of the method of any of paragraphs [0026] to [0029], the final drive is directly connected to the flywheel or the engine block. In other embodiments of the method of any of paragraphs [0027] to [0030], the final drive is connected to the flywheel or the engine block by one or more gears.

[0031] In some embodiments of the method of any of paragraphs [0027] to [0030], the final drive is a drive gear, a drive shaft, a drive chain, and a drive belt.

[0032] In some embodiments of the method of any of paragraphs [0027] to [0031], the method comprises moving two or more pistons, each disposed in a separate cylinder of the engine block. In some embodiments of the method of any of paragraphs [0027] to [0031], the method comprises moving three pistons, each disposed in a separate cylinder of the engine block.

[0033] While multiple embodiments are disclosed, still other embodiments of the present disclosure will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, which shows and describes illustrative embodiments of the disclosure. Accordingly, the drawings and detailed description are to be regarded as illustrative in nature and not restrictive.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0034] Certain embodiments are illustrated in referenced figures of the drawings. It is intended that the embodiments disclosed herein are to be considered illustrative rather than limiting.

[0035] FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of one embodiment of an engine module 100.

[0036] FIG. 2A illustrates a perspective view of an embodiment of a piston 132 that can be employed in the embodiment of FIG. 1.

[0037] FIG. 2B illustrates a side view of the piston 132 of FIG. 2A.

[0038] FIG. 3A illustrates a side view of an embodiment of an engine block 124 that can be employed in the embodiment of FIG. 1.

[0039] FIG. 3B illustrates a perspective view illustrating the top of the engine block 124 of FIG. 3 A.

[0040] FIG. 3C illustrates a perspective view illustrating the bottom of the engine block

124 of FIG. 3 A.

[0041] FIG. 3D illustrates a sectional view of the engine block 124 along line 3D-3D of

FIG. 3A.

[0042] FIG. 4A illustrates a perspective view of an embodiment of a flywheel 102 that can be employed in the embodiment of FIG. 1.

[0043] FIG. 4B illustrates another perspective view of the flywheel 102 of FIG. 4A.

[0044] FIG. 4C illustrates another perspective view of the flywheel 102 of FIG. 4A.

[0045] FIG. 5 A illustrates a side view of the flywheel 102 of FIG. 4A

[0046] FIG. 5B illustrates a section view of the flywheel 102 along line 5B-5B of FIG.

5A.

[0047] FIG. 5C illustrates another section view of the flywheel 102 along line 5C-5C of

FIG. 5A.

[0048] FIG. 5D illustrates another section view of the flywheel 102 along line 5D-5D of

FIG. 5A.

[0049] FIG. 6A illustrates a side view of the engine module of FIG. 1. [0050] FIG. 6B illustrates a sectional view of the engine module of FIG. 1 from a plane approximately halfway through the engine module 100. Pistons 132 have been omitted from FIG. 6B.

[0051] FIG. 6C illustrates another sectional view of the engine module of FIG. 1 from a plane approximately halfway through the engine module 100, but from a distinct angle relative to FIG. 6B. The view includes pistons 132.

[0052] FIG. 7A illustrates a perspective view of the engine block 124 of FIG. 3A having lower bearing 114 and upper bearing 116. Piston drive pins 138 of two of three pistons are visible, protruding from piston drive pin travel slots 128.

[0053] FIG. 7B illustrates another perspective view of the flywheel 102 of FIG. 4A.

[0054] FIG. 8A illustrates a sectional view of the flywheel 102 of FIG. 4A and includes a single piston engaged with the power stroke surface 106.

[0055] FIG. 8B illustrates another sectional view of the flywheel 102 of FIG. 4A, including a single piston engaged with the compression and exhaust stroke surface 110.

[0056] FIG. 8C illustrates another sectional view of the flywheel 102 of FIG. 4A, including a single piston about to transition from compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 to intake stroke surface 112.

[0057] FIG. 8D illustrates another sectional view of the flywheel 102 of FIG. 4 A, including a single piston engaged with the intake stroke surface 112.

[0058] FIG. 9A illustrates a sectional view of the flywheel 102 of FIG. 4A, including three pistons 132. FIG. 9A depicts the three pistons being engaged with different surfaces of the flywheel 102.

[0059] FIG. 9B illustrates another sectional view of the flywheel 102 and pistons 132 of

FIG. 9A.

[0060] FIG. 10A illustrates one embodiment of an engine configuration comprising two horizontally -opposed engine modules of FIG. 1.

[0061] FIG. 10B illustrates the embodiment of FIG. 10A with the addition of the engine housing 164 and oil pan 162.

[0062] FIG. 11 A illustrates a perspective view of one embodiment of an engine module

200.

[0063] FIG. 1 IB illustrates a section view of the embodiment of FIG. 11 A.

[0064] FIG. 12 illustrates the slope of a power track 104 having a less aggressive

(shallower) slope towards the top of the track than towards the bottom. Vector P top represents the downward force of a piston 132 as it engages power stroke track 104 near the top of the track. Vector F top represents the rotational force exerted on flywheel 102 as piston 132 engages power stroke track 104 near the top of the track. Vector P botto m represents the downward force of a piston 132 as it engages power stroke track 104 near the bottom of the track. Vector F bottom represents the rotational force exerted on flywheel 102 as piston 132 engages power stroke track 104 near the bottom of the track.

[0065] FIG. 13 illustrates the slope of a power track 104 having a more aggressive

(steeper) slope towards the top of the track than towards the bottom. Vector P top represents the downward force of a piston 132 as it engages power stroke track 104 near the top of the track. Vector F top represents the rotational force exerted on flywheel 102 as piston 132 engages power stroke track 104 near the top of the track. Vector P bottom represents the downward force of a piston 132 as it engages power stroke track 104 near the bottom of the track. Vector F bottom represents the rotational force exerted on flywheel 102 as piston 132 engages power stroke track 104 near the bottom of the track.

