The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Southern slugfest
May 23, 2024
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
A fighter jet squadron flies over during the National Anthem before Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas at Olsen Field on Saturday, May 18, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Bryan-College Station Regional participants announced
Ian Curtis, Sports Writer • May 27, 2024

For the second time in three seasons, No. 3 national seed Texas A&M baseball will host the Bryan-College Station Regional, where it’ll...

Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
Bee-hind the scenes
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 1, 2024

The speakers turn on. Static clicks. And a voice reads “Your starting lineup for the Texas A&M Aggies is …” Spectators hear that...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
'I was terrified'
April 25, 2024
Scenes from 74
Scenes from '74
April 25, 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

New York to Chicago on 3 gallons of gas


A prototype of the StarRotor’s compressor, which is projected to be up to 60 percent efficient, as opposed to a current engine’s 25 percent efficiency. 

Over the past 200 years scientists and engineers have worked tirelessly to perfect the heart of any vehicle — the engine. However, with the increased pressure to go “green,” many automakers have turned their attention to electric vehicles at the cost of research into more groundbreaking technologies such as one I came across in a graduate seminar. 

The StarRotor engine developed by A&M professor Mark Holtzapple is as green as it gets. It eliminates the emissions problem by dramatically improving efficiency and most importantly, it makes no compromise on performance like EVs do.

EVs and hybrids, although impressive, don’t compel most users to pay extra money for a car that might otherwise cost thousands less and not make car maintenance a lifelong science project. The StarRotor engine, in contrast, uses the same old combustion principles except it powers a vehicle twice as efficiently as a piston engine and with minimal pollutants. In theory at least it reduces the need to go electric.

The internal combustion engine, ICE, is inherently dirty. It does three major functions in the same volume — compression, combustion and expansion — and it doesn’t do any of them particularly well. Also, about one-third of the energy is sucked out of the walls through the radiator. Holtzapple’s  StarRotor engine separates the compression, combustion and expansion processes to achieve high efficiency for each functionality and the fuel doesn’t even have to be gasoline. It can run on vegetable oil too.

Traditional gasoline engines are restricted to efficiencies around 20 to 25 percent.  The StarRotor engine however may achieve up to 60 percent efficiency and produces fewer pollutants. A striking feature of its design is that it has no radiator.  

Theoretically, a Volkswagen L1 concept car can run up to 274 miles a gallon with the StarRotor Engine — just under three gallons of fuel to travel from New York to Chicago. However, Holtzapple’s ultimate quest of commercializing the StarRotor engine for domestic transportation has not been without considerable roadblocks.

“Despite the obvious benefits of our engine the automakers are unwilling to make design shifts or alter production processes that have been established over a long period of time. It’s a mature technology and has worked now for 200 years,” Holtzapple said.

He argued that auto-manufacturers would rather invest in a technology such as the fuel cell vehicle or EV’s than explore alternatives to the conventional engine.

Hearing Mark Holtzapple so passionately describe the StarRotor engine — the result of 20 years of research — convinced me that automakers ought to at least fund a prototype. It also made me wonder how many such groundbreaking technologies must exist out there that don’t see the light of day because they challenge the tried and tested.

Srinivas Harshal is an electrical engineering graduate student and SciTech writer for The Battalion.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *