Koenigsegg's Free-Valve Tech Will Change The Game

Technology / 15 Comments

The new Gemera "Ultra-GT" has one heck of a trick up its sleeve.

For well over a century, since the very first internal combustion engines, those engines have relied on camshafts to actuate their valves. But the reign of the camshaft might soon be over.

In the course of unveiling the new Koenigsegg Gemera "Mega-GT" this week, Koenigsegg dropped a bombshell: the hypercar's twin-turbocharged 2.0L three-cylinder engine comes equipped with Freevalve camless valve actuation. The system uses individual, computer-controlled actuators - one for each individual intake and exhaust valve - to open and close the valves, allowing for fully variable timing, duration, and lift so that the valvetrain can be optimized for every conceivable operating scenario.

It also allows each cylinder to be selectively deactivated whenever appropriate for greater efficiency - not that the Gemera's customers are likely all that concerned with the cost of fuel.

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To understand why this is such a big deal, consider the lengths that automakers have gone to in order to introduce variable valve timing to their modern engines - and in the case of BMW's Valvetronic system, variable valve lift. While such systems have been a boon to internal combustion efficiency, they still rely on camshafts with fixed profiles; their flexibility is thus limited.

Freevalve doesn't have that problem, so each valve can optimize itself for any given engine speed, load level, etc. The engine has free reign to minimize lift at low RPM to keep the intake air velocity high, and maximize lift at high RPM to cram more air into each cylinder. It has the flexibility to open and close each valve at the optimal time, every time, to maximize its use of pressure waves for greater volumetric efficiency.

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And on the Koenigsegg Gemera, Freevalve has the added benefit of allowing the hypercar's 2.0L I3 engine, named the "Tiny Friendly Giant," to run well on renewable, CO2-neutral fuels like Ethanol. Fuels blended with anywhere between 0 and 100 percent are compatible, and the engine pumps out up to a mind-blowing 300 horsepower per liter, for 600 horsepower in total, and a more-than-adequate 442 lb-ft of torque.

"Freevalve is an enabler to move to CO2 neutral transportation - faster," says CEO of Koenigsegg and Freevalve Christian von Koenigsegg. "I am proud to be part of the development team and lead this exciting company. To be able to say that we have Freevalve in the Koenigsegg Gemera, is truly a milestone for both Freevalve and Koenigsegg."

Also this week, Freevalve announced that it has partnered with Texas-based AI company SparkCognition to "transform the already advanced combustion engine into a truly smart machine." We don't know what that will look like, but we can't wait to find out.

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