[0066] FIG. 14 depicts a vector diagram of a standard piston-crankshaft arrangement in an internal combustion engine with the piston at top dead center. Arrow A indicates the piston movement within the cylinder. Arrow B indicates the rotational movement of the crankshaft. Arrow C indicates the approximate force of the piston rod on the crankshaft.

[0067] FIG.15 depicts a vector diagram of a standard piston-crankshaft arrangement in an internal combustion engine with the piston just past top dead center. Arrow A indicates the piston movement within the cylinder. Arrow B indicates the rotational movement of the crankshaft. Arrow C indicates the approximate force of the piston rod on the crankshaft.

[0068] FIG. 16 depicts a vector diagram of a standard piston-crankshaft arrangement in an internal combustion engine with the piston approximately halfway between top dead center and bottom dead center. Arrow A indicates the piston movement within the cylinder. Arrow B indicates the rotational movement of the crankshaft. Arrow C indicates the approximate force of the piston rod on the crankshaft.

[0069] FIG. 17 depicts a vector diagram of a flywheel 102 and piston 132 that can be employed in the embodiment of FIG. 1. Arrow A indicates the linear movement of the piston rod 136 and the piston rod pin 138. Arrow B indicates the rotational movement of the flywheel 102. Arrow C indicates the approximate force of the piston pin 138 on the power stroke surface 106.

[0070] While the disclosure is amenable to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments have been shown by way of example in the drawings and are described in detail below. The intention, however, is not to limit the disclosure to the particular embodiments described. On the contrary, the disclosure is intended to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the scope of the disclosure as defined by the appended claims. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0071] FIG. 1 illustrates a side view of an embodiment of four-stroke internal combustion engine module 100. Engine module 100 includes flywheel 102, which is rotatably mounted to stationary engine block 124. Flywheel 102 comprises output drive 122. In some embodiments, engine block 124 comprises an engine block mount, which provides for the rigid mounting of the engine block 124. Thus, engine module 100 can be mounted to a mounting surface (not shown) to hold the engine block stationary. Engine block 124 comprises cylinder head 140, which itself comprises intake ports 142 and exhaust ports 144 (see, e.g., FIGS. 6A and 6B). The engine block 124 and cylinder head 140 can be constructed as one solid piece (that is, monolithically formed), or in two pieces that may be connected together.

[0072] FIG. 2A illustrates a perspective view of an embodiment of a piston 132 that can be employed in the embodiment of the engine module 100 of FIGS. 1 and 6A-6C. Piston 132 includes piston head 134, piston rod 136, piston drive pin 138, and piston stabilizer pins 139. In some embodiments, bearings (not shown) can be mounted on the length of a piston drive pin 138 that extends from engine block 124 via piston drive pin travel slot 128 (see, e.g., FIG. 6C). The bearings function to reduce friction between piston drive pins 128 and the wall of the engine block 124 as piston drive pins 138 travel within piston drive pin travel slots 128. Similarly, in some embodiments, bearings (not shown) can be mounted on the length of the piston stabilizer pins 139 that extend into piston stabilizer pin travel slots 129 of engine block 124 (see, e.g., FIG. 6C). The bearings function to reduce friction between piston stabilizer pins 139 and the wall of the engine block 124 as piston stabilizer pins 139 travel within piston stabilizer pin travel slots 129. In some embodiments, bearings (not shown) can be provided on the ends of piston drive pin 138 that engage with surfaces of power stroke track 104 and outer track 108 of flywheel 102 (see, e.g., FIG. 6C).

[0073] FIG. 2B illustrates a side view of the embodiment of the piston 132 depicted in

FIG. 2A. As illustrated in FIG. 2B, piston drive pin 138 can include a long piston drive pin arm 138a and a short piston drive pin arm 138b. In some embodiments, the lengths of the sections of piston drive pin 138 extending outwardly from piston rod 136 are the same.

[0074] In some embodiments, piston stabilizer pins 139 and piston stabilizer pin travel slots 129 can be omitted.

[0075] FIG. 3A illustrates a side view of an embodiment of an engine block 124 that can be employed in the embodiment of the engine module 100 depicted in FIGS. 1 and 6A-6C. FIGS. 3B and 3C are top and bottom perspective views of the engine block 124 of FIG. 3A, respectively. FIG. 3D illustrates a sectional view of the engine block 124 along line 3D-3D of FIG. 3A.

Referring to FIGS. 3A-3D, engine block 124 comprises a lower bearing surface 115 and an upper bearing surface 117. In some embodiments, bearings (not shown) can be mounted on lower bearing surface 115 and upper bearing surface 117. The bearings can function to connect the engine block 124 to flywheel 102, reduce friction between flywheel 102 and engine block 124 as flywheel 102 rotates about engine block 124, stabilize flywheel 102 as it rotates about engine block 124, or any combination thereof (see, e.g., FIGS. 6B, 6C, 7A, and 7B).

[0076] Engine block 124 further comprises cylinders 125. In some embodiments, the engine block 124 can comprise one or more cylinders 125. The engine block 124 can include, for example, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or more cylinders. The embodiment of the engine block 124 depicted in FIGS. 1 and 6A-6C has 3 cylinders 125. Each cylinder 125 of engine block 124 functions as a combustion chamber similarly to internal combustion engines known in the art.

