BMW invents steam-powered hybrid system
Turbosteamer turns engine heat into steam which is used to boost power and efficiency.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Engineers at BMW have created a new type of hybrid powertrain for cars. Instead of electricity, though, this system relies on steam power to boost the engine's performance and save fuel.

About 35 percent of the energy created when an engine burns gasoline is lost as heat, according to the book "The Isaac Newton School of Driving: Physics and Your Car," by Barry Parker.

BMW's Turbosteamer system relies on a heating unit that replaces the muffler. It heats water to temperatures up to 550 degrees. The resultant steam is then carried to what is essentially a small steam engine.

With much of its heat energy converted to motion in the engine, the cooler steam -- now about 150 to 200 degrees -- goes through a system that combines the steam's heat with heat from the car's regular cooling system.

That second system is used to operate another, lower temperature, motor that further boosts the car's power.

A more refined system may be ready for production in about 10 years, the company said. Top of page

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.