[0077] For each cylinder 125, engine block 124 includes one piston rod travel slot 120, one piston drive pin travel slot 128, and optionally two piston stabilizer pin travel slots 129. The piston rod travel slot 120 is adapted to accept piston rod 136, while piston drive pin travel slot 128 allows piston drive pin 138 to extend outwardly, past the walls of engine block 124. In some embodiments, piston stabilizer pin travel slots 129 are adapted to accept piston stabilizer pins 139. Piston stabilizer pins 139 and piston stabilizer pin travel slots 129 function to reduce lateral and rotational motion of piston rod 136 within piston rod travel slot 120.

[0078] As depicted by FIG. 3C, engine block 124 also comprises power stroke track space 118, adapted to accept power stroke track 104 of flywheel 102 (see, e.g., FIGS 3C, 3D, 6B, and 6C, and the descriptions thereof).

[0079] FIGS. 4A-4C each depict perspective views of an embodiment of a flywheel 102 that can be employed in the embodiment of the engine module 100 depicted in FIGS. 1 and 6A- 6C. Each of FIGS. 4A-4C is illustrated from a unique perspective about the flywheel 102 to illustrate the non-symmetrical internal features of flywheel 102. Referring to FIGS. 4A-4C, flywheel 102 comprises a centrally located power stroke track 104 having a power stroke surface 106, and an outer track 108 having both a combustion and exhaust stroke surface 110 and an intake stroke surface 112. Flywheel 102 also comprises output drive 122 (not pictured here; see FIG. 1).

[0080] Power stroke track 104 and its power stroke surface 106 is both sloped and curved, and is adapted to transfer linear reciprocating movement of piston(s) 122 into rotational movement of flywheel 102 during the power stroke of four-stroke engine module 100 (FIG. 1).

[0081] Outer track 108 includes compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 and intake stroke surface 112. Compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 is disposed on an inner surface of flywheel 102. Compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 is sloped and follows the curvature of the inner surface of flywheel 102. The compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 is adapted to move piston 132 from bottom dead center to top dead center during either the compression or exhaust stokes of four-stroke engine module 100. The compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 can either be a singular surface on which a piston drive pin 138 can travel or a "track" comprising two surfaces facing one another in which a piston drive pin 138 can travel.

[0082] Intake stroke surface 112 is disposed on an inner surface of flywheel 102, is sloped, and follows the curvature of the inner surface of flywheel 102. The intake stroke surface 112 is adapted to move piston 122 from top dead center to bottom dead center during the intake stroke of four-stroke engine module 100, while allowing piston drive pin 138 to engage power stroke surface 106 during the power stroke. A flywheel 102 including power stroke track 104 having power stroke surfaces 106, compression and exhaust stroke surfaces 110, and intake stroke surface 112 can be manufactured as a single article (that is, monolithically). Alternately, one or more of the surfaces or tracks can be manufactured separately from flywheel 102 and attached to flywheel 102, resulting in a multi-piece flywheel.

[0083] FIG. 5 A depicts a side view of the embodiment of flywheel 102 illustrated in

FIGS. 4A-4C. FIG. 5 A illustrates the reference lines for the sectional views of FIGS. 5B-D, as well as output drive 122.

[0084] FIGS. 5B-5D depict sectional views of the flywheel of FIG. 5 A from the various planes indicated in FIG. 5A. The various views illustrate the positioning and structure of power stroke track 104 with sloped and curved power stroke surface 106, and outer track 108 with sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 and sloped intake stroke surface 112. Also depicted is lower bearing retention flange 130, which functions to retain and hold lower bearing 114, and an upper bearing interface 131, which functions to interact with upper bearing 116 (see, e.g., FIGS. 6B and 6C).

[0085] FIG. 6A depicts a side view of the embodiment of four-stroke engine module 100 of FIG. 1, illustrating flywheel 102, output drive 122, engine block 124, and cylinder head(s) 140.

[0086] FIG. 6B depicts a sectional view of the four-stroke engine module 100 of FIG. 6A at an image plane approximately halfway through the engine module 100 of FIG. 6 A. Pistons 132 are omitted from FIG. 6B. Flywheel 102 is rotatably mounted to engine block 124, with contact points between flywheel 102 and engine block 124 occurring at lower bearing 114 and upper bearing 116. In some embodiments, the lower bearing 114, and thus engine module 124, is retained within flywheel 102 by lower bearing retention flange 130. In some embodiments, lower bearing 114 is chosen and adapted to have good load bearing capacity and maintain a rotatable relationship between flywheel 102 and engine block 124. In some embodiments, upper bearing 116 separates the wall of engine block 124 from flywheel 102 while allowing for the rotation of flywheel 102 around the engine block 124 with minimal friction and adds stability to the flywheel 102/engine block 124 relationship. Examples of bearings useful as either the lower bearing 114 or upper bearing 116 include plain bearings, ball bearings, roller bearings, tapered roller bearings, needle roller bearings, fluid bearings, thrust bearings, and the like. [0087] Also depicted in FIG. 6B are two of the three cylinders 125 of engine block 124 and accompanying cylinder heads 140. The image plane does not allow for viewing of the piston rod travel slots 120. One piston drive pin travel slot 128 is visible toward the rear of engine block 124. Power stroke track 104 of flywheel 102 extends into power stroke track space 118 of engine block 124. Compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 and intake stroke surface 112 are visible.

[0088] FIG. 6C depicts another sectional view of the four-stroke engine module 100 of

FIG. 6 A at an image plane approximately halfway through the engine module 100 of FIG. 6 A. The image plane is slightly rotated relative to FIG. 6B. Portions of two pistons 132 are visible. As illustrated in FIG. 6C, a piston head 134 of a first piston is disposed within cylinder 125, with piston rod 136 extending into piston rod travel slot 120. Long piston drive pin arm 138a extends inwardly toward power stroke track 104 through piston drive pin travel slot 128, while short piston drive pin arm 138b extends outwardly toward outer track 108 through piston drive pin travel slot 128. In some embodiments, both arms of piston drive pin 138 can be of the same length. Piston stabilizer pins 139 (see FIGS. 2A-2B) extend from piston rod 136 into piston stabilizer slots 129 (see FIG. 6C). In some embodiments, piston stabilizer pins 139 and piston stabilizer pin travel slots 139 are optional. FIG. 6C depicts the piston drive pin 138 of a second piston passing through piston drive pin travel slot 128 and engaging with power stroke surface 106. The third piston is not visible in FIG. 6C.

[0089] FIG. 7A illustrates a perspective view of engine block 124 and associated parts that can be employed in the embodiment of four-stroke engine module 100 depicted in FIGS. 1 and 6A-6C. As illustrated in FIG. 7A, two piston drive pins 138 extend outwardly from engine block 124 through piston drive pin travel slots 128. A third piston drive pin 138 is not visible. Lower bearing 114 and upper bearing 116 are adapted to interact with underlying lower bearing surface 115 and upper bearing surface 117, respectively.

[0090] FIG. 7B illustrates another perspective view of a flywheel 102, similar to those of

FIGS. 4A-4C, that can be employed in the embodiment of the engine module 100 depicted in FIGS. 1 and 6A-6C. The flywheel 102 is adapted to receive the engine block 124 and associated parts, the joined parts forming the four-stroke engine module 100, as depicted in FIGS. 1 and 6A- 6C.

[0091] FIGS. 8A-8D are sectional views of flywheel 102 and a single piston 132, illustrating the position of flywheel 102 relative to piston 132 (flywheel 102 rotates about engine block 124, which houses piston 132). Engine block 124 has been omitted from FIGS. 8A-8D for ease of visualization.

[0092] FIG. 8A illustrates long piston drive pin arm 138a engaging the power stroke surface 106 of power stroke track 104 as piston 132 moves from top dead center toward bottom dead center during the power stroke. The long piston drive arm 138a first engages the power stroke surface 106 of power stroke track 104 during combustion. Combustion forces piston 132, and thus piston drive pin 138, downward. The arrangement of intake stroke surface 112, having no bottom guide track or surface, allows the long piston drive arm 138a to be forced downward onto the power stroke surface 106 of power stroke track 104. As piston 132 is forced toward bottom dead center during the power stroke, long piston drive arm 138a is forced downward along the power stroke surface 106 of the sloped, curved power stroke track 104. The result is the conversion of linear motion of piston 132 into rotational motion of the flywheel 102 at a 90 degree angle relative to the axis of the piston 132 and engine block 124. Piston drive pin travel slots 128 , piston stabilizer pins 139, and piston stabilizer pin travel slots 129 of engine block 124 stabilize piston 132 within engine block 124, preventing horizontal and rotational motion of the piston 132 within engine block 124 (see FIG. 6C). In some embodiments, piston stabilizer pins 139 and piston stabilizer pin travel slots 129 are optional.

[0093] FIG. 8B illustrates short piston drive pin arm 138b engaging the compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 as piston 132 moves towards top dead center. Short piston drive pin arm 138b first engages the compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 at the initiation of either the compression stroke or the exhaust stroke, as piston 132 begins to rise from bottom dead center. To initiate the exhaust stroke, the rotational movement of flywheel 102 resulting from the power stroke causes piston drive pin 138 to transfer from the bottom of power stroke surface 106 to the compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 following the power stroke. As flywheel 102 rotates around stationary engine block 124, flywheel 102 acts on piston 132, pushing it towards top dead center as the short piston drive pin arm 138b moves upward along the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface 110.

[0094] To initiate the compression stroke, the rotational movement of flywheel 102 resulting from the power stroke causes piston drive pin 138 to transfer from intake stroke surface 112 to compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 at the end of the intake stroke. Similarly to the exhaust stroke, as flywheel rotates around stationary cylinder 124, flywheel 102 acts on piston 132, pushing it towards top dead center as the short piston drive pin arm 138b moves upward along the sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface 110.

[0095] FIG. 8C illustrates the position of piston 132 and piston drive pin 138 as the short arm of piston drive pin 138b is about to disengage from compression and exhaust stoke surface 110, near top dead center. From this position, piston drive pin 138 transfers to power stroke surface 106 following the compression stroke, or to intake stroke surface 112 following the exhaust stroke. A small amount of free play between the piston drive pin 138 and the stroke surfaces allow for piston drive pin 138 to transition from one surface to another.

[0096] FIG. 8D illustrates the position of piston 132 and short piston drive arm 138b engaging intake stroke surface 112 at the beginning of the intake stroke, when piston 132 is near top dead center. Piston drive pin 138 first engages the intake stroke surface 112 at the initiation of the intake stroke, when piston 132 is near top dead center. To initiate the intake stroke, the rotational movement of flywheel 102 resulting from the power stroke causes piston drive pin to transfer from compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 to intake stroke surface 112 at the end of the exhaust stoke. As flywheel 102 rotates around stationary cylinder 124, flywheel 102 acts on piston 132, dragging it towards bottom dead center as the short piston drive pin arm 138b moves downward along the sloped intake stroke surface 110.

[0097] To summarize the movement of a piston 132 through the four strokes of four- stroke engine module 100 as depicted in part in FIGS. 8A-8D, upon combustions during the power stroke, the long piston drive pin arm 138a of piston drive pin 138 is forced downward along the power stroke surface 106 of power stroke track 104 as piston 132 moves from top dead center toward bottom dead center. This results in the conversion of the linear movement of piston 132 within engine block 124 into rotational movement of flywheel 102. The rotational movement of flywheel 102 then moves piston 132 through exhaust, intake, and compression stokes, during which flywheel 102 acts on piston 132. Piston 132 is pushed upward from bottom dead center toward top dead center during compression and exhaust strokes as the short piston drive pin arm 138b of piston drive pin 138 moves upward along compression and exhaust stoke surface 110 (see FIG. 8B). Piston 132 is dragged downward from top dead center toward bottom dead center during the intake stroke as the short piston drive pin arm 138b of piston drive pin 138 is dragged downward along intake stroke surface 112 (see FIG. 8D).

[0098] FIGS. 8A-8D provide a simplified representation of the piston 132/flywheel 102 interaction of the embodiment of engine module 100 of FIG. 1, displaying a single piston 132. FIGS. 9A-9B are sectional views of flywheel 102 along with three pistons 132: piston 132a, piston 132b, and piston 132c, that can be employed in the embodiment of the engine module 100 depicted in FIG. 1. The figures illustrate the position of flywheel 102 relative to pistons 132a, 132b, and 132c (flywheel 102 rotates about engine block 124, which houses pistons 132a, 132b, and 132c). Engine block 124 has been omitted from FIGS. 9A-9B for ease of visualization.

[0099] FIG. 9A depicts the position of pistons 132a, 132b, and 132c at a particular point in time. Each piston 132 is engaged with a different drive surface of flywheel 102. As illustrated, piston 132a, of which only the long piston drive arm 138a is shown, is in the power stroke and descending toward bottom dead center. The long piston drive pin arm 138a of piston 132a is engaged with power stroke surface 106. The downward motion of piston 132a results in rotational motion of the flywheel 102 at a 90 degree angle relative to the axis of the piston 132 and engine block 124. Following the power stroke, the piston drive pin 138 of piston 132a will transfer to the compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 as the exhaust stroke involving piston 132a begins. [00100] Piston 132b is in the intake stroke and descending toward bottom dead center.

Piston drive pin 138 of piston 132b is engaged with intake stroke surface 112. The rotational motion of flywheel 102 generated from the power stroke results in piston 132b being dragged downward toward bottom dead center as the piston drive pin 138 descends along the sloped intake stroke surface 112. Following the intake stroke, the piston drive pin 138 of piston 132b will transfer to the compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 as the compression stroke involving piston 132b begins.

[00101] Piston 132c is in the compression stroke and moving toward top dead center. The short piston drive pin arm 138b is engaged with compression and exhaust stroke surface 110. The rotational motion of flywheel 102 generated from the power stroke results in piston 132c being pushed upward toward top dead center as the short piston drive pin arm 138b ascends along compression and exhaust stroke surface 110. Following the compression stroke, the piston drive pin 138 of piston 132c will transfer to the power stroke surface 106 as the power stroke involving piston 132c begins (i.e., at combustion).

[00102] FIG. 9B depicts pistons 132a, 132b, and 132c at the same position as in FIG. 9A, but from a different angle to aid visualization.

[00103] FIG. 10A depicts one embodiment of an engine configuration having two horizontally -opposed engine modules 100 of FIG. 1. The engine comprises two horizontally- opposed engine modules 100, where output drive bevel gears 168 are connected to output drives 122 of engine modules 100. Output drive bevel gears 168 engage transfer bevel gears 172.

Transfer bevel gears 172 are connected to output drive shaft 174 or accessory pulley 176. The two horizontally opposed engine modules 100, along with transfer bevel gears 172, output drive shaft 174, and accessory pulley 176, are held in place by drive girdle 170. In the engine configuration depicted in FIG. 10A, reciprocating linear motion of the three pistons in engine module 100 is converted to rotational motion of flywheel 102, which is in turn transferred to output drive shaft 174 and accessory pulley 176. The output drive shaft 174 can be, for example, adapted to power a motor vehicle, while the accessory pulley can be adapted to power common motor vehicle accessories (e.g., air conditioner, alternator, power steering, water pump, etc.). The engine depicted in FIG. 10A can be modified and adapted to use other drive means in place of a drive shaft, such as, for example, a drive chain or a drive belt.

[00104] FIG. 10B depicts the engine embodiment of FIG 10A, with the addition of engine housing 164 and oil pan 162. Engine housing 164 includes engine mounting holes 166. The engine, and thus engine modules 100, can be rigidly mounted to a mounting surface, resulting in stationary engine blocks 124 around which flywheel 102 can rotate. The mounting surface can be, for example, engine mounting brackets of a motor vehicle. In one embodiment, the engine modules 100 housed within the engine housing 164 and oil pan 166 is mounted beneath the mounting surface. Engine blocks 124, cylinder heads 140, and a portion of flywheels 102 of engine module 100 are visible in FIG. 10B. As illustrated in FIG. 10B, engine modules 100 are held horizontally between engine housing 164 and oil pan 162. This configuration allows the flywheel 102 to be in contact with oil, keeping flywheel 102 and engine module 102 lubricated.

[00105] In some embodiments, the engine block 124, and thus engine module 100, can include, for example, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or more cylinders 125. In some embodiments, each cylinder 125 can be engaged in a different cycle. In other embodiments, one or more cylinders can be engaged in the same cycle. Table 1 provides examples of different embodiments of engine block 124, each having a different number of cylinders 125, and how the timing of the cycles can be arranged.

Table 1.

[00106] In those embodiments where two or more cylinders are engaged in the same engine stroke simultaneously, engine timing must be calibrated so that the piston drive pin 138 of the piston 132 of a first cylinder 125 does not interfere with the piston drive pin 138 of the piston 132 of a second cylinder 125.

[00107] FIG. 11 A depicts a side view of a second embodiment of a four stroke engine module 200 having a single cylinder. The flywheel 102 is rotatably mounted to engine block 124, just as in the embodiment of engine module 100 depicted in FIG. 1. The cylinder head is not depicted.

[00108] FIG. 1 IB depicts a sectional view of the engine module 200 of FIG. 11 A at an image plane approximately halfway through the engine module 200 of FIG. 11 A. The single cylinder 225 is visible. Piston 232 is disposed within cylinder 225, with piston rod 236 extending into piston rod travel slot 220. Long piston drive pin arm 238a extends inwardly toward power stroke track 204 through piston drive pin travel slot 228, while short piston drive pin arm 238b extends outwardly toward outer track 208 through piston drive pin travel slot 228. In some embodiments, both arms of piston drive pin 238 can be of the same length. Piston stabilizer pins 239 (not shown; see, e.g., piston stabilizer pins 139 of FIGS. 2A-2B) extend from piston rod 236 into piston stabilizer pin slots 229. In some embodiments, piston stabilizer pins 239 and piston stabilizer pin travel slots 239 are optional.

[00109] It is to be recognized that all discussion as to the engine module 100 and parts thereof of FIGS. 1A-10B is similarly applicable to engine module 200 of FIGS. 11A-11B.

[00110] As described herein, linear reciprocating motion of the three pistons 132 of four- stroke engine module 100 is converted into rotational motion of the flywheel 102 by the power stroke track during the power stroke. Rotational motion of the flywheel 102 is then converted to linear reciprocation motion of the pistons 132 during the intake, compression, and exhaust cycles. Conversion of linear reciprocating motion to rotational motion is accomplished during the combustion stroke when the piston drive pin 138 is forced down the sloped, curved power stroke surface of the power stroke track 104. As the piston drive pin 138 is forced down the power stroke surface 106, the linear reciprocating motion of the piston 132 is converted into rotational motion of the flywheel 102 at a 90 degree angle relative to the axis of the cylinder 124. The rotating flywheel then transfers the converted rotational motion through output drive 122 to a final drive.

[00111] The slopes of the surfaces of the power stroke track 104 and outer track 108 can be optimized for any particular application. Considerations in selecting the slopes for the power stroke track 104 and outer track 108 include, for example, fuel type, internal engine stress, stress on the piston 132 and in particular, piston drive pin 138, internal friction, desired power transfer efficiency, desired flywheel 102 rotation per stroke, and cycle/engine timing.

[00112] The slopes of the outer track 108 can be selected to reduce internal stress and friction by having less aggressive (i.e., shallower) slopes, while a more aggressive (steeper) overall slope on the power stroke track 104 provides for better overall power transfer. A more aggressively sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 of the outer track 108 increases friction between the compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 of the outer track 108 and piston drive pin 138 as the compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 returns the piston 132 to top dead center.

[00113] A more aggressively sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 will also result in shorter compression and exhaust stroke duration, spanning fewer degrees of rotation of the flywheel 102. This in turn allows for more rotation of the flywheel 102 during the power stroke, and more time for intake during the intake stroke. By shortening the duration of compression and exhaust strokes, compression retention is improved and thermal loss is minimized. These benefits must be balanced with the increased friction and internal stress resulting from a more aggressively sloped compression and exhaust stroke surface.

[00114] In a particular embodiment, the slope of power stroke track 104 is less aggressive

(i.e., shallower) towards the top of the track than towards the bottom of the track. This is illustrated by FIG. 12, which depicts such a slope. This arrangement may result in less downward force from piston 132 being converted to rotational force on flywheel 102 at or near top dead center than if the top of power stroke track 104 had a more aggressive slope, but allows for better regulation of flywheel rotation, resulting in mechanical smoothness.

[00115] The piston drive pin 138 interacts with the power stroke track 104 towards the top of the track when the piston 132 is at top dead center, where maximum linear force is available from piston 132 during combustion (P top of FIG. 12). The less aggressive slope of power stroke track towards the top of power stroke track 104 prevents a sudden, instantaneous increase in rotational force being exerted on flywheel 102. Further, the less aggressive slope results in increased resistance to the linear movement of piston 132 from top dead center towards bottom dead center, resulting in a slowing in the expansion of combustion and improved combustion efficiency. As piston 132 travels from top dead center toward bottom dead center and loses linear force (P bottom of FIG. 12), the slope of power stroke track 104 becomes more aggressive (i.e., steeper). The more aggressive slope towards the bottom of the power stroke track 104 allows the piston 132 to move downward more easily as it loses force during the power stroke, efficiently transferring available linear force from piston 132 to rotational force on flywheel 102 (vector F bottom , FIG. 12) as the piston 132 is forced towards bottom dead center. Thus, as the linear force from piston 132 decreases over the course of the power stroke (see P top vs. P bottom of FIG. 12), the rotational force on flywheel 102 can be kept nearly constant (see F top vs. F bottom )- In some embodiments, constant or nearly constant rotational force on flywheel 102 results in smooth mechanical operation.

[00116] A more aggressive slope toward the top of the power stroke track 104 results in a more immediate transfer of the linear force of piston 132 into rotational force on the flywheel 102, as illustrated by vector F top of FIG. 13, which depicts a more aggressive slope (i.e., steeper) toward the top of the track than at the bottom of the track. This can result in an undesirable jolt to the flywheel 102. Because there is less resistance to the linear movement of piston 132 from top dead center towards bottom dead center, combustion is permitted to expand quickly, resulting in reduced combustion efficiency. With a less aggressive slope toward the bottom of track 104 than toward the top, less linear force from piston 132 is converted to rotational force as piston 132 approaches bottom dead center. Because linear force from piston 132 decreases over the course of the power stroke (see P top vs. P bottom of FIG. 13), the rotational force on flywheel 102 will also decrease (see F top vs. F bottom ). In some embodiments, this change in rotational force on flywheel 102 throughout the power stroke results in uneven mechanical operation.

[00117] In some embodiments, the slope of power stroke track 104 can be constant. In some embodiments, a power stroke track 104 having a constant slope can produce smooth mechanical operation. However, the constant slope will prevent maximum power extraction from the linear motion of piston 132 as it loses linear force throughout the power stroke.

[00118] In some embodiments, the angular displacement of the flywheel 102 during the power stroke and the intake strokes is related, while the angular displacement of the flywheel 102 during the exhaust and compression strokes is related. The linear displacement of the piston 132 during the intake stroke is unconstrained by the other three strokes. In some embodiments, the intake stroke may drag the piston 132 half the linear displacement as during the power stroke. The linear displacement of piston 132 during the compression stroke will depend on how far the intake stroke track dragged the piston downward. The exhaust stroke can be the same linear displacement as the power stroke to allow piston drive pin 138 to engage compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 as the piston drive pin 138 disengages from the power stroke track 104. In some embodiments, linear piston displacement during the power stoke can be set based on a desired power output.

[00119] In some embodiments, the slope of the intake stroke surface 112 is selected to drag piston 132 from top dead center to bottom dead center over the same angular displacement that the flywheel 102 undergoes during the power stroke. For example, if the power stroke results in an angular displacement of the flywheel 102 of 120°, the slope of the intake stroke surface is such that the piston is dragged from top dead center to bottom dead center by the flywheel 102 rotating 120°.

[00120] The rotating flywheel arrangement of the internal combustion engine module described herein is advantageous relative to the piston-crankshaft arrangement of a standard internal combustion engine. In a standard piston-crankshaft arrangement, maximum downward force from combustion occurs when the piston is at or near top dead center, with the piston rod being vertical or nearly vertical (i.e., piston rod at or near 0 degrees relative to the crankshaft). FIGS. 14-16 are vector diagrams illustrating a standard piston-crankshaft arrangement, where arrow A represents the movement of the piston, arrow B represents the direction of rotation of the crankshaft, and arrow C represents the approximate direction of force exerted by the piston rod on the crankshaft. As illustrated in FIGS. 14 and 15, in such a configuration, the downward force caused by combustion must be transferred, at least for several degrees of rotation of the crankshaft, through the vertical or nearly vertical piston rod. However, the most efficient mechanical use of combustion force will occur when the connecting rod and crankshaft are at the angle depicted in FIG. 16, a position at which the downward force of the piston has already been at least partially lost. This configuration also results in a side thrust by the piston on the cylinder wall. With the arrangement of the internal combustion engine described herein and illustrated by FIG. 17, the downward linear force of the piston 132 (FIG. 17, arrow A) caused by combustion is immediately transferred into rotational force on the flywheel 102 (FIG. 17, arrow B) at a 90 degree angle relative to piston 132's linear travel. Arrow C of FIG. 17 illustrates the approximate directional force exerted by the piston drive pin 138 on the power stroke track 104. Efficient energy transfer thus begins immediately during the combustion stroke, when downward force from the piston 132 is at its maximum. Further, where the slope of the power stroke surface 106 is more aggressive towards the bottom of the power stroke track, the remaining energy of the piston 132 is efficiently transferred to the power stroke track 104 and flywheel 102 as the piston 132 approaches bottom dead center. The arrangement of the internal combustion engine described herein also reduces the side thrust by the piston 132 on the cylinder 124 relative to the standard piston-crankshaft arrangement.

[00121] The arrangement of the internal combustion engine described here also allows for a reduction in internal component speed while maintaining power output. In those embodiments where engine block 124 comprises two or more cylinders 125, the work performed on flywheel 102 can be shared by the multiple pistons 132. For example, in the engine module 200 depicted in FIGS. 1 lA-1 IB, a single piston 232 acts on flywheel 132. Reducing the speed of internal engine components can reduce friction and engine wear, and increase engine efficiency and power output.

[00122] The diameter of the flywheel 102 can be optimized for any particular application.

A flywheel 102 having a larger diameter allows the surfaces of the outer track 108 of the flywheel to be sloped less aggressively while providing for the same angular displacement relative to a flywheel 102 having a smaller diameter. As described above, compression and exhaust stroke surface 110 and intake stroke surface 112 having less aggressive slopes results in reduced friction and internal stress. Because of this, an engine module 100 comprising a flywheel 102 having a large diameter will be more efficient compared to an engine module 100 having a smaller diameter. The relative diameter of the power stroke track 104 does not need to increase proportionally with the diameter of the flywheel 102. Having a power stroke track 104 with a smaller diameter and more aggressively sloped power stroke surface 106 provides for greater efficiency in the conversion of linear motion of piston 132 to rotary motion of flywheel 102. However, when selecting the diameter of the power stroke track 104, the stress placed on both the power stroke track 104 and piston drive pins 132 must be taken into consideration. With a smaller diameter, the power stroke track 104 will have a decreased load bearing capacity relative to a power stroke track 104 having a larger diameter. Where the diameter of the power stroke track 104 is small relative to the diameter of the flywheel 102, the piston drive pins 138 will need to be longer in order to reach the power stroke surface 106 of the power stroke track 104. This added length will place additional stress on the piston drive pins 138.

[00123] In some embodiments, the diameter of the flywheel 102 can be influenced by the number of cylinders 125 of the engine block 124 to which the flywheel 102 is mated, with more cylinders 125 potentially requiring a larger diameter flywheel 102.

[00124] The timing of the various strokes is generally determined by the slopes of the surfaces of the power stroke track 106 and the outer track 108. Referring to the outer track 108, a more aggressive slope will result in a shorter stroke duration and a smaller angular displacement. The power stroke track 104 provides for the majority of the angular displacement of the flywheel 102, and as described above, the slope of the power stroke surface can vary from less to more aggressive from the top to the bottom of the power stroke track 104 to extract maximal rotational force from the linear displacement of piston 132 during the power stroke. In some embodiments, of 360 degrees of a full rotation of the flywheel 102, compression and exhaust strokes account for a smaller angular displacement than the intake and power strokes. This arrangement allows more time for intake and more rotation during the power stroke. In such an arrangement, the compression and exhaust strokes are performed quickly, providing for better compression retention and less thermal loss.

[00125] In some embodiments, control of ignition timing can occur through use of timing cams. In other embodiments, ignition timing can be controlled electronically (camless).

[00126] In some embodiments, it is the flywheel 102 that is rigidly mounted to a mounting surface, thus remaining stationary. Where the flywheel 102 is rigidly mounted to the mounting surface, the engine block 124 rotates within the flywheel 102. In such a configuration, the flywheel 102 is considered to be rotatably mounted to the cylinder 124. The piston drive pins 138 interact with power stroke track 104, compression and exhaust stroke surface 110, and intake stroke surface 112 as described above during intake, compression, power, and exhaust strokes. Similarly to the embodiment of engine module 100 described above, linear movement of the pistons within the engine block 124 is converted to rotational movement during the power stroke. As pistons 132 are forced toward bottom dead center during the power stroke, piston drive pins 138 are forced downward along the power stroke surface 106 of the sloped, curved power stroke tracks 104. As the piston drive pins 138 are forced downward along the sloped, curved power stroke track 104, the piston drive pins 138 cause the rotation of the engine block 124 by exerting force on piston drive pin travel slots 128 and piston stabilizer pin travel slots, if present.

[00127] Where the engine block 124 rotates within the flywheel 102, cylinder head 140 may be omitted and replaced by a port system distal to the flywheel. In such embodiments, the engine block 124 comprises an intake and exhaust port positioned distally relative to the flywheel. As the engine block 124 rotates within the flywheel 102, the intake and exhaust port interacts with either an intake source capable of introducing fuel and air into the cylinder via the intake and exhaust port during the intake cycle, or an exhaust outlet capable of receiving exhaust gasses from the cylinder via the intake and exhaust port during the exhaust cycle.

[00128] In some embodiments, the engine module 100 can be mounted in any orientation, including horizontally, vertically, or at any angle. In a particular embodiment, the engine module 100 is mounted horizontally, as illustrated in FIGS. 10A-10B. In some embodiments where the engine module 100 is mounted horizontally, the engine is mounted directly beneath the mounting surface, with the engine module 100 between the engine housing 164 and oil pan 166.

[00129] In some embodiments, an engine comprising an engine module 100 is balanced by either a second engine module 100 or a "dummy" module having a piston weight driven by the working module. Such a configuration can provide for smooth, balanced operation of the engine. An engine can comprise two or more engine modules 100 in nearly any configuration. In some embodiments, engine module 100 is provided in pairs. In some embodiments, an engine comprises at least two horizontally -opposed engine modules 100 (FIGS. 10A-10B).

[00130] The engine module 100 can be adapted to use any fuel type, such as, for example, gasoline, diesel, bio-diesel, propane, natural gas, or ethanol. The engine module 100 and associated parts or systems can be modified or adapted to allow for the use of a particular fuel type.

[00131] The materials used in the overall construction and manufacture of engine module 100 is expected to be similar to those presently used in the construction and manufacture of internal combustion engines, and can include, for example, aluminum, steel, rubber, plastics, and automotive-type gaskets. Materials used in bearings, such as the upper bearing 116, lower bearing 114, and bearings of piston drive pins 138 and piston stabilizer pins 139 will generally be of high- grade steel or similar materials. A surface coating may be applied to the surfaces of the power stroke track 104 and outside track 108 of the flywheel 102 to help reduce shock loads to the piston drive pins 138.

[00132] In some embodiments, other components and parts of the engine module 100 do not differ or differ very little from those already well known and used in the field of internal combustion engines. Any one of a variety of methods for gas exchange can be used, including but not limited to poppet valves, rotary valves, ports, etc. For example, the cylinder head 140 may comprise intake means and exhaust means. In some embodiments, the cylinder head comprises intake port(s) 142, and exhaust port(s) 144, intake valve(s), and exhaust valve(s). The various valves retained by the cylinder head 140 can be covered by a valve cover. The engine block 124 and cylinder head 140 can be either a single part, or a separate cylinder head 140 can be mounted to an engine block 124.

[00133] Because other components and parts useful in engine module 100 are similar to those known in the art, other parts and functions of the engine module 100 or engine comprising two or more engine modules 100 are not discussed in detail, discussed very little, or not discussed. Examples of components, parts, and functions not discussed include, for example, ignition systems, cooling systems, compression ratios, combustion chamber sealing, fuel delivery systems, turbocharging, supercharging, lubricating means, maintenance procedures, manufacturing procedures, etc. Despite the differences in the fundamental operation of an engine module 100 relative to that of other engines, those components, parts, and systems not discussed in detail, discussed very little, or not discussed herein will be familiar to those of ordinary skill in the art, and can be readily adapted to function with the engine module 100.

[00134] Various modifications and additions can be made to the exemplary embodiments discussed without departing from the scope of the present disclosure. For example, while the embodiments described above refer to particular features, the scope of this disclosure also includes embodiments having different combinations of features and embodiments that do not include all of the described features. Accordingly, the scope of the present disclosure is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications, and variations as fall within the scope of the claims, together with all equivalents thereof.